An Independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, D.C.

Lower School Faculty

Glenn Adamec

Glenn Adamec

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach
Locations: Lower School, Middle School
Biography:

"The connection between healthy body and healthy mind has never been as important as it is today. The world is an ever-changing and stressful place, and what better way to counter that than through exercise, sport and play."

I have a true calling for kids and sports. The combination of teaching K-6 physical education and coaching grades 7-12 allows me to begin at the most fundamental stage of instruction and continue through a student’s US athletic career.

My undergraduate degree is from James Madison University, and I have completed graduate-level coursework at both George Mason University and the University of Virginia. Professional memberships include the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) and the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (VAHPERD).

The connection between healthy body and healthy mind has never been as important as it is today. The world is an ever-changing and stressful place, and what better way to counter that than through exercise, sport and play. The importance of teaching “life lessons” such as focus, perseverance, sportsmanship and teamwork through physical activity cannot be underestimated, as those skills can be applied in all aspects of life.

Melissa Bagley

Melissa Bagley

Titles: Grade 3 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"When I'm not teaching, I love spending time with my family and friends, traveling, reading, and practicing yoga."

I am originally from the Philadelphia area and have always loved working with children. After graduating from Muhlenberg College with my certification in elementary education (K-6) and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, I moved to Northern Virginia to join The Potomac School faculty. I started my career at Potomac as a Lower School intern, where I had the opportunity to work in first, second, and third grade classrooms. While working as an intern I earned my Master of Education in reading education from the University of Virginia. I am excited to start my fourth year at Potomac! When I'm not teaching, I love spending time with my family and friends, traveling, reading, and practicing yoga.

Molly Berke

Molly Berke

Titles: Grade 1 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"I feel incredibly lucky to spend my days with children who are not only curious and inventive, but from whom I also learn so much."

I am appreciative to be a part of the Potomac community, as it is such a dynamic environment. First grade is a year of incredible growth and discovery, as students are beginning to unlock the mysteries of the world. The magic happens as their confidence in exploring possibilities is fostered, challenges are enthusiastically met, and meaning is created.

After receiving my international relations degree from Bucknell University in 2006, I moved to New York City to work on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair. On a continual path of self-exploration, I switched to work on national advertising campaigns for BMW and Procter & Gamble. Realizing my true passion for education after a few years in New York, I obtained a Master’s in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University and returned to Washington, DC. I spent five years teaching junior kindergarten, first, and second grade at the Harbor School before joining Potomac.

I feel incredibly lucky to spend my days with children who are not only curious and inventive, but from whom I also learn so much. Thinking about young children’s potential, I get excited for our society’s future. I strive to meaningfully engage my students in ways that help expand their awareness and make sense of this incredible world in hopes of fostering future generations capable of doing the same for those around them.

Tara Clayburn

Tara Clayburn

Titles: Lower School Music Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember."

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. One of the first things I remember as a child is watching and listening to my mother play piano. She shared her love of music with me and it was the most natural thing for me to decide to share my passion for it with other people.

After teaching in my home state of Kentucky for five years, I needed a change. Little did I know that I would find it so near to the place where my husband and I fell in love, and so far from where I grew up in Louisville, KY. After visiting the campus and speaking with Donna Lewis, then Lower School Head, I knew that this was the place I was meant to be. My husband and I packed our bags and moved to Falls Church, where we now reside with our two sons, Preston and Robert, and our dog Daisy.

I am a certified Orff-Schulwerk teacher and have studied with world renowned Orff-Schulwerk practitioners across the United States and at the Orff-Institut in Salzburg, Austria. I currently serve as the vice president of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, working on my photography portfolio, and creating quilts for family and friends.

Caitlin Condie

Caitlin Condie

Titles: Kindergarten Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"It was early on when I discovered my desire for teaching after working in a lower school classroom in my hometown of St. Louis."

