Mark Montaño, Visual Arts Teacher
Room Number: 227
Telephone Number: 720.424.0666
Mr. Montaño has spent 23 of his 25 years of teaching at Merrill Middle School. He holds a B.A. in Art Education from the University of New Mexico. He is a painter of southwest landscapes and wildlife and enjoys gallery hopping. What he enjoys most about teaching at Merrill is the diverse makeup of the student body and the strength of our staff. His interests include everything outdoors, including hunting, fishing, and camping.
Michael Quintana, Instrumental Music Teacher
Telephone Number: 720.424.0661
Room Number: 122
Mr. Quintana has a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Saxophone was his major instrument at UNC, but now he plays most any of the concert band instruments as well as guitar on a daily basis. He has spent 14 years as an educator in middle school and high school. He is a Merrill CSC member and also the Cross Country coach. What he most enjoys about teaching at Merrill is the excitement our students gain from learning music. His hobbies include running, biking, hiking and spending time with family.
Melody Horgan, Vocal Music Teacher
Telephone Number: 720.424.0662
Room Number: 123
Mrs. Horgan has spent 23 of her last 32 years as a teacher at Merrill Middle School. What she most enjoys about teaching at Merrill is the diverse student population and the cultural aspects they bring to our lives. In her spare time, Mrs. Horgan sings with the Skyline Chorus of Sweet Adelines International. She enjoys reading, painting at Canvas and Cocktails, walking and spending time with family.
Stephanie Graves, Physical Education Teacher
Room Number 115
Ms. Graves has been an educator for 11 years in the areas of Physical Education and Special Education. She earned her BA in Kinesiology-emphasis Physical Education from The University of Northern Colorado, and a MA in Special Education from Regis University. She is currently working on her second MA in Leadership and Administration from Jones International University. She loves learning new things and sharing her knowledge with her students and co-workers.
Ms. Graves currently teaches in the PLAN center and has learned how to integrate de-escalating skills, positive reinforcement, calming strategies, organizational strategies, problem solving, behavior plans, goal setting, and much much more.
Ms. Graves is a NATIVE Coloradoan, and has a daughter who is in the 4th grade and is the joy of my life. We have three dogs, a pit bull (Breckin), jack Russell terrier (Sadi), and a rat terrier (Pooky). We love to spend out time outdoors, especially at the pool in the summer and on the slopes in the winter.
David Kersten, Physical Education Teacher
Room Number Gym 1
Mr. Kersten is the physical education teacher at Merrill Middle School. He is in his 11th year of teaching in Denver Public Schools and is in his second year at Merrill. He has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Kinesiology with emphasis in teaching Physical Education levels k-12. He also hold a Masters of Science in Sports Administration and Law.
Mr. Kersten is the father of two young boys with his lovely wife of 8 years. They love to snowboard, ride bikes, and skate (either Ice or Inline). His oldest plays football, baseball, ice hockey and inline hockey. His little one enjoys gymnastics and bothering his older brother.
The Merrill community to Mr. Kersten, has been one that invites all creeds and paths of life to mesh together to pursue greatness. The children who attend Merrill are amazingly well behaved and they truly except each other regardless of what background they come from. It is a unique atmosphere that is inviting and challenging at the same time.
Julie Soldner, Spanish teacher
Email Address: Julie_Soldner@dpsk12.org
Room phone number: 720-424-4444
Room #: 104
Julie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2007 with a duel-degree in English and Spanish Secondary Education. She lived in Madrid, Spain from 2008-2012 teaching English as a second language in both Elementary and Middle School classrooms.
Julie loves to travel and learn about new cultures. In her free time, she likes to cook and spend time with family and friends. Being new to Colorado, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, running, biking and going to the mountains!
Blake Wright, Computer Teacher
Room Number 107
Blake graduated from The University of North Texas in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. He also has an Associates Degree from Tarrant County Community College. He brings seven years of teaching and coaching experience from the State of Texas. This is Mr Wright’s first year to teach at Merrill, and his first year to teach in Colorado. He is certified in Business Education 7-12, Technology Applications K-12, and Elementary Education K-6.
Mr. Wright has lived in Colorado for a little over a year. He loves spending time with his family and friends. His hobbies include: fly fishing, snowboarding, DJ’ing, producing music, and coaching hurdles at Chaparral High School.
Steve Zaharris, Math Teacher, SmartLab Facilitator
Room Number 117
Mr. Zaharris has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Teaching Certification from Metropolitan State College. He has spent 4 years as an educator at Merrill Middle School teaching 8th grade math. He is now the facilitator of the SmartLab. His hobbies include math, spending time with his 2 daughters, playing and watching sports. He also enjoys coaching Soccer and Volleyball at Merrill. Mr. Zaharris enjoys teaching at Merrill Middle School because of the diverse international population, the neighborhood, and the great staff members.