top of page

Early Childhood & Specialized Education

Kristina Lutke - Early Childhood Inclusion

Lutke, Kristina.jpg

     Hello, my name is Kristina Lutke and I am originally from Minnesota but moved to Las Vegas 21 years ago. I went to college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where it was very cold, so I love Las Vegas weather. I have been teaching preschoolers with special needs for 23 years and can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. I've been at Vassiliadis since it opened and prior to that, I had the opportunity to support other early childhood special education teachers working with Student Support Services. I am also Nationally Board certified. I love being in the classroom and allowing students to learn through hands-on activities.

     I am married to a teacher, and we have 2 energetic children, Gavin (8th grade) & Siena (6th grade). In our free time, you can find us at the softball field or at the hockey rink. We also enjoy camping, traveling, and swimming.

     I personally love reading and share my love of reading in the classroom.  I can’t pick just one of my favorite books, but I do love hearing my own kids read & retell stories.  I encourage all families to read to their child every night and let him/her read to you (even if it’s by just looking at the pictures).

Lauren Christie - ECSE

Christie, Lauren.jpg

     Hello parents and students! My name is Lauren Christie and I’m originally from Ypsilanti, Michigan but have lived in Las Vegas since November of 2007. I completed my undergrad degree at Ferris State University where I also played collegiate level volleyball, Go Bulldogs! Lastly, I graduated in 2011 from The University of Las Vegas Nevada where I obtained my M.Ed. in Special Education.

     I started my career in special education back in 2011 with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Early Intervention Program. For 8 years I provided specialized intervention services to children ages birth to three with developmental delays or disabilities, and their families. Other services included comprehensive evaluations, service coordination, and supervision.  I’m looking forward to teaching and creating a positive learning experience for everyone. I can’t wait to meet my students and families!

I’m married with two children; my son Ashton and my daughter Ava. I love spending quality time with my family and making memories. During down time we enjoy traveling back to Michigan and Nebraska to visit our extended family and friends.  Thanks for getting to know me, I look forward to meeting everyone. 

Cassandra Beckman- Primary SLD

Beckman, Cassandra.jpg

     Hello! My name is Cassandra Beckman-Berdan. My spouse and I moved to Las Vegas in 2021 and we love it here! I was born and raised in southern Wisconsin. What feels like many years ago, I received my undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. I worked with children with Autism and their families doing ABA and social skills training for 10 years before, going back to college. I received a Master’s in Teaching and Learning from Concordia University. I started teaching in 2017 in the Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin. 

     In the classroom, creating a passion for learning and building student confidence are my foremost goals. I look forward to helping each student realize their full potential and how to use what they already know to continue to grow. 

     When I am not teaching, I love spending time with my family, my cats, and my friends. My husband and I enjoy trying new restaurants, cooking, and doing projects around the house. My favorite activities are meeting with my book club, reading, cooking, and gardening.

     I can’t wait to meet and work with you and your child! This is going to be a phenomenal school year!

Unique Brown - Special Educator, Intermediate SLD

Brown, Unique.jpg

     Hello, I'm Mrs. Brown and I am honored to be teaching the Intermediate SLD program for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Vassiliadis! I am a true Vegas native; born and raised. I attended CCSD schools for elementary, middle, and high school. I graduated from an awesome high school called Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy where I completed their Law Enforcement program. Before finding my passion for teaching Special Education, I  pursued a career in law enforcement and was an intern at the Clark County Coroner's Office. I completed my undergrad at UNLV (Go Rebels!) and received my Bachelor's of Science in Special Education.

        I'm married to the best guy who works as a firefighter here in Las Vegas. When I'm not teaching I really enjoy my free time relaxing at home, spending time with my husband & friends, and taking spin classes. You can also find me bargain shopping, sipping on an iced coffee, participating in inclusive events around the valley for people with special needs, and probably laminating more items for my classroom. 

