Our Connections Teachers develop classroom content that incorporates diversity, interdisciplinary curriculum, and 21st century skills. Our talented teachers, all experts in their fields, endeavor to meet the needs and encourage the creative passions of each and every student through innovative lessons in art, foreign language, music and physical education.

  • art


    Students will focus on the technical application of materials, finding their creative voice and confidence through experimentation and persistence.

  • fl

    Foreign Language

    Students will learn to speak, read, and write in the chosen language and cultivate an appreciation for its culture and history.

  • music


    Students will learn multi-cultural music that tells a story from countries across the world through rhythm and beat.

  • PE

    Physical Education

    Students will participate in activities that incorporate physical movement and social and emotional wellness.


Meet our Connections Teachers



  • Julia L.

    B.A. Fine Arts and Art History - University of Colorado at Boulder

    As a native of a small town in Upstate New York, Ms. Julia has a passion for the great outdoors and adventure. Upon graduating from University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Fine Arts and Art History, she moved to central China for 5 years. There she taught ESL, IELTS, SAT, adult workplace communication courses, and private tutoring. From there, she moved to Cambodia for 2 years, where she taught for non-profit organizations and international private schools.

    Ms. Julia returned to Colorado in 2014 and started working for Denver Public Schools Kaleidoscope Corner at Park Hill, Westerly Creek, and Slavens Elementary School. She has been a part of the Discovery Link programs at Colfax and University Park Elementary. She loves to go on adventures in Colorado, explore the world, cook new dishes, and share good times with friends and families!


Foreign Language

  • Bouchra Rifki- French

    French Teacher
    B.A. French and English Linguistics, Caddi-Ayyad Univeristy (in Morocco)
    M.A. in Educational Psychology, Univeristy of Colorado at Denver

    Bouchra is originally from Morocco and moved to France as a young child, where she lived for seven years. Since coming to the United States, Bouchra has taught French at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She likes to help students experience the joy of learning a new language while also accumulating a strong knowledge about the French culture. Bouchra is trilingual in French, Arabic and English. In her spare time, Bouchra likes to spend time with my family and travel to other countries experience the cultures different from my own.

  • Francisco Gallegos - Spanish

    This bio is coming soon!

  • Miwako Winters - Japanese

    Japanese teacher
    B.A. in English Literature and Japanese pedagogy (in Japan)
    M.Ed. in Self-design with focus on differentiated instruction, Regis University
    Licensed in Japanese, Language Arts, and Linguistically Diverse Education in Colorado and Japan  

    Miwako was born and educated in Japan. Her teaching career started as an English teacher in Japan where she taught for more than 10 years. Since coming to the USA, she has taught various levels of Japanese at a community college, high schools, and middle school in the Denver Public and Cherry Creek School districts. Miwako developed and implemented Japanese curriculum for International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and was awarded for Excellence in Education from the Aurora Gateway Rotary (2019) and for Dedication and Enthusiasm from the Colorado Japanese Language Education Association (2010). Miwako believes that, through teaching a foreign language, she helps students become global citizens who are willing to cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds.  

    After retiring from public schools, she is extremely excited to be back in the education field and enjoys teaching Ricks’ students. In her spare time, Miwako likes hiking, biking, traveling, and playing with her newly-born granddaughter. 



  • Carol Smith

    Music Specialist
    B.A., Piano Performance, Carthage College

    This will be Carol's 21st year teaching at Ricks. Along with her 25 years of music teaching experience, Carol has studied graduate level piano at Florida State University, piano and choral conducting at the Lamont School of Music, as well as gifted education through the Morgridge School of Education at DU. She is a licensed Musikgarten instructor and participates in Orff teacher training workshops. In addition to sharing her passion for music with gifted children, Carol enjoys teaching singing classes for disabled adults, providing piano performances at nursing homes, and teaching her private piano students. Carol loves to play piano, hike in the mountains, and spend time with her family.


Physical Education

  • Alec Baldwin


    M.A. Secondary Education - Morningside University 2022

    B.S. Exercise Science with Coaching Minor - Black Hills State University 2016

    Alec recently moved to Denver from Des Moines. His previous roles as a coach and physical education teacher at Roosevelt High School and Callanan Middle School highlight his dedication to being a positive role model and advocate for health and fitness. He is also a former Division II Collegiate Athlete, achieving All-American 6-times in Cross Country and Track & Field. Additionally, he was a 2020 Olympic Trials Qualifier in the marathon. Beyond his athletic triumphs, Alec pursues holistic growth, dedicated to shaping lives through fitness education and coaching. Outside of school, you may see Alec running, hiking, biking, or walking his dog, Alfie.


Student Support

For students in need of accommodation, discover how our Student Support Team provides tailored strategies in multiple disciplines to aid in the success of our students. 

Learn More