Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) Team Mission: Aurora Public Schools aims to become a trauma-informed school district, with the foundational belief that obtaining a developmentally relevant and biologically sensitive lens will not only impact the student population who has been impacted by trauma, but more importantly, boost the resilience of all staff and students. It is imperative that all of our staff know and understand human neurobiology to provide the best educational environments.

Our work is based on the Neurosequential Model developed by Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., a leading expert in child and adolescent mental health. Within our team, we have a number of individuals certified in the Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) or the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT). We have three main components that help us to turn our mission into action:  

Pilot Schools

The NME Systems Support Team will partner with identified and formally accepted APS schools with either an NME-certified core team of trained individuals or a team of individuals working towards certification. Our pilot schools will develop a school-wide vision and implementation plan for what NME looks like, to support all students within their school community. This will be done through the development of the use of district-wide common language, ongoing professional development led by school team and district staff, and embedded developmentally relevant and biologically sensitive approaches into the school’s MTSS framework. In addition there will be a shift in how we approach supporting and understanding student behavior toward creating a therapeutic web of support for all and increase their ability to leverage their unique social emotional skills to help shape a successful future. Through the development of NME pilot schools, the NME district cohort, and district-wide professional learning, staff will gain knowledge of NME concepts to support and accelerate our students' acquisition of social emotional skills allowing them to thrive academically. The NME system support team will strive to learn, work, and train using a lens of increased diversity, equity and inclusivity in order to foster opportunity and community for all the students and families that our district serves.

Individual Student Support

The NME Student Support Team will increase staff knowledge of neurobiological approaches to support student behavioral and social-emotional development; enhance staff regulation; build staff skills in implementing and progress monitoring neurodevelopmentally appropriate interventions within the school’s multi-tiered system of supports; and support staff to collaborate (or continue to collaborate) with multidisciplinary teams to enhance the wraparound community of supports for students. The NM Student Support Team will strive to conduct all interviews, observations, recommendations, and interventions using a lens and approach that honors diversity, equality, and increase the opportunities, support, and sense of community felt by all students and families that our district serves.

Professional Development

Members of the APS NM Team facilitate a number of professional development offerings open to our dedicated NM Pilot Schools as well as any staff in Aurora Public Schools. 


Dena Joslyn-Custer

NM Team Coordinator


I began my career as a child protection caseworker in 1994. In 2001, I shifted to a position where I was the liaison between Arapahoe County Human Services and the Sheridan School District. I developed a collaborative caseworker model while working with this district. I enjoyed working with the school district and assisted in the development of a collaborative community problem solving team that reviewed difficult student situations, provided support to students, families, and resources. I received a Child Welfare award for my work as a liaison with the district. In 2005, I made the shift to become a school social worker. I worked as the only school social worker for 11 years at Aurora Central High School. During this time I was also a cross country coach for 3 years, an after school program coordinator for Aurora Central, and the PBIS/MTSS building coordinator.  In 2016, I moved to a new position created in the district as the Risk Response Coordinator where I developed suicide risk and threat assessment systems and threat assessment protocols, provided training, and support in the district.  Since 2020, I have worked as the Mental Health & Counseling Coordinator for the Central Region, District Crisis Response Team Coordinator, and NM Coordinator. Outside of work, in the past 3 years I have served as an executive board member for the Colorado School Social Work Association.

Bridget Jackson

System Support Coach - Lead


I received my MSW from the University of Washington. I spent several years working as a school-based therapist in Adams County where I received my LCSW.  I've been a social worker in Aurora Public Schools since 2006 working in many schools around the district and I love connecting with and supporting our students and staff. 

Nicole Iselin

Student Support Coach - Lead


I've been a teacher, school psychologist, and currently serve as a Student Support Coach Lead on the Neurosequential Model Team.

Anna Melillo

Student Support Coach


Following undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill I was a high school math teacher for three years. I then decided to pursue my MSW at the University of Denver, with a focus on child mental health. I worked several years as a therapist at a residential treatment center before finding my way to APS and joining the NM Team!

