Meet Our Staff and Therapists
Meghan Klassen: Executive Director
Meghan earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Marketing from Creighton University. She spent one year as a Jesuit Volunteer in San Antonio, as the Lead Teacher of a Mothers' Day Out program for low-income families of children with special needs. She earned her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Texas-Austin in 2005. She taught one year of bilingual first grade at a Title I school, and completed her practicum at The Rise School of Austin, where she taught for three years, before starting a family. She came to the Rise School of Denver in 2011 and taught the Pre-K class before becoming the Executive Director in 2012. A Denver native, Meghan enjoys spending time with her family, running, cooking, reading, doing yoga, and traveling.
Megan Cartwright: Assistant Executive Director
Megan graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 2011 from the University of Northern Colorado. After working as a substitute and After Care teacher at Rise she quickly discovered what an amazing school she had found and enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver, in the Early Childhood Education Master's program, with the Special Education Licensure. While she was attended classes, Megan also became the Lead Teacher in the Ladybug classroom until 2016 when she took a year off to be with her son. Megan helped with educational coaching during her time off and rejoined the Rise team in 2017 as the Assistant Director. She loves hiking, cooking, camping, tennis and anything outdoors, but mostly she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and son.
Bears classroom — 12 months to 2 years
Therese Marucci: Lead Teacher - [email protected]
Therese joined the Rise School is 2015 after several years of working with children in both school and camp settings. Most recently, Therese was a special needs para educator in a K-6, Level 3 Autism Spectrum Disorder Lab. She has also been an assistant teacher in a toddler classroom, managed day-to-day activities at overseas military day camps, and tutored in after-school programs for at-risk students and children with special needs. Therese holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Colorado Denver. Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Therese now lives in Denver and is an avid Miami Dolphins fan!
Katie Williams: Teaching Assistant
Katie is a Denver native who joined Rise in summer 2016. Katie has several years of experience as a teaching assistant in the Denver area, including positions at The Primrose Schools, The Nest Early Learning Center and Iliff Preschool and Kindergarten, working with all levels of early childhood development and education. In addition to her passion for children, in her free time Katie collects vinyl records and loves to read.
Kelly is originally from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. She will earn her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado in May of 2019. Kelly joined the Rise family in 2017. She has 8 years of experience providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to children diagnosed with autism in home and school settings. She also has experience as an Early Intervention (EI) case worker. When she is not doing school work or working, she enjoys, playing with her cat, reading a good book, and traveling to spend time with her family and friends.
Kangaroos Classroom — 2 to 3 years
Cate Camacho: Lead Teacher - [email protected]
Cate earned her bachelor's degrees in Psychology & Social Sciences with a minor in Disability Studies from the University of Wyoming. She earned her master's degree in Special Education with certificates in Autism and Applied Behavioral Sciences from the University of Kansas. Cate has been working with children and individuals with special needs for 7 years. Cate found The Rise School and was so excited to join the Rise family! Cate lives in Golden, and enjoys spending time with her family and dogs in her free time.
Megan Murray: Teaching Assistant
Megan is a Colorado native and proud graduate of The University of Colorado Boulder. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Communication in the Spring of 2014. Megan has many years of experience working with children, with and without disabilities. She coached Special Olympic swimming in high school and since then has worked closely with the Special Olympics community and serves on the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association Young Professionals Board. Megan lives in Denver and in her spare time enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Sandi Polasek: Teaching Assistant
Sandi has been working with children for 30 years and actually caring for young children is the only job she’s known. Her first job was working at a preschool her senior year in high school and she has never looked back. She has worked in a variety of settings with children, birth to 5 and since 2001 she has been focused on inclusion. She is fluent in ASL, has her Infant/Toddler and Preschool Certificates, is almost finished with her BA in Human Development and then plans to get her Early Childhood Special Education Degree. In her spare time she likes to go to the movies, read, take Professional Development courses, tutor children at her church and enjoy walks in the snow which are always followed followed by a fire in the fireplace. She moved to Aurora, Colorado in 2014 from Austin, Texas with her son Tyler and their cat Popcorn.
Ladybugs Classroom — 3 to 4 years
Megan Gallagher: Lead Teacher - [email protected]
Megan is a Colorado native and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences from University of Northern Colorado. She has been working within the field of early childhood education for five years. She earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from CU Denver in December 2016. Megan lives in Centennial with her husband Daniel and enjoys spending time with friends and family!
Dylann Forsyth: Teaching Assistant
Dylann was born and raised in Colorado. Both of her parents are teachers and she has always loved the idea of being an educator. She graduated from MSU Denver in May of 2017 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Dylann has experience working with children from her years of nannying/respite care and working as a camp counselor through Easter Seals Colorado. Facilitating joy through education is Dylann’s passion. She enjoys spending time with her family, boyfriend, and puppy!
Jenni Olson: Teaching Assistant
I have always enjoyed working with children and knew from an early age that I wanted to be a teacher. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Special Education. I have worked for many years with children who have cognitive and other disabilities in a variety of settings, including an early intervention program, public schools, and at the Fisher Early Learning Center. When I am not working, I enjoy cooking, reading, walking, and spending time with my family and friends.
