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The Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative has an outstanding team of dedicated Special Education Teachers, Speech Pathologists, School Psychologists, and Occupational Therapists all of whom are determined to help students succeed. Out team members offer support and guidance, uniquely tailored to each student.

 


OFFICE STAFF

Riley Russell, Executive Assistant
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rileyGalloglyRiley Russell has been an Executive Assistant with the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative since 2016. Riley grew up in Billings, MT and graduated from Billings Senior High. After graduating Riley spent two years at Carroll College in Helena, MT before transferring to Montana State University and graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Community Health in 2015. Being a Montana native, she enjoys camping, snowboarding, hiking, as well as spending time with her husband, children and dogs.

 

 

 

 


 

Joyce Schmidt, Clerk/Business Manager
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joyceSchmidtOriginally from Wyoming, Joyce has been a resident of Montana since 1963 when her family moved to Bozeman so she and her siblings could attend school.  A graduate of the Bozeman Senior High School bi-centennial class, she later went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University, College of Business in Accounting in 1988. The following year she accepted a cost accounting position with a fortune 500 corporation--Hercules Inc.  Joyce worked in their aerospace division in Clearfield Utah and was assigned to Air Force contracts. Although Hercules offered a secure career path with many opportunities for growth Joyce and her husband chose to return to Bozeman to raise their young son close to family.  Joyce entered public service as an elected county official in 1994. Joyce served two terms as County Auditor and during her second term ran for the position of State Auditor in 2000.  Since leaving public service Joyce was employed as the General Manager and Accountant for two local family owned QSRs for a decade, until they were sold to outside concerns. This past summer Joyce was hired as the part-time Business Manager/Clerk for the Co-op and finds this new experience a blessing that is both challenging and rewarding.

Joyce met her husband Jerry, a gifted artist and inventor, in a high school art class.  They have been married since 1977 and have one child. Their son Robyn is also an artist who is presently working in his chosen field of advertising photography in New York City. Joyce enjoys taking walks with her husband, hiking, target shooting, gardening, reading, fishing with her Dad, time with family and friends, and working towards her goal of a balanced life filled with simple pleasures.


 

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS

Jennifer Lewis, Occupational Therapist
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jenniferLewisJennifer Lewis has been an occupational therapist for the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative since 2010.  A native of Iowa, she graduated from South Dakota State University with her B.S. in Psychology in 1999 and graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis with a Graduate Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2001.  Prior to moving to Montana in 2010, Jennifer worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and a California School District for 9 years.  Her professional development has focused on, but was not limited to, sensory integration, handwriting, reflex integration, executive function, oral motor, wheelchair seating/positioning, and assistive technology.  Jennifer pursued Assistive Technology through California State University - Northridge and received a Certification in Assistive Technology in 2014.  

Jennifer lives in Bozeman with her two children.  She enjoys participating in sports and outdoor activities, such as, camping, fishing and hiking.  Most of her free time is spent shuttling and watching her children participate in taekwondo, basketball, baseball, and gymnastics, or enjoying the Montana outdoors.

 



Julie Zimmerman, Occupational Therapist

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hannahMiller300Julie Zimmerman is our new Occupational Therapist! She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science in 2012 from Indiana University (Bloomington, IN), and her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2014 from Georgia Regents University (Augusta, GA). Originally from Virginia, she moved to Bozeman, MT in 2014 to get closer to “good” skiing and begin her OT career in acute care, outpatient, and driving rehabilitation. She is a new resident to West Yellowstone, MT and likes to downhill and backcountry ski in the winter. In the summer you can find her trail running, camping, hiking, and has newly started mountain biking. Year-round you can find her eating s’mores. : ) She will be serving West Yellowstone, Big Sky, and Ennis, MT schools. She has always been passionate about education and is excited to work with students of all ages this year and promote independence with education. The sky is the limit!

