Meet Our 2023-2024 Team
The French American School of Denver employs a highly qualified and skilled team of teachers, administrators, and supportive staff to ensure the best learning environment possible.
FASDenver also has an active and engaged Board of Directors supporting the
well-being of our school.
Head of School
“Young learners are primed and ready to learn, and an immersion environment gives them the opportunity to excel academically, socially, and culturally.”
Suzanne is an educational leader, entrepreneur, and classroom teacher with experience in public and charter schools. She has two bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Mathematics, and a M.Ed. in Administrative Leadership.
Suzanne brings a combination of charter STEAM school start-up experience and International Baccalaureate experience to FASDenver. Having been in education for 20+ years, she has demonstrated expertise in developing cutting-edge initiatives to advance organizational priorities and offer novel learning experiences to encourage success.
At the charter STEAM start-up, she generated high retention rates from year one to year two, and doubled enrollment by establishing strategic recruitment, training, and retention practices. She has been recognized for superior leadership and meaningful impact initiatives by being awarded the Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year, the Outstanding Service Award, and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year awards.
Stephanie Koussaya hails from Montreal, Quebec and is a native French speaker. She and her family moved to Colorado in 2021 and truly embrace being a multilingual family. Stephanie is fluent in French and English and highly proficient in Spanish.
Stephanie has her CDE Principal's license, has taught Math and PE in Montreal in grades 7-10 with an instructional support focus on English as a Second Language and special education. She was a high school assistant principal in Montreal in charge of Special Education, the IB program, Career Pathway programs and built a tutoring program for students in need. Recently a school principal in Denver, Stephanie brings close to 15 years of experience with K-12 students and Special Education.
She comes with administrative experience in working with students, staff, and parents, citing communication as one of her greatest qualities as a leader. She will easily communicate with our French teachers and with our English teachers, as well. She authentically embraces dual language immersion education, academic achievement for all students, and has the experience and tools to prioritize what a growing school needs. She understands accountability through assessments, data, instructional coaching, professional development, and strong working relationships with the authorizing district. Her approach is one of collaboration and teamwork and is excited to have the opportunity to be an integral part of a school with a Francophone culture.
Before joining the Franco-American high school in Denver, Sarah was a teacher in France in Romans-sur-Isère. She has experience teaching children from kindergarten to grade 5 in multigrade classrooms, which has given her great skills of differentiation and adaptation. She mainly taught in kindergarten and first grade. She holds a degree in sociology and educational sciences as well as a master's degree in teaching. She likes to reflect on her teaching practice and discover new ways of teaching in order to give the best to her students. For this, she likes to read educational research and especially teamwork, to be able to exchange and evolve as a team. Outside of school, Sarah enjoys travelling, cooking and spending time with friends and family.
Before joining the French American School of Denver, Alexandrine worked as a preschool teacher, and has worked for several years as a French immersion teacher with Global Village Academy, and the Colorado International School. She holds an Early Childhood Education Director Certificate, a German teaching license, and a Special Education teacher’s diploma. She comes originally from the Ivory Coast where she taught 3rd and 4th graders as well as children with mild to moderate disabilities for 9 years before coming to the United States. Outside of her passion for children, Alexandrine loves to cook, listen to music, and spend time with her family.
Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Malika (Mali for short) hails from Paris, France, but arrived in Denver twenty years ago. It was here that she discovered the school environment and fell in love with teaching, especially helping students become bilingual learners. Her passion is helping non-French speaking children progress in acquiring the French language. In order to be even more effective, she is currently in training to be able to teach FLD in elementary school. Mali is a proud mother of three and grandmother of two. She loves being surrounded by children everyday.
Stéphanie is from Toulouse, in the South of France, where she studied science and obtained a degree in Biology and Earth Sciences. She taught for 16 years for the French Ministry of National Education in schools in the Toulouse region, from kindergarten to 5th grade, and was also director of a kindergarten for 6 years. Then she moved with all her family to Guadeloupe to live a new experience in the Tropics. She taught for 4 years at the Gaston Michineau Public School, in Basse-Terre, in a CP class, and she was able to benefit from specific training for learning to read and mathematics. She enjoys exchanging with her colleagues about projects and teaching practices. A 20-year experience as a teacher allows her to differentiate learning and adapt to each student. Outside of school Stéphanie enjoys traveling with her family, camping, hiking, skiing but also cooking and reading, dancing Rock’n Roll and singing.
