Faculty List


Teacher and Staff Bios:

Coach JJ Alvis, Physical Education

I was born in Vail Colorado and I graduated from Eagle Valley High School. I then went to Metropolitan State University of Denver where I received my degree in Education,  and I am excited to be the new Physical Education Teacher at West Leadership Academy. My daughter’s name is Cadence. I love being a Dad.  I love all sports and enjoy staying physically active. I am so excited for a great school year!


Bachelors degree in Human Performance and Sport with an emphasis in K-12 Physical Education.

Erick Arellano-Ruiz, Science

I was born in Mexico City but raised in a very small town 4 hours north of Mexico City. I came to the US (Madison, WI) in 2001 and lived there until I moved here in 2014. I enjoy cooking, politics, economics, computers, and SCIENCE.

University of Wisconsin Madison (BS – Chemistry, BS – Spanish Literature)
University of Denver (MA – Curriculum and Instruction)

Dra. Jacqueline Arriaga

I am a first generation Ecuadorian immigrant.  English is my second language and I am a third generation teacher.   I have been teaching for over 30 years (in Chicago and Denver).  Teaching to me is not just a job but also a calling.  I enjoy traveling, reading and spending time with my family and friends.

Soy una inmigrante Ecuatoriana primera generación . Inglés es mi segunda idioma y soy maestra de tercera generación . He estado enseñando por más de 30 años (en Chicago y Denver). Enseñando para a mí, no es sólo un trabajo, sino también una vocación.  Me encanta viajar, leer y pasar tiempo con mi familia y amigos.

University of Illinois Chicago (BA)
Lesley University (MA)
Denver University (PhD)

Shannon Bockstahler, Language Arts
Mr. Bockstahler’s website

Welcome to YOUR Language Arts class! I have lived in Colorado most of my life, but I’ve lived in Georgia and Minnesota as well. I decided to become a teacher so that I could help other people be successful at whatever they want to do in life. I enjoy playing PC and role-playing games, expanding my technology expertise, bicycling, reading, and writing fiction. My goal this year is to make Language Arts unique for each of my students while teaching you how to think and communicate better than yesterday.

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Dan Curtiss, History

Hi, I teach 10th grade US History and electives. I am married with 2 dogs and a cat. I am the youngest sibling of 2 sisters that live in Denver and my parents live in Durango.  I also like playing most sports (my main sports are soccer, basketball, and tennis).

Ohio University, BA in Audio and Video Communication
University of Colorado Denver, MA Education

Akilah Davis

I am a Colorado native!  This is my 14th year teaching in DPS. I have had the privilege of teaching pre-school, kindergarten, fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade math, eighth grade math, eighth grade science and now sixth grade science. My biggest passion and number one priority in life is being the mother of three fabulous children.  I find great peace in running (especially trail running), hiking, snowshoeing, watching movies and reading.

Henry Ford Community College
University of Michigan
Currently earning a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Grand Canyon University

Nicole Fetter

Hey I’m Ms. Fetter! I just recently moved to Denver less than a month ago from Chicago. I got my passion for teaching when I was in college at KU. I was a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and instantly fell in love with working with kids. I love to hike, run, and bike and hope to ski this winter. I hope to create strong connections with each of you and promote your learning throughout the year.

Kevin Filiowich, Language Arts

Born of Minnesota’s boreal coniferous forests, I developed a connection to the natural environment at a young age that still calls me outdoors.  As a young adult my curiosity led to horizon-chasing; travelling across oceans and continents to see something new.  I live for thrills, and I love adventure.  Presently, I continue to learn about myself and the world every day, and I look forward to learning together in 10th Grade World Literature.

Florida Gulf Coast University, Bachelor’s of Arts, Spanish and Education

Michael Fink, Math

I was born and raised in Dearborn Michigan.  I moved to Denver in 1994 and have live and taught in Denver ever since.  My goal is that all students will learn to do mathematics, but more importantly they will learn to be problem solvers that will contribute in positive ways to their community.

Eastern Michigan University, Madonna University (no connection to the singer.)  Bachelors of Science in Theoretical Mathematics.

Bronwen Forrestal

I attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, for both my undergraduate degree and my master’s degree.
Hi! I am a sixth grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher here at WLA. My twin sister and I were born and grew up in Denver, and we went to Kepner and graduated from Lincoln. I majored in Spanish Language and in Women’s Studies in college. My husband is from La Paz, Bolivia, and we have 2 sons that love playing soccer. I am a teacher because I LOVE seeing the light turn on in students’ minds – opening your mind to the world is so important and wonderful!

