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 - Lee Anne Shotter has a Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase from the University of South Africa, Cape Town and a Dance Diploma majoring in classical ballet from the University of Cape Town. She taught 1st grade and led other teachers at the Vine School in Cape Town, South Africa, where she helped the school transition from a traditional school to an Ambleside School. In recent years, she has taught at the American International School in Cape Town. She will be coming to Ambleside under the teacher cultural exchange, a program to expand cultural awareness for American school children. She has family in Maryland and will be enrolling her adopted son, Ivan Pretorius in our 6th grade class.
Second Grade – Micah Bennett is a graduate of Covenant College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and is a certified teacher in Virginia. She taught third grade in both Virginia and Maryland before her children were born.
Mrs. Bennett gained experience as an educational presenter to university students and teachers in Azerbaijan, and completed post-graduate research on the challenges of teaching English in that post-Soviet country. Applying the pedagogy of Mason, she homeschooled her children and became a lead teacher in Charlotte Mason homeschool cooperatives in Leesburg and also in Saudi Arabia, when her family was stationed there.
Her son, Elijah, is in our seventh grade class and her two younger children, Benjamin and Ellen are in the Kindergarten and fifth grade classes.
Third Grade – Kate Perry holds a B.A. in Sociology from Grove City College where she also earned a minor in Biblical & Religious Studies and a minor in Family Studies. She is passionate about the liberal arts and enjoyed taking extra courses in literature, music, and history. Kate cares deeply about helping students grow in their love of learning and ensuring that all students have access to an education rich in ideas and inspiration. As a first-year teacher, Ms. Perry's greatest hope is that she will be able to help her students experience joy in their education. Once an Ambleside student herself, Miss Perry considers herself a life-long learner; nine years after her own 8th grade graduation, she still enjoys memorizing and transcribing poetry and keeping a nature journal. She enjoys reading C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot's essays on Christianity and culture as well as reading about anthropology. In her free time, she loves backpacking and foraging for wild herbs and berries.
Fourth Grade – Tonya Turner holds a bachelors degree in History from Mary Washington College. She has been certified to teach at the secondary level and taught high school English for 4 years in Northern Virginia before starting her family. Tonya is a life long learner who enjoys reading and sharing her knowledge with others. She also enjoys active sports such as tennis and bicycling and has taught our K-2 PE classes for several years . . . in all sorts of weather.
Fifth Grade – Terri Costello has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of South Florida. Over the past five years, she has been a Kindergarten and 3rd grade teacher at Ambleside School in Ocala, Florida. Throughout her adulthood, she has sought opportunities to invest in children and families, by caring for her own nieces and nephews, investing in the children at Ambleside, and leading the middle school group in her homechurch. Prior to her years of teaching, Mrs. Costello was shift manager at Panera Bread focusing on training team members for new franchises. She and her husband Thomas relocated to Northern Virginia from Florida over the summer.
Sixth Grade – Brian Scholl graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Media Arts and Design. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary here in DC. He interned and led youth ministry at Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg, VA and at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. He has spent a year studying with the Trinity Fellows Academy and also served as a Videographer/ Photographer at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. Mr. Scholl has taught Bible to students in middle and high school, enjoys sports, and connects readily with young people.
Seventh Grade – John Canavan graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a degree in English Literature and gained a Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. As a Teaching Assistant to seminary professors, he evaluated and coached students on effective writing. While in seminary, he also served as a youth pastor at three Presbyterian churches in St. Louis and gained valuable experience working with youth of all ages. In his native city of Philadelphia, he was a frequent substitute teacher at the Delaware County Christian School and successfully built a college ministry at Tenth Presbyterian Church. He will be moving from St. Louis to Virginia with his wife, Sharon and seven month old daughter, Emma.
Eighth 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 and holds a Virginia Teaching License for grades 6-12.
Prior to joining the Ambleside family, Mrs. Nowak taught Geosystems and Biology at Mountain View High School in Centreville, VA, served as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Shepherd Gate Church in Chantilly, VA and was a tutor to many students in the area. Her son is a current Ambleside student.
Mrs. Nowak enjoys encouraging students to have a life of the mind through rich and varied texts, beautiful pictures and music, and rigorous problem solving. No matter the grade, the Charlotte Mason method has people, students and teachers alike, interacting with beauty everyday; beauty in words, music, art, and ideas.
Math Instructor – Leanne Caldwell will be teaching Singapore Math in Sixth Grade and Algebra 1/2 in Seventh Grade. Mrs. Caldwell has a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Agnes Scott College and a Masters in Education from the University of North Florida. She was an elementary teacher in Florida public schools and Fairfax County public schools for a number of years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. In addition to home educating her four children through high school, she has taught upper level math courses to high school students at the Tara Learning Center.
Music & Academic Assistant - Sarah Wilcox graduated from James Madison University with a Major in Music (Voice concentration) and a minor in Jazz. She is trained in the Hungarian Kodaly philosophy, which is the method used at Ambleside. Before coming to Ambleside, she taught music in a public school, was a vocal coach, and a piano instructor for five years. She has sung in choirs during all of her schooling years and currently performs jazz and original music in the DMV area. Her love for sharing the joy of music with children is evident. She is an Ambleside alumna and is eager to return to the enriching Charlotte Mason method.
Art Instructor - 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.
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.
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 thirty 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 Development and Community Relations - Rita Thompson earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Regis College, attended the Law and Diplomacy program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard Law School/ Tufts University, and earned a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Mrs. Thompson recently retired from the University of Mary Washington where she was Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions and Director of the Rappahannock Scholars Program. In her role at the university, she reached 1,000 under-served students in the Northern Neck region of Virginia and raised 1.5 million dollars to fund their education. Earlier in her career, she served as an elected member of the Fairfax County School Board, National Spokesperson for Concerned Women of America, Director of Public Relations for Fairfax County Government, and Assistant Director of Admissions for Georgetown Law School. She is the grandmother of two Ambleside students and is eager to promote Ambleside in our new location.
Director of Instruction – Annie Berry is moving into the Director of Instruction role here at Ambleside. Ms. Berry was a classroom teacher for four years prior to joining the administrative team three years ago. She has a degree in History and English from Vanderbilt University which has equipped her with a strong background in the liberal arts. Her ability to invest in teachers, students, and parents, guard the mission of the school, and bring best practices to her role as administrator has been an invaluable asset to Ambleside. In her challenging responsibilities, she steadily approaches her work with a peaceful and joyful spirit.
Director of Administration – Thomas Costello joins our team as the new Director of Administration, in charge of school operations, marketing, and fundraising. Thomas holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Western Governors University. He will be contributing his organizational and analytical skills gained through his experience in project and inventory management. Most recently, Thomas worked as the Media Manager for RealTruck in Ocala, Florida. Thomas has been an active participant for many years in the community life of Ambleside School at Ocala, Florida. His volunteer experience as a middle school mentor and middle school youth group leader during that time equip him to support the educational and spiritual growth of both children and parents in an atmosphere of joy and peaceful authority.
Executive Assistant - Isabelle Baucum graduated from the College of William & Mary with a Major in Anthropology and a Minor in Public Health. During her college years, she was a researcher for AidData and box office & house manager for the Theatre, Speech, and Dance Department. In her work with theatre and event promotion, she gained experience in communications, film production, and social media. She also has a passion for Shakespeare!