Romane was a teacher in France near Lyon before joining the team at the French American School of Denver. She worked mainly in schools where the social difficulties of families impacted student success. For a year, Romane taught French to children arriving from Turkey, Albania, and Serbia. She is originally from Saint-Gervais, a ski resort at the foot of Mont Blanc. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences and a Master's degree in Teaching and Education. Romane loves theater, running, hiking and discovering new places. She enjoys playing handball (a European team sport) and is very close to her family.
Frédérique (she goes by “Fred”or “Frédérique”), originally Parisian, has been living in Mexico City for the past 30 years. She and her husband have recently relocated to Denver. Fredérique lives her life in French, Spanish and English and believes that being able to communicate in more than one language helps understand different cultures and opens a wide range of possibilities in all aspects of life. She earned an architecture degree and worked in that field before pursuing a career in education. Fred has worked as a pre-school and elementary school teacher at the French Lycée in Mexico City for the last 12 years. Frédérique is committed to the idea that every child is unique and learns in their own way, which makes her teaching approach diverse. She likes to learn about new teaching methodologies and brings much of what she investigates to the classroom in the hopes of enriching her students experience. Above all, Fred is convinced that learning is possible when a child is happy at school. Outside of the classroom, she likes to travel, ski, hike, read, go to museums, and meet with friends. She's happy to be in Denver and looks forward to enjoying the beauty of nature and the mountains. She usually spends her summers in France and/or traveling elsewhere. She and her husband have three grown-up children.
Fabienne was a teacher in France before joining the French American School of Denver. She taught 3th grade for the French Ministry of Education at the public elementary school of Prédieu in Saint-Egrève, France. She brings 27 years of experience teaching grades
preschool through 5th. She loves her job. She was born in Grenoble (capital of the french Alpes). She holds a master degree in Spanish. She is used to spend holidays in Spain (Barcelona and Costa Brava) with her husband and their 3 children. Outside of school, Fabienne enjoys reading, gardening, traveling with her family.
Before joining the French American School of Denver, Manon was a teacher in France in a school near the city of Lyon. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Educational Sciences as well as a Master's Degree in Teaching Professions. She is interested in different ways of teaching and likes to refine her practice according to what she can read in different educational research. Manon is originally from Albertville in the French Alps. Outside of school Manon enjoys traveling, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Cécilia first worked as a teacher in the Paris region and then moved to Haute-Savoie, in the Alps near Annecy. She studied in Spain in Cordoba, Andalusia, and has a master degree in Spanish language, literature, and civilization. She has been teaching for 23 years and has been based in Doussard, a large school in a village on the shores of Lake Annecy, for 8 years. In this school she was in charge of the 3rd and 4th grades (Ce2, Cm1). She has therefore a solid experience on these levels. She was part of a group of teachers who met regularly to share their practices. She likes to exchange, discuss and learn from others. She comes here with her husband and two daughters to discover American culture and to share her French knowledge. The two places she loves to spend time are the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. She had a motorhome with which she traveled all over Europe with her family. She especially enjoys hiking, traveling, reading and spending time with her family.
With more than twenty-three years of experience teaching first to fifth-grade students in different private schools in France, Eric has become an expert at commanding student attention and at developing confidence. Over a span of ten years he became specialized in fifth grade. His spouse Stéphanie, both teachers, they are very proud and excited to integrate our primary school experience and settle down with their two children. Eric most recently taught fifth grade in Guadeloupe, for 4 years. He has developed skills in detecting, monitoring and setting up help for students with specific needs. He's worked on self-esteem, emotional management and conflict resolution for several years. He was employed in a management position in an elementary school for two years, and became an assistant director for two years. Having a lifelong passion for education, Eric is excited by the prospect of working among the FASD staff and administrators to help more students flourish in their elementary years. Eric holds a Masters Degree in science and a Higher Graduate Diploma. Outside of school, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, skiing, motorcycling, camping, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
English/ELD/ Social Studies
Justin is currently an English teacher for Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and 4th Grade. He comes from a background in middle school English, having taught both 7th and 8th grades. He has a masters degree in secondary education and a bachelor’s degree in English. He decided to move to Colorado 4 years ago from Riverside, California, where he was born and raised, and he doesn’t regret that decision. He loves Colorado and thoroughly enjoys having a winter each year. He has a cat who takes up a lot of his time. Justin is also an avid video game collector and really enjoys hiking, rock climbing, painting, and playing guitar.
