Manual Leadership

Principal Dawkins and his leadership team are driven, dynamic educators, who have spent decades making a meaningful and measurable difference in the lives of students here in Colorado. Today, Mr. Dawkins and his leadership team, along with the Manual faculty and staff, are determined to deliver a world class education that demands excellence and includes high expectations for all their students. They are fully committed to their students, which is reflected in their 100% return rate, since Principal Dawkins tenure at Manual High School.

Principal Nick Dawkins


An education leader and catalyst for change, Mr. Dawkins has spent more than sixteen years working in Denver’s schools. His unwavering commitment to the students he serves has helped him develop deep insight into education and a belief that all students can achieve at the highest levels. He is constantly inspired by his students, which only deepens his resolve to make sure all of them are prepared to step into their greatness as they transition to college and careers.

Before arriving at Manual High School, Mr. Dawkins was principal of Denver’s Hamilton Middle School, where he worked to improve the culture, increase academic performance, close achievement gaps, and ensure equity and access for all students. In 2014, during his tenure at Hamilton Middle School, he was awarded the prestigious Education Center’s Principal of the Year award. Mr. Dawkins has also worked as a teacher at South High School, an administrative intern at Thomas Jefferson High School, and an assistant principal and principal-in-residence at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.

As a Principal of Manual High School, Mr. Dawkins is committed to building positive relationships that connect and motivate great people, as well as engage families and communities, which he knows impacts students’ success. Having grown up just six blocks away from Manual High School, Nick has deep roots in the community and a steadfast belief in the boundless potential of the kids he serves. As an innovative and successful educator, he is routinely called on to share his expertise as a speaker at industry events and conferences.


Assistant Principal Dr. Colleen O’Brien


Dr. Colleen O’Brien is thrilled to be the Assistant Principal at Manual High School.   Colleen is a National Board Certified Teacher who, in her 21 years in the classroom, taught more than 3,000 middle and high school students democracy skills including critical reading, argumentative writing, persuasive speaking and deep thinking skills. She has supported teacher growth as instructional coach for more than a decade and specialized in creating literacy lab classrooms in cross content high schools classrooms.  Colleen is a long time DPS parent and brings 23 years of experience from Cherry Creek Schools to DPS. Colleen has a Doctorate in Leadership in Equity in Education, a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, and undergraduate degrees in history and political science.


Assistant Principal Douglas Clinkscales


Doug Clinkscales has worked at Manual since the school reopened in the 2007 – 2008 school year.   He taught social studies for 5 years and served as the school’s head football coach from 2009-2013.  Clinkscales has been the school’s athletic director since 2011.


Cheri Wright, Assistant Principal and Career Connect Director 


An enthusiastic proponent for bringing relevance to education through career connections, Cheri brings six years of industry experience as a Chemical Engineer, two years as an English teacher in Ecuador and nineteen years as a math and science teacher in Denver Public Schools to her crusade to help all students find their personal pathway to a meaningful career.  In her six years as a bilingual math and science teacher, Cheri created equitable opportunities and rigorous courses for English Language Learners.  As the Career Connect Director at Manual, Cheri combines all of her experience to create unique career programs that meet the needs of a variety of students, insure high academic accessibility for English language learners and integration of math and the sciences to increase post-graduation options for all students at Manual.


Assistant Principal Cortney Durista-Lockhart



Chris DeRemer, Dean of Students


Chris DeRemer is a teacher and Dean of Students at Manual High School in Denver, Colorado. He is currently a Catapult Leadership Fellow and Educator Voice Fellow through America Achieves. Before starting at Manual, Chris was a teacher in the Adams 12 School District and at Logos International School Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While overseas Chris also started Cambodia Bike Project which provided bicycles to help at-risk youth attend school. He received both is B.A. and M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He lives in Denver with his wife Leanne and his son, Hayes. You can find Chris online at or on Twitter at @DeRemerEdTalk.


LeGina Layman, Dean of Students



Kristen Moreland, Dean of Instruction


Soul supporter.  Language Artist. Social Justice Warrior.

After teaching middle school language arts for 15 years on 3 different continents, Kristen transitioned to be a full time instructional coach in 2013.  A former Peace Corps volunteer, Kristen continues to demonstrate her commitment to equity as she supports the growth of culturally responsive educators both at Manual and district wide. In addition to providing differentiated coaching for the teachers she supports,  she serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver for the Denver Teacher Residency program, teaching courses in Urban Education, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and Literacy in Secondary Math and Science classrooms.  Trained in Cognitive Coaching, Adaptive Schools and Facilitative Leadership, Kristen has a Bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Colorado, and Masters degrees in Social Work and International Development from the University of Denver.   


Staci Porter-Bentley, Assistant Administrator


Leader in Education-Staci Porter-Bentley, a native of Denver, Colorado, graduated from Bishop Machebeuf Catholic High School in 1987. She earned her B.A. in communications with a minor in education from Regis University in 1991; she later earned her master’s degree in education administration from the University of Phoenix.

Talented Educator-Staci began her professional teaching career with Denver Public Schools in 1992. Her roles have included classroom teacher, resource specialist, administrator and Gifted and Talented coordinator. In 2007, she was recognized by Mayor John Hickenlooper with the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

Eye for Quality-Staci and her father, Lonnie Porter, began the Lonnie Porter Summer Academy in 1995. Staci has worked as a diligent director – selecting outstanding teachers to work with students who attend the academy – to teach high achieving students who serve as leaders in their schools and communities.

 Kelli Lesh, SAL