Team Members

Jennifer Wilger, M.A.
Executive Director, Co-founder

M.A., Early Childhood
B.A., English, Westmont College
Special Education licensure, University of Colorado

Jennifer’s passion for curriculum development spans a wide variety of ages and settings, from preschool to high school. Her passion for teaching emerged in her teenage years, when she took a Child Psychology course as a high school sophomore. Through the years, she has benefited from the guidance of skilled mentors—an experience she hopes to share with the students of Temple Grandin School as they develop their passions in a supportive educational environment. At Temple Grandin School, Jennifer collaborates with staff, students and families to create individual learning plans for each student. She is a resource to teachers and parents to ensure that the resulting learning goals are communicated, understood, and implemented throughout the student’s day. Jennifer also guides Temple Grandin School’s collaboration with community partners for research and program planning. Jennifer is the parent of a bright young man with Asperger Syndrome, and has devoted intensive time and study (both in and out of the classroom) to understanding the Asperger learning style. She has many years of experience teaching children of all ages and abilities using a strength-based approach. In addition to her work at Temple Grandin School, Jennifer supervises student teachers in special education, participates in several family support networks, and is a frequent guest lecturer on autism and parenting topics.
“I believe every child is unique, and look forward to helping your children fulfill their potential as they learn and grow.”

David HazenDavid Hazen, M.A.
Co-founder, Administrator-on-special-assignment

M.A., Educational Admin. and Principal Licensure, University of Phoenix
Secondary Social Studies Teacher Licensure, Probe Program, University of Colorado
B.A., Theater, Eckerd College

In 2010-2011 David Hazen was the Head of School at Bridge School in Boulder. From 2005-2009 David served as Principal at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette CO. Prior to Peak to Peak Charter School, Mr. Hazen was the Principal at The Center for Discovery Learning (K-12th grade charter school) in Lakewood, Colorado from 2000-2003. In addition, from 1994–2000 he was the Assistant Director for Projects, Americorps, National Civilian Community Corps, in Denver Colorado.
 “The Temple Grandin School project stands out for me as the opportunity of a lifetime, creating a world class 21st Century School that breaks boundaries for all of its students.”

nisawebNisa B. Hallesy, BSOT
Program Development Specialist

B.S., Occupational Therapy, San Jose State University
NBCOT certified


Nisa brings over 26 years of experience with Asperger’s Syndrome , other neurocognitive differences and co-occurring mental health challenges.  Nisa’s three children have multiple diagnoses of neurocognitive differences, including Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).  One is now in college studying nursing, another is an engineer and lives independently and one is a senior at Temple Grandin School and is co-enrolled at Front Range Community College with dreams of pursuing a field in engineering or architecture.

Nisa has advocated for her own and others children in public and private schools, therapeutic programs and elsewhere. Her most recent professional experience was with the Western Institute of Neurodevelopmental Studies and Interventions (WINSi), where she set up an Occupational Therapy clinic and developed and ran the Occupational Therapy program in coordination with Dr. Kytja Voeller and colleagues. Nisa has been with Temple Grandin School from its inception and  continues to participate in program development, including life skills programming for the benefit of current and future TGS students and their families.

IMG_5572_ppAbigail O’Loughlin, M.A., BCBA
Director, Behavior Support Program

M.A. Special Education, Moderate to Severe Disabilities Ohio State University
B.A. Special Education, Learning Disabilities, Language Arts; Michigan State University

Abbey has had experience working with individuals between the ages of 3 and 26 years old with a range from mild to severe disabilities. While the majority of her work has focused on behavior modification and interventions, she has also directed theater productions, taught functional life skills, and lead academic instruction to all ages and all abilities. She is passionate about creating behavior interventions that are functional and feasible to implement not only throughout the school day, but also at home. She believes in constant and consistent reinforcement of all appropriate behavior in order to decrease the unexpected or maladaptive behaviors that hinder a child’s ability to function throughout the school day and in the community.

