ABOUT

ABOUT ST. COLUMBA
























Kevin Chick, Principal: A graduate of the University of Montana, Mr. Chick holds his undergraduate degree in History and Political Science, earning his Master’s Degree in School Administration. As a certified educator, he has taught at elementary, middle and high school levels. When not playing his guitar or fishing, he is a dedicated athletic coach.

A NOTE FROM OUR PRINCIPAL

At St. Columba Catholic School we provide an educational program designed to encourage every child to work effectively, to communicate articulately, to approach life with a sense of purpose and competence, all while developing a strong and supporting faith life.

Grounded in the Catholic faith, we are a close-knit community enriched by a diverse group of students, teachers, and parents working together to nurture students' minds and hearts. Our curriculum enables children to study the classic and the contemporary as they develop academic, artistic, and athletic skills and talents under the guidance of experienced teachers who take the time to know each child well.

Our goal is for our graduates to be successful students in secondary schools and responsible, thoughtful citizens of the world. We believe that in the process of preparing and guiding young people toward intellectual growth and moral and spiritual awareness, the beginning is everything.

Peace in Christ,

Kevin Chick
Principal

MEET OUR TEACHERS

St. Columba exists to develop in each student a striving for excellence, a maturing awareness of moral and spiritual values, a sense of responsible purpose, and a determination to serve the world with courage, graciousness, and compassion. We have lofty goals and a staff that is dedicated to meeting them.
Kelly Esrael
1st Grade 
Ms. Esrael is a graduate of Regis University at Denver. Kelly was raised near Memphis TN  & attended  Catholic grade school & high school. She has a bachelor's in education, special education, physical education & sociology; with a culturally linguistically diverse (CLD) endorsement. She taught 3rd grade at an expeditionary learning/Catholic school in Denver. In the summer, she worked as an outdoor educator, teaching kids rock climbing, kayak, canoe & mountain biking.  She loves teaching literacy & instilling a love for reading and writing. She believes in strong classroom community, faith based learning & creating an interactive learning environment.
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Amy Robertson
2nd Grade 
A graduate of the University of Nevada at Reno with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Mrs. Robertson comes to us from Anchorage, Alaska. Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, she has lived in many places, including Oklahoma and Tennessee, while her husband has pursued a career in the oil and gas industry. 

They are blessed with four children, and the two youngest currently attend St. Columba School. 

She loves sports, and enjoys coaching as well as playing basketball in her leisure time.


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Jane Martin
3rd Grade
Mrs. Martin loves 3rd grade!  In her undergraduate studies at a small Christian college, Birmingham-Southern College of Birmingham, AL she  did her first internship in third grade and truly fell in love with the classroom. With a Collaborative Bachelor's of Science degree in general Elementary Education and Special Education she also has a Master's in the Arts of Special Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has taught in three wonderful schools.
She and her husband moved to Durango in 2013 and  love their new community. They have a darling son, Zealand who keeps them busy!  
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Dianna May
4th Grade
A graduate of Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado, Ms. May is a Colorado native. 

 Her dynamic classroom is active with lively discussions. Many of Ms. May’s former students credit her for their solid organizational skills and strong study habits. 

 Ms. May is often seen with her students at recess, actively engaged in outdoor recreation. Ms. May spends her free time being “the best aunt” to her adoring nieces and nephews, and mountain biking throughout the area.
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Kelsey Yochum
5th Grade/Math
I graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and secondary education. Rockhurst is a Jesuit university located in Kansas City, Missouri. Studying in a Jesuit community taught me many values in life, but the one that struck me the most was Cura Personalis meaning “care for the whole person”. I hope to bring this value to my classroom in getting to know my students both in and outside of school.

