Meet our LEAD Teachers

Deborah Saunders: Master and 6-8yo (Lucidos) teacher

Deborah has lived in Gunnison since 1994 and has 21 years of experience working with children. Starting at age 15 she worked in pre-schools and after-school programs, and later as a camp counselor. After graduating from Western Colorado University with a degree in elementary education and Spanish, she was a reading specialist and ELL teacher for 2nd and 3rd graders at the Gunnison Elementary School. She taught 2nd and 3rd grade in Crested Butte as well. After having kids of her own, Deborah homeschooled her two oldest, Mia and Luke, from preschool through 5th grade. Both kids are now in high school. Deborah is homeschooling Jemma, age 6. She says, “I think my greatest asset as a teacher is my understanding of, and ability to relate to, kids. Also, I enjoy sharing the fine arts with children. This is my dream job!”

Leah Starinieri:  9-11yo (Lectores)

Leah (Mrs. Star) comes to us with a long history of educational experience, having worked in public schools in secondary mathematics and music, with K-2nd graders, and as both director and teacher in childcare.  Leah has a Master’s Degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Inclusive Classroom from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies: Human Development from California State University in San Bernardino, California. Leah and her husband, Jason, have 3 children: John, who just finished his Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Biology at CSU Ft. Collins and has begun work on his Master’s in Etymology, Hannah, who attends Mansfield University in Pennsylvania online, and Lydia, who serves as an Intern at the LEAD Program. Leah and Jason homeschooled their 3 children various lengths through middle school and high school and Leah brings the lessons learned there to share with us at LEAD. Jason and Leah have been in the ministry serving churches and currently serve as pastors at New Song Christian Fellowship in Gunnison. Leah has a kind and fun-loving nature and brings a depth of spiritual maturity to LEAD that is so valuable.

Holly Conwell: Teacher, K4/K5

Holly has a long history in Gunnison and has extensive experience in both teaching and mission work. As a teacher, Holly was involved with Kindergarten – 5th grade reading intervention for 7 years, worked as a teaching assistant for 1st and 3rd grades for 5 years, was nominated for an educator award in 2007, and taught discipleship training school classes through YWAM (Youth With A Mission). As a missionary, Holly worked over the course of 4 years in Israel, India, and Papua New Guinea, sharing the gospel, serving on medical missions in remote villages, and as a community engagement leader. She also trained groups of volunteers to work alongside medical teams and to present the gospel message.