Emma Topf

Student Support Coach 


I received my undergraduate degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of Nebraska, which sparked my passion for both systems and individualized work. During this time I spent several years studying and researching the effects of divorce on children, as well as the neurological changes that occur due to domestive violence. I obtained my Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Denver in Child, Family, and School Psychology; completed my internship in APS and a local autism clinic; and wrote my dissertation on the experiences of non-relational foster children navigating the Colorado public education system. I practiced as a traditional school psychologist in the district prior to becoming an NM coach. 

Jake Potter

Student Support Coach


Jake Potter is originally from Pennsylvania. He went to Penn State and received a bachelor's degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Jake started his educational career at a day treatment facility in Pittsburgh. He then moved to the Washington, D.C. area to become a 3rd grade teacher. During that time, he worked to complete his master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at the University of Maryland. Jake then switched roles and became a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Specialist. In 2010, Jake moved out to Colorado with his wife Teri who is also a teacher. Over the past 13 years Jake worked as a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Coordinator, in the Denver Public Schools system, as well as a Dean and a System Support Specialist for Aurora Public Schools. In 2022, Jake was offered the opportunity to work with the Neurosequential Model in Education team as a Student Support Coach. Jake enjoys a variety of outdoor activities with his wife, daughter and two bulldogs.

Kristin Nilsson

Systems Support Coach 


I am a social worker and I love working with systems and individuals! I have worked with children and families in many settings including schools, group homes, day treatment centers, residential centers, in-home therapy, and homeless centers.  

Lodia Lyle

Student Support Coach


Hello! My name is Lodia Lyle.  I am a NM Coach entering my twenty fourth year in education.  I began my career long ago in Boston as a School Counselor.  While in Massachusetts I was inspired to do more for my school community by entering The Principal Residency Network, an apprenticeship-based School Leadership program.  This led to opportunities as a Director of Student Support, School Design Coordinator and K-8 Principal.  This is my fourth year on the NM team and twelfth year in APS.  I thoroughly enjoy the collaborative nature of the Mental Health and Counseling department and look forward to connecting with schools to support students! 

Niki Barazia

Systems Support Coach 


I currently work as a district, Neurosequential Model (NM) Coach. Prior to this position, I worked in the Aurora Public Schools as an MTSS TOSA. I have also worked as a School Counselor and IB Teacher/Coordinator within the Chicago Public Schools developing instructional curriculum and system-wide social emotional learning programs. I completed my undergraduate work in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where I then went on to pursue my Master’s Degree in School Counseling and Educational Psychology from Loyola University-Chicago. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Regis University, along with a current principal license and am passionate about supporting students holistically from both an academic and social-emotional perspective. 

Vacant Position

Student Support Coach

Scott Clapsaddle

Student Support Coach 


Hello! My name is Scott Clapsaddle and I have a background in working with youth and families who have been impacted by trauma. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I received my Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver with a focus on family systems therapy in 2017. Some of my certifications include Neurosequential Model of Education Trainer,  Advanced Trainer in the Neurosequential Model of Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups facilitator, Crisis Prevention Institute trained, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention trained, and I am working towards becoming a Certified EMDR therapist and Synergetic Play therapist. I have also taken all the course work to receive my Licensed Addictions Counselor Certification. I have worked at Mount Saint Vincent Home for 7 years as both a direct care provider and as an individual and family therapist. Prior to that I have held a number of jobs working with children and families including working as a associate at the Children's Museum of Denver, a youth instructor for the fish and wildlife service, and interning at Noeticus Therapy Center as a therapist, and at the Bridge Project to support after school student programming.

NM Coach - Intern


NM Team


 Current Offerings

NME Professional Development Opportunities Handout

NM Student Support Request

In order for the Neurosequential Model (NM) Team to connect with school teams and appropriately complete student-specific referrals made during this school year, the referral form is now closed. The form will re-open on August 28th, 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year. In the interim, please direct questions to Dena Joslyn-Custer, MH&C and NM Coordinator (drjoslyn-custer@aurorak12.org), or check out our professional development opportunities and team website.