Meet the High School Arts Staff:
Dean of Arts
|I grew up in Providence, RI, the daughter of an artist and a teacher. I knew from childhood that I wanted to be an artist and an art teacher. I attended Oberlin College to major in Visual Arts and English, with a minor in Spanish. I received a MA in Art & Art Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in NY in 2004, and my National Board certification in 2013. I have 14 years of classroom experience, including 10 years in a Title 1 high school in NYC where I created the art program from the ground up. I moved to Denver in 2015 and am thrilled to serve as the Dean of Arts at KCAA. I love to travel, and have traveled the world studying art and art history (in 19 countries in 5 continents!) I am a printmaker, a professional dancer, and a lover of the great outdoors; when I’m not at KCAA you can find me on a hiking trail in all seasons!|
|Jesse Preston is a native of Colorado, and a product of Colorado schools. He attended Golden High School and Colorado Mesa University, where he received a BFA in graphic design. He was also a 4-year letterman and wide receiver for the Mesa State Mavericks football team. He worked as the lead graphic artist at FASTSIGNS of Arvada for 5 years, while also attending the Metro State College teacher licensure program where he became a licensed art, CTE, physical education, and science teacher. He has been a teacher and/or coach for 11 years and has been part of the KCAA community since the schools inception in 2009, working as a 7th grade science teacher, and teaching art at every level (K-12). He has coached softball, flag-football, basketball, and baseball at KCAA, winning 3 Prep-League Southwest Division Championships (Baseball 2011, Flag-Football 2013 and 2014). His students have won several district and community art awards including ‘Best of Show’ in the 2010 DPS K-8 Exhibition, and ‘Best of Show’ in the 2016 Citywide High School Art Show. In 2012 he received the inaugural ‘DPS Teacher Exemplary Concept Integration Award’ for his students’ work and his art teaching concepts at the Middle School Citywide Art Show. Mr. Preston is married to Kelli Preston, and they have a 3 year old son named William, and a 1 year old daughter named Maddox.|
|Jacob Neal is a practicing artist living and working in Denver, Colorado. He fancies himself a life long learner in the arts. Currently he concentrates his time illustrating and screen printing, but has been known to dabble in photography, painting, sculpture and graphic design. He currently teaches Middle and High School Digital Media Arts, for Denver Public Schools, in order to support and supplement his addictions to create and collect original art.|
||Charlie Zinn was born in Evanston Illinois in 1979 when a gallon of gas cost 86 cents, Michael Jackson released his first solo album, Off the Wall, and Jimmy Carter was president. The Zinn family quickly moved to Colorado Springs in 1982. Charlie (Mr. Zinn) showed an early interest in drawing and painting, and developed his interest throughout his schooling and eventually into college. Charlie attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence RI where he studied fine art and film. After college he went to California and attempted to find a his way in the entertainment business. On new year’s eve, 2010-2011, he met a young lady, Rita Morgan, who would become his wife in the summer of 2014. Charlie is the proud father of a little girl named Cecilia who was born in January 2016.
|Mrs. Collins has been at KCAA since 2012 and currently teaches MS/HS Theatre, Stagecraft, and Musical Theatre. Prior to working at KCAA, she worked in the Washington, DC area for five years for such companies as the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theatre, The Kennedy Center, The Studio Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Imagination Stage, and Washington Revels. During that time she worked as a production manager, education director, stage manager, stage director, and teaching artist (often working for multiple companies at the same time.) She holds a BFA in Directing from the University of Michigan and an EdM from Harvard University.|
||I received my Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in History and Economics in 2007 and completed my teaching Internship the following year. I have been teaching in Denver Public Schools since 2009. My passion is working alongside students, so they can better recognize and make sense of the structures, systems, and history of the world. This then builds in students a better understanding of our interconnections world. The main focus in every class is for students to critically analyze the deeper meanings of class content. Then they can connect what they are learning in class to their personal lives to create a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world, humanity, and themselves. The ultimate goal of my pedagogy is for students to be empowered to imagine, create, and shape positive changes in the world as well as in their personal lives.On a more personal note, I am married to the wonderful and fabulous Mrs. Abel-Pype. We have the two best, cutest, most loving dogs ever named Sophie and Mona. I play guitar (somewhat poorly, but I love it anyway). My all-time favorite band is Pearl Jam. And, the quote that best describes me is: “…got a mind full of questions and a teacher in my soul…” -e. vedder.|
||I come from a family of artists. My grandfather was a musician that toured the US with country greats like Grandpa Jones and Minny Pearl. My mother is an accomplished visual artist that has her own studio where she teaches her own personal watercolor technique. I have been teaching in DPS for the past 12 years. Before coming to DPS I was the founding Artistic Director of Ballet Nouveau Colorado, which is now Colorado Conservatory of Dance and the Company Wonderbound. I have traveled the world as a classically trained ballet dancer, singer, actor, musician and performing artist. I graduated from Naropa University with a degree in Dance Movement Students and I am also a National Board Certified Teacher.
||Rebecca Jonas is excited to be the new Secondary Music Teacher at KCAA. She has taught for 14 years in Northern Virginia and Colorado, and has a B.M. in Cello Performance from Mercyhurst College and and M.S. in Music Education from Mansfield University. She is President of the Colorado chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and is on the Instrumental Council for the Colorado Music Educators Association. She is a frequent guest conductor and lecturer around the country. A busy performer, Mrs. Jonas plays in many groups along the Front Range including Delilah’s Revenge, Bluebird, the Littleton Symphony Orchestra, and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra.|
|Jessica Widder grew up in Durango, Colorado and stayed in her home town to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from Fort Lewis College. She then moved to Seattle, Washington where she volunteered both at an artist-run art gallery and the Seattle Art Museum. There she worked in the art studio where students on field trips would create museum related art. It was then that she discovered her passion and excitement for sharing her love of art with students. She obtained her teaching license and moved to Denver where she has taught visual arts for ten years. During her teaching career, she acquired her Master’s Degree in Art Education remotely from Boston University. Ms. Widder is very excited to be a part of the arts team at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy!|
|I grew up in rural New Hampshire, where the trees vastly outnumber people.
In 1999 I moved to Colorado to attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, majoring in Psychology and Art. I spent a few years working in the field of substance abuse before deciding to become a teacher. In 2006, I moved from Durango to Denver and earned my BFA and teaching license from Metropolitan State University of Denver.
In my free time I love to hike (I got married on top of a 14,000 foot mountain!), backpack, play sports, snowboard, watch baseball (my favorite team is the Red Sox), and travel! The countries I have visited so far are: Mexico, Canada, France, Iceland, Costa Rica, Thailand, Ethiopia, and India. My favorite thing about traveling is meeting new people and learning about their cultures and traditions.
I began working at KCAA in 2012 where I have taught Visual Arts and Language Arts, and coached Softball and Basketball. I absolutely love being an art teacher because it combines my three biggest passions: connecting with people, making art, and constantly learning new things.