Meet Our Team

Danae Duke

Academy Director

Danae grew up in Southern California and moved to Colorado Springs with her family in 2005. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from Hope International University and a Master's Degree in Leadership from UCCS. She joins HillSprings after serving in District 11 as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and reading interventionist.  Her passion to serve families affected by learning differences grows each and every day. Most of her free time is spent with her husband, David, her daughter, Tricia, and their cat, Socks.

Gail Iida


Gail grew up in southern California, and then moved with her family to Arizona. She graduated from the University of Arizona after completing a dual program in elementary and special education. Soon after that, Gail was drawn to the mountains and moved to Manitou Springs, Colorado. She earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and spent many years teaching in public schools.  She thoroughly enjoys working at HillSprings because she watches students learn and grow every day. When Gail is not teaching, she delights in spending time with her husband, Tom, and her son, Max.

Kate Jefferson


Kate grew up in West Orange, N.J, attended The University of Northern Colorado, and received her Master's degree from The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.  Kate worked as a Resource Teacher in Re-2 Penrose-Florence and Academy D20 school districts.  Kate was recognized as National Educator of the Year for the Council for Learning Disabilities in 2010 for her exceptional ability to teach students with learning differences.  Kate and her husband, Jed, have two grown children, Mallory and Blake.  She enjoys traveling, skiing, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.

LaRae Keyes

Resource Dev't & Educator

LaRae grew up in central Illinois and attended Cedarville University in Ohio.  After receiving her M.Ed in special education gifted and talented from Wright State University, she moved to the Washington DC area.  She worked for Renaissance Weekend and Fairfax County Public Schools.  In 2003, LaRae and her husband, Bruce, moved to Colorado Springs.  They have three children (Carly, Cody, and Kenzie) with dyslexia who have all attended HillSprings Academy.  In her spare time she enjoys traveling, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and reading.

Lori McCauley

Professional Development Director

Lori received her BA in Elementary Education from Augustana College and her MS in Special Education from the University of Oregon. She worked as a special education teacher in the public school system for 22 years before starting a private tutoring business. Committed to explicit, systematic, direct instruction, Lori has spent the majority of her teaching career instructing students individually and in small groups. In 2004, she became one of the founding members of HillSprings.  Lori has served as the Executive Director of HillSprings.  After her semi-retirement, she continues to teach professional development courses.

Michele Renberger

Executive Assistant

Michele grew up in central Kansas and attended Fort Hays State University (FHSU) where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Education.  She worked as a scheduling coordinator for two years at FHSU before moving to Wichita, Kansas.  There she spent nine years working at the Wichita State University Foundation with donor relations and special events.  Upon moving to Colorado Springs, she had the opportunity to work in the events department at Focus on the Family for two years.  Her most recent experience includes raising her two precious daughters (Alyssa and Brooklyn) with her husband, Devin.  Both of their children are enrolled at HillSprings Academy.  She enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

Vicki Unger


Vicki received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University, but has lived in Colorado for more than thirty years.  After “retiring” from a local school district as a special education teacher, Vicki began teaching at HillSprings. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, one dog, one cat, and a variety of backyard wildlife. Her idea of a perfect day is reading a good book by a crackling fire on a snowy day in Estes Park.

Cathy Vana


Cathy grew up in Pennsylvania. After receiving her undergraduate degree there, she moved to Colorado and taught in a variety of public schools, including Hanover District, Elbert District, and Harrison District #2, during which time she earned her master’s degree at the University of Colorado in Denver. In her final public school position, in Academy School District #20, she served as a teacher in grades 2 and 5, as a Title One reading specialist, and finally as an assessment coach, before retiring in 2011. Cathy has two grown children and is the doting owner of two rescue dogs. Cathy loves hiking and reading.

Sharon Webster


Sharon hails from New York. She received her BA in Theater and Speech from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Eventually, she settled back in New York City and attended the Pratt Institute for Architecture in Brooklyn. In 1990, her husband’s business took them to Marina Del Rey, California, where she earned her degree in Education at UCLA. She then taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2002, they moved to Colorado Spring where she continues to teach.  Sharon enjoys live theater, art exhibits, and museums of all kinds.


437 Windchime Place
Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Phone: (719) 576-3840

Fax: (719) 576-3863

© 2017 by HillSprings Academy