Don Kotnik, Principal
Hello Lesher Families and Community,
I wanted to take a quick moment to introduce myself. My name is Don Kotnik and I am beyond excited to be your principal. I am humbled by this opportunity and will work hard to build lasting relationships with staff, students, and the community based on respect and trust.
My wife, Caitlin, works at Colorado State University as an academic advisor. We have three children (or wombats as we like to call them), Josephine (6), Caroline (4), and Anna (1). They keep us busy, tired, and proud. They will one day walk Lesher’s halls, as O’Dea and Lesher are our neighborhood schools. I’m willing to bet that you’ll meet them soon, running down the halls after school hours or in the gym watching volleyball, waiting for Dad to finish up his work day.
Both my wife and I hail from the great state of Ohio and are both alumni of THE Ohio State University. Go Bucks! I was born into a crazy family of Green Bay Packer fans. GO PACK GO! As a family we love to travel, hike, fish and kayak up in Red Feather, tend the garden, find a park, play Uno, have movie nights, and eat tacos.
I started my career in education teaching high school English at Huntington High School in Chillicothe, Ohio. When my wife and I moved to Colorado I took a job at North Valley Middle School in LaSalle, teaching reading and writing. At this point in my career I attended Colorado State University and received my principal’s license. From there, I wanted an experience in an elementary school. This desire brought me to Brantner Elementary School in Thornton, where I worked as a dean and then assistant principal. For the past four years I’ve been an assistant principal at Mountain View High School in Loveland. All of these experiences combined gives me fourteen years in education and I’m still learning something new every day.
At Lesher we have a strong history of academic and cultural success. We also have an experienced and dedicated teaching staff. As I take on this opportunity I look forward to collaborating as a community to make Lesher the best possible place it can be for our students, staff, and neighborhood. Thank you for the support and I look forward to meeting you all!
All the best,
Marc Heiser, 8th Grade Asst. Principal / Athletic & Activities Director
Hello Mighty Mighty Vikings!
I can't tell you all how excited and grateful I am to be the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director here at Lesher. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, I've lived in Tucson (Univ of Ariz) and Flagstaff (Northern Ariz Univ) where I studied Special Education and earned my teaching certifications in math and English Education. I taught both of these subjects while at Glendale HS in Arizona. I coached baseball and softball and was the Student Council Advisor as well. Most importantly, I met my wife while I was at GHS and we moved to Fort Collins in 2009. She has worked in middle and high schools and is currently a middle school principal at Longs Peak MS in Longmont. We have a shy dog named Gifford who brings us a ton of joy and are in the middle of looking to adopt a playmate for him.
Since moving to Colorado, I taught a math class at Aims Community College and was a Futures Counselor at Greeley Central HS and Heath MS. I then transitioned to dean of students while at Heath before accepting a high school assistant principal position at Loveland HS. I was at LHS for eleven wonderful years before making the move to become a Viking. I played baseball in high school and then in a men's league in Arizona, volunteered with Larimer County Search and Rescue for five years and now work closely with two non-profit organizations in Northern Colorado that serve residents in low income housing. You also need to know that I really love live music, especially in the beautiful outdoors, and will talk about books and movies anytime, anywhere.
I'm honored and excited to join the Lesher Community and feel fortunate to be a Viking!
Deana Kochis, 6th Grade Asst. Principal / Assessment Coordinator
Deana Kochis is a Colorado native and a proud mom, wife, sister, friend, and educator. She earned a B.A. in Public Relations and Language Arts with a minor in Spanish at Colorado State University. After teaching Language Arts and directing the theatre program at Fossil Ridge High School for over a decade, she earned her M.A. in Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University. Deana stepped out of the classroom in 2019 to serve as Dean of Students at Fossil. Her leadership journey continued as she perused additional leadership positions within Poudre School District and is honored to now be a Lesher Viking. Deana believes working with students, teachers, and families is the best job there; there is no greater power than learning and being part of a community.
Lisa Crossland, Dean of Students, 7th Grade Administrator / Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Coordinator
Lisa Crossland is starting her 22 year as a Viking! She believes there are few careers as important or rewarding as working with middle schoolers. She enjoys the FAMILY aboard the ship, strives to practice integrity in her dealings, and loves serving as a dean.
Ms. Crossland is honored the Lesher staff selected her as their Excellence in Education nominee in 2007-2008, Rotary Teacher of the Month in 2014, and Lesher’s August 2019 Staff Member of the Month.