While in college, I spent my summers working in Wyoming. This is where I learned that I had a love for the mountains and outdoor adventure. Before moving to Durango, I taught middle school math at St. Thomas Moore Catholic School in Kansas City Missouri.
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Mariah May-Ostendorp
6th Grade
Like a homing pigeon, Mrs. May-O keeps coming back to Durango & St. Columba. She attended from pre-k through 8th grade, graduating from St. Columba in 1996 & from Durango High School in 2000. She left Durango to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. She spent four years earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and collecting her husband-to-be, Pete, before returning to Durango and St. C for a year. She left teaching to raise three children & take another hiatus from Durango while Pete earned his Ph.D. in Boulder, CO. She returned once more in 2015 to teach Language Arts & kick off the new Theater program. She enjoys reading, sewing, knitting, gardening, and hiking & cross-country skiing in our beautiful mountains.
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Nicole Schnee 
7th grade/Science
With emphasis in Math and Science: A love of the outdoors & inquisitive nature led Ms. Schnee to Fort Lewis College where she obtained a B. S. in Biology. She had a passion and skill in studying Biology that related to Public Health, which led to some exciting personal research in microbiology and then to a two year AmeriCorps experience at San Juan Basin Health Department. She received her Masters of Teaching at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. When she is not doing mini science experiments of her own you can find her hiking, mountain biking, skiing or running.




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Lynn May
8th Grade 
With emphasis in English, Math and Social Studies: A graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

It is hard to tell who is more excited in Mrs. May’s classroom, the students, or the teacher. Energetic discussions and interesting projects are the foundation of Mrs. May’s lessons. This veteran educator provides a solid continuity and strong focus for the entire Middle School program. She is an invaluable asset to our youth. 

Mrs. May’s seven children are graduates of St. Columba School, and the tradition continues as she now has grandchildren enrolled.

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Linda Garcia-Long, Kindergarten Teacher
I have a B.F.A. in Interior Architecture and I am currently working on a MA in Education with a Reading Leadership Emphasis. Last year I was the kindergarten aide and fell in love with the classroom. I felt at home &filled with passion for teaching. It is where my heart & my head calls me to be.
In my previous career, I have over 15 years of experience managing complex projects & creating strong client relationships. My attention to detail and personable approach fosters a positive and safe classroom environment. I am passionate about using my gift of creativity in finding ways to engage all students to learn. I love crafting and reading with my  children, watching sports with my husband and traveling.
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Renata Clance
Physical Education
Renata Clance is from Slovak Republic, Europe.  Mrs. Clance studied at the University Pavol Jozef Safarik in General Pedagogy, Education Counseling, Psychology for Teacher and Physical Education. She graduated with a Bachelor and Master degrees with Honors. She taught at Catholic Secondary and High School Sv. Tomasa Akvinskeho for 11 yrs. In 2007 she moved to the US and in 2012 she obtained her teaching certificate and became a US Citizen. Renata has been working in the Ignacio and Bayfield School Districts for 6 years.
Mrs. Clance Has been blessed with three children, one grandson, and wonderful husband. She loves  listening to opera and musicals & spending time with  family. 
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Julie Romero
Theology
Mrs. Romero is certified in grades 1-8, with a computer literacy endorsement for grades 1-12. She has 14 years of teaching experience, with six years spent at the middle school level. 

 Before coming to St. Columba, Mrs. Romero served as a high school theology teacher and Campus Minister. Her gifts in curriculum and instruction, combined with her faith formation experience, are an outstanding addition to our middle school. 

Her positive attitude and faith-filled heart make her an excellent role model and mentor for our students.

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Jessie Byrnes
K-8 Art Teacher
Jessie Byrnes was born and raised in Wisconsin and moved to Colorado to attain her Studio Art degree at Fort Lewis College as well as a Psychology minor. Her art has been featured locally and awarded. Jesse has been teaching youth art programs for many years. She has skills in wheel throwing & handbuilding ceramics, Arc & MIG welding, woodworking, paper engineering, printmaking, drawing, & painting. She is an outdoor enthusiast! She feels most fulfilled surrounded by children. She focuses on filling hearts with laughter, nurturing a sense of wonder, & inspiring them to believe in themselves.  For her artist statement visit: jessiebyrnes.com. 
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Alisa Stuard 
Music
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Mrs. Stuard is a K-12 certified general music, band, and choral instructor with a focus in early childhood education. 

