Our Team

Abbey Banta



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



“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.”

Jo Lynn Garlow



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



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



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



Jason Hinrichs




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." 

Kathy Kirby



I grew up in Dallas, TX, but Colorado quickly became my home. I graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in education and a minor in English. 

I've taught middle and high schoolers for decades, mainly English and Language Arts in Ohio and Colorado. I was so fortunate to teach here at CPS from '09-'11 and fell in love with the culture and the alternative concepts of education. Life led me back here to CPS in January 2023 and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Teaching is so ingrained in my heart that I couldn't imagine doing anything else!

Making a difference, giving my students a voice and making them feel heard is my absolute passion.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."  ~ Ghandi

John Longmore



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



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


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.

Nathan Rico


Cecilia Maria Sponholz-Smith



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



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



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



“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.”

Jennifer Winders



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



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!!