 


 

  PSYCHOLOGISTS

Lani Smith, The Special Education Director
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laniSmith2Lani graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Linfield College in 2008.  After graduating, she spent the next five years working with infants and toddlers with developmental delays in various early intervention agencies across Montana and Florida.  While in Florida, Lani worked closely with school based services and was first introduced to the school psychology profession.  During this time, Lani realized that this profession encompassed everything that she was passionate about.  After moving back to Montana, Lani decided to pursue a degree in School Psychology and in 2016 she graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Montana’s School Psychology program.  She completed her year-long internship at the Park County Special Education Cooperative in Livingston and received an Educational Specialist degree from University of Montana in May of 2017.  Lani is a nationally-certified school psychologist (NCSP) through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and is a member of Montana Association of School Psychologists (MASP) and School Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA Division 17).  Although Lani is just getting started in her profession, she has a long running passion for working with children and those who care for them.  Lani is originally from Kalispell but since moving to Bozeman she cannot imagine living anywhere else.  She is excited to start working with the Gallatin-Madison Cooperative and take on all of the successes and challenges that come with working with schools to ensure that children are reaching their greatest potential.

 



Jamie Greene, School Psychologist NCSP

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laniSmith2Jamie is a school psychologist who joined the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative in 2022. Jamie has always had a passion for working with and supporting children, and this paired with her interests in mental health support and education led her to the field of school psychology where Jamie enjoys supporting students and families in a variety of ways.

Jamie graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Seton Hall University in 2018. She then moved to Montana to pursue a career in school psychology and graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Montana’s School Psychology program in 2020. During her time in the graduate program, Jamie was fortunate enough to have practicum experiences training with the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative and getting to know their staff and students. Following this training and after completing a year-long school psychology internship at a local middle school, Jamie earned her Specialist in School Psychology degree from the University of Montana in 2021. Jamie is also a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and she is a member of the Montana Association of School Psychologists (MASP).

Jamie has worked with K-12 students in multiple schools across Montana with middle school age groups being her area of specialty. Providing counseling and social-emotional support are also particular areas of interest and passion for her. Jamie is excited to be at the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative working with all age groups and providing support and resources to our rural schools.

Jamie loves living in Montana and exploring the great outdoors! In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. 

 



Ashley Nash, Psychologist

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Originally from Montana City, Montana, Ashley recently graduated from the University of Montana with a Master’s degree in School Psychology. Ashley received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology with a minor in Human Development from Montana State University (Go Cats!). Ashley has always been interested in working with and supporting children and families in different ways. Throughout college and graduate school, she worked with individuals with an array of disabilities and from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Similarly, she has worked as a nanny for many years, was on Orientation Leader for Montana State University, and volunteered for several months in schools in rural villages in Fiji.

Ashley feels privileged to of had the opportunity of not only growing up and living in Montana, but working in several rural schools during her graduate school training. She is eager to continue to work with and serve students, families, and the school districts in the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative. In her free time, Ashley loves hiking, camping, rafting, finding new hot springs, and travelling around our beautiful state.

 


 

MacKenzie Affrunti, School Psychologist
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Mackenzie grew up in Colorado and then attended Montana State University in Bozeman, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. During college, Mackenzie worked in early childhood education and volunteered as a CAP mentor in Bozeman Public Schools. After graduation, Mackenzie returned to Colorado to work as a case manager for the Mental Health Corporation of Denver, working with the adult population. She quickly realized that, although she wanted to work in the mental health field, her passion was working with children and early intervention. She decided to pursue a degree in School Psychology and in 2007 received her Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from the University of Colorado-Denver.

She spent many years working as a School Psychologist in the Denver, Colorado area, servicing students in the K-12 grade levels. Mackenzie is a nationally-certified school psychologist (NCSP) through the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) and a member of the Montana Association of School Psychologists (MASP).

