Skip to main content
Sign In

School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development


Engaged Classroom Certificate

Instructor Bios


Laura Weaver, MA, joined the PassageWorks Institute in 2003 and currently serves as a core faculty member and Co-Executive Director of the Institute.  The PassageWorks Institute supports educators to develop an authentic and intentional teaching practice and to integrate social, emotional and academic learning into the classroom. Laura teaches courses and workshops, offers presentations, consults with schools, develops resources for educators and parents, and facilitates rites of passage programs for young people. She is also the co-author of  the upcoming book Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching (Solution Tree, 2013).  Before joining PassageWorks, Laura taught college English and founded and directed Bridges: an all-volunteer agency serving the needs of hungry and homeless people in the greater Philadelphia region. Laura is passionate about participating in the growing movement to transform education from the inside out.


Mark Wilding is the Executive Director of PassageWorks, and a member of the core faculty at the Institute.  He is the co-author of a new book for K-12 teachers, The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching (Solution Tree, 2013) In addition to his duties as a director, Mark teaches courses and workshops, facilitates conferences and dialogues, and presents keynotes and lectures. Mark works closely with Institute faculty to develop and deliver programs that support educators to develop the intrapersonal and interpersonal capacities necessary to: sustain an authentic teaching practice, engage students, support social, emotional and academic learning outcomes, and collaborate effectively with colleagues. Mark is the former director of Naropa University’s center for business and economics, and helped launch a graduate degree program at Naropa in 1995. Mark continues to teach graduate courses in authentic leadership and systems thinking at Naropa. Mark has held leadership roles in government, business, non-profit, and academic organizations. He has a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in Environmental Leadership.


Jennifer Wisniewski is a teacher at the Jefferson County Open School, where she has the freedom to design curriculum and collaborate with colleagues to create multi-disciplinary courses. Through her work at the Open School Jennifer is able to incorporate service learning and experiential learning into her courses and fuel the love of learning, travel and service with her students. Jennifer is also president of the non-profit Colorado Options in Education, which works to advocate for existing alternative schools and new ones to provide educational choices for all young people and provide support to school staff working in alternative education settings. Jennifer’s strongest passion in education is helping her students to self-actualize and become engaged in their education and their life while simultaneously critiquing the world around them.  Jennifer has an MA in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Colorado Denver. 


Sara Webb Hiris is a consultant and lecturer. Her work includes: creating and teaching university courses; offering professional development workshops; and, developing and evaluating programming for schools, districts, universities and other organizations. Sara completed her undergraduate work at Stanford University, where she studied human biology with a holistic health focus. She completed her Master’s in Education with a focus in the arts at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she worked on the Artful Thinking program at Project Zero. Sara is interested in finding and creating connections among arts, education, health, community and the environment.​


CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

1380 Lawrence St., Denver, CO 80204 | Map It

© The Regents of the University of Colorado, a body corporate. All rights reserved.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All trademarks are registered property of the University. Used by permission only.