Landmark Community School Staff
Leslie Patterson, Counseling, MA; Special Education, BA
Landmark Community School Director
Leslie Patterson is the the director and founding member of LCS. She has worked in the education field for over 20 years. As an instructor, counselor, and supervisor, she has helped create programs and classes for students and families to find the best educational fit for each student’s unique talents and interest. Her approach is creative and reaches outside the box. Her passion to work with marginalized youth brought her to Community Prep where in 2015, she developed Landmark Community School, under the CPS charter, for students struggling with substance use disorders.
The Landmark mission and program provides enrichment opportunities to students that they may investigate who they are and create a future based on self discovery, passion, and desire. Her mission is to understand how to meet the needs of students who struggle with substance use; her counseling expertise, insights, and research informs how she designs programs to meet the individual needs of the students. Her leadership at LCS gives students a safe space to work on the causes and conditions that lead them to use drugs. Patterson believes in not shaming drug use, but encouraging honest conversation and meeting students where they are to support them in their sobriety.
“The concept of Recovery High Schools intrigued me as a solution for youth who needed and wanted support from substance use. I was interested in creating a unique learning environment that tapped into the talents, creativity and skills of this population. The majority of the students who land at LCS are very smart and have extraordinary creative talent. We nurture those intelligences that many times have gone unnoticed.”
Greg Cope, PhD
Greg Cope is a founding figure at Landmark Community School. Through his guidance, time, and experience with over forty five years in education, he has helped craft the school’s instructional design and curricular approach through research-based methods. Greg’s background is in music arts education. During his doctorate research in experiential education, he developed The Scholar Model: a brain-based, performance based, problem-based learning system which he has brought to Landmark’s approach. He has helped establish four public alternative charter schools and founded The Transformation Course (Outdoor Experiential/Adventure Growth Opportunity) at Glen Erie Conference Center. He continues to aid public school initiatives and alternative learners through his consultation at Community Prep and Landmark Community School. He’s a Colorado native, married 43 years to his wife Janet. He has three daughters and three grandchildren who fill his life. His personal mission is to see students discover purpose and meaning in their lives that, so that, in turn, they may help shape the future.
Raj Solanki, Humanities Coordinator
Raj holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara as well as a Masters in Teaching from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. He is currently the Humanities Coordinator at LCS, providing individual and group instruction, student mentorship, and curriculum design.
Raj was the Co-founder of Mountain Song Community School (K-8 Public Waldorf School) and the school’s Director from 2015-2017. Before being in leadership, he worked at Community Prep as an English teacher, also serving many other roles such as Music teacher, Curriculum Developer, Philosophy/Mindfulness teacher, PBL Project Leader, Entrepreneurship Project leader and teacher. He worked in designing and implementing self-directed, project-oriented curriculum for at-risk students and also organized student travel to Mexico.
“I was attracted to Landmark because I have a passion for helping teens overcome their challenges while developing and pursuing their goals. The most positive aspect of this work for me is seeing a student overcome a challenge, discover something about him/herself, and to be proud of a personal accomplishment. My hope for these students, is that they recover their relationship with learning and life, that they discover themselves and take positive steps to unfold their destinies.”
A passion for mentoring young people into an understanding of their own unique interests, gifts, and genius guides Raj’s every interaction with students, and he has had the opportunity to share not only his love for literature, social studies, and philosophy with young people, but also his love for music and self-development.
Michael Burdick, B.S., STEM Coordinator
Registered Yoga Teacher 500, Pursuing M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health with an Herbal Concentration, Training CACI
Michael has been with Landmark Community School since July 2017. He is the STEM Coordinator for Mathematics, Science and Technology Studies at LCS. He designs and implements course instruction within these areas that meet state standards and provide students with quality knowledge that they can use in everyday life. He worked as a dissection assistant and anatomy A&P lab teacher during his time at UCCS where he also served the Chancellor Task Force as an active committee member. During his laboratory work in chemistry, he shadowed a world renowned doctor in organic synthesis and pyrotechnics.
Michael also runs the Culinary Arts Program for LCS, implementing a full spectrum course that envelopes students in knowledge of brain chemistry, physiology and understanding drug use and remediation from previous use. A yoga teacher for almost two years, he provides knowledge and application of many healing modalities. He was also a mentor and tutor for Mission Possible.
Michael works hard to see these students graduate. He helps them have pride in their path to recovery and to live as successful beings, honoring their potential and overcoming challenges they experience.
“I was attracted to Landmark because of my love for teaching and supporting youth, especially those who are afflicted by addiction. My own path in recovery has brought me a large amount of compassion for the community and constant effort in analyzing how I may to bring love, acceptance, and healing to this community. The most amazing aspect of working with these students, is seeing them conquer their goals and aspirations and flourish in their self-love and confidence. They want to be here and they know we are here as a family who truly cares for their well being.”
Gannon Shea, MA, CACII
Gannon Shea is a Counselor at Community Prep and joined Landmark Community School in 2017. She has played an integral role in LCS’s growth, providing support, knowledge, and valuable experience to the staff and families of the community. Her career with at-risk students has shown her that both abuse and substance use deeply impact student’s lives and education. She believes it’s imperative to address these issues to help students reach their full potential and their dreams. Gannon greatly enjoys being a positive part Landmark’s journey. This year, she hopes to help foster guidance for the students and help them realize their worth and meet their long term goals.
Amy Blackshear, Certified Art & Play Therapist
Ms. Blackshear has taught art to K-12 students for 15 years. A certified art therapist, Amy now incorporates a therapeutic approach with at-risk teens through intuitive painting and mixed media encounter classes. She is very excited about helping teens overcoming addiction to create a “Constellation of Support” and enhance their recovery through art-making.
Charlotte Miller, MA
Community Art Project
Art has always been part of my life with an interest in creating found object art and teaching art. I’ve been teaching art since 1990. Over the course of my teaching career I developed a studio art curriculum with new courses at a private high school in Virginia. After moving to Colorado Springs in 2005 I became the lead art teacher at a K – 8 charter school developing a strong art integration program. In 2014, I became a technical and creative art teacher at Community Prep School instructing not just art but bringing my passion for bicycling into the learning bike shop. I’m excited to be a part of the Landmark Community School staff and look forward to bringing my multiple talents to enrich Landmark Community School.