Leadership Team

Tom Smith
Tom Smith - Interim Head of School
Tom Smith has dedicated his career to education and building community. Prior to joining CEC Tom was a Boys and Girls Club administrator followed by several years in higher education as an advisor, academic director and university registrar. He earned a B.A. in History from West Virginia University and  his M.S in Organizational Leadership and Change from Colorado Technical University. Outside of school, Tom enjoys exercise, spending time outdoors and cooking.

 Laura Schmitz
Laura Schmitz - Dean of Academics

Laura Schmitz is the Dean of Academics at Colorado Early Colleges Aurora overseeing English, Humanities, and ELD. She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri Columbia with her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education. Ms. Schmitz moved to Colorado in 2012 and started her career in education at Aurora Public Schools teaching middle school Language Arts. She started working as a high school English Teacher at CECA when we opened in 2017. Ms. Schmitz has also been an Instructional Coach, Assessment Coordinator, MTSS Coordinator, and NHS Adviser for our campus. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, and traveling.

Contact: laura.schmitz@coloradoearlycolleges.org

Shirley Lia 
Shirley Lia - Dean of Academics

 

Shirley Lia is the Dean of Academics at Colorado Early Colleges Aurora overseeing CTE, STEM, Math, Science, and Electives. Ms. Lia has a Bachelor’s Degrees in Education (Technological and Applied Studies) and Master’s Degree in Education (Educational Administration). Ms. Lia maintains a professional principal/teacher license and a Career and Technical Education (CTE) credential. Ms. Lia has a very diverse educational and employment background. Her experience includes six years in school leadership roles such as Assistant Principal (7-12), Summer School Principal (9-12), Restorative Practices Coordinator, Activities Coordinator, Department Supervisor, Teacher Evaluator, PLC Facilitator, and Team Leader. Her teaching experience includes 14 years in CTE roles K-12 and 3 years in 3rd grade. Experience in public, private, option, CTE, urban, and suburban schools in the United States and in international settings has broadened Ms. Lia's understanding and knowledge of the challenges and successes all educational settings may face today. Ms. Lia has a special appreciation and love for educational settings and, in particular, those in culturally diverse communities. Ms. Lia has and continues to thoroughly enjoy working with students of all ages.

 

Contact: shirley.lia@coloradoearlycolleges.org 

 Mike McDonnell
Mike McDonnell - Director of Campus Culture

 

Mike has been working with kids in education for over 15 years. I have a wife named Jenny and a daughter named Sophia. I love to watch football, play golf, and travel. 

 

Contact: mike.mcdonnell@coloradoearlycolleges.org 

Director of Admissions
Ana Casillas - Director of Admissions

Ana Casillas is the Director of Admissions here at Colorado Early Colleges Aurora she is originally from Denver, Colorado and graduated from Metropolitan State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development in 2018. She started her professional career here at CECA in 2019 as an Admissions Assistant and has also served as our Registrar. In her free time she enjoys volunteering, reading, hiking and exploring Colorado.

 

Contact: Ana.casillas@coloradoearlycolleges.org