      Teaching Special Education is my absolute jam and I am very passionate about advocating for ALL students to have an inclusive learning experience. I create a safe and loving classroom environment where your children are represented and encouraged to try new things. I believe in setting high expectations, teaching students how to be problem solvers, and encouraging students to try their personal best. I cannot wait for the phenomenal year that is ahead of us, working with our excellent Special Education team and families!

Erica Smith - Primary Autism

Smith, Erica.jpg

     Hello Vassiliadis families! My name is Erica Smith, and I am beyond excited to begin my third year as the Primary Autism teacher at Vassiliadis Elementary. My family relocated back to Nevada in the summer of 2022 from the Midwest, where we had been living for the past ten years, to be closer to family. We are thrilled to live in such a geologically and culturally diverse part of the country. We have been enjoying everything this city has to offer, especially the opportunity to be outdoors year round. 

     I earned my bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fort Hays State University, and I am currently pursuing my Master of Science in Education Administration. Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of teaching students, primarily preschool through fifth grade, in general and special education. My goal is to foster a welcoming and positive community in my classroom that champions inclusivity and ensures that all learners, including your child, have an equal opportunity to thrive in the best environment possible. 

     I am a proud mom to two creative and spirited children who bring immense joy to my life. In our free time, we love to explore and travel. I am particularly fond of the oceans and mountains, but also enjoy a science museum and a local library. I am constantly on the lookout for children’s literature to add to my ever-growing library, and love discovering science facts about the Earth, animals, and insects. I am eagerly looking forward to working with and getting to know each of your students, so I can cater to their individual needs and help each of them shine this year! Every student has something unique to contribute to our classroom, and I am excited to discover what your child will bring to ours.

     Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to know and care for your children!

Natalie Peterson - Special Educator - Resource

Peterson, Natalie.jpg

     Hello Vassiliadis families! My name is Natalie Peterson and I’m so happy to be starting my 16th year in public education as a bear cub. I am originally from outside Chicago, IL but moved out West after highschool to attend University of Colorado at Boulder. I earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and elementary education. I began my career on the Western Slope of Colorado as a 1st grade teacher where I also worked towards my masters degree in culturally linguistically diverse special education. Four years later, my husband’s career took us to New Mexico where I was a K-5 special education teacher and an instructional interventionist. During this time, I obtained my National Board Certification in early childhood literacy and language arts. A handful of years ago we landed in Las Vegas. Since then, I’ve had general and special education classroom experiences and most recently worked at the central office as a project facilitator. 

     When I’m not busy teaching, I love to rock climb, read, cook, and spend time with friends and family. My husband and I relocated to Las Vegas for the amazing outdoor access and take advantage of it every weekend. We spend a lot of time at Red Rock, Mt. Charleston, and the Utah Hills. 

     My heart is in the classroom, so I am happy to have found a home at Vassiliadis. I believe all children can learn and I love figuring out what works best for students. I take great pride in my dedication to creating inclusive learning environments that meet all learning needs. I’m looking forward to building relationships with the Vassiliadis community.  

Nechama Gewirtz - Special Educator - Resource 

     Hello! My name is Nechama Gewirtz and I am so excited to by part of the Vassiliadis Team! I come from a family of educators in which education was always a priority. I knew from a very young age that I would want to continue on that same path. My first teaching job was straight out of high school and I have never looked back since! This will be the start of my 17th year teaching and I couldn’t be more excited.

     I grew up in New York where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree and a dual Master’s Degree in General Education and Special Education in both early childhood and elementary education at Daemen College. After that, I continued my education and received my second Master’s Degree in Educational Administration at St. John’s University. In New York, I taught early childhood, special education for many years and then K-8 resource room as well. In New York, I met my husband, Shimon, and we have been married for 14 years. We have five beautiful children, 3 boys and twin girls!