¡Hola! Soy maestra de lecto-escritura y de estudios sociales aquí en WLA. Mi hermana gemela y yo nacimos en Denver, y asistimos a las escuelas Kepner y Lincoln. Yo estudié el idioma español y el feminismo en la universidad. Mi esposo es de La Paz, Bolivia y tenemos a 2 hijos que juegan mucho fútbol. Soy maestra porque me ENCANTA ver que  una luz se encienda en los mentes de mis alumnos – ¡es una maravilla abrir tu mente al mundo grande y fascinante!

Jessica Hubbard, Language Arts

Teaching has always a passion of mine, and I consider myself a life-long learner. I approach the classroom and life with curiosity, learning from my students, and seeking out ways to challenge myself.  When not in the classroom, I can be found spending time with family, friends, and my adorable dog, Remy.

University of Colorado at Boulder – Bachelor’s Degree in History, Minor in English Composition
Metropolitan State University – Teacher Licensure Program

Sarah Kennedy, Language Arts

Ms. Kennedy was born in Indiana and raised in Colorado. She loves soccer, skiing, biking, hiking, swimming and camping. One of her passions is photography and she loves taking pictures of her three-year old son.  Mrs. Kennedy is a huge fan of the Denver Broncos!

University of Colorado at Denver, Bachelor degree in English
University of Colorado at Denver, Masters in Art  – Curriculum and Instruction

Yvette Martinez, Language Arts

I am a Mother, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister, a Friend, a Teacher, & a Student! I love to laugh loudly, read, knit, hike & be with family and friends. My true career, one of a lifelong learner, turned me into a teacher, and I am truly blessed.

Metropolitan State University of Denver/B.A. Political Science with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Politics & a Minor in World History
University of Phoenix/Masters in Secondary Education

Jeannette Martinez-Yackel, Math

I have been a teacher for 23 years and for 23 years I have been passionate about my students and about mathematics. I am married and have 3 children and a really cute grandson. My parents are West alumni so I have been a Cowboy since birth!

Karin Mendoza

I was born in Colombia S.A., and raised in New York. I am Married, have three (3) wonderful sons.  I have been teaching in DPS for 14 years. I have wanted to teach since I was 5 years old. My family and I love to travel.  I consider education to be the most important asset a person can possess. I love the excitement and thrill of the ride.

Universidad Externado de Colombia: Business Degree, Minor: Marketing
Metro State University: Education License
CU Boulder: Masters in Multicultural Education

Rachel Montoya, Math

Hello!  Welcome to WLA!  I am so excited to be your teacher!  I am a bilingual teacher, and I have worked in DPS for 16 years (at Munroe, Kepner, and WLA).  In my free time, I love to read, go salsa dancing, and scrapbook.  I am the happy mother of three furry babies (my dogs).

BA in Elementary Ed/Emphasis: Bilingual Education from UNC; MA in Bilingual Ed. from CU Boulder

Michael Ocasio

I have always had a passion for education and leadership.  I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to travel to many different countries all over the world.  I have taught English in China, given leadership lectures to students in Kenya, and worked at The American School In Switzerland.  My door is always open, please stop by and say what’s up.  Go Cowboys!

Elvira Olivas, Restorative Practices Coordinator

I was born in Chihuahua Mexico, raised in Denver.  My biggest passion and first priority in life, is to be a great mom to my only daughter Yaretzy. This is my 6th year working as a Restorative Practices Coordinator for the district, I love my job! I have two pets, a dog and a snake! I love adventures: skydiving, whitewater rafting, backpacking, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and traveling including road trips!! I’m always on the go, enjoying life in the company of daughter and my awesome boyfriend, they make life better. I’m super excited to be part of the WLA team! Cheers to a great school year!

Carlos Mauricio Parra Quintero, Spanish

Mr. Parra is a native of Colombia (South America.) He has a bachelor of International Business from Santo Tomas University, a Master Degree in Education from El Bosque University and Spanish as a Second Language from Rio Piedra University at Puerto Rico. He has experience working with students  ranging in age from Preschool to College. Mr. Parra is in his 10th year of teaching Spanish for heritage speakers and AP Spanish Languages and Culture. He loves theater and Latin Dance.

Enrique Plaza, Science
Mr. Plaza’s Website

My name is Enrique and I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. I have a wife and two children, all of whom keep me very busy and entertained.  I like travelling and before moving to Colorado I lived in Norway and Ethiopia.  Have a great school year!