After recently graduating from Colgate University with a degree in education studies, I am thrilled to be one of the new lower school interns! As the oldest sibling of a large family, I have always enjoyed the responsibility of leading the way and setting the example. It was early on when I discovered my desire for teaching after working in a lower school classroom in my hometown of St. Louis.

Since that experience, my love of being in the classroom and dedication to making the world a better place through educating youth has only continued to grow. Now having the opportunity to learn from some of the most gifted educators is such a privilege. I have had the great fortune of encountering many thoughtful and empowering teachers in my own education experience, and knowing that someday I too can provide an opportunity for a child to develop their best self is inspiring.

In addition to working with children inside the classroom, I will continue to be a student myself this fall as I begin taking classes towards a Master’s in Education at the University of Virginia.

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends—running, hiking or horseback riding. I am always excited to participate in thrilling outdoor activities!

Annabelle Dunn

Annabelle Dunn

Titles: K/1 Reading and Learning Specialist & Lower School Academic Dean
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"As a child, I attended Potomac, and my interest in stories was sparked as I listened to teachers read aloud, and as they nurtured my interest in different genres."

A true lover of books throughout my life, I have found ways to escape to another world in picture books, chapter books, textbooks, magazines and novels. As a child, I attended Potomac, and my interest in stories was sparked as I listened to teachers read aloud and as they nurtured my interest in different genres. As a college student, I discovered that I could share this love of books if I became a teacher. I returned to Potomac to teach in the Lower School almost 20 years ago and have been lucky enough to work as a classroom teacher and reading specialist in both the Lower School and the Middle School.

As a classroom teacher I enjoyed watching groups of students blossom into readers and writers; a child’s ability to read is the greatest gift any teacher can give. I received my master's degree from the University of Virginia and took on a new role as K/1 reading specialist in addition to serving as the Lower School academic dean. I have the privilege of working with our kindergarten and first grade students as they begin their journey into reading.

My two children are now students at Potomac. I've watched their love of reading grow over the years and am thankful that Potomac has helped to fuel their interest just as it did mine, many years ago.

Patricia Edelmann

Patricia Edelmann

Titles: Lower School Mathematics Coordinator
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Each day, it is a joy to come to Potomac, where students are encouraged to take risks, persevere and chase their curiosities."

I am constantly amazed by the curiosity, intellect, and interests of children. To foster this natural love of learning, I strive to create a learning environment where children are provided enriching learning experiences and are encouraged to take risks and make mistakes as they grow.

As a child, my second grade teacher sparked in me a love of logic games and puzzles. It was from there that I grew to recognize the potential of mathematical thinking as a means to solve a variety of problems, beyond mathematical computations. As a teacher of mathematics, I learn so much from our children as they seek out creative ways to solve problems in multiple ways. Each day, it is a joy to come to Potomac, where students are encouraged to take risks, persevere and chase their curiosities.

A Hokie transplanted from the Annapolis area, I spent the first 16 years of my career as a corporate financial analyst. One day while volunteering at my daughter's fifth-grade Renaissance Day, I realized that it was time to change my path and follow my dream of working with children. I received my master's degree in education from George Mason University and worked for three years in Fairfax County prior to joining Potomac’s Lower School as a third grade classroom teacher.

My husband and I have four children between us. With a musician studying at Berklee College of Music, two competitive high school dancers, and a daughter proudly representing our family’s next generation of Hokies, we are thrilled that they each are following their passions as they discover their path.

Julie Eldridge

Julie Eldridge

Titles: Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“I enjoy reading, going for walks, and attending sporting events.”

I am fortunate to be able to spend my days with children. I love their enthusiasm, curiosity, and that every day with them is different. Kindergarten is a year of so much growth for these young students, and I am thankful to be a part of it and help them become more confident and independent.

I graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, in 1994. After many years of volunteering in my own children's classrooms, I realized I had a passion for working with young children. I started as a kindergarten assistant at Haycock Elementary School in Falls Church for the 2012-13 school year and was a substitute teacher there for the following two years. I came to Potomac as a kindergarten assistant in the fall of 2015. I have also enjoyed being a head teacher with Potomac's summer programs each year since 2014. Potomac is a special place; the people are welcoming, creative, and professional, and I am excited to be a part of the Lower School team and be here year-round.

I spend my free time with my husband and our three children who are 18, 16, and 15. I enjoy reading, going for walks, and attending sporting events. As a Washington, DC, native, I root for all of the local teams but especially the Capitals.

Mary Kate Facchina

Mary Kate Facchina

Titles: Lower School Fellow & Coach
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"I truly believe that all people are lifelong learners and I am eager to learn with and from the students at The Potomac School."

As I begin this journey as a teaching fellow at Potomac, I am constantly reminded of the wonderful experiences that I have had working with children. One of the things that I love most about teaching young children is the way that the students are able to express their understanding and curiosity in different ways. I truly believe that all people are lifelong learners and I am eager to learn with and from the students at The Potomac School.

I grew up in a small town in Maryland as one of six siblings and love spending time with my family and friends. I graduated from The Ohio State University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. During my time at Ohio State, I played on the varsity women’s lacrosse team and was a team captain in my final season. I have been coaching girls lacrosse for several years and I am looking forward to continuing this part of my life as a coach at Potomac!

Sarah Gardner

Sarah Gardner

Titles: K-5 Technology & Innovation Coach
Locations: Lower School
Amanda Gibb

Amanda Gibb

Titles: Grades 2-3 Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

It is a joy to watch children fall in love with reading, reach their highest potential, and feel empowered to become lifelong learners.

After graduating from the the University of Arizona and receiving my master’s degree from the Professional Development School at Marymount University, I began my teaching career in my home state of Kansas. I was honored to receive the state’s new teacher of the year award. I have spent the past 16 years working as a primary classroom teacher and reading specialist.

My passion for teaching started at the age of six. I filled the walls of our basement with chalkboards and stayed up all night planning lessons for my imaginary students. I would save my allowance for trips to the teacher supply stores instead of toy stores!

My husband, Dan, was born and raised in McLean and is an attorney in Washington, DC. We have two boys, Duncan and Jackson. I enjoy running, traveling, spending time with my family, and watching baseball.

The Lower School is a special place. It is a joy to watch children fall in love with reading, reach their highest potential, and feel empowered to become lifelong learners. I feel so fortunate to be part of the Potomac community.

Carol Hilderbrand

Carol Hilderbrand

Titles: K- 12 Chair Physical Education Dept. and LS/,MS/IS PE Teacher & Coach
Locations: Lower School, Middle School, Intermediate School
Biography:

"The physical, social and emotional aspects of play keep us alive and connected to ourselves and our community."

Benjamin Franklin once said, "We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing." The physical, social and emotional aspects of play keep us alive and connected to ourselves and our community. I knew early in my life that I wanted to be a teacher, but combining that desire with my love of play was a brainstorm. Growing up in New York City, I learned to think on my feet and create opportunities for play on the concrete playgrounds. After completing my master’s degree in teaching and curriculum design in physical education from Teachers College, Columbia University, I knew I was following my passion. And later in my career, earning National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Physical Education reinforced it. After years of teaching, I still get excited when I see a child's eyes light up when he or she has learned a new skill. Creating lessons that instill in youngsters this love of movement and play for a lifetime of fun and good health continues to be my passion.

Jenni Hoffmann

Jenni Hoffmann

Titles: Grade 2 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“Learning happens everywhere at Potomac, and my classroom’s door to the outdoors not only encourages the boundaries of my classroom to expand but also symbolizes the connection between the real world and the skills I teach daily.”

Practice curiosity daily! This is one of my favorite sayings in education. Learning happens everywhere at Potomac, and my classroom’s door to the outdoors not only encourages the boundaries of my classroom to expand but also symbolizes the connection between the real world and the skills I teach daily. Graduating from the University of Richmond and then moving on to receive my master’s degree in education from Lesley University helped shape my views and philosophy of education. But it was living and teaching overseas in a rural mountain town in Costa Rica that fueled my passion for diversity and experiential learning. My craft continues to be shaped and refined here at Potomac. I have been able to attend The Teachers College in New York multiple times and the NAIS Diversity Institute, and to trek in the Andean Highlands living with indigenous families collecting stories, photos and hands-on materials for my class. We are fostering lifelong learning here at Potomac, and I believe one of the best teaching tools out there is our ability as teachers to set that example for our students.

Joanna Huang

Joanna Huang

Titles: Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Lower School
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"I am happy to have found my niche and home here in the Lower School."

I am originally from the DC area, having grown up in Bethesda and Potomac, MD. I graduated from the Stone Ridge School in Bethesda and then received a bachelor’s degree in French and a marketing certificate in management studies from the University of Rochester. I went on to complete two more graduate degrees—I received my master's degree in business communication and public relations from European University in Paris, and I also completed a Master of Education in elementary education at The George Washington University.

In addition to having lived in Paris, I also spent time in Tours, France, and Taipei, Taiwan. I speak conversational French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, and next I hope to learn Italian. Prior to beginning my position at Potomac, I worked in retail, public relations, teaching, and office management.

I love working with and being around children and have a 11-year-old daughter. I am happy to have found my niche and home here in the Lower School and am thankful that I get to build on my past work experience and combine my love of children and education each day at Potomac.

Mike Hutton

Mike Hutton

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach
Locations: Lower School, Middle School
Biography:

"A good day is helping a kindergartner have success jumping rope for the first time or watching the girls varsity basketball team execute the offense with precision against Episcopal.

My favorite title is being called “Dad” by my daughters, Emily and Molly. Running a close second is teacher/coach to the students at Potomac. A good day is helping a kindergartner have success jumping rope for the first time or watching the girls varsity basketball team execute the offense with precision against Episcopal. In my spare time I torment myself by being a loyal Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and 76ers fan.

Ann Ince-McKillop

Ann Ince-McKillop

Titles: Kindergarten Reading Specialist
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Working with, or on behalf of children, has always filled my heart."

Working with, and on behalf of children, has always filled my heart. While raising my two boys, I enjoyed freelancing for such organizations as the National Geographic Society and the City Dance Youth Outreach DREAM Program. As my boys began to spread their wings, I pursued a lifelong interest in education, joining the Lab School of Washington Tutor Training Program and discovering my love for working with young readers. I began working with the kindergarten team at Potomac in 2011, and in 2014, received my Master of Education in reading from the University of Virginia. I feel so lucky to be part of the Potomac kindergarten team. Collaborating with such talented and dedicated teachers is inspiring and rewarding. Developing reading skills and a love for literature in our youngest students brings joy everyday.

Nicole Jackson

Nicole Jackson

Titles: Grade 1 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“There truly is something special happening at Potomac."

These are the words that I kept saying from the moment I walked onto Potomac’s campus. I am still in awe of the community of lifelong learners that I have the pleasure to work with everyday, which includes not only the students but also the faculty and staff.

I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, and moved to Stafford, VA, just before starting high school. Fun fact: I went to high school with another teacher at Potomac, can you guess which one? I graduated from Spelman College with a degree in economics in 2007. I began my career in sales and trading, working as a commodity merchandiser on the soy desk of Archer Daniels Midland in Lincoln, NE. While I prided myself on being able to literally sell soybeans to soybean farmers, I knew there had to be more to life than the thrill of the sale. After talking with Spelman sisters who had transitioned from corporate into the classroom, I joined Teach for America as a Los Angeles Corps member in 2010. I began my career in education teaching Head Start to children from Inglewood and South Central. I then became the site supervisor and lead pre-kindergarten teacher at La Guarderia in Boyle Heights, supporting children of former gang members and recently released felons.

During this time, I was the only educator appointed to the Boyle Heights Promise Neighborhood Early Childhood Education Work Group, where I formulated policy recommendations to create a birth to college pipeline. In 2012, I also earned my master’s in early childhood education from Loyola Marymount University. In 2015, I moved back to northern Virginia and taught children in Ward 8 at DC Prep and later at BASIS McLean.

I am thrilled to work at Potomac. I had the pleasure of serving as a librarian during Summer @ Potomac and had the time of my life doing what I love most, reading to kids! When I am not teaching or lesson planning, I am fishing with my dad, watching movies with my mom, baking and trying new recipes, either watching Game of Thrones or waiting anxiously for the new season to start, and annually trying to talk myself into getting a puppy - still hasn’t happened yet, but maybe next year.

Cathie Kaplan

Cathie Kaplan

Titles: Lower School Science Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“I think it is especially important for children to have exposure to nature and to animals in the classroom. Potomac has a long history of connecting children to the natural world.”

As a young child, I enjoyed being outdoors. Living across from a park in DC and having a backyard gave me many opportunities to explore and appreciate nature. Animals also played a large role in my life. I grew up with dogs, cats, hamsters and turtles and learned the importance of caring for them. I think it is especially important for children to have exposure to nature and to animals in the classroom. Potomac has a long history of connecting children to the natural world. The campus is an amazing resource for teachers. It is with great pride that I continue this legacy.

After high school and college, I worked summers with several veterinarians, taught at The Smithsonian and at the Potomac Science Camp. After graduating from college, I taught at Durham Academy before coming to Potomac as a K through 3 science teacher. I have had many opportunities to further my learning. One of my most memorable ones was taking a class at a Marine lab and learning firsthand about dolphins.

Growing up, I had many gifted teachers. Many of whom were an inspiration to me. Patience, good listening skills and a passion for their subject were qualities that they all possessed. There have been many changes at Potomac over the years, however one thing has remained the same, and that is the curiosity and enthusiasm of the students.

Kathie Loving

Kathie Loving

Titles: Lower School Library Assistant
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"After receiving a master's degree in library science at Catholic University, I found my niche as librarian at a county elementary school and then at Langley High School where I served as head librarian for the last 17 of my 20 years there."

I am happy to be working part-time in the Lower School library after retiring from Fairfax County Public Schools. Early in my career I taught preschool and second grade. After receiving a master's degree in library science at Catholic University, I found my niche as librarian at a county elementary school and then at Langley High School where I served as head librarian for the last 17 of my 20 years there.

Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas

Titles: Lower School Intern
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“I want to be a teacher so that I can learn.”

During my time as a student teacher through the University of South Carolina, I was able to gain experience and begin to create my teaching philosophy. I hope to be an open-minded teacher who is always willing to try new ideas in the classroom. Children are naturally curious and I have seen how amazing the moment is when everything clicks. I want to know and value my students’ differences so that I can use them to help create engaging lessons and activities.

As graduation approached and I considered my next step, I was drawn to Potomac because of the positive teaching and learning environment. The school has some of the greatest and most passionate teachers, and I look forward to learning from them as a lower school intern.

Diana MacKenzie

Diana MacKenzie

Titles: Lower School Art Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"It’s important for children to see that the adults around them are curious learners."

Creative thinking is like a muscle that must be exercised daily! As an art educator, I guide my students to grow and stretch these skills through enriching interdisciplinary art projects and experiences that bring the world of art into the classroom. Introducing children to a new medium, like binding a sketchbook or designing a papier-mâché sculpture, is the most rewarding part of my work in art education. I strive to design lessons that set up students for success but also motivate them to think critically and explore new artistic directions. My curriculum is centered on authenticity and creativity. I often use picture books as the springboard for my art lessons, and I encourage open-ended inquiry of materials with an emphasis on the learning process of creating art, rather than on the finished product.

When I’m not teaching, the activities that bring the most joy are my international travels, spending time in the mountains and on the water, and making my own art. I’m a mixed media artist, primarily creating works on paper and making sculptures with fabric or metal. I’ve exhibited my artwork in solo and group shows in Massachusetts, New York, and beyond. I have found it invaluable to my teaching practice to explore my own artistic interests outside of the classroom. It’s important for children to see that the adults around them are curious learners, and overcoming my own artistic obstacles makes me compassionate towards students when they get frustrated with a new technique.

I grew up on the coast of Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, where my childhood interests in writing stories, drawing, and spending time in nature flourished. After graduating from art school at Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking in 2005, I moved to Western Massachusetts to launch my career in art education. For nine years I had the unique opportunity designing and teaching workshops and classes in a variety of mediums to children, families, and teachers from across the country and around the world at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. I served as an adjunct professor for two years teaching introductory printmaking at Springfield College in Springfield, MA. That role opened my eyes to even more possibilities in art education. I left The Carle and Springfield College to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching and licensure in Visual Art grades for preK through 12 from Mount Holyoke College, and I completed my program in June 2017. I’m very excited to join the Potomac community this fall and tap into the rich art and culture the DC area has to offer!

Chloe Massey

Chloe Massey

Titles: Grade 2 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Each of my teaching experiences has shaped me as a professional and I love sharing with and learning from the entire Potomac School community."

For me, the most rewarding aspect of teaching is helping a student to find success. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help students develop, grow, and become lifelong learners both in and out of the classroom.

After graduating from Trinity College with a bachelor's degree in English, I jumped into my first teaching role at Rye Country Day School (where I went to school for 14 years). While at Rye, I got my master's degree from NYU in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Following my time at Rye, I worked at Christ Church Day School in NYC and then made my move to Washington, DC, where I worked at DC Prep, a public-charter school, and then made my way to The Potomac School! Each of my teaching experiences has shaped me as a professional and I love sharing with and learning from the entire Potomac School community.

When I'm not teaching, I love to spend time with my husband and our rescue lab, Ginger, as well as our families and friends who are scattered throughout the country. I also love to travel, ski, cook, and read.

Kirsi Mendoza

Kirsi Mendoza

Titles: Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, two young daughters, and yellow lab, being outdoors and reading."

I am thrilled to be a part of the Potomac community in the lower school as a kindergarten assistant! I can't wait to spend my days surrounded by the enthusiasm and curiosity of kindergarten students and learning from the lower school educators.

After graduating from the University of Richmond, I tried my hand in many different areas such as government relations and planning events for a non-profit, but the fit was not quite right. I think I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and my love of education drew me back to school. I am currently pursuing my Master of Education at Marymount University. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, two young daughters, and yellow lab, being outdoors and reading.

Polly Nagell

Polly Nagell

Titles: Kindergarten Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"It is such a privilege teaching at Potomac and being surrounded by children and faculty who are happy to spend their days here. I love the sparkle in a student's eye when they are proud of their work, figure out how to solve a problem, or make new friends."

I have two children who graduated from Potmac and a third who is a student in the Upper School. After graduating from Davidson College, I taught school in Kenya and then returned to the University of Virginia, where I earned my master’s degree in teaching. I have taught K through 5 learning-disabled students and low-income preschoolers in the Loudoun County public schools. I enjoy reading, running and being outdoors.

Kristen Neuman

Kristen Neuman

Titles: Grade 2/3 Language Arts Reading Resource Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“Teaching was something I always knew I wanted to do, from the time I was six years old and lined up my stuffed animals for ‘class.’”

I am thrilled to be back in the Lower School! There is something so incredibly special that always drew me back to Potomac. The creative and curious students, the gifted and very dedicated faculty, and an unconditionally nurturing environment are only some of the many characteristics that make Potomac so unique. Teaching was something I always knew I wanted to do, from the time I was six years old and lined up my stuffed animals for “class.” I majored in elementary education at Wake Forest University and went on to teach second grade in California and then first grade at Potomac. After four years at Potomac, my husband and I moved to Chicago for him to attend business school. While there, I worked in educational publishing, editing and writing portions of the Everyday Math program at the University of Chicago. After returning home from Chicago, I had the great fortune to stay home with my two young children. Observing their growth and development throughout their preschool years re-ignited my passion for teaching. I found myself volunteering in their classrooms more often than not and realizing that a school setting was where I was happiest and ultimately belonged. Returning to Potomac has long been a dream of mine. Teaching second grade and now supporting second and third grade readers and writers as a language arts resource teacher reminds me how lucky I am to be a part of this very special community!

Michelle O'Hara

Michelle O'Hara

Titles: Lower School Librarian
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

I am an educator and children's writer who adores good, old-fashioned childishness.

I am an educator and children's writer who adores good, old-fashioned childishness. I come from a family of storytellers, so at an early age I learned to appreciate a belly laugh, a good cry, and a tall tale. Once upon a time, I taught kindergartners at Potomac and reveled with them in perpetual discovery and everyday magic. Today, I ADORE sharing books and a passion for stories with all the Lower School students.

When I'm not on campus, I writes stories in Washington, DC, and have adventures with my husband, my two sons, and our sweet, energetic puppy. A southerner at heart, I graduated cum laude from Rice University and earned a Master of Education degree with high distinction from the University of Virginia. Before all that, I was a lifer at Potomac.

Here are some other fun facts about me (in no particular order): I try to learn one new thing each day. One day I hope to go to a Super Bowl, a World Cup game, the Kentucky Derby, and a NASCAR event. I love to bake (mostly because I love to eat baked goods!). My writing office is sometimes my dining room table, sometimes a sofa, sometimes a park bench, and sometimes my car. When possible I try to write at my writing desk, but that is tricky to arrange. I like watching sports live better than on televsion. For my entire life (except for the year I had chicken pox), I have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in DC with the same big, awesome extended family. I really, really do NOT like pickles. Even more than I don’t like pickles, I really DO like dark chocolate.

Diane Pelak

Diane Pelak

Titles: Lower, Middle, and Intermediate School Accompanist
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“I have been a church musician, accompanist, and piano teacher in the Washington area for more than 25 years.”

A member of the Potomac community since 2007, I enjoy accompanying the third grade, sixth grade and Intermediate School choruses, as well as teaching piano in the after-school lessons program. Graduating with a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Western Michigan University, I have an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College with a major in music and K-12 teaching certification. I have been a church musician, accompanist, and piano teacher in the Washington area for more than 25 years.

Katie Peters

Katie Peters

Titles: Lower School Math Coordinator
Locations: Lower School
Kelly Petru

Kelly Petru

Titles: Grade 3 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"I love children’s books and enjoy watching as books open new experiences and magical worlds for students."

I have always wanted to teach and inspire children. After receiving my bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bucknell University, I began teaching fourth grade near my hometown in southern New Jersey.

While teaching, I completed my master's degree in educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. My family moved to Massachusetts, where I was the director of curriculum and instruction. Two years ago, my husband and our daughters, Grace and Madeline, settled into Ashburn, VA, where I taught third grade in Loudoun County.

Now, I am thrilled to be joining The Potomac School as a third grade teacher! I love children’s books and enjoy watching as books open new experiences and magical worlds for students. Outside of school, you can find me crafting, baking, practicing Pilates, reading, and traveling.

Nancy Powell

Nancy Powell

Titles: Head of the Lower School
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

“I think Lower School children are the most interesting people on the planet. They are inquisitive, compassionate and resourceful.”

When I first arrived at Potomac's Lower School 14 years ago, I was immediately drawn to its joyful climate. Children were stretched out in the hallways, collaborating on a project and brainstorming ideas with classmates while teachers facilitated and supported their efforts. It was clear to me that Potomac was a place where relationships flourished, community mattered and learning was engaging and purposeful. I was fortunate to be hired to teach first grade (and later second), where I was energized by the opportunity to work with the most dedicated and skillful educators I have ever encountered. Within my classroom, I got to witness, over and over again, the magical moment when a child first becomes a reader, which led me to pursue a master's degree in reading instruction from the University of Virginia. I shifted roles to serve as a reading specialist and literacy coach at Potomac until I was named the Head of Lower School in 2011.