    In 2014, we relocated to sunny Las Vegas due to my husband’s job and we couldn’t be happier. For the past three years I have been a Resource teacher at Cashman Middle School in grades 6-8. It was there that I decided to further my credentials and pursued my National Boards Certification which was a real learning experience for me. While I do love working with middle school students, my passion is truly in elementary school and I am so excited to be back! 

     As a family, we enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, hiking at Red Rock, rollerblading, swimming and spending time in parks (Fox Hills is our family favorite:). In my free time I enjoy working out at the gym, biking, cooking, reading and spending time with family and friends. 

I am looking forward to a wonderful year at Vassiliadis. I believe that children learn best from those they trust and feel comfortable with. My goal is to create those relationships with my students so I can have a greater impact on their learning and their lives. 

Amber Ponte - Special Educator - Resource 

Ponte, Amber.jpg

     Hi! My name is Amber Ponte, and I am proud to be a resource teacher at Vassiliadis Elementary. I have been a licensed teacher with CCSD for 15 years, and have experience in teaching grades 1-4. Having been born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, I obtained my teaching degree at UNLV. I have always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a child. When I was in elementary school, I used to play “teacher” at home in my room with my stuffed animals posing as my students, so I am convinced it is my calling as a profession. However, this profession is more than just a career to me. It is something that I truly enjoy doing every day, and is a part of who I am.  Having the opportunity to work with children and making a difference in their lives is what it’s all about. I connect with kids on a very positive level, and we always seem to make every school day fun together.        I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and I have lived here for 40 years. I have been married to my incredible husband, Dave, for the last 14 years. We have a wonderful son, Jax, who also attends Vassiliadis. When I have any free time, I like to spend it with my family, go out into nature, listen to music, or play with my pets. I also love working out and staying active by either going to the gym, riding my road-bike, hiking, or lifting weights in my garage.     

     Overall, I am excited to be a part of an amazing team who shares the same passion as I do, and I am looking forward to starting another year here at Vassiliadis. Let’s go, Cubs!!!

Sandy King - Special Education Instructional Facilitator

Bio Coming soon...

King, Sandra.jpg

Teresa Colarusso  - Adaptive PE

Bio coming soon...

Kristen Boyle - Speech/Language Pathologist

Boyle, Kristen.jpg

     Hello Vassiliadis parents and students, my name is Kristen Anderson-Boyle. I was born in Rapid City, SD and grew up traveling throughout the US as my father was an Air Force pilot. My graduate college education includes a Master of Education degree in Curriculum & Instruction and also a Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology. I am an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist and I also mentor several of our district’s speech-language pathologists, each year. 

     My experience in public education includes eight years within the Rapid City Area Schools located in South Dakota and twenty-eight years within the Clark County School District. As a speech-language pathologist, I am provided the opportunity to work with students of all ages and abilities and strive to make a positive impact on individual student speech-language needs. 

     When time permits, my husband and I enjoy hiking, swimming, traveling, reading and visiting our families. Each year, I am thrilled to be a member of Team Vassiliadis and always look forward to working with our dedicated students, parents, teachers, administration & additional staff. Go High-Flying Cubs!           

      Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."  ~Benjamin Franklin

Lori Jones - Speech/Language Pathologist

Jones, Lori.jpg

     Hello!  My name is Lori Jones, and I am so happy to be a part of the Vassiliades family! I am a native Nevadan.  I was born in Vegas but grew up in Reno.  I was fortunate enough to live on the island of Maui before moving back to Vegas, where my family is.   

     I am an N.V. licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. I graduated from UNR and have a Master's degree in Psychology. I service children from preschool to 5th grade with varying disabilities. I love being a speech therapist and feel blessed that I can help our little cubs.

     I am a mother of a wonderful son who is my pride and joy.   I enjoy traveling to new places, watching baseball (go Giants!), camping, and spending time with family.  My favorite place is at the beach, soaking in the sun and listening to the sounds of the ocean.  

    I love being a part of the Vassiliades team and look forward to each new year!

bottom of page