Emily previously taught middle and elementary school in Richmond VA, Hangzhou China, and Lyon France before moving to Denver in August 2022. She holds two master’s degrees in Curriculum Development and Educational Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Middle School Education. Emily believes in giving all students the opportunity to reach their full potential and works creatively in the classroom to help every member of her class thrive. In addition to teaching Emily loves reading, baking (still learning this high-altitude baking), traveling with her family, and creating crafting projects with her two daughters.
English Teacher/GT Coordinator
Verna Rolland, hailing from Southern Colorado near the Great Sand Dunes, is passionate about languages and cultures. Before becoming a classroom teacher, she taught yoga and mindfulness for 13 years, discovering her love for teaching despite being a shy introvert. In London, she worked in an Autism Centre and experienced the importance of giving children with needs a voice and understanding from their teachers. Verna enjoys family time in France, immersing in French culture and exploring historic sites. Her interests include reading, yoga, and traveling. Verna advocates for early language learning for all US children, especially glad to see such opportunities growing in her home state. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Holistic Wellness and a Master's in Education, she creates engaging and diverse learning environments that foster curiosity, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning.
Special Education Teacher
Jordan, born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is passionate about fostering genuine and authentic relationships, exercising creative expression, and being an advocate and voice for her students. She graduated from the University of New Mexico, holding her bachelors degree in special education. Before joining The French American School of Denver, Jordan taught elementary and middle school students in a variety of settings including an art integration school as well as a facility school working with students with severe emotional and behavioural needs. Jordan also travelled abroad to Thailand where she explored the culture, cuisine, and received her TESOL certification. While living in Thailand for 8 months, she passionately taught Thai students English as a second language. She said that this was one of the most rewarding, memorable, and growth fostering experiences of her life. Outside of school, Jordan enjoys painting, journaling, spending time with her family, trying new foods, and dancing in her kitchen.
Dayna grew up outside of Philadelphia and moved to Denver with her boyfriend & two cats, Buddy & Belle, in January of 2023. Dayna holds a BS in Nutrition & Dietetics from West Chester University of Pennsylvania & has a true passion for nourishing both the body and mind. Upon graduating, she was a full time dance instructor for children of all ages which is where her love for education began. Prior to moving, she made the transition into the preschool classroom where she continued to help kids spark their creativity while learning. She believes every child has their own pathway to success and finds great joy in helping them achieve it. Dayna fell in love with FASD after an assignment as a substitute teacher and is so excited to join the team this year! Outside of school she enjoys cooking, relaxing on the beach (or by a pool), spending time with her family and exploring all of the beauty Colorado has to offer.
Our Support Staff
Jillian was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. After high school, Jillian moved to Paris, France to work as a jeune fille au pair (nanny). There she pursued her French studies at the Sorbonne and fell in love with the French language and culture. Upon returning to Colorado, Jillian attended the University of Colorado at Denver where she earned a bachelor’s degree with double major concentrations in French and International Studies. She also holds a D.A.L.F (Diplôme approfondi de langue française) from the French Ministry of Education. Jillian worked in elementary schools as a paraprofessional before beginning her career in business operations. She lives in the Denver area with her husband and two kids. As a family, they love camping and traveling.
Front Desk Receptionist
Joshua Hill was born in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. Upon graduating high school, he studied film at UC Denver where he fell in love with the French Language. After achieving a minor in French and becoming an honorary member of the Pi Delta Phi French honor society, he lived in Rouen, France and worked as an English teacher. Upon returning to the U.S., he worked in bilingual customer service for clients from Quebec. In his free time, he enjoys making music and working on creative projects.