 A native of Iowa, Mrs. Stuard studied voice, piano, clarinet, and saxophone as a child. Mrs. Stuard spent the early years of her teaching career in Champaign, Illinois before moving to Durango in 2014 with her husband. 

 When not playing music, Mrs. Stuard can be found cheering for her beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers, playing fetch with Posey, or baking something new and awesome.



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Dr. Easton Stuard
Music, Band, Ensemble
Dr. Easton Stuard holds a BM in Jazz Studies from Univeristy of Oregon, a MM in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Iowa, and a DMA in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Illinois. Striving to incorporate commercial instruments and music with the traditional band model, Dr. Stuard and Mrs. Stuard teach a progressive methodology that is rooted in the most effective and time honored practices. Dr. Stuard plays the piano, flute, bass, drums, and enjoys composing and writing arrangements for the bands at St. Columba. He currently performs with the Afrobeatniks. Dr. Stuard enjoys watching football, playing with his dog, knitting, cooking, and breathing the mountain air.

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Denise Fox
Preschool Director
Denise Fox, Preschool Director: A graduate of Colorado State University with certification as an Early Childhood Administrator. 

The St. Columba Preschool reflects a team of enthusiastic, nurturing, and marvelously creative women who provide an engaging learning environment. Mrs. Fox is an outstanding leader to our amazing team, adored by her students as well as her faculty. 

A native of Pennsylvania and a rabid Steelers fan, Mrs. Fox enjoys relaxing in her kitchen creating world-class pastries.  

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Kelly Fiddler
Spanish
Kelly Fiddler: Spanish Teacher: Mrs. Fiddler has a Masters Degree from the University of Boulder, CO in Elementary Education with an emphasis in bilingual and multicultural studies and second language development. She has taught in the state of Colorado for 19 years, 17 of those in the public schools. She has a love of learning and teaching second languages and teaches languages through song, repetition, and technology. She is passionate about many things, especially her family and helping people achieve their highest potential in the field of health and wellness where she holds two certifications in healing and bringing the body back into balance


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Dan MacVeigh
School Maintenance

Gina Pastor
Chef

Heidi Martinez
School Office

HISTORY AND TRADITION

St. Columba School enjoys a rich and vibrant history, dating back to 1882. The Sisters of Mercy began their educational endeavors in Durango in a rented house on Grand Avenue, known as St. Mary’s Industrial and Day school. Soon after, a one-room St. Columba schoolhouse, adjacent to St. Columba church, was built. Construction on a new 20-room St. Mary’s Academy building east of the church was started in 1883. This building was the first three-story building in Durango and housed the convent, the school, and for a short time, the hospital. For the next 25 years, the Catholic children of Durango were served by two schools, St. Columba and St. Mary’s Academy.

When it became clear that one school would better serve the community, arrangements were made to operate St. Columba School utilizing the St. Mary’s Academy facilities, under the leadership of the Sisters of Mercy. As evidenced by a wealth of old newspaper articles, school events have always been a blessing to St. Columba parish.

In 1925 a new school building was completed; it was the tallest building in La Plata County at the time. This building, now home to St. Columba Preschool and Middle School, has been renamed the Hauser Building in honor of Sister Edith Marie Hauser, principal of St. Columba from 1983 to 2010.

In 1956, as elementary school enrollments grew after World War II, a major fundraising effort was undertaken for a new school building to alleviate overcrowding. That building, completed in 1958, is home to our elementary school today. Our community has been blessed with Catholic school tradition for 130 years, and we look forward to a thriving future!

For more history of St. Columba Parish, please review our detailed history book written by Mark House, St. Columba Church: A sign of God’s presence in Durango, compiled in 2006 for the Parish’s 125th anniversary.


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