Our Team

Chris Bacavis

LANGUAGE ARTS & MUSIC TEACHER

cbacavis@communityprepschool.org

Prior to teaching at CPS, Chris worked for nearly a decade as a freelance writer, copy editor, and private tutor. "At Community Prep, I get to interact every day with incredible people who often have much more to teach me than I have to teach them. One of my greatest passions is encouraging students to interact with the human experience through critical thought, careful use of texts, and constructive discourse."

Abbey Banta

DEAN OF STUDENTS

abanta@communityprepschool.org

I am a basketball playing, poetry writing, Brazilian jiu jitsu practicing, nature loving, world traveling, trail running, bibliophile, conversationalist, and philosopher (of sorts). I have been at CPS for 10 years and absolutely love my work. I aim to take a human-centered, adaptive, and altruistic approach to education. My experience here has not only gained me beautiful relationships and memories, but has also broadened my perspective, deepened my understanding of the human experience, and made me a better person.

Ron Banta

FRESHMAN ACADEMY TEACHER

rbanta@communityprepschool.org

“I came to CPS after years of working with high school students in faith-based and outdoor educational environments. Substitute teaching and tutoring led me to pursue work in a high school. Working at Community Prep is an opportunity to encourage students to find their own educational path, and to help them prepare for the future they envision for themselves.”

Ami Blackshear

ART TEACHER

ablackshear@communityprepschool.org

Ami is a professional illustrator and certified art therapist with over 15 years experience teaching art to K-12 students. “Everyday I look forward to helping students discover the blessings of creativity, healing, and joy through the visual arts.”

Tara Bush

DJ TEACHER AND STUDENT ADVOCATE

tbush@communityprepschool.org

Tara, AKA DJ T-BeatZ, is a professional DJ and has worked with students for many years. “Working here at CPS is such an exciting and humbling experience. I Love coming to work and knowing I am making a difference in young adult lives, and sharing and teaching my skills to this young generation. I am also blessed to be surrounded by such talented Teachers and Advocates.”

Bruce Durham

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL

bdurham@communityprepschool.org

Retired military, Bruce has served CPS for almost two decades as a math teacher, mentor, student advocate and administrator. “Working at Community Prep allows me an opportunity to influence the future through our students and, hopefully, have a positive impact on our community.”

Jo Lynn Garlow

ADULTING & RELATIONSHIPS TEACHER/LIFE COACH

jgarlow@communityprepschool.org

Jo Lynn is a Certified Professional Life Coach, specializing in Relationships and Communication. Jo Lynn has been part of the CP community since 2013 coaching/teaching students and families. “ I love getting to know each student and guiding them on their journey. The best part is watching their confidence grow as they accomplish things they never thought possible. It is amazing to see them light up when they realize their potential is far greater than they had imagined, and begin to see their future as theirs.”

Gabrielle Gaye

BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER

ggaye@communityprepschool.org

Gabby has over 20 years of experience managing finances in both the private and public sectors. “I enjoy working with small organizations to help them achieve success. CPS is a perfect fit for me. I get to utilize my skills while making a positive impact in the community."

Melanie Gordon


FRESHMAN ACADEMY ADVOCATE/TEACHER

mgordon@communityprepschool.org

Hi there! My name is Melanie Gordon and I am a volleyball loving, family oriented, outdoor enthusiast.

I have worked as a teacher, GT coordinator, athletic director, coach and outdoor education specialist in traditional and EL settings. All of these positions have allowed me to join CPS as an advocate, freshman academy teacher and outdoor education programmer. And I could not be more excited to join Community Prep School.

Lisa Haden

BUILDING BEAUTIFICATION

lhaden@communityprepschool.org

Bonnie Herbst

ICAP TEACHER & STUDENT ADVOCATE

bherbst@communityprepschool.org

Bonnie has 5 years human services background, and served as a TANF Case Manager and a Community Liaison, teaching job-ready skills to adults who were seeking employment. “CPS means so many things to me. As a teenager, I attended an alternative high school very similar to Prep. It amazes each day to see these incredibly strong kiddos stay focused and persevere through their struggles. CPS has given me the opportunity to engage and collaborate with the most compassionate staff to ensure our students success.”

Jason Hinrichs

SCIENCE TEACHER & IT ADMINISTRATOR

jhinrichs@communityprepschool.org

Website

Jason comes to CPS after earning degrees in Chemistry in Laramie, WY and Bioengineering at Colorado State University. "I look forward to working with students to help them find their passions in life, and gain a strong will to succeed."

Jayde Lanning

STUDENT ADVOCATE

jlanning@communityprepschool.org

Hi! You know the saying, "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life" ?

Well, that is true for me at Community Prep School. Supporting and celebrating these students is the most fulfilling adventure of my life. I have raised 4 of my own kids (one is a CPS graduate) and many more who just needed a safe place to land. I have nothing but gratitude for having the opportunity to serve here as a Student Advocate.


John Longmore

MATH TEACHER

jlongmore@communityprepschool.org

John graduated from Iowa State in 1989. He taught 3 years with Peace Corps (Papua New Guinea), 3 years in South Dakota, and since then he has mostly been in the alternative schools here in Colorado. “At CPS, I get to work with small groups of students tutoring, and linking ideas for better understanding. Seeing the light in their eyes as they understand something for the first time, that will always be my motivation.”

Kathy Overy

REGISTRAR

kovery@communityprepschool.org

Kathy has worked in schools for 17 years in a variety of roles. "I'm excited to be a part of CPS, to work alongside the passionate, dedicated staff and the opportunity to help make a difference."

