Principal  Mr. Alex Marquez:
Alex Marquez has been in the education field since 1990 and has worked as principal at JICHS since the summer of 2008. In addition to administration, Mr. Marquez teaches Character & Ethics, a required course for all JICHS students. He received an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1987, a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University in 1990, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2003. Mr. Marquez holds Colorado professional licenses in education for K-12 music and school administration. Prior to his role as principal at James Irwin Charter High School, Mr. Marquez’s career included one year as an elementary music teacher, seven years as a middle and high school Director of Bands, and seven and a half years as a school principal. His career also includes stints as a county manager for crisis counselors in Project HOPE, a bank trainer, and editor of a small newspaper.

Mr. Marquez met his wife, Ruthie, in 1985 and they have been happily married since 1990. Currently, they are busy raising four boys ranging in age from 12 to 18, and stay busy managing a small urban farm in their own city backyard complete with a garden, chickens and goats.  Their oldest son graduated from JICHS in May 2018, and their second son will graduate in May 2019.  While in Florida, Mr. Marquez was involved in several community theater productions and a brass quintet. He co-wrote a couple plays and several television scripts with his long-time writing partner who is a principal in North Dakota. One of their sitcom pilots placed in the semi-finals of a script competition in 2004. Their next endeavors include a motion picture script, a self-published novel series and several short video projects for a local production company. Mr. Marquez hopes one day to be able to contribute scripts and books that are family friendly, yet meaningful and inspiring. During the spring of 2016, Mr. Marquez played George Banks in the Forestgate Community Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins and was thrilled to return to the stage after a 15-year hiatus.

While enjoying being the principal of JICHS, Mr. Marquez also loves dating his wife, spending time with his children, writing, playing piano, singing, traveling, playing board and video games, and serving as a Bible teacher and counselor. After living in Florida his entire life, Mr. Marquez and his family moved to Colorado Springs in the summer of 2006. He states, “We absolutely love Colorado! James Irwin is an incredible school where the staff and parents team up to do what’s best for the students. The mission of JICHS, to develop students’ character and provide an academically rigorous program, is lived out each day in a real way with amazing teachers who truly care. I’m so excited to be part of one of the top schools in Colorado and feel incredibly blessed to serve alongside the best and finest faculty and staff anywhere.”


English Department

Joy Bears
A Denver, Colorado native, Mrs. Bears began teaching English at JICHS in 2013 and holds a degree in English and secondary education.  She brings with her two years of teaching experience from Mitchell and Sierra High School in Colorado Springs.  Mrs. Bears enjoys reading, camping, crafting and spending time with family.

Abbey Hartley
A Rosemount, Minnesota native, Ms. Hartley holds a degree in English and secondary education.  She taught one year in a Minnesota school district before joining the JICHS faculty in 2006.

Jaime Welsh
Colorado’s own, Jaime Welsh started teaching at JICHS in April 2014.  She teaches Speech and Logic and Photojournalism.  Ms. Welsh holds a Bachelor’s degree in communication from UCCS.    Her personal passion is to enjoy life.

Leighanne Zempel
Originally from Dahlonega, Georgia, Mrs. Zempel has lived out west since 2008.  She joined the faculty at JICHS in 2014.  She taught at the University of Wyoming for two years prior to moving to Colorado. Mrs. Zempel holds a Master’s degree in English with a focus in literary studies, and also has experience teaching composition, rhetoric, library research, and copy-editing courses. She and her husband are the proud dog-parents of a St. Bernard, a greyhound, and a chubby retriever. Other than continuously removing dog hair from her clothing, her hobbies include sewing, cooking, and listening to National Public Radio.

History Department

Sam Ashmore
A Detroit, Michigan native, Mr. Ashmore holds a degree in economics with a minor in mathematics. He joined the faculty at JICHS in 2013 and teaches American Government, Economics and Personal Finance. Mr. Ashmore enjoys music, movies and an array of outdoor activities.

Jim Downing
A native of Colorado Springs, Mr. Downing began teaching at JICHS in 2004. His World History II and Western Civilization students benefit from his many years as an adjunct professor of history at Pikes Peak Community College. Mr. Downing holds a Master’s degree in history. He enjoys writing, reading, bicycling, weightlifting and crocheting.


