5th Grade

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Kari Howard

Science/Social Studies

I was born and raised in Illinois, where I attended the University of Illinois for undergrad. From there, I moved to Chicago, where I worked as a CPA before turning my passion for education into a career. I worked with students in Chicago, Belize, Denver, and China in a variety of roles before receiving my M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in gifted education, from the University of Denver. I student taught at Carson while in grad school, and was lucky enough to continue teaching here after graduating. I am thrilled to be a part of the Carson community and love helping students exercise creativity and grow their passions.

Outside of school, I am a fan of reading, yoga, cooking, outdoor activities, and spending time with my family, friends, and beloved dog, Siggy.

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Melissa McCalister


Born and raised in Texas, I lived there for 30 years before moving to Colorado 17 years ago. My teaching career spans 19 years with the last 14 at Carson, in which I have had the opportunity to enjoy the company of many wonderful fifth graders.

In my time as a teacher, I also developed a passion for educating through animal rescue and after volunteering with local shelters and metro area rescue organizations, my husband, Gregg, and I started Red Fern Animal Rescue. Our mission is to rescue dogs and cats from neglect/abandonment in south Texas and to relocate them to their “furever” homes in Colorado.

Gregg and I have a “few” canine children on the homefront (all rescues of course)!

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Kate Neider

Science/Social Studies

I was born in New York, spent most of my childhood in Maryland, and then moved to the fantastic state of Colorado as a young adult. I was incredibly fortunate to find a teaching position at this amazing school after spending a year student teaching here through DU’s master’s program. After student teaching in second and third grade, I serendipitously ended up in fifth grade, which has been the perfect grade for me!

In my free time, I love to read, hike, camp, and hang out with my fur babies (and occasionally some additional fosters). I currently have three rescue dogs and two rescue cats.

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Jennifer Holdeman


In 2014, I decided that I wanted to have a career where I felt I made a difference so I began teaching students who were below grade level in math. It was the most exhausting but rewarding job I ever had so I decided to make the leap from accounting to teaching. In 2015, I applied and was accepted to the Denver Teacher Residency Program. In 2016, I graduated from the University of Denver with a Masters Degree in Education. I have been teaching kindergarten at Carson since the fall of 2016.

I have two children Theo, age 19, and Nate, age 16. In my spare time I enjoy playing tennis, hiking, skiing, gardening, traveling and spending time with my family and friends.