Sean Pelham

MATH TEACHER

I have taught Math for nearly ten years at the high school level. I graduated from UCCS with a BA in Geography and Environmental Science Studies and a minor in Mathematics. I am a native of Colorado Springs and I simply love to go westward into our beautiful Rocky mountains. I feel Community Prep is a nice fit for my teaching style and teaching history, as my experience is closely related to the Community Prep atmosphere and population. The students can receive one to one instruction and/or small groups. The staff at Community Prep are invested in and demonstrate a real passion for all of our students. Their academic growth and future success are a top priority and it shows. My hope is to make a positive contribution.

Mike Perez

OUTDOOR EDUCATION TEACHER & COORDINATOR

mperez@communityprepschool.org

Mike has worked as an educator and wilderness guide for over 25 years. “Discovery introduces students to CPS. Expeditionary Education introduces them to a much larger world.”

Yantz Robinson

FINANCIAL & COMPUTER LITERACY TEACHER

yrobinson@communityprepschool.org

"I enjoy guiding students towards their dreams and their diploma. I am a father, son, husband, and an army veteran. Working at CPS is a way for me to continue to work with students and help them on their road to life. To work at CPS is a tremendous opportunity to effect change before bad decisions are made that could be life changing.”

Cecilia Maria Sponholz-Smith

CULINARY ARTS TEACHER & FOOD SERVICE PROVIDER

csmith@communityprepschool.org

Cecilia is known as Ms. Cee here at Community Prep School. She is a seasoned cook with years of experience who wants to make a difference and change the world one student and one dish at a time.

She loves to incorporate zesty flavor and spice in everything she makes. You can trust that all meals that come out of Cee's Cafe will be flavored with Love and Gusto. She also takes pride in sharing her knowledge and experience with the students and to teach them the joy and creativity of cooking.

"To cook is to Nourish. It gives Pleasure and Renewal.

The Art of Cooking is Love made visible."


Raj Solanki

PRINCIPAL

rsolanki@communityprepschool.org

Raj Solanki grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated from Air Academy High School. He was not a fan of school and would have loved to go to an alternative school like CPS. A desire to change education and make it more meaningful to students led Raj into education as a career. Raj received a Bachelor Degree in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Masters in Teaching from Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa. When he returned to Colorado Springs in 2010, Community Prep School was where he landed as a teacher. During his time at CPS, Raj has been able to teach multiple subjects including English, music, entrepreneurship, mindfulness, etc. In addition to teaching, Raj has developed curriculum at CPS. While working at CPS, he also helped start a K-8 charter school, Mountain Song Community School, where he served as the founding Vice President of the governing board and, eventually, left CPS to lead Mountain Song as their Executive Director for two years.

Raj is thrilled to return to CPS as principal. He is committed to helping CPS continue to be a place where students feel safe, supported, and challenged to live their best lives. In his free time, Raj is an avid reader, lifelong learner, mountain enthusiast, and musician. He has one teenage son, an amazing wife and a super fluffy dog.

Eric Trujillo

CHARACTER EDUCATION TEACHER & COORDINATOR

etrujillo@communityprepschool.org

I have worked in education in various roles for over 17 years. I love serving students, families and our community! I am an outdoor and sports enthusiast who loves sharing that part of my life with others. My family is my reason WHY and they push me everyday to be better than I was yesterday. My greatest joy in working at CPS is experiencing our students growing and achieving the goals they set out. My philosophy in education is, "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" Theodore Roosevelt.

Brian Tryon

PHOTOGRAPHY TEACHER

btryon@communityprepschool.org

“I’ve worked with teenagers as a mentor for over 9 years in a school setting. Helping them succeed in school and after. I am a self taught photographer and visual artist. I use photography and art as a healing tool, and a healthy way to escape. I love walking side by side with the students on their journey. Helping them grow, graduate and become healthy community/society members, long after their school carriers. . Teaching them to overcome hardships, and to take control over their own lives.”

Tony White

LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER

twhite@communityprepschool.org

Tony served in the military from 1981-2001 and began teaching in 1998. “Working at CPS means I am given an opportunity to accept the challenge to grow and help students and staff grow with me.”

Jeff Wilson

SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER

jwilson@commuunityprepschool.org

Jeff comes from California, graduated from ASU, teaching in South Phoenix for eleven years. "I want to have a positive influence and support kids who need it."

Jennifer Winders

FAMILY AND ATTENDANCE ADVOCATE

jwinders@communityprepschool.org

Jennifer has over 15 years work in the community with youth and families. "Working with CPS matters to me because I want to see young adults get the support they need to complete high school and move on to college and/or a career.

Jennifer Woodruff

SPECIAL SERVICES COORDINATOR

jwoodruff@communityprepschool.org

Happy to be at Community Prep High School after spending the last 20 years serving youth in corrections! I’m a licensed special educator with a career and technical (CTE) endorsement to help teenagers find their passion and career! I love working with students and families to help find the right path to education and graduation thus preparing for adult life!! My free time is spent with my garden and 2 furry friends!!

Molly Wuerz

LANGUAGE ARTS & THEATRE TEACHER

mwuerz@communityprepschool.org

Molly has had the privilege of teaching across various fields of education including the Performing Arts, Elementary School, Outdoor Education, and Water Safety. She is passionate about thru-hiking, small business owning, baking, reading, rock climbing, and more! Molly is grateful to have landed at Community Prep, a place where she can combine all of her passions by way of education and student connections.