“That there could be a science of behavior, of what we do, of who we are? How could you resist that?”  -Donald Merle Baer


IMG_5637Lea Anne Paskvalich, B.A.
Director of Public Relations

B.A., Indiana University, Criminal Justice

Lea Anne has been active in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) as a mentor and group leader to families with special needs. She has served on district councils and committees involving special ed for over 10 years. She volunteered in the Child Development Unit at Children’s Hospital for two years as a parent liaison. Lea Anne recently resigned as a Board Member with the Autism Society of Boulder.  She taught in First Presbyterian Cooperative Preschool for two years and served as a BVSD substitute. She moved from Chicago to Colorado in 1998 with her husband and two children.

“I am delighted to work with Jen again and the extraordinary TGS team. Through my work with children and families in the community I have seen such a need for a school like TGS and I am honored to be a part of it all.”

Please contact Lea Anne if you have ideas or want to talk about s or want to volunteer for TGS.

IMG_5731_ppPolly Dana, M.A.
Head of School

M.A., Dartmouth College, Demography & Public Health
A.B., Princeton University, Geological & Geophysycal Sciences, cum laude
Certified Instructor: IB Biology & AP Chemistry

Polly has a diverse background in education. She has been part of the development of two small independent high schools in California and Florida.  While at Kyiv(Kiev) International School in Kyiv, Ukraine she defined the overall program and created the high school science and IB Biology programs. Other adventures in education include developing science curriculum and training middle school teachers through the University of Colorado, leading wilderness trips for Outward Bound and other programs, by land and sea. Polly has passion for kids and for learning; seeing kids grow and develop over time is what makes working at small schools especially rewarding. Polly has even more passions: the sea and sailing, her family, the mountains, skiing and tennis too!

amy160Amy Thrasher, M.A., CCC-SLP
Perspectives Instructor, Consultant

Clinical Assistant Professor, University of CO, Boulder
M.A., Speech-Language Pathology, University of CO, Boulder
B.A., Psychology, Williams College

Amy is a Clinical Assistant Professor at CU Boulder. Her main areas of interest have been the communication development of young children, early literacy, social communication and peer interaction. She has developed inclusive group intervention programs for students on the autism spectrum, including Story of Friendship for children preschool age to second grade, and Space Camp for elementary school age children.

Together with Jen Wilger, Amy coordinates the Perspectives program at Temple Grandin School. Perspectives provides explicit instruction in the process of social communication in order to lead to the flexible and appropriate use of social skills. The approach is based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner. Four graduate clinicians in speech-language pathology will assist in providing the intervention under Amy’s supervision.

On a personal note, Amy thrives when she is making art, attempting yoga, rock gardening, and being with her dog and husband by the creek.

Mandy HendersonMandy Henderson, MHP
Director, Counseling Support Program

B.A., Sociology, Luther College

Mandy is a recent transplant to Colorado from Minneapolis, MN and has worked in the Autism community for the past 8 years.   Most recently, Mandy completed a 6 year tenure at Fraser, Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of Autism services, where she served as a Mental Health Practitioner.  While at Fraser, she facilitated individual, family and group skills training, and led the adolescent day treatment program.

Mandy is passionate about working with teenagers and young adults with ASD. Through her work she strives to form meaningful relationships with kids and their families, and provide them with skills, strategies and resources that serve toward the achievement of a more fulfilling life.  Mandy is skilled at both making individual connections and facilitating groups, and loves to incorporate common interests like humor and music in her unique approach to building relationships.

Maura Seidel, B.A.
Behavior & Academic Support

B.A., Psychology, Lehigh University

Originally from the east coast, I have been working with individuals with learning and developmental disabilities in Colorado for eight years. I have worked with mild to severe children on the autism spectrum between the ages 6-18 both in center and home based programs.   I have experience working with these individuals on the areas of academic intervention, behavior reduction and life skills.  When not working, I am an avid skier in the winter and enjoy all the outdoor aspects of living in Colorado.

Doug Hill, B.S.
Facilities, Science, Hands-On Projects

B.S., Technological Studies/Tech Education, The College of New Jersey

“My background was in teaching industrial technology, from traditional woodshop to video production, before starting my own business teaching primitive skills and technology. I try to bring this hands-on approach to all of my teaching as, I feel, it is among the best ways to learn for most of us. We are a tactile species and anytime we can involve experience, it bridges the gap to knowledge.”