CATERPILLARS CLASSROOM — 4 TO 5 YEARS
Addie Adler: Lead Teacher- [email protected]
Addie recently moved to Denver from Houston and comes to Rise as a Floating Teacher Assistant. She will become a full time Teaching Assistant for the Bears classroom in January 2017. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders from LSU, and her Master's in Special Ed from Texas Tech. Addie brings with her experience in working one on one with preschool and school age children with speech, language, memory, motor, sensory processing and other disorders at Village Therapy Works in Houston. She also worked as a Physical Education teacher at The Kinkaid School in Texas. She lives in Aurora with her husband Daniel.
Sean O'Brien: Teaching Assistant
Sean was born in Denver, Colorado and joined Rise in 2016. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation at the University of Arizona. Throughout his life, he had numerous positions and volunteer opportunities working in the field of disabilities. He spent one year in Los Angeles working as an ABA technician. He is currently in graduate school, pursuing his Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. In his free time, he loves to watch and play sports, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Ashley Peralta: Teaching Assistant
When Ashley was 4 1/2 years old, she became a big sister and her life path forever changed. Her younger brother, Shawn, was born at 28 weeks and is officially diagnosed with Hydrocephalus and has significant developmental disabilities. Growing up as a sibling to someone with special needs shaped her passions, made her want to be more involved with the special needs community, and influenced her decision to become an Early Childhood Special Education teacher. She will graduate with her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education with an Early Childhood Special Education licensure in May 2018. She joined Rise in January 2018.
Kristin is a graduate of Overland High School. She has attended Ability Specialist program for several years, they assisted her with job coaching and then they helped her with various job opportunities, one of them being University Hospital in the position of kitchen staff and then dining room staff. Abilities informed us that Kristin would be a good fit for a position that was opening up at the Rise School. Kristin applied, was offered the position, and now enjoys her new job immensely! She loves to go to movies, and enjoys many types of music and hanging out with her friends.
Andrew was born and raised in Littleton, CO. He graduated from Arapahoe High School in 2009 and went on to Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell New, Mexico in the Special Services Program. After two years, he earned a certification in Child Care and Food Service. Andrew is passionate about sports, kids and family. He is quite the athlete and is involved with Special Olympic. He skis with the Cherry Creek racing team at Copper Mountain ,plays ice hockey with the Colorado Golden Eagles and basketball for the South Suburban Stars, in the winter, plays soccer in the spring, tennis in the summer and kickball and flag football in the fall. Andrew has had the honor to speak at the Colorado Special Olympics Hall of Fame luncheon 2 times. In addition to his Rise School position, Andrew works at Wilder Community Preschool as a teachers’ helper and works for Argus, a security company, taking tickets at the sports and concert venues in the Denver area including Pepsi Center, DU Magness arena, Coors Field and Red Rocks. Andrew is an amazing uncle to his twin nieces, Lily and Maggie born in May 2018.
Lisa Swenson, PT, C/NDT - Physical Therapist
Lisa has worked with young children for 30 + years. She is currently senior instructor faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine/ JFK Partners. She is certified in neurodevelopment treatment and believes that incorporating developmentally appropriate activities into motivating gross motor skills will lead to a child’s interest and participation in athletic endeavors. She partners with Special Olympics Colorado in directing the Young Athletes Program at Rise. Lisa joined the Rise team in August 2008.
Lucy Lowe - Occupational Therapist
Lucy was born and raised in the South and is a Colorado transplant. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics in 2005. She then received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at University of Alabama in Birmingham in 2008. Lucy has 9 years of full time Occupational Therapy experience. Lucy has experience working with adults and children with diagnosis that include, but are not limited to neurological, cognitive, orthopedic, and developmental conditions. She has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient, early intervention, home health, and schools. Lucy is a supporter of multi-disciplinary team approach in working with children to support growth and achievement. Lucy is married with three young children. She enjoys spending time with her family with hiking, camping, exploring state parks, and traveling to be with family as much as possible.
Julie Demes, MS, CCC-SLP - Speech and Language Pathologist
Julie completed her Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northern Arizona University. Since then, she has worked in a variety of settings, including early intervention, private practice, therapeutic school, and home health. She gained extensive understanding of augmentative and alternative communication and early speech and language development, while working as the head of the speech department and director of the therapeutic preschool program at a private practice in Chicago, Il. Julie believes in relationship-based intervention and is committed to working closely with parents, teachers, and other therapy providers to maximize her students’ success. Julie holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from ASHA and is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in the state of Colorado. She has specialized training and certification in DIRFloortime, PROMPT, SOS Approaching to Feeding, and Lee Silverman Voice Treatment. In her spare time, Julie enjoys reading, biking, and playing outdoors with her husband and two daughters.
Laura Ganguli - Music Therapist
Laura completed her Bachelors in Music from Kutztown University and her Masters in Creative Arts in Therapy/Music Therapy from Drexel University. She is a current member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Colorado Association of Music Therapy (CAMT). Laura is a client-centered therapist who believes each individual has a unique relationship to music, and through that relationship there is the potential for self-expression, creativity, and personal growth. When Laura isn’t creating or playing music, she loves the outdoors, travel and spending quality time with her family.