I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was eight years old, so it was no surprise that I decided to study elementary education at Virginia Tech. I began my teaching career in Fairfax County Public Schools, where I taught kindergarten, first and second grades before taking a break to spend time with my three small children. I returned to teaching in the independent sector, teaching grades one and five. And then I found Potomac.

The Potomac that I encountered that first day continues to thrive because of the extraordinary children, parents and faculty that comprise its community. It is indeed a privilege to be a part of such a community. I think Lower School children are the most interesting people on the planet. They are inquisitive, compassionate, and resourceful. Every day I learn something new from a Lower School student. And every day, I get to laugh! You can’t beat that!

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith

Titles: Grade 1 Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

That moment a child finally puts all the pieces together to make sense of a book in his or her hands is a powerful one, and one that I am lucky enough to see on a regular basis.

I think I always knew I wanted to “grow up” to be a teacher. Whether that was because of the example many family members who were teachers set (my mother, my grandmother, an aunt, and an older cousin) or the fact that I had wonderful teachers who worked hard to understand who I was as student, I cannot say. However, I went off to college knowing that I wanted to leave with a teaching degree. After receiving an undergrad degree in elementary education with a specialization in early childhood and reading from Baylor University, I decided to go right back to school, but a little closer to home. I completed my master's in curriculum and instruction at the Curry School at The University of Virginia. While completing the last few hours of my master’s program, I moved back home to Fairfax County and worked at The Potomac School as a Lower School intern. It was an amazing experience for me, and teaching alongside such a caring, creative, and dedicated faculty made it hard to leave at the end of the year. After teaching first grade at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School for three years, I was thrilled to be able to return to Potomac, where I have been teaching first grade since 2003. I feel so lucky to be a part of the Potomac community and to spend my days watching my young students learn to read, write, and problem solve. That moment a child finally puts all the pieces together to make sense of a book in his or her hands is a powerful one, and one that I am lucky enough to see on a regular basis. I can’t think of anything else that I would rather do.

When I’m not at school, I’m busy reading, spending time with friends, visiting my sister and her two adorable boys in Georgia, visiting my parents in Charlottesville where I often have the opportunity to catch a football or basketball game, and spending time on or near the water. I also enjoy skiing – both water skiing and snow skiing – and having been doing both since I was a first grader!

Meegan Steiner

Meegan Steiner

Titles: Kindergarten Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Witnessing the joy in a child’s eyes when he solves a math problem or she understands a concept for the first time is for me an unparalleled experience."

The “ah-ha” moment is the most wonderful moment in a teacher’s life! Witnessing the joy in a child’s eyes when he solves a math problem or she understands a concept for the first time is for me an unparalleled experience. As a kindergarten teacher I am fortunate to experience “ah-ha” moments each and every day with the students in my class. Their joy and enthusiasm is what keeps me teaching.

I began my career 14 years ago with the Alexandria City public schools. Along the way I attained a master’s degree in education. I moved to the independent school sector and taught at Burgundy Farm Country Day School for eight years before joining Potomac eight years ago. I have enjoyed every moment. Watching the students skip their way to the classroom each day reminds me of how much I love to work in such an inspiring and joyful place.

In my free time I enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking, riding my bike or simply enjoying a cup of coffee with my husband on our patio. Reading is another passion as well as spending time at the beach.

Ann-Marie Thrasher

Ann-Marie Thrasher

Titles: Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Locations: Lower School
Biography:

"Teaching kindergarten at Potomac the last eight years has been such a privilege. That is why I share my love, laughter, and hard work with each child."

I received my degree in psychology and began my career as a social worker assisting families in Memphis and Nashville, TN. I have worked as a substitute teacher in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade in Memphis. Teaching kindergarten at Potomac the last eight years has been such a privilege. That is why I share my love, laughter, and hard work with each child.

Jamie Tolson

Jamie Tolson

Titles: Grades K-4 Counselor
Locations: Lower School