Me llamo Enrique, soy de Madrid, España, estoy casado y tengo dos hijas que me mantienen bastante entretenido.  Me gusta viajar y antes de llegar a Colorado viví en Noruega y Etiopía.  ¡Te deseo un buen inicio de curso!

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) & Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU):
BS Forest Engineering
MS Environmental Science

Michelle Probasco, Physical Education

Hi all, I am a Colorado native that has been teaching in one way or another for over 20 years; been in public education for going on 11 years now. I’m a mermaid of course because I love all things to do with water, but even this water lover has to take her dogs on hikes but even then we seem to find some sort of water. I’m really looking forward to this school year!

Ximena Quintana

I am originally from Santiago Chile but was raised in Denver Colorado. My father being from the San Luis Valley is what brought the family to Colorado.  I earned my BA in Spanish at Metro State. On any given weekend you will find me exploring the outdoors with my two beautiful boys. I love everything about Colorado:  city of Denver, mountains, weather, and everything there is to do outdoors.

Melanie Rios

I am a Denver native. I graduated from North HS. I have been teaching in DPS for 15 years.

College of Santa Fe
Metropolitan State College
Regis University

Adrean Rivers

For the past 18 years I have enjoyed bragging about being a teacher to all my friends.  It’s a joy to work with young students to help build a foundation for success in life. Outside of the classroom I spend time with family and friends, and I love to hike with my two dogs, Oona and Morris.  Last winter I took a chance and tried something I have always wanted to do: narrate audio books.  I currently volunteer for Learning Ally to record a variety of books for people with reading difficulties, and I also narrate audio books that you can find on Amazon and Audible.

Metropolitan State University, BA in Spanish
University of Colorado at Denver, MA Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Anita RoHa, Art

I love to do yoga, play soccer, make art, read books, watch the clouds roll by, sleep under the stars, go on road trips with my two kids and my husband, teach kids how to play with their ideas thru art making, and eat delicious food with my family and friends!

North High School graduate
University of Northern Colorado – BA in Art Education

Coach Matt Santistevan, Physical Education

I played baseball for Metro State for four years.  I was the hitting and outfield coach for Metro state for the next two years.  I started my career at the East Denver YMCA as the Physical Coordinator for the next four years.  I have been teaching P. E. for DPS for the past 14 years.

Metropolitan State College of Denver.   Bachelors of Science in Human Performance Sports and Leisure.

Devin Sheehan, Social Studies

Within two months of graduating from college, I opened my own pizza restaurant with a couple of friends.  Two years later I was living in the north of Chile teaching English and getting a taste for the world.  I’ve lived in a variety of places and worked with a range of students.  I continue to move forward in my new home at WLA in Denver.

James Madison University, BA English

Mike Stroh, Computer Science
Mr. Stroh’s Website

I was born and raised in Upstate New York.  I earned my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Albany.  After college, I worked in the field of Information Technology for seven years before becoming a teacher.  I’ve recently earned my master’s degree in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education from CU Denver.

Javier Tolsá Potous

Nací en Alicante, una ciudad costera de España. Siempre he estado vinculado a los deportes relacionados con el agua (vela y natación). Los idiomas (este año quiero aprender el quinto: portugués), la familia, viajar, la psicología, cocinar y observar a las personas. Eso e intentar no perder la sonrisa nunca, serían mis pasiones. He vivido y trabado en Italia, Inglaterra y Holanda; en el 2013 me mudé a EEUU. Sobre West, creo firmemente en ella, en sus valores y en esta familia. En definitiva, llevo desde el 2007 rodeado de alumnos, quienes me enseñan cada día.

Elegí ser profesor cuando tenía 15 años viendo a mi profesora de literatura española, me encanta la magia que desprendía.

Saludos, saluti, fins aviat,  lembranças, greetings.

I was born and raised in Alicante, a coast city in Spain. I have been always related to water sports (sailing and swimming). Languages (this year I want to learn my 5th: Portuguese), family, travelling, psychology, cooking and observe people are my passions, besides trying to keep smiling all the time. I have lived and worked in Italy, the Netherlands and UK; in 2013 I moved to the US. About West, I strongly believe in it, in its values and in this big family. In conclusion, I have been surrounded by students since 2007, who taught me every single day.

I chose to become a teacher when I was 15 observing my Spanish Lit teacher. I loved the magic she transmitted to us.

Saludos, saluti, fins aviat,  lembranças, greetings.

Licenciatura en Universidad de Alicante y máster Auburn University.