Teachers at Ambleside are creative, thoughtful, engaged learners with broad interests and expansive educational knowledge. They enjoy ideas, read regularly, and are passionate about faith and learning. They pursue relationship with Christ and are called to shepherd their students spiritually, as well as academically. All our teachers complete training in the Charlotte Mason approach through Ambleside Schools International, with whom we enjoy a formal affiliation.
|Kindergarten – Kim Roberts received a B.A. in Human Development with a Teacher Certification from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and has taken additional coursework in Special Education at Old Dominion University. Mrs. Roberts has taught students from Preschool to Fifth Grade.
Mrs. Roberts was drawn to the Charlotte Mason method when her daughter enrolled at Ambleside in 2006 and exhibited a renewed love of learning and joy in coming to school. Mrs. Roberts nurtures this same God–given desire in her students. She creates a calm, inspiring atmosphere in her classroom each day. The students flourish under her thoughtful instruction and kind disposition. Observers note that both outgoing and shy students find their voice in class discussions, as they glean knowledge from their lessons and from each other. She often leads a Charlotte Mason Discussion Group once a week in the winter for Ambleside parents. Mrs. Roberts credits Charlotte Mason’s writings with making a significant impact on her own parenting, giving her a better understanding of children, and knowledge of what is “true education.”
|First Grade – Cynthia Hutchinson is new to Ambleside and will be teaching First Grade this year. Ms. Hutchinson has a BS in English Education from Mississippi State University and has done graduate work at Reformed Theological Seminary and MidAmerica Nazarene University. In addition, she is a licensed educational therapist. She has taught high school Humanities courses at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, FL and Reading at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean. As a mother, grandmother, and teacher, she brings fresh insight to our classrooms.|
|Second Grade – Julia Pike is a graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, with a major in Early Childhood Education. She has a Teacher’s Certification from Massachusetts for K-2nd grade, and a Sheltered English Instruction Certification for teaching English Language Learners. In her first year of teaching, she taught kindergarten and first grade at another Ambleside School International. Since 2016, she has been teaching our second graders. She loves the way the students really feast upon the rich ideas we explore in the texts we read, and how eager they are to discuss their opinions and observations.
Ms. Pike is inspired by the Charlotte Mason method because a philosophy–based education offers structure and continuity from K-8, and because she sees likes the idea that children should be educated through training in good habits, relationship with nature, and exposure to living ideas. She spent her early childhood years going to public school, but started homeschooling in 3rd grade when her family moved to Albania to do missions work.
|Third Grade – Addie Anderson will be teaching Third Grade. She finished Wheaton College in 2017 with a BA in Communications, and has recently married her husband, Dakota, and moved back to Virginia. Mrs. Anderson, an Ambleside alumna (daughter of the Perry family), spent her childhood years in our Ambleside classrooms as a student from Kindergarten to Eighth Grade and is eager to share her Ambleside training with other students.|
|Fourth Grade – Robin Thacker is a graduate of Biola University in La Mirada, CA, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She loves great books and has been an instructor of humanities (logic, writing, theology, philosophy, government, history, and economics) for high school students since her graduation. In addition, she has taught younger grades, all the way down to Kindergarten, in summer and after-school programs.|
|Fifth Grade – Juliann Tate graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wheaton College with a major in Christian Education and Ministry and a minor in Psychology. She has taught low–income minority students after school and over the summer.
Ms. Tate shares her love of ideas and knowledge with her students. She rejoices with each small revelation. One of her guiding quotes from Charlotte Mason is, “Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well–nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.” I love being part of a school where we fully prepare our students, academically, morally and spiritually. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, dancing, and triathlons.
|Sixth Grade – Frances Meadows has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Masters of Teaching in Secondary English Education from the University of Virginia. Prior to her time at UVA, she spent her summers with young people in various contexts. She was a camp counselor and women’s director at Ligonier Camp in Pennsylvania, and coordinated a tutoring program for at–risk middle school students. Since 2013, Ms. Meadows’ enthusiasm for all subject areas has been evident in her classroom. She loves reading and discussing stories in the living books we read at Ambleside. She also enjoys chaperoning First Fridays with our 7th and 8th grade students.|
|Seventh Grade –Krise Nowak studied Biology at George Mason University and has a Master’s Degree in Science Education from George Washington University. In 2012, she completed her Virginia Master Naturalist training. Currently, she’s pursuing a certificate in Botanical Illustration at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.
In 2002, Mrs. Nowak began teaching Geosystems and Biology at an alternative high school. She has taught math to a variety of ages, and now is our lead teacher of seventh grade. Before coming to Ambleside, Mrs. Nowak was Director of Children’s Ministry at Shepherd Gate Church for many years. Her son is a current Ambleside student.
|Eighth Grade – Shane Ayers is a graduate of Patrick Henry College with a major in literature. Prior to his time at our school, he researched primary sources for Bill Bennett’s The Book of Man, a collection of stories about heroic manhood. Mr. Ayers loves to read and discuss great books; some particular favorite authors of his are G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, George Herbert, and Dante. Years ago, he was surprised and delighted to discover Ambleside—a school that put into practice the writing of Charlotte Mason. He’s been serving our students since 2012.|
| Math Instructor for 7th Grade – Laurie Russell has an Associate’s Degree in Electronic Technology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. She worked in the data and telecommunications industry for 10 years. After teaching her own three children through high school, she taught Pre–Calculus and Geometry at the high school level. She has taught various levels of math both at Ambleside and elsewhere since 2003.