Thomas De Miniac
Antoinette Schmitz, RN
FASD BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We ensure the French American School of Denver’s compliance to its contract with Denver Public Schools, set and monitor the implementation of school policies, manage the school’s annual budget and financial planning, and hire and evaluate the performance of our Head of Schools. For a complete list of board responsibilities click below.
Contact the Board – To reach the FASD board please email Board@fasdenver.org.
Board of Directors
Wendy holds a master’s degree in Arts Administration and has 20 years of experience driving fundraising efforts for several leading cultural institutions. Most recently, she led events for the American Academy in Rome, where she worked in a bilingual environment to plan fundraising galas in both New York and Rome. Prior to this, she oversaw special events programs for the New York Botanical Garden, American Ballet Theatre, and the Metropolitan Opera, and led major gift campaigns for the San Francisco Symphony and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is honored to serve on the Board and to utilize her experience to create innovative strategies that will help the French American School of Denver continue to build capacity and exceed fundraising goals. Wendy relocated to Denver from New York with her husband Ari Pelto and her son Alessio, now in 3rd Grade at FASD.
Stefan, a parent of two FAS Denver students, was born in Vienna, Austria to a Swedish father and American mother and studied at the Lycee Francais in Jerusalem while in elementary school. Stefan is an Associate Director for Accenture, a large multinational consulting company, where he specializes in managing complex technical cloud implementations for his clients. This work, in which he interfaces with a global team daily, continues to strengthen his values in the importance of language and cultural awareness. Additionally, the nature of his profession requires Stefan to be capable of working well under pressure, solving complex problems, communicating very clearly, and bringing people together to achieve common goals. Stefan brings these same skills to the FAS Denver Board.
Bio Coming Soon
Kiana Sarraf Joersz, JD, TIPC
Kiana is an experienced attorney and advisor, with 15+ years consulting and advising for a top-tier investment bank, private firms, and and in various roles with federal agencies. Kiana is additionally the Chief Operating Office of a consulting and coaching firm, focusing on trauma-informed processes and methodologies for executives and professionals.
David is the president of building solutions for Cypress Envirosystems. He has worked with Internet of Things (IoT) technology for over 15 years and energy-related industries for over 20 years.
Before joining Cypress, David worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture where he assisted utilities in their selection of IoT technologies, crafted their strategies in the smart homes market, and helped develop California’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategy. He also worked for Shell Oil and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan. David holds a BS from Michigan State University and an MBA from Dartmouth College.
Special Thanks to all our Founding Board Members:
SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY COMMITTEE
The purpose of the SAC is to inform, encourage and provide opportunities for parent and community members to be involved in the planning and evaluation of the school’s instructional program and quality improvement process.
To develop bilingual, bi-literate learners through a French language-immersion curriculum meeting the highest educational standards of the United States and France and delivered in a highly diverse learning environment that promotes critical thinking, creativity and empathy.
To be a premier bilingual educational institution that prepares students for success in local and international high schools and universities; inspires them to pursue personal and professional opportunities around the world; and encourages them to be lifelong learners and community leaders who can connect with others in one of the world’s most widely-spoken and influential languages.
Contact the SAC Committee:
Email Address Pending
Head of School: Suzanne Acheson
Vice Chair: TBD
PTO Liaison: TBD
Board Member: Open
Community Member: Open
Member: Laura Landgreen
Founder & Board Emerita
Emmanuel (Manu) Bidan
Founding Director of Curriculum
Yohainna Abdala-Mesa, Founding Board Member
Tara Bardeen, Founding Board Vice Chair
Emmanuel Bidan, Founding Director of Curriculum
Marie Elalem, Founding Board Member
Wendy Fisher, Founding Board Member
Martin Lafitte, French Curriculum Advisor
Isabelle Shiffrin, Founding Board Secretary
Jean Claude Ndefu, Founding Board Member, Community Liaison
Angela Strange, Founding Board Chair