1st Grade


First grade is an important and exciting year in a child’s life. The First Grade Team at Manitou Elementary is dedicated to providing students with an exceptional, memorable, and positive experience that will prepare them for the road of life ahead. We focus on high-quality academic instruction, experiential and exploratory learning, individual empowerment, social growth and relationships, and lots of laughter and fun!


CKLA has two different components, both of which are taught to first graders on a daily basis:

CKLA (Core Knowledge Language Arts) Skills
This is the nuts and bolts of reading and writing. During skills time, kids will practice phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, grammar, handwriting, sentence writing, paragraph writing, and many more elements of literacy.

CKLA (Core Knowledge Language Arts) Listening & Learning
Each day the kids listen to a passage read by the teacher. They participate in a discussion about the topic (called a domain), and then they complete fun, experiential, dynamic activities related to what they learned and discussed. Most domains have a culminating activity, such as a field trip, museum day, performance, or other event. The topics are divided into eleven domains:
1. Fables and Stories
2. The Human Body
3. Different Lands, Similar Stories
4. Early World Civilizations
5. Early American Civilizations
6. Astronomy
7. History of the Earth
8. Animals and Habitats
9. Fairy Tales
10. A New Nation
11. Frontier Explorers

Math in Focus
Math in Focus is a powerful math curriculum that builds understanding of concepts with a concrete-pictorial-abstract progression of learning. With a frequent use of manipulatives and dynamic math activities, kids experience a combination of direct instruction, group activities, and hands-on learning. We focus on both strong foundational computational skills, such as fact fluency, as well as problem solving and critical thinking skills. Our math concepts include, but are not limited to:

  • Numbers to 10
  • Number Bonds
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts to 10
  • Shapes and Patterns (Geometry)
  • Ordinal Numbers and Position
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts to 20
  • Length
  • Picture Graphs and Bar Graphs
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts to 40
  • Mental Math Strategies
  • Calendar and Time
  • Numbers to 120
  • Money


Mr. Pletsch
Mr. Jonathan Pletsch has been teaching first grade at Manitou Elementary since 2011. He previously worked in the Special Education department at Ute Pass Elementary. Mr. Pletsch received a Bachelor’s in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Regis University. Much of his free time is spent camping, hiking, and running in the great outdoors of Colorado. He loves spending time with his wife, his dog, and his awesome first graders.

Miss. Carley
My name is Paige Carley and I am thrilled to join the MSES family! I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies with a Minor in Education from Colorado State University Pueblo. I feel so fortunate to begin my teaching career as a Manitou Mustang! Guiding students along their educational journeys to reach their highest level of achievement is my greatest passion in life. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy experiencing nature, spending time with my family and friends, and getting artsy. An interesting fact about myself is that I have a very handsome hairless cat named Sterling.

Luz Shoemaker
I am Luz Shoemaker and I am honored to be Manitou Springs Elementary School's first participant in The Teacher Apprenticeship Program. This program allows schools to grow their own teachers from qualified and experienced paraprofessionals, custodians and coaches. This program also allows an affordable pathway for dedicated staff to become teachers.

I have been a paraprofessional at MSES since August, 2014. In that time, I have worked on the playpark, in many classrooms and on the intervention team. I believe in building strong relationships based on trust, respect and fun. I am excited to teach first grade and watch students learn, experiment and grow. In my free time you can find me reading a book, hiking or hanging out with my own Mustang.