Mrs. Russell appreciates that the education process is not simply an academic exercise of “teaching and learning,” but more of a holistic approach which views the educational process as a collaborative effort to inspire and develop the individual beyond simply the academic.
|Math Instructor for 6th Grade- Lenny Louie is new to our school and is teaching Level 6 Singapore Math. He is a Virginia native who attended Thomas Jefferson High School and earned a B.S. electrical engineering from Virginia Tech. Lenny completed a Chinese Language Studies Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and an M.A. in International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University. In addition, he has done graduate work at Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Stephanie, have five children, two girls attending Ambleside and homeschooling the three younger boys in a Charlotte Mason Co-op|
|Spanish – Katie VanDorsten is a graduate of High Point University with a double major in Business and Spanish language. She has a Masters from George Mason University in Foreign Language Curriculum and Instruction. She taught Spanish 1, 2, and 3 at Oakton High School before her children were born and is excited to engage in the classroom by setting high standards of expectation and love for the Spanish language.|
|Art – Kassandra Laushkin holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from George Mason University with additional certification with Mona Brookes, author of Drawing with Children, and founder of EduArts. This highly acclaimed approach teaches every student to perceive five basic elements of shape. In addition to more realistic drawing skills, teachers have noted an increased ability to focus, concentrate, and problem solve in academic areas outside of art.
Mrs. Laushkin was raised in a family of artists and has always loved drawing and painting. She taught second grade for a year at Ambleside before heading up our art program since 2011. Students thrive under Mrs. Laushkin’s gentle instruction and creativity.
|Music — Katrina Nicholson is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she completed her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Flute Performance as well as a minor in Music Theory. She has led distance learning classes, taught private flute and piano lessons, and tutored music theory students. In addition to teaching at Ambleside, she teaches private flute lessons and performs regularly in the greater DC area. About music, she says, “Music is among God’s most magical gifts to mankind, and sharing this gift is one of my greatest passions. There are few things as rewarding as watching a child’s face light up as he or she falls in love with a piece of music.”|
|Physical Education — Jack Kang graduated with a B.A. in Chinese from the University of Maryland. After several years overseas on missions with Campus Crusade for Christ, Jack returned to the States and is a real estate agent and real estate investor who flips houses. Jack played football for 4 years in high school and has been teaching Chinese martial arts for 16 years. He is an avid outdoors enthusiast and enjoys bow hunting, bush craft and primitive skills and serves as the campsite chairman and rifle and pistol range officer for the Izaak Walton League BCC Chapter. Jack and his wife Stephanie and daughter Abbey live on a hobby farm in Great Falls with their chickens, goats and rabbit. Abbey is in the 7th grade at Ambleside.|
|Head of School – Virginia Wilcox graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, GA with a major in History. She worked in the fields of journalism and public relations and as Press Secretary of the US Senate Judiciary Committee before her five children were born, and later as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. Mrs. Wilcox, co-founder of a Charlotte Mason Study Group that now involves over 100 families in the Washington area, has studied this educational approach and educated children using these methods for more than twenty years. She is passionate about education. Mrs. Wilcox’s heart for mentoring teachers and creating a rich atmosphere in which students learn and grow is a tremendous asset to Ambleside.|
|Director of Instruction – Barbara Boughton has taken on a new role as Director of Instruction here at Ambleside. Mrs. Boughton has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois. She will be leading all of our teachers in their instruction and work with students in the classrooms. In her years at Ambleside, she has combined her broad understanding of curriculum and instruction from her years as a home educator with a greater understanding of Mason’s pedagogy in the classroom.|
|Academic Assistant— Martha James is taking on a new role this year as an Academic Assistant. Mrs. James is entering her 14th year at Ambleside. She received a BS in Education from the University of Georgia. Before coming to Ambleside, she served as Office Manager and Director of Member Services for the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. She will be assisting in the Kindergarten classroom three days a week and supporting other teachers and classrooms as her time allows. Her gentle and firm approach combined with a gracious Southern charm is an asset to the work at Ambleside.|
|Executive Assistant – Ciara Irwin joins our administrative team this year as the Executive Assistant and Communications and Technology Specialist. She will be in the office full time supporting school operations and communications. She is a 2017 graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she earned her dual BA in English/Writing Studies and Spanish. She worked at the university’s Writing Center where she fine-tuned her skills in editing, writing, technology, and program development/coordination. She has also traveled/worked in both Brazil and Spain.|