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 –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 been the lead teacher for seventh grade before becoming our first grade teacher. 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.
|Second Grade – Julia Pike is a 2015 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 school. 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 – Margaret (Maggie) Dean graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2012 with a major in Biology and a minor in Spanish. Since her graduation, she has invested in mentoring middle and high school students through Young Life and served as a long–term sub for two years in Arlington middle schools. Since 2016, she has been teaching our 3rd graders.
Ms. Dean was homeschooled, attended a Classical Christian School for middle school, and a public high school. While there were influences from the Charlotte Mason method in her K-8 years, she did not learn through narration. She has quickly seen this approach as a beautiful way to learn. Jesus taught in parables and we are built for story. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, reading, cooking, and Zumba.
|Fourth Grade – Robin Thacker is a 2014 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 in 2013 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 – Irene Lyons is a Biology major from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and has a Master’s degree in Education. As a parent, she saw her daughter transformed from a child who hated school to one who loved to learn when she transferred to Ambleside mid–year. Mrs. Lyons determined to join the Ambleside teaching team so she could be instrumental in bringing this kind of transformation to other children as well. Since 2008, she has brought clear expectations, thorough planning, and love and compassion for children into her classroom.|
|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.|
|Director of Instruction and Math & Algebra Instructor – Barbara Boughton holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois. She worked as a software engineer and started her own software consulting firm before deciding to stay at home with her two young children. Mrs. Boughton is a seasoned home educator and has taught mathematics through the high school level. She embraces Ambleside‘s growth mindset and believes that all students can be successful in mathematics.|
| Math Instructor for 7th Grade – Laurie Russell has an Associate’s Degree in Electronic Technology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and is a few hours short of 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.
|Kindergarten through 6th Grade Spanish – Emilee Lamb, an intern with the Capital Fellows Program, will instruct Spanish for kindergarten through sixth grade this year in addition to serving on the administrative staff as a communications/advancement intern. Ms. Lamb has a Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Tennessee with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies. She served as a teaching intern at an after-school program in Knoxville, TN, for the past two years in addition to leadership roles with the university campus newspaper The Daily Beacon.|
|Middle School 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 15 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 6th grade at Ambleside.|
|Classroom Aide— Milli Kappesser, affectionately called “Miss Milli”, is the Teacher Aide for kindergarten through fourth grade. She has a passion for teaching children and is currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. Previously, while living in Peru, she completed three years of university studies toward a law degree and was also a volunteer in local ministries. Milli has been employed as both a gymnastics coach and an English tutor. As an avid volunteer, she has served as a Spanish translator for several public agencies and a pre-K Sunday School teacher. Currently she serves in the Awanas program at Reston Bible Church where she attends with her family. Milli is eager to stimulate the next generation to become lifelong learners.|
|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 Parent and Student Services – Martha James received a B.S. in Education from the University of Georgia. Before coming to Ambleside, she worked as Office Manager and Deputy Executive Officer for the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Mrs. James has been at Ambleside for over 12 years. Her warmth and educational background make her a great resource as she serves parents and students and acts as the administrative support for the school. She has two daughters who graduated from Ambleside and are now in college. Mrs. James appreciates how Ambleside provides a rich curriculum in a non–competitive, Christian atmosphere, helping students develop habits necessary for producing work of the highest quality. Ambleside students become life–long learners.|
|Events Coordinator/New Teacher Mentor –Noemi Caison is a native of Budapest, Hungary. She is fluent in English and Hungarian and conversant in French. She graduated from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, having completed a double major in English and Education. Mrs. Caison has had extensive experience tutoring students ranging from elementary grades through graduate school, including the instruction of English as a Second Language. She moves into an administrative role after four years in the classroom.|