Math and Science Department

Renee Brouwer
Originally from Escondito, California, Mrs. Brouwer holds a degree in secondary education and history with endorsements in social studies and mathematics. She joined the faculty at JICHS in 2014 and teaches classes of Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and Intermediate Algebra. Before JICHS, she taught middle and high school history in South Dakota. Mrs. Brouwer’s hobbies include cooking, crocheting and reading.

Tom Hester
A San Francisco, California native, Mr. Hester teaches regular and AP Chemistry at JICHS. He was previously a biology and chemistry supplemental instructor at UCCS. Mr. Hester holds a degree in molecular biology with a minor in chemistry and pre-med. He is a music connoisseur and food enthusiast.

Beth Johnson
Mrs. Johnson is originally from the Grand Canyon State, Arizona. She brought with her twelve years of teaching experience when she joined the JICHS faculty in 2015. Mrs. Johnson teaches regular and AP Biology. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology education and a Master’s degree in biology.

David Kagarise
Originally from Middleton, New York, Mr. Kagarise moved around extensively as part of an Air Force family. He has called Colorado Springs home since 1977. Mr. Kagarise started teaching science and Computer Science at JICHS in 2008. He is currently completing his Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction. His favorite pastimes include officiating basketball, softball and football and constructing plastic model airplanes and vehicles.

Bridget McGrath
Her life as a “military brat” gave Ms. McGrath many opportunities to see the world. Ms. McGrath teaches Physics and mathematics where her students benefit from her college teaching experience. She holds an undergraduate degree in music and philosophy and a Master’s in physics. She enjoys reading, dancing, bridge, learning new things and languages.

Jenna Tustin
Ms. Tustin joined the staff of JICHS in August 2015. She teaches Biology and Physical Education. Ms. Tustin holds a Bachelor’s degree in zoology. She worked at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and with the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program prior to JICHS. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, crocheting, sewing swing dancing and volunteering at the zoo.

Amy Verner
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Verner joined the JICHS faculty in 2012. She teaches Algebra I and Algebra II. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education with concentrations in math and language arts. Ms. Verner enjoys indoor and outdoor rock climbing and crocheting.

Lindsay Williams
A Colorado native, Mrs. Williams holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from UCCS. She began teaching at JICHS in 2012 where she teaches math and Physics. Mrs. Williams enjoys improvisation comedy and running.

Foreign Language Department

Omar Ocasio-Rodriguez
A native Spanish-speaker from Puerto Rico, Mr. Ocasio-Rodriguez holds a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a Master’s degree in Strategic Management. He starting teaching Spanish at JICHS in 2015 and enjoys singing and playing the piano.

Brandon Prewitt
Mr. Prewitt, originally from Salida, Colorado, joined the JICHS staff in March of 2014. He teaches Spanish and Drama. Mr. Prewitt earned his Spanish degree from UCCS in 2013. His previous experience includes working with students in college practicum courses and training adults as a human resources specialist.

Darrin Skur
Originally from Virginia, Minnesota, Mr. Skur began teaching French at JICHS in 2015. His holds a degree in French and world history. His hobbies include sports, hunting, fishing and playing board games.

Other Content Areas

Marne Collins
A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ms. Collins holds a degree in education with a minor in music. She brings years of teaching experience in Lubbock and Austin, Texas. Ms. Collins joined the faculty at JICS in 2012 and teaches middle and high school choir and piano keyboarding. Her favorite hobby is hiking.

Suzan Mitchell
Suzan Mitchell grew up as a “military brat” and can say that the ten plus years she has resided in Colorado Springs is longer by far than anywhere else on earth she has lived. She teaches all aspects of art at JICHS. She received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University. While JICHS is the first time she has taught high school, she did teach a few stints in colleges on the East Coast and the Western Slope. She loves to hang out with family, read, and travel, do yoga and ride her amazing road bike in her spare time. She joined the JICHS faculty in 2012.

Janna Mulder
A Lynden, Washington native, Ms. Mulder teaches Band and Music Appreciation for both JICMS and JICHS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Vertical Instrumental Music Education from Dordt College. Ms. Mulder enjoys playing her bassoon at church and in the Pikes Peak Philharmonic in her spare time. She started teaching at JICHS in 2014.

Rob Wagner
Mr. Wagner was born in Germany and moved to Colorado Springs at the age of 5. He joined the JICHS faculty in March, 2013 where he serves as the Dean of Students and teaches Character and Ethics. Mr. Wagner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology.