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Intermediate School

Feeling Empowered

Students in Intermediate School are curious learners who enjoy earning more freedoms and additional responsibilities as they discover more about their identity, what type of student they want to be, how to advocate for themselves and others, and are eager to partner with teachers as their relationships strengthen. 

Intermediate School offers programs and activities tailored to the unique needs of seventh and eighth graders. We balance a focus on content students need and forming learning habits for them to be successful in Upper School and beyond. 

Growth Mindset

Providing a stand-alone division for our seventh and eighth grade students creates the optimal environment for social, emotional, artistic, athletic, and academic growth. Guided by teachers who particularly enjoy and understand this age group, Intermediate School students develop confidence, learning habits, individual senses of identity, and leadership capabilities that prepare them for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Life Skills

Diplomats and administration hold gifts

Building Habits

The IS offers seventh and eighth graders a rigorous, age-appropriate curriculum. Through their course work, students are pushed to develop habits of effective learning essential to their future, including time management, organization, perseverance, collaboration, and active listening. Across all disciplines, teachers deliver hands-on, engaging lessons that inspire students to give their best.

Curriculum

Core subjects become increasingly sophisticated and elective offerings broaden, giving students opportunities to explore and develop their interests. Our Advisory system ensures that every student is supported by a faculty member who helps him or her navigate the academic, social, and emotional landscape of adolescence. Our goal is for each IS student to develop the strong academic foundation, healthy self-confidence, and positive interpersonal skills that are essential for success in high school. Supporting students and meeting them where they are, is a cornerstone of a Potomac education.

Spanish Trip to the National Gallery of Art

The eighth grade Advanced Spanish class put their docent skills into practice viewing Spanish art in both the West and East wings of the National Gallery. The students have been studying how to discuss art by using Visual Thinking Strategies from Harvard's Project Zero. Student pairs led us to see Dalí, Picasso, Rivera, Gris, and Miro. Each pair led us through a thinking routine that led to spontaneous conversation in Spanish. To round out the trip, the class had lunch at Tìa Pepa next door to the famous Spanish Taberna del Alabardero. Students dined on Spanish favorites like gazpacho, jamon ibérico, and empanadas.

Let’s Dance Salsa and Bachata!

On Tuesday, IS students in eighth grade Spanish classes took a break from the classroom to visit Spangler and try out their Latin dance moves in the Fleming Multipurpose Room. Joined by a professional Latin dance instructor, students learned more about salsa and bachata and the basic steps of the two dances. After the lesson, the group enjoyed Latin American savory snacks and sweet treats outside the dance studio. It was clear that after a bit of practice, everyone felt the rhythm and enjoyed this cultural experience!   

Student Leaders Speak at Affinity/Alliance Groups Special Assembly

On Monday afternoon, eighth grade student leaders and members of the IS’s affinity and alliance groups spoke at an IS assembly. Matthew Bodi, Winn Chamberlain, Sarah Cheney, Esther Choi, Ismail Karim, Alya Khan, Alex Runde, and Jenna Zee recalled memorable moments, described what their groups mean to them, and shared what their groups are looking forward to this winter and spring. In addition, the IS community learned about upcoming related events: an opt-in pizza lunch for IS students who identify as mixed-race, a new affinity group for boys interested in joining a new affinity group, and Upper School affinity groups that will join the IS groups for cross-divisional gatherings.

 

TECHNOLOGY

The Middle School embeds technology instruction in each subject area. Teachers creatively and seamlessly integrate technology into their lessons. Direct instruction includes lessons on digital citizenship, functionality of various presentation and media tools, coding, and robotics. Each classroom contains an LCD projector and audio system for instruction and presentations. 

Tech & Innovation

Headshot of Lieutenant General Ben Hodges

RETIRED ARMY COMMANDER TALKS WITH HISTORY CLASS

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, former commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe, engaged in a virtual discussion with Vic Taylor's history class on the tragedy in Ukraine. Lt. General Hodges gave a broad overview of the historical underpinnings of the crisis in Ukraine and fielded student questions on what defines a war crime, China's role in the conflict, President Putin's rationality, and the West's response if weapons of mass destruction were used. Two themes that emerged were democracy versus autocracy and the importance of positive and impactful leadership. Lt. General Hodges’ visit was a wonderful learning experience, arranged by a Potomac parent who served with him. 

 History

One way I encourage students to take risks and build confidence is by explaining that mistakes are an expected part of the learning process and showing them that no one is perfect (not even their teachers)! Also my faculty peers celebrate risks taken, no matter the outcome. 

Julie Casola, IS and US Math Teacher

Mr. Ryan Woods

Head of Intermediate School

”No two days are the same when you work with adolescents, and that is what I love most about working with seventh and eighth grade students. Their spirit, passion, and energy are infectious, and I can’t imagine spending my days any other way -- except being a rock star.”

For the entirety of my career I have worked in independent schools and with middle school students. I am incredibly excited to start my first year as the Head of the Intermediate School at Potomac after six years as the Head of Middle School at Alexandria Country Day School. Throughout my time in education I have coached soccer, basketball and baseball at the Middle and Upper School levels, and before becoming a full time school administrator I taught physical education, health and wellness, and seventh grade life science.

In my spare time I enjoy exercising, playing the guitar, reading about education, and listening to live music. My wife is the Upper School Director of Student Support Services  at Potomac and our two daughters will become Panthers this fall.

Mr. Greg Mueller

Grade 7 Dean and Intermediate School Science Teacher

"I always had a passion for both the outdoors and disassembling things to discover how they worked."

At an early age I knew that a career in science was my desired path. I always had a passion for both the outdoors and disassembling things to discover how they worked. I am originally from New Jersey but moved away to Clemson University in South Carolina and earned my degree in secondary science teaching in biological sciences. I spent the next four years teaching 7th and 8th grade science in both North Carolina and Virginia public schools, and then I was an environmental educator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a year. I was the 4th and 5th grade science teacher at Potomac before relocating to the Intermediate School, where I teach life science and advise a group of 7th graders. In the summer I change roles and direct the day-to-day operations of Summer Programs. I enjoy teaching children in the outdoors using inquiry-based and hands-on techniques. I live in Burke, VA, with my wife, Erin, and two children, Jake and Isaiah. In my spare time I like to build (when I am not taking things apart), and my home improvement project skills have increased exponentially. My favorite time is spent in the outdoors with my family.

Ms. Sara Matey

Grade 8 Dean & Intermediate School Latin Teacher

"My teaching career actually began at Potomac as a paternity substitute for an Upper School Latin teacher. I was so grateful to be able to return to this community full time and call it home since 2015."

I grew up outside Philadelphia and attended a small Quaker school. It was in this tight-knit community that my teachers first encouraged me to seek the answers to difficult questions, engage with teachers as equals, and always aspire to learn more. I feel very fortunate to have landed at Potomac, where the same ideals are valued. In my own teaching, I strive to empower student voice, promote empathy, and instill a similar love of learning and inquiry.

I attended Franklin & Marshall College and earned a BA in Latin and a minor in classical archaeology and ancient history. I fell in love with the Latin language and thoroughly enjoy bringing it to life for my students. I also teach a humanities course, Frameworks of Identity, that encourages students to consider who they are, and how their actions impact their community.

Outside the classroom, I love to travel and explore the world. I spent a semester living in Edinburgh, a summer in Tuscany on an archeological dig, and I often spend my summers leading student travel groups.

Ms. Mary Cahill

Intermediate School Academic Coordinator & Middle and Intermediate School Science Teacher

"Field work dominates my sixth and seventh grade science classes, whether right here in McLean or traveling with my students to Galapagos, Costa Rica, and throughout the United States and Europe."

I have a passion for science, and the field of education has enabled me to pass that passion along to tomorrow’s leaders. Since 1980 when I began teaching science at Potomac, I have guided students as they learn the process of scientific inquiry. Field work dominates my sixth and seventh grade science classes, whether right here in McLean or traveling with my students to Galapagos, Costa Rica, and throughout the United States and Europe. In addition to teaching and serving as Potomac's Middle School Science Coordinator, I work as a consultant for the National Geographic Society. Since 1994 I have trained teachers in Canada, Japan and throughout the United States to effectively use a number of National Geographic’s curriculae including the JASON Project, Crittercam, Giant Traveling maps, and Geography Action.

National Geographic has filmed my inquiry science lessons at Potomac as examples of best practices for teacher professional development programs, and I taught a master class “Exploring your world with National Geographic” at the Chautauqua Institute in 2009.. Since 2006 I have worked with the National Science Resource Center’s Biodiversity Academy.

In addition to being a National Board Certified teacher, I have received a Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowship (1994), a Grosvenor fellowship for travel to the Arctic Ocean (2009), and a Fulbright fellowship to Japan (1997). I have a master's degree in science education and biology from Boston University and an undergraduate biology degree from Regis College.

Mr. Glenn Adamec

Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach

"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.

Mrs. Jenni Ashley

Grades 6-8 Academic Technologist and Teacher

“All of our students are designers and creators.”

When given engaging problems to solve, our students generate ideas, expressions, and noise that energize us all. In my role as a technology and innovation coach, I am lucky to work with both teachers and students to develop and carry out exciting projects and activities. Just stop by one of our makerspaces to see what I mean!

I started at Potomac in 2002 after teaching middle school English and algebra in Baltimore City Public Schools and then trying the corporate environment as a software trainer. From very early in my career at Potomac, it became clear that I was amongst lifelong learners and innovative thinkers, especially in pursuits of curriculum development and technology integration. I have been a part of the technology development of Potomac both as a specialist and a teacher and appreciate the courage and creativity of Potomac’s administrators, teachers, and students. While the devices and applications have changed over the years, our commitment to students and their families remains steadfast. In addition to teaching, I enjoy YA fiction, DIY projects, and road trips with my family as we explore parks and landmarks in the surrounding area, and especially enjoy finding Virginia’s LOVE signs and Civil War trails.

Ms. Amy Ayre

Assistant Middle and Intermediate School Music Teacher

Dr. Precious Barnes

Head Athletic Trainer

“Learning how to become your own health advocate is one of the most powerful life skills a young athlete can learn.”

Managing health and wellness through sports and activities is an important aspect of a young person’s life. It takes time to understand your own health needs, and I love being able to assist students in that process. My goal is to not only diagnose and treat injuries but help students understand the importance of prevention and maintenance through diet, strength training, and conditioning. I too was a competitive athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track & field. I have also competed in fitness competitions. I spend most of my time strength training for fun now. 

I am currently pursuing my Doctorate of Athletic Training degree from Indiana State University. I completed my Master of Applied Nutrition at Northeastern University, and my Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from George Mason University. I hold the ITAT (ImPACT Trained Athletic Trainer) certification, and the Performance Enhancement Specialist certification.

Ms. Sarah Beck

Assistant Head of School for Academics

I am a life-long learner who loves spending my days in school. I’ve worked as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, director of student services, lower school head, and director of curriculum and instruction across several schools, including The Langley School and Fairfax County Public Schools. In every role, the best part of my day is spent in conversation, learning, and growing with those around me.

Originally from the San Francisco bay area, I’ve called Northern Virginia home since 2010 and have loved trying new foods, day trips, and hikes. I love it so much that I convinced my two sisters and their families to move here, too! I enjoy reading, exercising, and gathering for meals with loved ones in my spare time. 

Ms. Charlotte Berlin

Grades 7-12 Chair of History Department and Intermediate School History Teacher

“Outside of teaching, you can find me hiking, biking, playing soccer, or tending to plants at Common Good City Farm in DC.”

In my classroom, I strive to blend intellectual challenge with the energy and joy young people bring to the study of history. As a tutor and a teaching assistant at Match Charter High School in Boston, and then as a teaching fellow at the Barrie School in Silver Spring, I focused on helping my students develop their own interpretations of critical issues and, more broadly, their own intellectual passions. In this process, I've found that my students have a lot to teach me. Now entering my fourth year at Potomac, I remain inspired by the process of teaching young people history.

When I started at Swarthmore College, my plan was to go to medical school. All that changed after a few amazing courses in history -- these courses changed how I viewed the world in powerful ways. My graduate work at the University of Chicago allowed me to focus more deeply on the history of the abolitionist movement in the United States. I wrote my master's thesis about a group of nineteenth-century abolitionists who attempted to reverse the growth of slavery in the South by creating an alternative market in free-labor cotton. I won the Fogelson Prize from the University of Chicago for my master's thesis.

Outside of teaching, I spend lots of time outside, usually with my dog. I recently completed the John Muir Trail, a 200 mile backpacking trip through the southern part of the Sierra Nevada range, which ended with a midnight climb to the top of Mount Whitney. My picture (above) is from the top of Mount Whitney just after sunrise! 

Ms. Lucia Campisano

Intermediate School History Teacher

"I find it incredibly rewarding to watch the look on a student's face when through their own discovery they 'get it.'"

As a first generation Italian-American, I have experienced firsthand the challenges and rewards that many students who are non-native language speakers and non-traditional learners face. These experiences have driven me to seek progressive ways to help students of all cultures and learning styles seek to understand through intrinsic curiosity. I find it incredibly rewarding to watch the look on a student's face when through their own discovery they "get it." This type of confidence is what allows students to experience lasting success in the classroom and throughout their life.

I have taught and traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, and my experiences have allowed me to gain insight on how culture plays a role in learning and motivation. My goal is to enable students to understand history from various perspectives; it would not be unusual to see students researching, debating, arguing, role-playing, drawing, and even cooking in my classroom!

My position as IS Dean of Student Life is rewarding, humbling, and exciting in that I'm afforded the opportunity to serve as a resource to foster various opportunities for students which will challenge and stretch them in becoming independent, diverse- thinking, prepared leaders.


Ms. Amanda Cannell-Boone

Intermediate & Upper School Art Teacher

"My teaching is inspired by nature, current events, artists whom I admire, found materials, my family, my students, and my colleagues."

I love being a teacher. I love inspiring students through art. I love painting and drawing in the summers, when I have more time. I love spending time with my family. I love nature, working in the garden, taking long walks, and bird-watching. My teaching is inspired by nature, current events, artists whom I admire, found materials, my family, my students, and my colleagues.

Ms. Julie Casola

Intermediate and Upper School Mathematics Teacher

"The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics."  - Paul Halmos

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach, but I haven’t always wanted to teach math.  In my first two years of college, I pursued a degree in elementary education with the hopes of one day working in a kindergarten or first-grade classroom.  Then, during the spring of my sophomore year, I spent a week interning in a seventh-grade math classroom, and my dreams changed.  The engagement, energy, and excitement these students brought to class with them each day, coupled with my inherent love for mathematics, led me to change my major as soon as the internship was over.  Now I get to spend my days supporting secondary students as they solve complex problems and make connections across the various strands of mathematics content. 

I am a Northern Virginia native who graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a BS in mathematics.  I also hold a Master’s Degree from Tech’s School of Education, where I was the Mathematics Education Student of the Year.  Before coming to Potomac, I taught pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, algebra 2, and precalculus in various middle and high schools in Virginia, Illinois, and New Jersey. When not at work, I enjoy hiking, baking, and spending time with my family and friends.    

Mr. Scott Clark

Intermediate School Mathematics Teacher

"I have been teaching for 30 years at schools in New York, Japan, and California, where I’ve worked with students from the third grade up through junior college."

Prior to Potomac, I spent 11 years at the Head-Royce School in Oakland, most recently as the Tan Distinguished Chair in science, mathematics, and technology. At Head-Royce, I enjoyed working in range of different capacities, including as a MS/US mathematics teacher, MS jazz ensemble and beginning band director, US photography teacher, fine arts department chair, and MS technology coordinator. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College. Outside of school, I enjoy freelance trumpet playing, recording engineering, bird watching, photography, biking, and most importantly, spending time with my wife, two children, cat Mystic, and extended family.

Ms. Nicole Cunningham

Intermediate School Mathematics Teacher

"I am a big college basketball fan and enjoy watching my Pitt Panthers whenever possible!"

For my entire teaching career (20+ years), I have been lucky enough to work with seventh and eighth graders; teaching this age group fulfills me. It is an amazing opportunity to influence students as they journey through adolescence, to help them to discover who they are, and who they can be. It is a unique time in their life and each day with them is full of surprises!

I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh. After completing my bachelor's degree in math at Pitt, I went on to receive my master's degree in education from the University of Bridgeport. I am a big college basketball fan and enjoy watching my Pitt Panthers whenever possible!

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy traveling in the US and abroad. My travels abroad have taken me to six of the seven continents, and allowed me to enjoy time in Ecuador, Thailand, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and Ukraine. Besides travel, I have also enjoyed a good amount of time training for and competing in road races, marathons, and triathlons.

My husband and I live in Arlington with our son and daughter. We enjoy spending time outdoors with them and cheering them on at their various activities.

Mr. Mike DiCuirci

K-12 Chair of the Music Department and Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher

"Potomac enables me to continue exploring my own interests in innovative programming and pedagogy with the concert band and jazz band and to awaken in students a life-long commitment to music appreciation."

My passion for music began when I was young, and my career as a tuba player began somewhat by accident. My junior high band program needed a tuba player and I volunteered on a whim, not knowing that it would begin a lifelong journey in music. With a band director and musician as a father, I grew up always going to concerts and appreciating music with my family. In high school, my father even allowed me to sit in with his collegiate band at Cedarville University, where I later decided to pursue my Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance.

As an undergraduate, I was active in a series of diverse ensembles from the Brass Choir to the Jazz Ensemble to an alternative rock cover band; I was completely immersed in all things music, both as a bassist and a tuba player. From there I went on to The Ohio State University for my master’s degree in tuba and low brass pedagogy, under the mentorship of James Akins, principal tubist of the Columbus Symphony. As a lifelong Michigan football fan, the transition to OSU was certainly a challenge, but I used my time as a master's student to hone my performance and conducting skills, paving the way for a series of collegiate teaching positions.

For more than five years, I was fortunate to work as a college professor of low brass and music education at Otterbein College, Kenyon College, and Heidelberg University, all in Ohio. In addition to teaching I maintained a busy performance schedule with groups like the award-winning Brass Band of Columbus and several jazz combos.

When my wife's job brought us to the DC area in 2011, I was fortunate to find a position tailor-made to my interests and training at The Potomac School. As the beneficiary of an excellent music education myself, I know how important it is to foster a love of music in students at a young age, and I am thrilled to be a part of this process at Potomac. The environment at Potomac enables me to continue exploring my own interests in innovative programming and pedagogy with the concert band and jazz band and to awaken in students a lifelong commitment to music appreciation.

Ms. Patricia Doss

Intermediate School English Teacher

"I feel I have found a gem in discovering The Potomac School."

While teaching in a school abroad, I overheard a conversation about course selection for secondary school students—about de-selections—regarding an end-date for the study of literature. “But literature is good for the soul,” argued a colleague. From my position on the fringes of the conversation, I agreed.

I grew up in New Jersey, the daughter of a teacher and an author, and I was set free to find myself. At the time I thought I was working hard, but my life of study and travel—and supporting myself in humble circumstances—was richly satisfying. I studied philosophy, religion, literature, writing pedagogy, and teaching theory in Pennsylvania, Chicago, England, and India before arriving in Washington, DC, and falling in love with the climate, great running paths, and teaching. I left for over a decade to pursue teaching opportunities in England, and—though a favorite poet portends that “way leads on to way”—I returned to Northern Virginia and feel I have found a gem in discovering The Potomac School.

I live in Falls Church with my husband and daughters. I enjoy running, cooking spicy vegetarian food, reading, and traveling.

Ms. Isabelle Drake

Intermediate and Upper School French Teacher

“I enthusiastically return to The Potomac School after having begun my teaching career here in Summer Programs over 20 years ago.”

I enthusiastically return to The Potomac School after having begun my teaching career here in Summer Programs over 20 years ago. I never imagined then that I would become a parent to two Potomac “lifers,” or that I would have the opportunity to join the world language department teaching French in both the IS and US!

Beyond the language classroom, I have a passion for helping students develop effective strategies for conquering learning, organizational, executive function, and content challenges in all academic areas. Having grown up transatlantically, I have balanced my DC-native status as an alumna of the Washington International School with studies at Oxford University and the University of Toronto. I am fortunate to spend summers in our family home in Brittany, France and look forward to bringing authentic source materials to Potomac learners.

Mr. Reese Gayle

Teaching Fellow

"Because of my passion for social justice, I knew I wanted a career that focused on creating and shaping leaders who genuinely care for others regardless of their background."

Coming home to the DC area is such an exciting experience for me! After attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and studying communication and economics, I have the opportunity to work alongside some of the most talented and professional educators at the Potomac School. This fall I will be a Teaching, Admissions and Communications fellow.

Although my studies at LMU did not directly correlate to a career in education, I learned that our schools and how we educate our youth are one of the main influences on a child’s contribution to society down the line. Because of my passion for social justice, I knew I wanted a career that focused on creating and shaping leaders who genuinely care for others regardless of their background, and Potomac’s philosophy to “foster a diverse, inclusive learning community where all voices and viewpoints are valued” makes for the perfect environment to start this personal mission. I am ecstatic to learn how to shape a well rounded class in admissions, and how independent schools prepare for the future in advancement and communications. 

On a less serious note, if you ask me a simple question about the game of basketball: high school, college, or professional, you might regret the detailed soliloquy coming your way! 

Mr. David Grant

Director of Student Diversity Recruitment and Retention

Mrs. Elizabeth Green

Intermediate School English Teacher

"Besides teaching Latin, I have directed Summer@Potomac's Fine Arts Dance Camp, assisted Jerry Rich with the Intermediate School Chorus and directed the annual IS musical."

This is my sixth year teaching at Potomac. Besides teaching Latin, I have directed Summer@Potomac's Fine Arts Dance Camp, assisted Jerry Rich with the IS Chorus, and directed the annual IS musical.

I earned two degrees in classics: a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston and an Master of Arts from Vanderbilt University. Prior to coming to Potomac I taught at the College of Charleston, Vanderbilt University, and the Porter-Gaud School.

Growing up in Columbia, SC, I began performing at an early age, taking lessons in drama, voice, ballet, tap and jazz. In my free time I enjoy reading, writing, and performing in local community theater productions. A little known fact about which I am proud is that in college I helped to design, construct and test a reduced gravity water droplet collision experiment. I flew on and operated this experiment on NASA’s aptly named Vomit Comet.

Mr. Nick Hanson

Handbells Teacher and Intermediate School Advisor

"Handbells have been a part of Potomac for over 40 years, and I am truly privileged to be a part of this history, sharing and teaching this unique musical experience to others."

After picking up my first handbell at the age of 9, I knew it was the beginning of something truly unique. The next 20 years did not prove me wrong as I performed and taught this amazing instrument in over half the United States as well as ten other countries across Europe and Asia. Strong friendships have been created throughout the world from these travels, just from the shared appreciation and commitment to the growth of this art. Handbells have been a part of Potomac for over 40 years, and I am truly privileged to be a part of this history, sharing and teaching this unique musical experience to others.

Mr. Henry Heidtmann

Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher and Pep Band Director

“I developed a passion for music early on, and I realized I wanted to teach when I reached high school. My parents are lifelong musicians and teachers, and always supported me throughout my musical career wherever it led, encouraging me to share the music I loved with others."

A native of North Carolina, I attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where I studied trumpet with James Stokes, piano with Bair Shagdaron (Moscow Conservatory), and conducting with John Ross (Interlochen). I was active in the Marching Mountaineers as both performer and arranger, and played trumpet and piano in the Appalachian Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, and Trumpet Choir. I received my Bachelors of Music in Instrumental Music Education in 2017.

After graduating, I moved to Northern Virginia and began working as a substitute teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. I spent 2 years working with many band programs in the Fairfax and Loudoun areas, including the Northern Virginia Youth Winds, before joining the Potomac family.

At Potomac, I am privileged and thrilled to work with students of all ages through our strong instrumental music program. In addition to working with the Intermediate School Symphonic Band, I assist with the Upper School Wind Ensemble and the 6th Grade Concert Band. I also teach 5th Grade beginning woodwinds and private lessons on trumpet and piano. Being part of the Potomac School community is a truly incredible experience, and I strive to cultivate a welcoming, challenging learning environment for my students. Every child learns differently, and I love helping to create the 'aha!' moments that show genuine learning is taking place. Most days, the students teach me just as much as I teach them!

Outside of my teaching duties at Potomac, I arrange music for band programs around the country, and work with the Langley High School Marching Band down the road. When I’m not teaching or arranging band music, I perform regularly with the Main Street Community Band and the City of Fairfax Swing Band. I live in Fairfax with my wife Erin and our bunny (Bun-Bun), and we enjoy hiking and adventuring in nature.”

Mrs. Alex Helwink

Intermediate School Learning Specialist

In all I do, I embrace and share one of my favorite mantras: "You can do hard things."

As someone who grew up with ADHD at a tough prep school in New York, I remember everything just feeling so hard... even though I was capable! My experience as a student with learning differences inspired me to become a Special Education Teaching Fellow with The New Teacher Project in Washington, DC after I graduated from Skidmore College. After earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from American University, I began my transition to a career as a Learning Specialist and Executive Functioning Coach; in this new role, I take a much less directive approach to working with students, opting, instead to build students' confidence in themselves, agency and independence, and capacity to work through whatever challenges life puts in their path. 

A very much self-described lifelong learner, I seek to understand as much as I can about how to support others; in fact, as I went through my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program, I determined my Sankalpa—the closest semantic translation of which is akin to purpose—to be "to empower others to discover their fullest potential". I seek to do this through taking a holistic approach to working with students: understanding their values and habits, what is meaningful to them, and who they are as a person, not just how they show up from 8am to 3pm in the classroom.

Outside of my work teaching students in classrooms or yoga studios, I love to cook and try to do so almost every night; I also find travel and experiencing other cultures to be some of the most meaningful and mind-opening experiences in life, and I have visited over 40 countries! When I'm not at school, teaching yoga and fitness classes, cooking, or traveling, you can find me passing the time at home with my new husband (we were married July 31st!) and one of the members of my darling menagerie: two adorable tuxedo cats, Tomato and Mozzarella, and our sweet terrier, Addison.

Ms. Carol Hilderbrand

K- 12 Chair of the Physical Education Dept. and LS/MS/IS PE Teacher & Coach

"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.

Mr. Bill Hoffmann

Intermediate School Science Teacher

“Seventh and eighth grades have been the best 30 years of my life.”

I am honored to return “home” to Potomac and rejoin the Intermediate School Science Department. My first days at Potomac were as a pre-K student in 1968. In the years since, I have been a Potomac student, a summer camper, an undergrad intern, a camp counselor, a bus driver, a teaching intern, a faculty member, and an Alumni Council member. I have also wandered out into the world, teaching across the water in such far away places as São Paulo, Brazil; Cairo, Egypt; Mumbai and Chennai, India; Singapore; and Bethesda, Maryland. 

I have always taught intermediate-level students – seventh and eighth grades have been the best 30 years of my life. I love the energy that IS students carry with them, and I love knowing that the young people I meet on the first day of school will be much different from the ones who walk out the door on the last day. Helping them learn and grow into their best selves is an honor and a privilege. I try to follow educator Paul Andersen's advice about not killing young people’s wonder, and I have learned that the best answer to any question is usually another question. 

Outside the classroom, I like to keep active, play bluegrass music, travel, cook, eat, ski, play indoor soccer, and laugh. 
 

Mr. Mike Hutton

Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach

"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.

Mrs. Joleen Hyde

Administrative Assistant to the Head of the Intermediate School

"I believe we are all presented daily with opportunities to teach, encourage, guide, and support our students to being instrumental in making a difference in this world."

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

I was born and raised in South Africa during the apartheid regime. My life was dictated by the color of my skin and for being a woman. I truly believe in Nelson Mandela's quote. I believe we are all presented daily with opportunities to teach, encourage, guide, and support our students to being instrumental in making a difference in this world.

Prior to immigrating to the USA in 1999, I worked at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, which ignited my hunger in playing my part in bridging the gap between the "haves and have nots."

Prior to Potomac, I was fortunate to work at a boarding school in Delaware that awarded me many opportunities to coordinate service trips to South Africa. I believe these practical experiences have shaped many of these scholars into making the world a better place.

I am grateful to be part of such a wonderful school community.

Mr. Calvin Mainor

Physical Education Teacher and Coach

"There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you” - Derek Jeter

As a teaching fellow, I am passionate, hardworking, and dedicated to teaching and coaching the craft of athleticism. This year, I will be teaching Lower and Middle Schoolers P.E. and coaching Intermediate and Upper Schoolers.

My love for sports began at a young age, when I played AAU basketbalI and had the opportunity to travel to various cities for games. I also played baseball and football growing up. My passion for sports crossed over to my adult life when I decided to major in sports management at Bowie State University. I believe that if you have the passion, the competitive spirit, and the athleticism, the sky is the limit of where a fulfilling career in sports can take you, and mine has brought me here.

It is a joy to teach and coach at The Potomac School, and I look forward to inspiring my students, being inspired by them, and helping them reach their full potentials at this pivotal stage in their lives.  

Mr. Matt Marriott

Associate Director of Admission and Coach

"My favorite aspect of the Potomac community is the strength of relationships I am able to develop with the students I coach."

A native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, I attended boarding school at Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland before earning my Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  I developed a love of teamwork and competition during my scholastic and collegiate career both in the classroom and on the playing fields and I am grateful for the life lessons l learned through academics and athletics.

After beginning my professional career as a wealth advisory representative for RBC Wealth Management, I began coaching youth, high school, and club lacrosse in 2010.  At Potomac, I am an Assistant Director of Admission, the Head Boys Lacrosse Coach, and an Assistant Coach with the football team.

I live in Washington, DC with my wife, Alison, and our cat, Pippa.  We enjoy cooking, hiking, traveling, and celebrating the joys of life together.  In my free time, you will find me on the golf course, playing with my nieces, or reading in our hammock.

Mrs. Barb Mays

Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach

"I love teaching and coaching and Potomac allows me to do both. I can be teaching first graders how to throw overhand in the morning, coaching an eighth grader on the finer points of how to shoot a layup in the afternoon and spending the evening explaining how our JV basketball team is going to execute a full court press. I love all of it!"

I am still an avid athlete and enjoy running, weight lifting and golf. I graduated from George Mason University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My greatest accomplishments are rising triplets and pitching in three college world series while playing softball at George Mason.

Mr. Andrew McGrath

Grade 9 Dean, Upper School History Teacher, and Grade 9 Seminar Teacher

“There’s no better way I can imagine spending my time than working with the bright, curious, talented, and motivated students that populate Potomac’s hallways.” 

I grew up in northern New Jersey with my three younger brothers and spent my college years in Vermont at Middlebury College, where I earned a B.A. in History. I was also fortunate enough to play football and men’s lacrosse for the Panthers. After moving to Washington D.C. in 2017, I spent three years working in healthcare consulting at an awesome company alongside even better people. While I enjoyed my time there, I knew I had more to give. That initial thought launched a journey that brought me to Potomac and I haven’t looked back since. 

Working with students in the IS classroom and then on the field with grades 7-12 provides me with quite the vantage point as they make their way through the ups and downs of adolescence. My job description as I would describe it: Meeting kids where they are with a smile on my face, learning their specific needs and frame of mind, and using that understanding to help them achieve their goals through preparation, hard work, and a positive attitude. This formula applies as much to 8th grade history as it does to the week leading up to the MAC championship. With that in mind, I look forward to every day at Potomac. 

When I’m not on campus, you’ll find me on the running & biking trails across DC and NoVa, in my apartment reading a book, or trying out as many DC restaurants as possible with my girlfriend. 

Ms. Ella Nagy Benson

Teaching Fellow

"In 2021, I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade summer school in Charlotte, North Carolina and knew I wanted to continue my career in education after that experience. I am thrilled about the opportunity to join the middle school faculty at Potomac and work with the fourth grade! "

My name is Ella Nagy-Benson and I joined the Potomac School community after graduating in 2022 from Davidson College with a degree in History and concentration in Religious Studies. Originally from Middlebury, Vermont, I am excited to explore the Washington D.C. area and join the Potomac School community. 

In 2021, I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade summer school in Charlotte, North Carolina and knew I wanted to continue my career in education after that experience. I am thrilled about the opportunity to join the middle school faculty at Potomac and work with the fourth grade! I am also looking forward to coaching cross-country in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. In my free time, I like to run, try new restaurants, and visit museums. 

Mrs. Diana Page

K-12 Chair World Languages Dept. and MS/IS/US School Spanish Teacher

"Although I was raised in Wisconsin, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombian and Spanish parents."

I have extensive teaching experience, most recently in an Arlington County immersion program, but also at independent schools such as St. Stephens/St. Agnes and Washington International School. Although I was raised in Wisconsin, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombian and Spanish parents. I received my bachelor's degree in bilingual and elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later my master’s degree in Spanish language and literature from Middlebury College. I enjoy cooking and yoga and being a mother of two wonderful children.

Mrs. Weezie Parry

Grades 5-8 Counselor

"A lifelong learner, I attend workshops in child development and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, as well as seek opportunities for collaboration, supervision and self-reflection to hone my craft and deepen my own sense of self."

As a child, I looked up to my teachers not just as educators but as coaches and mentors who nurtured the "whole child.” Coming from a family of special educators, I had a hunch that the field of education would also be the right professional fit for me. With a deep interest in the social-emotional development of children and the power of the family as a support system, I wanted to be where I could have a positive impact on the social-emotional development of children.

After graduating from Brown University with a degree in psychology, I immersed myself in a teacher training program at The Shady Hill School and Lesley University. With my master's in education and state certification, I arrived at The Potomac School as a fifth grade homeroom teacher. I was struck by the warmth and creativity in the hallways and celebrated the traditions of Friday assemblies, The Greek Olympics and May Day. Now as a Middle School counselor, my goal is to empower kids to deepen their understanding of themselves, teach them tools to manage hurdles that come their way, support teachers as they connect with a range of thinkers, and serve as a resource to parents as they navigate these Middle School years. Seventeen years later, Potomac remains an important part of my extended family as my husband, Brian, and I raise our three children in Washington, DC.

In addition to teaching and serving as Potomac's fourth and fifth Grade counselor, I work as a child and family psychotherapist and serve as an adjunct faculty member in Catholic University’s School of Social Service. A lifelong learner, I attend workshops in child development and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology, as well as seek opportunities for collaboration, supervision, and self-reflection to hone my craft and deepen my own sense of self.

Mrs. Ginny Ramos

Arundel Library Teacher

"Whether a scholar, an athlete, a dramatist or all of the above, every student is given the opportunity to excel on our campus."

Potomac has been my home in many ways for the past 16 years. I was a fourth grade teacher for five years, field hockey and lacrosse coach for many seasons, and a one-day-a-week teacher, job sharing in both fourth and fifth grades. I am fortunate to return to Potomac as an assistant in the Arundel Family Library. For me Potomac has always been a welcoming place where all aspects of each child are celebrated. Whether a scholar, an athlete, a dramatist or all of the above, every student is given the opportunity to excel on our campus. I graduated form Harvard College, where I majored in American history and played both field hockey and ice hockey. When not at Potomac, I still play hockey and watch with pride as my two children grow to love learning both in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Clyde Remmo

Deputy Chief Operating Officer & Head Football Coach

"Among many important lessons learned in competition, I hope our scholar-athletes learn the courage and perseverance it takes to succeed and the grace to do so with integrity, humility and respect."

Growing up in the small town of Buchanan Michigan, high school sports were a pretty big deal.  From a very young age, I fell in love with sports and the lessons learned through competition and teamwork.  But my father always insisted that I focus on academics with even more vigor.  As the seventh child out of eight in our family, I was determined to make achievement in academics my calling card.  When I had the opportunity to play football at Central Michigan University, I put my scholar-athlete identity to a true test.   Out of all my accomplishments in college, I'm most proud of the opportunity it created for me to continue my education.  After earning my undergraduate and Master's degrees at Central Michigan University, I went on to complete my Ph.D. at the University of Denver.  

Not to be outdone, and determined to demonstrate the importance of lifelong learning, my father earned his Ph.D. nine months before I completed mine.  Nearly 10 years after his death, I only hope I can be half as inspiring to my children as my dad was to me.  And I carry his lessons with me in everything I do.   

For over 20 years, I've been a teacher on the field and in the classroom.  I'm so thrilled to be a part of this incredible community.  Nothing in this life is more important than relationships. I truly value my role as an educator.  Among many important lessons learned in competition, I hope our scholar-athletes learn the courage and perseverance it takes to succeed and the grace to do so with integrity, humility and respect. Together, may we forever strive Onward for Potomac!
 

Mr. Jerry Rich III

IS/US Music Teacher, Graduation Coordinator & Music Director for the US Musical

"My hobbies include everything I do for a living; I love music in all its forms."

After teaching for over 30 years at The Potomac School, I am just as impressed with the students today as I was that first year in 1987. The kids here are so broadly talented that the same student can impress in the science lab, sing in the musical, and thrill on the soccer team. Potomac is a real Renaissance community. Many Potomac alumni have gone on to become professional (even award-winning) musicians, including: Chris Ayer (internationally-known SONY singer-guitarist and laureate of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition), Rostam Batmanglij (co-founder of the celebrated indie rock group Vampire Weekend; recent solo concerts in Barcelona, Brussels, Cologne, Dublin, London, and Paris), Grace Browning (Principal Harpist with Dallas and Santa Fe Operas; Principal Harpist, Rochester Philharmonic), Alyson Cambridge (operatic soprano and recording artist who has sung leading roles with Dallas Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, Spoleto Festival, and Washington National Opera), Peter Lerman (an award-winning composer whose most musical Brooklynite enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick), Johannes Löhner (adjunct professor at Nuremberg’s Hochschule für Musik), Alex Ross (prize winning author, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and music critic for The New Yorker), and Theodore Shapiro (composer for over 70 films; winner of 12 BMI Film Music Awards and 2 IFMCA Awards).

Although I am currently leading Potomac’s Intermediate and Upper School choruses and teaching AP music theory, music history, and jazz arranging, over the years I’ve taught composition, counterpoint, handbells, history of jazz, orchestration, and vocal performance. My musical background includes studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music and Catholic University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. I have been music director for 70 musicals, conducted at the White House and the Kennedy Center, and directed 24 chamber choir tours in Atlanta, Austria, Barcelona, Bermuda, Boston, Charleston (twice), Chicago, England (twice), Florida, Germany, Italy, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans (twice), New Jersey, New York (five times), Philadelphia, and Provence. I am also director of music at McLean’s Trinity United Methodist Church, where I direct several choirs and get to play an 1850 pipe organ. Each summer I work with our summer programs’ discovery and theatre camps, and then I take time off for master classes with noted choral conductors such as Ralph Allwood, Timothy Brown, Robin Gritton, Robert Hollingworth, James MacMillan, Christopher Robinson, Harold Rosenbaum, John Rutter, and Jeffrey Skidmore.

Ms. Cristina Salamone

Upper School Spanish Teacher

I wanted to be "that" educator who could motivate, encourage, and inspire others as my teacher had done for me years before.

Being passionate about foreign language learning started at an early age. My mother is from France, and my father speaks five languages. As a result, I have always been keenly aware of the innumerable advantages that knowing more than one language has.

My love affair with the Spanish language began in the sixth grade. In addition to my family, my middle school Spanish teacher served as an inspiration and guiding force for me to take my foreign language studies to the next level. Despite working for a large accounting firm in New York City after college, the field of education beckoned; becoming a teacher was a natural and easy choice for me. I wanted to be "that" educator who could motivate, encourage, and inspire others as my teacher had done for me years before.

Having lived immersed in the Spanish language and culture first as an undergraduate student in Seville, Spain, then as a graduate student Madrid, and now spending my summers in the province of Valladolid with my children and my husband's family, has made me even more sure of my career choice: to share my interest and love of the Spanish language and culture with others. Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher in 2010 afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon my teaching practices, and it was an excellent exercise in being mindful of how I impart my knowledge and expertise with students and advisees.

After teaching at both public and private institutions in southern Connecticut and northern Virginia, I have found the most wonderful of schools in which to hone my craft. Potomac is a special place to learn as well as to instruct, and I admire how much the faculty truly cares about the students’ social and emotional well-being; I am proud of the efforts we put into helping them grow to be successful and happy young individuals. Their enthusiasm and curiosity for learning is insatiable, and it is so gratifying to hear them give a resounding “gracias” after each class! I strive to make language-learning fun and meaningful for my students, as well as to show them a glimpse of how indispensable knowing a second language is in today’s global world. Through my interests in reading, music, cooking, and traveling, I endeavor to instill in them the ability to appreciate not only other world cultures, but also their own.

Mr. Jeremy Sandler

Intermediate School English Teacher

Growing up on both the East and West Coasts, I attended schools with passionate teachers, admirable leaders, and community spirit. Therefore, choosing a career path was an easy decision. It is hard to imagine myself working anywhere else but a school.

After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2010 with degrees in secondary education, English, and United States history, my first teaching job was at The Windward School in White Plains, New York, an independent day school for children with language-based learning disabilities. I worked at Windward for two years until I returned to California. There, I taught English to fifth through seventh graders at the Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California, from 2012-2017. In June of 2018, one year after leaving Santa Catalina, the school invited me back to be the commencement speaker at eighth grade graduation. During the 2017-2018 school year, I studied at The Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, and earned an M.A. in private school leadership.

My journey now brings me to Potomac where I share my love for reading and writing with students. Since starting here in 2018, I have been a seventh grade advisor, the curator of the IS Student Scoop, and a faculty leader in our DEI, service learning, and student leadership initiatives. When not teaching, you can find me checking out books or audiobooks from my local library, following sports and pop culture, practicing the piano, exploring the region, and being a leader in Northern Virginia’s young professionals Jewish community.

Mrs. Shefali Sardar

Middle School Academic Dean & Grade 6 Language Arts/Humanities Coordinator & Support Coordinator

"My relationship with Potomac began 20 years ago, when I decided to make a career shift from the management consulting world to teaching." 

I knew I would be a teacher since I was five years old. I remember vividly "playing school" with my friends and sisters in my home in New York City. After graduating from Middlebury College, however, I did not immediately pursue teaching. My relationship with Potomac began 20 years ago, when I decided to make a career shift from the management consulting world to teaching. Since beginning at Potomac, I have worn many different hats, having served as a middle school teaching intern, sixth grade classroom teacher, and currently as language arts resource teacher, support coordinator, and middle school academic dean. In addition to teaching at Potomac, I have worked with eighth grade students at the National Cathedral School, undergraduate students at the University of Maryland, College Park, and with seventh and eighth grade students as a private tutor. Beyond my role as a faculty member, I am also a Potomac parent of two children in the Middle and Upper Schools. I have enjoyed watching students develop intellectually and socially/emotionally over the years and look forward to my future years at Potomac.

Mr. Matt Scharf

Intermediate School Science Teacher

"I always wanted to teach but other things kept getting in the way."

Right out of college, I joined the Navy as a submarine officer where I served for over six years, mainly with the Pacific Fleet. After graduate school, I had a stint as a management consultant, and, most recently, was an executive for a material science company.

As I made my recent transition to education and tested myself as a classroom teacher, I quickly and happily found that working with the energy of 7th and 8th grade students was my sweet spot. I feel excited and lucky to become part of the IS team here at Potomac. 

I am a Maryland native and currently live in Bethesda with my wife, Rebecca, and two children, Olivia and Ben.

In my spare time I enjoy cooking, chess, and training for and recovering from the occasional triathlon.

Ms. Kathie Schoff

Intermediate School Seminar Teacher and Advisor
If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was in high school, a history teacher and a coach were a common retort. My parents thought it a solid plan, especially considering up until that point, my main interest was forest dwelling to study primates á la Jane Goodall.
 
Fascinated by history, and how people come together to govern, I studied Political Science as an undergraduate, and headed to DC post-graduation to lobby for a non-profit. I concomitantly pursued a master’s degree in public policy at American University, but upon graduation, found myself in Japan for my husband’s work. I received a competitive, year-long teaching fellowship from the Japanese government to teach English to middle school students. A job in public relations followed (where I got to work with Jane Goodall, albeit in Tokyo not Tanzania!).
 
With life’s twists and turns, and three cities later, I felt fortunate to resume my connection to education. I started at Potomac as a substitute teacher in 2021, learning the ropes from talented faculty and administrators. This past year, I was full-time in the IS as a long-term sub in the Learning Resource Center, where I helped students with executive function skills and provided in-class support for longer-term projects. The energy in the IS is infectious, and I readily accepted a position as a Seminar teacher, advisor and coach. I am fortunate to be able to spend time in the classroom and on the field with students.
 
Prior to Potomac, I consulted for Lockheed Martin for eight years, helping them launch a non- profit to address challenges faced by the engineering industry. I also supported Lockheed’s presence at the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the largest student-focused event supporting STEM education.
 
I enjoy being active – running, hiking and biking – and at the end of a busy day, you can find me sitting on my back porch with a good book in-hand. My husband and I live in McLean with our college-aged son and daughter.

Ms. Loretta Sevier

Director of Web Services & IS Tennis Coach

"The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."

My ‘real’ job at Potomac is Director of Web services, but the job I truly love is coaching tennis and working with our Intermediate School students. The tennis coaching staff strives to develop our players into a competitive team, and of course winning is always more fun.  But sportsmanship, fitness, and instilling a love of the game trumps any win.

As a life-long athlete, I came to love the game of tennis after playing basketball at Gonzaga University.  Through tennis, I have made friends wherever we have moved - Korea, England, France and even Qatar. It is truly a sport for life, one where friendship is formed through play and competition. And at Potomac, I have found that community, as so many of my amazing colleagues are now my true friends.

Never stop playing…

Mr. Christopher Simon

Grades 9-12 Academic Technologist and Handbells Teacher

Mr. Paul Singleton

School Counselor (Grades 7-12) and DEI Coordinator

"What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong."

Through my work as a counselor educator, I developed a fondness for using research to guide instruction. I saw the benefit of gaining exposure to research findings and ideas that might help shape my own conceptual understanding of school counseling. My interactions with other counselors and educators reinforced my belief that a greater understanding of the importance of counseling and mental health will make stakeholders more aware of mental and emotional health’s impact on student outcomes. I believe this foundational knowledge is crucial when supporting the holistic development of a student. 

Additionally, I am a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in the Counselor Education at the University of Connecticut. My degree focuses on educational equity and social justice. Moreover, I’m a certified school counselor and Crandall-Cordero Fellow at the University of Connecticut. My research interests surround African American male academic achievement, social and emotional wellbeing, and college & career readiness. I have various educational experiences in low-income, culturally diverse communities (Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, PA, Orangeburg, SC, Abington, PA) and schools with students and families identified as being at high levels of risk or underserved.

What I enjoy most about the work I do is that I’m able to provide academic, social-emotional, and behavioral counseling for students, all while making sure students are heard, seen, and feel as if they belong. I'm looking forward to working, supporting , and building with all of our Potomac community! 

Food for thought

"In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers”. - King T’Challa

Ms. Nancy Smalley

Associate Athletics Director

"We have all benefited from the people, the core values, and the day to day collegiality found here at Potomac."

After 25 years working in other local independent schools, I joined the Potomac community as a faculty member in 2009.  But with three children who graduated from Potomac as “lifers”, I have been a member of Potomac’s broader community since 2000.  We have all benefited from the people, the core values, and the day to day collegiality found here at Potomac.

I have a BS in Physical Education from St. Lawrence University and a Masters in Counseling from George Mason University.  While at St. Lawrence, I played field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse and was inducted into SLU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. While at Potomac, I have coached varsity field hockey and JV lacrosse, and I continue to play ice hockey in a local women’s league - often late at night!

Mr. Mark St. Germain

Assistant Athletics Director

"I have had the opportunity to work with and benefit from some very gifted and talented administrators, coaches, mentors and teachers. A common theme I gleaned from all of them has been the dedication to the process."

I began my career over thirty years ago as a young teacher and football/lacrosse coach at the St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria where my first scrimmage as an assistant coach was vs the Potomac School. Since then, I have served as teacher, coach, administrator, advisor and grade-dean at Flint Hill, St. Albans, Saint John Paul the Great, and the Maret School. I had the opportunity to work with and benefit from some very gifted and talented administrators, coaches, mentors and teachers. A common theme I gleaned from all of them has been the dedication to the process. It is during the process where both the students and teachers/coaches are engaged in active learning and teaching. Trust is built, obstacles are overcome and confidence is built, especially in athletics.

Coming to Potomac, I believe I have come full circle, back to my roots, Athletics. I am excited to join the Potomac School community and am looking forward to being a part of the process that will enable our student-athletes and teams the opportunity to push and test themselves and their programs even further. I am also eager to work with a dedicated group of coaches who believe in the process and in their athletes' potential.

My wife Christine and I just celebrated our 25th Anniversary and we have two sons. Ben, who attends Connecticut College, and Luke, who has just started as a freshman this year at Boston College.

Ms. Hillary Steel

Intermediate School Art Teacher

"Art is a deep well from which one can draw appreciation, skills and self-knowledge. In my experience, this well never runs dry."

I have been working with children since I was in high school. In the late 1980s, my experiences as an artist-in-residence in Pennsylvania and Maryland allowed me to become familiar with students of all ages and skill levels in very diverse academic settings. My first official teaching job was as an instructor of textile art at the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts. That school’s mission was to employ professional artists to train and mentor students. It was fulfilling work, and I became hooked on teaching. Eventually I earned a master’s in teaching from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. I began my career at Potomac in 1999 in the Middle School and later moved to the Intermediate School where I enjoy the company of our seventh and eighth graders.

During the academic year, I am excited to share my knowledge and great love of the arts with pupils, colleagues and friends. When I am not at school I can typically be found in my DC studio working on floor looms, reading, or designing new work. When I am not there, I am probably at a museum or gallery, traveling, researching and studying with other artists. Art is a deep well from which one can draw appreciation, skills, and self-knowledge. In my experience, this well never runs dry.

Ms. Sharyn Stein

Intermediate School Mathematics Teacher

"As Nationally Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent math, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I have made two holes-in-one."

I truly believe that I have the best job in the world. What other career would allow and encourage me to surround myself with people, both young and old, who stand firm in their belief of seeing the world the way it SHOULD be and not the way it is? Additionally, "Generosity of Spirit" has all sorts of opportunities to run rampant in the IS and often appears in the most unexpected ways. And finally, being surrounded by these amazing people allows me to tell others that I get paid to laugh every single day of my career. Not a bad gig, is it?

My first teaching job, in 1986, took me to Vero Beach, FL, for four years and provided me with the wonderful opportunity of teaching physical education to pre-K through sixth grade students and Introduction to Sociology and Psychology to juniors and seniors, as well as coaching a variety of middle school sports.

Working with children between the ages of 5 and 18 on a daily basis instilled in me the sense of joyful exhaustion at the end of each day, as well as just how cool it was to gain insight into their lives. It also gave me a genuinely sincere and deep appreciation of middle school children and just how complex their world is; how deeply they wanted to be successful; how their enthusiasm could carry them oh so far; and just how clever, witty and funny they can be. I felt that on most days I learned just as much from them, if not more, than they did from me.

I came to Potomac in 1982 after earning a master’s degree in math education. At Potomac I teach Intermediate School math and advise eighth grade students as well as coach soccer and softball. Additionally, I have had the vast pleasure of providing community service opportunities for our students so they can gain a sense of the larger world and discover that by giving just a little bit of themselves they can make a huge difference in the lives of others. Working with children from diverse backgrounds and interests has helped me grow as an educator and as a person. I would not trade these experiences for anything.

As Nationally Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent math, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that I have made two holes-in-one. The first I shot in September 1995, with my dad watching, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and my second hole-in-one was drained in West Virginia in August of 2010. I also had the opportunity to play ball at Camden Yards with Jim Palmer in September 2001, winning an autographed Palmer ball for making the best play of the day among the 50 participants. And finally, my two mini-poodles, Fred and Wilma, actually own my house, and they are generous enough to rent it back to me.

Mr. Victor Taylor

Intermediate School History Teacher

I used the following in a speech in college many years ago, and the sentiments still ring true for me:

"Each day I learn more than I teach; I learn that half knowledge of Another's life Leads to false judgment; I learn that there is surprising kinship In human nature; ... (I learn) That youth is the best of life No matter how numerous the years; I learn how much there is to learn." Virginia Church

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. In addition to having a passion for teaching, I love music (I play some guitar and bass), travel, exploration, and good coffee. I enjoy learning new things and sharing ideas. I have taught history grades 6 through 12 at three different independent schools, and I was an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph's University. For six years I worked as a school administrator, but my passions are in teaching and curriculum development and it is great to be back in the classroom at Potomac. In my classroom you will see varied approaches and an emphasis on working with students to develop essential skills and traits and to foster character. These include include collaboration, critical analysis, research skills, effective communication, a global perspective, empathy, mindfulness and a growth mindset. My approach is student-centered – we are all in this together.

Mr. Nicholas Tkach

Upper School Mathematics Teacher

“I believe that the salient features of math – its aura of abstract purity, its requirement of discipline, its worlds of thought to explore, and its offer of opportunities to find truth – make it not only good for the mind, but ennobling.” 

I have a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Middlebury College and have taught most high school levels, from beginner’s algebra to multivariable calculus and linear algebra. I believe that the salient features of math – its aura of abstract purity, its requirement of discipline, its worlds of thought to explore, and its offer of opportunities to find truth – make it not only good for the mind, but ennobling.

Outside of math, I completed a graduate degree in music composition and have played the piano for more than 20 years. I am pleased to be teaching a few piano students at Potomac.

Ms. Meredith Valmon

Assistant Director of Athletics and Director of Track & Field and Cross Country

I am excited to have joined Potomac as the Director of IS and US Track and Field and Cross Country in August, 2023.

Track has been a huge part of my life! I am an NCAA Champion and two-time Olympian in Track & Field in the 800m event and represented Team USA at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games as well as at several World Championships and other international events during my career, including the 1999 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata Argentina where I won the gold medal.

After an NCAA Championship and All-American career at Harvard University, I competed professionally for 10 years on the international circuit earning top ten world rankings and competing across the globe. A huge honor for me is that I remain one of the top ten fastest 800m runners in US history with a personal record of 1:57.04.

Prior to Potomac, I was a head coach of track and field at the Holton-Arms school as well as a volunteer assistant for the University of Maryland Track and Field team since 2003. In addition to serving as a Director of Potomac's cross country and track and field programs, I am also an assistant athletic director.

Ms. Christine Varoutsos

Intermediate School Spanish Teacher

"I earned a Master of Science in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University, participating in fascinating research that focused on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and the continual improvement of Spanish teaching methodology."

It’s wonderful to be back at my alma mater teaching Spanish in the Intermediate School. I credit my love for the Spanish language as well as my career choice to my days as a student in Potomac’s excellent foreign language department. At the University of Richmond, I earned bachelor's degrees in Spanish and English and studied abroad in Spain and Argentina. I returned to the DC area in 2005 to direct the office of a foreign language teaching center, where I also taught Spanish and English as a Second Language to students of all ages.

Later, I earned a Master of Science in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University, participating in fascinating research that focused on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and the continual improvement of Spanish teaching methodology. Now as part of the Potomac faculty, I feel fortunate to spend my days surrounded by the great energy and warmth of my exceptional colleagues and enthusiastic students. I hope that these young learners will develop a love for the language that will foster participation in the local and global Spanish-speaking community.

Mrs. Adela Wynn

Strings Teacher, Private Music Lesson Program Coordinator

“My high-school choir teacher was so inspiring that after one semester of college I changed my major from the social sciences to music education.”

I have been a musician most of my life, since reluctantly starting piano at age seven and enthusiastically beginning the violin at nine. I have had the privilege of studying with excellent teachers and playing and singing in outstanding ensembles. My high-school choir teacher was so inspiring that after one semester at the University of Kansas I changed my major from the social sciences to music education. I wanted to help students experience the joy that music had brought me. Upon hearing my plans, my high-school counselor dolefully announced that I was wasting my potential. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Every day, I get to share the joy of playing music with students of many ages and abilities. Through my teaching, I strive to help students improve their technical and expressive skills so they can better convey emotions without words. Making music makes us part of a human endeavor that started with the earliest man and will continue as long as there are people. Waste my potential? Hardly! Helping my fantastic students reach their potential is a wonderful career.

Ms. Esther Yu

Middle School Spanish Teacher

"Outside of teaching, I enjoy traveling, being in nature, and participating in my children's sports and activities."

I'm excited to be part of the Potomac School community. I have previously taught French and Spanish at an independent school for boys in Canada, in Fairfax County Public Schools, and at The Langley School, where I also served as the world languages department chair. I graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor's degree in international relations and also received bachelor's and master's degrees in education. In addition, I obtained my Magistere in French Language at the Centre Experimental de Civilisation Francaise associe a La Sorbonne in Paris. Outside of teaching, I enjoy traveling, being in nature, and participating in my children's sports and activities.

Ms. Shuping Zhang

Intermediate and Upper School Chinese Teacher

"Growing up in China's remote Xinjiang province, my childhood memory is filled with communities of different cultures and languages.  I had always dreamed of becoming a teacher one day, helping people of diverse backgrounds to interact, connect, and become friends with each other."

I graduated from Beijing Normal University with a BA in English, before coming to America to study at the University of Delaware for a MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. With the career goal of language teaching, I became certified in both ESOL and Chinese language after graduation. In past years, I have taught at both public and private schools in Maryland and Virginia. In March 2019, I was brought to Potomac as a long-term substitute, and in August 2022 as a faculty member. When I first taught at Potomac, I was constantly inspired by the creativity of the students and the professional ethics of colleagues and administrators here.   

When teaching in classrooms, I strive to create a warm, comfortable and positive environment to motivate my students. To develop students’ language proficiency, global awareness, cultural curiosity, and interest in learning Chinese, I place a strong emphasis on creating rich language learning experiences in my classroom where students engage in group discussions, hands-on activities, contests, short film clips, blogs, and games. Language learning is meant to be fun.  

With the splendid Chinese civilization of 5000 years, and an open, dynamic and cooperative academic environment here at Potomac, I am thrilled to welcome each student to the Chinese classes, and we will have some productive yet fun years ahead together!