Teaching and Student Services

Jose Silva
Post-Secondary Dean

José has over 20 years of active involvement with community service organizations. Our letter writers for hire confirmed this information and even included it in their yearly updates. He served as a Fellow for Public Policy and Development for College Summit, Inc., in Washington, D.C. for three years, following his service as a Youth Development Fellow for The Piton Foundation in Denver. His previous work includes serving as Educational Consultant for Metrix Consulting in Denver and Director of Outreach for Raft Colorado. José has a BA in Sociology from the University of Denver and is currently working on a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership Management.

Sierra Platte
BA Spanish San Diego State University

Sierra is a native of Boulder who has recently returned to the area, where she can balance her passion to teach with her love of family and being in the great outdoors. She received her Bachelor Degree from San Diego State University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in Social Work. Sierra’s pursuit of Spanish stems from her desire to discover and facilitate true understanding and respect for cultural differences. Her vision for teaching Spanish as a second language is to break through traditional educational barriers and to bridge the cultural gap by helping students become actively engaged in learning about Spanish speaking cultures, as well as the language. In addition to covering grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure, Sierra’s students will join her in lively conversation, engage with native Spanish speakers during field trips, play games, create art and music and, of course, prepare FOOD! She has spent a great deal of time in past years in Central America studying, traveling, cooking and surfing. Now Sierra is looking forward to being back in Colorado, where she can camp, fish, bike, hike, become part of the Catalyst community, and continue her education. After all, we can never stop learning!

Shari Hardies
Catalyst Social Worker

Shari Hardies rejoined our staff in March. Shari is a licensed clinical social worker, and is also licensed as a special service provider to schools. Shari provides social and emotional support for students, teaches Health, and facilitates a curriculum that supports the students’ emotional health and well-being, both individually and as a group. Shari is implementing programs at Catalyst such as Restorative Justice, Peer Mediation and other group work. Shari interviews prospective students as well. She invites students or families to contact her for any reason.

John Kettling
Physical Science and Invention
BS  Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado
E-mail john.

John is a 20-year veteran of industrial and musical instrument engineering and manufacturing. He has been a science lab adviser for 17 years and has volunteered hundreds of hours guiding secondary students through internships and scholarships acquisition. John has served on the advisory board to the Rocky Mountain Children’s Clinic in Denver for 31 years. He holds a SCPD Certificate in Computer Security from Stanford University. He has studied nanotechnologies through Stanford’s Engineering Science Institute and neuroscience disciplines through Harvard University’s professional extension. John is an avid organ musician and collector of exotic antique automobiles. Finally, John is a Little League baseball fanatic, a writer of baseball stories, and a bit of a character.

Larry Runnels
Social Studies, Fitness
BA  Political Science, University of North Texas
MA  Diverse Learners, University of Phoenix

Larry Runnels has been teaching government, geography, history, life skills, physical education, and health in grades 6 -12 for the past thirty-five years in Colorado. Larry was named to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll for outstanding service above and beyond the call of duty while working in the Boulder Valley School District and has been recognized for outstanding teaching by the Jared Polis Foundation. His experience includes over ten years of team teaching language arts and history classes and also teaching online courses. Larry enjoys sports, including golfing and working out, and he has over ten years of varsity football coaching experience. The natural beauty of Colorado provides a perfect venue for Larry to exercise his passion of riding his Harley whenever possible.

Leanne Soucek
Social Studies, Language Arts
BA English Education, University of Florida, Gainesville
Highly Qualified in Social Studies, Certificate, Colorado

Leanne grew up in a military family, living in or traveling to many foreign countries. She is fluent in Spanish and also speaks some German and Persian. Leanne earned a B.A. in English at the University of Florida and completed graduate studies in education and counseling at Denver’s Regis University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, as well as at Denver and Fuller Seminaries. Leanne relishes her four trips to Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, where she and her students planted fruit trees with Navajo families. Leanne was a finalist for the Boulder Valley School District’s Community Foundation Impact on Education Award and her greatest life satisfaction comes from doing “impossible” things and recognizes that each of these accomplishments has required her own dedicated effort, but also the vital support of a “buddy community.”  Leanne says she experienced the true meaning of learning while climbing Mount Elbert one summer day with a group of her students that included a young woman who believed there was no way she could reach the summit; her buddies each promised, “We’ll help you!”  That day, every member of the group, including the young woman, summited Colorado’s highest peak. Leanne enjoys finding that kind of spirit at Catalyst High School.

Plett Gerardy
Chemistry, Physics, Math
BS Biological Science, Colorado State University

Plett earned her B.S. in Biological Science, with minors in Physics, Chemistry, and Astronomy, from Colorado State University. Plett’s diverse background with youth has included exposing them to photons in obscure locations like Kitt Peak, the VLA, or Mars Hill, hiking six miles through the deserts of Chaco in search of ancient supernova petro glyphs, and to teaching workshops in various topics like “Solar Cooking” and “Building Wind Tunnels.” She is a known founding member of the Mars Society and Managing Director of the East Mars Terra-forming Project in Louisville. She was once chosen Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow. She is addicted to sky watching, reading and writing, and has been notorious for her poetry. Plett claims to be the richest person on the planet because of the treasured opportunities and miraculous humans she has been fortunate enough to be exposed to.


Catalyst teachers come with years of experience. They are creative and flexible. They make decisions with students on the fly. They love research and learning new things every day with the students.