Douglas County Parents is a community group that was formed in the summer of 2013 out of concern over the destructive policies that the Douglas County (Colorado) reform-minded Board of Education and central administration had forced upon the families of our community. We are composed of parents and community members of a variety of professions and political affiliations. Since our founding, we have worked to inform the community about educational issues affecting DCSD and have helped to elect Board of Education directors who support public education.
The Douglas County Parents Board:
PATTI HICKEY (email)
Patti was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado and attended Littleton Public Schools graduating from Heritage High School. She went on to the University of Northern Colorado earning her degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood. Patti taught 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade in LPS spanning 13 years. She and her husband Brian moved to Douglas County in 1999 to start their family and put their future children in DCSD. They currently have 2 boys attending their neighborhood schools and thriving. Patti is now a domestic engineer, public school advocate and very involved with her children’s education and schools. She has a deep concern with the direction of the district and her heart is with the teachers and students. She wants all children to succeed in their schools and she wants strong teachers to lead them through. Public education is the foundation upon our communities and when it is strong all students can become productive citizens and grow with their communities.
MARIA LAUER (email)
Maria was born and raised in the Chicago area, where she attended public schools kindergarten through high school graduation. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Elementary Education from Rockford University, and a Master’s in Special Education from University of Colorado Denver. Maria has over 20 years of teaching experience, in both elementary classrooms, and as an elementary Learning Specialist.
Maria and her husband bought their Highlands Ranch home in 1991, after Maria had worked as a DCSD teacher for 3 years. Access to outstanding schools was an important factor in their choice to make their home in Douglas County. They have since raised 3 kids who all attended DCSD neighborhood schools.
Public education is a passion both professionally and personally for Maria. She believes that a strong public education system is a key pillar of a democratic society.
AMY MCDOWELL (email)
Amy is a Colorado native, attending public schools in WheatRidge, Colorado, from Kindergarten through High School. She attended Colorado State University where she graduated Cum Laude in Public Relations and Technical Journalism. She spent a semester abroad her senior year, where she met her husband, Brian, on Semester at Sea. On their journey through ten countries around the world, they discovered their mutual love for travel, and are excited to continue their world travels along with their two kids as they get older. Amy has spent her professional career working in public relations and event planning; she has planned hundreds of weddings and corporate events over the past 20 years. The hours she spent tutoring statistics students in college and volunteering in her kids’ elementary school classrooms has instilled a deep sense of respect and admiration for educators. Over the last four years, she has spent countless hours canvassing door to door on behalf of pro-public education candidates for school board and local government, and advocating for students and educators in Douglas County. She wishes for her own children, as well as for all children in DCSD, a portfolio of strong public schools that offer opportunities for all to succeed.
JEN VIRDIN (email)
Jen was born and raised in Eastern Pennsylvania where she received her education in public schools. Just after high school, she moved to Southern California where she earned a degree in communications and public relations. In 2005, she and her husband moved to Colorado to be more centrally located for her husband’s job.
When choosing where to live in Colorado, the school district played a large role in their decision. Jen and her husband moved to Castle Rock partly because of its small town charm, but largely because of the exceptional reputation of DCSD. As a stay-at-home mom, Jen is very involved in her children’s education, volunteering regularly at their school. After her kids had attended school for a couple years, Jen noticed that something was amiss. As she researched more, she realized that it was not only her children’s school, but the entire district that was affected and was the result of district initiatives.
Jen had always advocated for public education, but wanted to do more. She has served as the PTO secretary at Flagstone Elementary and currently serves as a parent representative on the School Accountability Committee (SAC) Rock Ridge Elementary School. Since 2013, Jen has volunteered with Douglas County Parents, working to improve the educational experiences of all kids in Douglas County.
JASON VIRDIN (email)
Jason was born in California and moved to Colorado in 2005. He and his wife, Jen, live in Castle Rock. Growing up in California, he attended public neighborhood schools. It was in middle and high school that he learned to play the trumpet and French horn in marching and concert bands, played the guitar in jazz band, and developed the appreciation for music that he still has today. In high school, he took advanced automotive and automotive electrical classes that fostered an interest in diagnosing and repairing late model vehicles and helped him develop the skills that would later become useful in his career. Currently, Jason works as a vocational instructor and technical writer, specializing in electrical and powertrain diagnostics. He also plays guitar and trumpet in bands on the weekends for fun. Jason’s indebtedness for the experiences he had in public schools and the desire for his children and others to experience similar opportunities drives his efforts to support public education and to move Douglas County School District in a positive direction.