Mary E. Sandell
Director of Music
Mary began her musical journey with Suzuki piano lessons at the age of five. Raised in a musical household, performing came naturally and it wasn’t long before Mary also began to study the cello and voice. In high school she developed a love for classical and operatic vocal repertoire and soon headed off to Indiana University to complete a degree in vocal performance.
After receiving her Bachelors degree, Mary moved to Fort Collins, where she worked as a support staff member and extra-curricular choir director for a local middle school. It was during these two years that Mary found her passion for teaching and conducting choirs. She returned to school at the University of Northern Colorado where she taught undergraduate music classes and received a double Masters degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance.
Eager to get back in the classroom, Mary spent the next three years teaching elementary music in Fort Collins and Wellington, Colorado. She opened her own voice and piano studio in her home and is currently teaching voice, piano and preschool music classes at Foundation Music School in Fort Collins.
In the fall of 2009 she became the music director of First Congregational Church in Loveland, CO. She inspires the people of FCC to make music and have fun. As the musical director and member of the creative worship design team, Mary works to make meaningful worship through art, drama, symbolism and music.
Mary is the mother of a beautiful toddler, the stepmother of two energetic teenagers and the wife of an inspiring middle school teacher. She enjoys cooking, knitting, scrapbooking and spending time with her wonderful family.
A Loveland native, Nikki started taking piano lessons when she was 3 years old and hasn’t stopped playing since! After graduating from Thompson Valley High School in 2003, she got a job there as the choir accompanist. For the last 10 years, she has also played for various elementary, middle, and high school choirs, auditions, contests, weddings, and-her all time favorite- in pit orchestras and bands. Her love of music is second only to that of her supportive husband Allen and their beautiful daughter Natalie, who they were blessed with in March 2010. Nikki has an Associate of Arts degree and is also oh-so-close obtaining her Bachelor’s in psychology/sociology from UNC. Eventually she hopes to go to grad school and pursue a career in child advocacy; however, right now she is loving just staying home with Natalie, playing, snuggling, and being silly. Nikki thoroughly enjoys playing at FCC and looks forward to growing there on both a spiritual and creative level.
Becky J. Koch
Director of Christian Education
Becky Koch has been working with young children for almost 12 years. In addition to her work at First Congregational UCC as the Children’s Christian Education Director, she also is a Director and Teacher at her Christian Preschool in Johnstown, CO. Her love for working with children in a church setting is rooted in her UCC upbringing in South Dakota. She has countless happy memories of attending Sunday School, VBS, and church there with her family and friends.
Becky attended South Dakota State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked for Head Start, an inter-generational preschool in a nursing home setting, and other preschool settings before creating her own preschool in 2009.
Becky is from Fairfax, South Dakota and moved to Colorado in June 2000. She is married to her husband; Shon and they have three boys, Jaxon, Riley, and Jase. She enjoys shopping, photography, cooking, baking and anything creative. Becky especially enjoys her time with her boys and her husband at home, taking family walks, playing games, or just hanging out together on the couch watching movies.