After taking time away from the field to be at home with her children, she is excited to be back working in the schools and is very much looking forward to working at the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Cooperative. She and her husband relocated to Bozeman in 2020 with their two boys and dog. Mackenzie is thrilled to be back in Montana and raise her boys here. As a family they enjoy mountain biking, camping, and skiing. Mackenzie also enjoys yoga, photography, cooking, and being in the mountains.

 


 

SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS

Rachel Babbitt Wright, Speech Therapist
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Rachel attended the University of Montana, receiving her bachelor's degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2015 and then graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology in 2017. Rachel enjoyed interning with the Gallatin-Madison Special Education Coop in the spring of her final year of grad school. She had always hoped she would make it back to Montana to work again in the coop schools again. After completing her clinical fellowship year in Lakewood, Washington public schools, Rachel returned to Bozeman to join back up with the sped coop in December 2018. Rachel holds her certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Her special interests are Childhood Apraxia of Speech and social pragmatic communication; however, she enjoys helping students overcome any nature of communication hurdle. Her favorite non-therapy part of the job is seeing wild animals on the drives to and from West Yellowstone. Rachel grew up in South Lake Tahoe, Ca where she learned her love for skiing, fly fishing, reading, and cooking, all of which she continues to enjoy here in Montana.

 


 

Shannon Childs, Speech Therapist
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shannonChilds2Shannon Childs has been a practicing speech-language pathologist since 2000. She joined the Gallatin Madison Special Education Cooperative in 2011.  Shannon has worked in schools, skilled nursing facilities and private practice. She has extensive experience in school based issues.  Her special interests in the field include speech science, school based language learning and education, neurogenic communication disorders, fluency disorders, hearing disorders in childhood, social communication disorders and augmentative and alternative communication. Shannon enjoys working with a wide population of children. She is committed to continuing her education and staying current on the latest research-based treatment methods.

Shannon was born and raised in Upstate New York.  She earned her B.S and M.S in Speech Language Pathology from Nazareth College of Rochester.  Shannon holds a certificate of clinical competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. She is a member of ASHA and MSHA.  

Shannon lives in Bozeman with her husband and two children.  She enjoys backpacking, yoga, skiing, photography and spending time with family and friends near a river, mountain or campfire!

 


 

Amanda Massey, Speech Therapist
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amandaDeJongeAmanda Massey began working for the Gallatin Madison Special Education Cooperative in 2014. She received her undergraduate degree in Communication Science in 2013 and graduated in 2014 with a graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Amanda grew up in a small town in West Michigan. She spent her childhood summers visiting extended family here in Montana. When her parents decided to move to Montana to become partners in the family potato farm, she knew she would end up there too. After graduation, she packed her bags and headed west to be closer to family.

Amanda now lives in Bozeman. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She also enjoys reading, skiing, boating, fishing, and exploring Montana’s beautiful landscape.

 


 
Amber Fortier, Speech Language Pathologist

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amberFortier300Amber received her undergraduate degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders in 2016. She received her masters degree in Speech Language pathology from the University of Montana in 2019. While in school, Amber participated in intensive intervention camps targeting social skills and literacy. She has a passion for alternative and augmentative communication and is excited about exploring different modalities to increase communicative success. Before graduating, Amber worked with children in early childhood education and mental health settings.  Amber was born and raised and Montana and currently resides in Belgrade with her husband and two children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, hiking, camping, and spending time with family.



 

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Julia Tucker, Special Education Teacher
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Julia Tucker is a special education teacher for the Gallatin Madison Special Education Cooperative. Her work in education began at age nineteen when she began a job as a special education aide in a self-contained classroom. This experience led her to pursue a teaching career.

A native of California, she graduated from the University of California Riverside with her B.S. in Liberal Studies in 2009. In 2010, she joined a teaching cohort at UCR where she completed a rigorous teaching credentialing program to work with students with mild to moderate disabilities.

In 2012, she relocated to Montana and spent eight years with Big Sky School District. Julia now lives in Belgrade MT with her husband and young son. Her family values agriculture and has an appreciation and respect for the wonderful natural resources Montana affords them.