Lower School Faculty

Glenn Adamec

Glenn Adamec

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach
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
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
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.

Beth Brundage

Titles: Grades K-5 Academic Technologist
Tara Clayburn

Tara Clayburn

Titles: Lower School Music Teacher
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. I grew up in a supportive, artistic, musical, and very southern family in Louisville, KY. I then attended Morehead State University in Eastern Kentucky for my undergraduate and Master's degrees in music education, where I also met my husband. I taught music and movement for K-5 students in an elementary school setting in Mt. Sterling, KY, as well as choreographing for the high school marching band colorguard. After five years in Mt. Sterling, I needed a change and only dreamed of a school like Potomac. After visiting the campus in the spring of 2008, I knew this was a magical place and where 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 (10) and Robert (6).

I completed my Orff Schulwerk Certification and Curriculum Training at the University of Kentucky, and the Orff Schulwerk Master Level Training at George Mason University. I have taken numerous other Orff Schulwerk supplemental training courses with world-renowned practitioners at The San Francisco School, The Hartt School of Music, Villanova University, Southern Methodist University, George Mason University, and at the Orff-Institut in Salzburg, Austria. I had an article published in the Winter 2018 issue of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association's quarterly magazine, The Orff Echo, and I have presented teacher training workshops for the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA) and the Middle Atlantic Chapter of AOSA. I currently serve as the President of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the AOSA.

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

Annabelle Dunn

Annabelle Dunn

Titles: K/1 Reading and Learning Specialist and Lower School Academic Dean
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.

Irene Erickson

Titles: Kindergarten Reading Specialist
Biography:

"Kindergarteners have a special way of opening your heart and mind to new possibilities. I feel truly honored to be at the very beginning of their lifelong journey with reading. I inspire my students to love reading... to engage their minds to the possibilities in which reading can provide. "

I grew up with five siblings in Winston Salem, NC and graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in Psychology. After working with emotionally traumatized children in Chicago, I turned my focus to elementary education. I received my Masters in Education from Marymount University while working as a Middle School intern here at Potomac. My year of student teaching at Potomac was an incredibly influential one. I spent a few years teaching fourth grade, both in Arlington County and at Sidwell Friends School. I then took time off from teaching to be home with my growing family. My husband and I have four children, two boys and two girls. It wasn’t until having children of my own, that I realized my passion for early literacy. I entered the MEd program for Reading Education at UVA, and I am constantly striving to provide my students with the latest in research-based instruction.

When I’m not working, I love to spend my time outdoors. I take a book and a notebook wherever I go, just in case I have a minute to read or write.

Kim Gayle

Kim Gayle

Titles: Academic Initiatives and Student Support Specialist
Biography:

"When was the last time you felt joy? I believe joyful learning is essential inside and outside the classroom."

When was the last time you felt joy? I believe joyful learning is essential inside and outside the classroom. At Potomac, when I observed extraordinary teaching and happy learners, I immediately knew that this was the place for me! I want my students to have happy hearts and positive, joyful learning experiences, because I know that what happens in the classroom has a deep and lasting effect on the mindset that children develop toward lifelong learning.

My career has come full circle. I started my teaching career over 25 years ago as a second grade teacher. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, I was most recently a reading specialist in a nearby small independent school. I've also taught kindergarten, second, and fourth grade. Upon completion of my MEd in Leadership and Policy Studies from American University, I spend my time focused on best practices and cultural competence.  It's important to me that equity and inclusion are tangible goals that are implemented in all facets of education. My work in diversity and anti-bias teaching through the National Diversity Institute, Equity Leadership and Diversity Directions Institute has been invaluable.

When I'm not teaching, I enjoy spending time with family, another joy of mine. Both of my children bring so much joy to my heart, which inspires me to pass that along to my students. I also love to read, travel, and spend as much time as possible at the beach.

Amanda Gibb

Amanda Gibb

Titles: Grades 2/3 Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach
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 of the Physical Education Dept. and LS/MS/IS PE Teacher & Coach
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: K-6 Chair of the Social Studies Department and Grade 2 Teacher
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
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 14-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.

Mahnaz Husain

Mahnaz Husain

Titles: Grade 2 Teacher
Biography:

"I love the time I spend in the classroom, bonding with my students, teaching them, and most valuably, learning from them."

I am so excited to embark on this new chapter of my teaching career! I remember creating my first classroom was when I was just seven years old by lining up my first batch of students, a collection of Snoopy toys, in front of a makeshift chalkboard. I taught Snoopy how to add double digit numbers, and Snoopy, in return, taught me important life lessons as I read numerous Peanuts comic strips and watched snippets of their movies. Snoopy and his gang taught me the importance of staying true to yourself, holding onto your determination, finding strength in friendships, and being able to laugh, not least of all at yourself.

After college, I ended up studying economics and finance. It seemed to be a practical way to go, but it was a huge detour from the discipline I truly loved. Once my eldest child was born, I left the workforce so I could spend all my time with her. When my three children were much older, I decided to refocus on my career, this time pursuing my passion for teaching. I love the time I spend in the classroom, bonding with my students, teaching them, and most valuably, learning from them. This reciprocity of teaching has lead to so many “aha” moments for me as my students and I fuel each other’s curiosity and cheer each other on.

I have spent the last seven years teaching third grade and am now delighted to be a part of the Potomac Lower School and experience more joy and learning as I bond with my new family of second graders! I hope to impart some of Snoopy’s wisdom to my class as we strive to be the best citizens, students, and classmates that we can be--all with a small dose of mischief and a heap of fun! 

Mike Hutton

Mike Hutton

Titles: Lower and Middle School Physical Education Teacher and Coach
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 Teacher
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.

De Jenkins

Titles: Kindergarten Assistant Teacher and Assistant Director of the Extended Day Program
Shing-Wai Koo

Shing-Wai Koo

Titles: Grade 1 Teacher
Biography:

“It is such a joy to be working with the same wonderful teachers who shaped me into who I am today.”

I was born in Shanghai, China, and I came to Alexandria when I was six months old. I grew up in McLean, and I am a Potomac School alum. I’m so excited to be able to be a part of the Potomac community in a new way. 

In my spare time, you’ll find me exploring different cafes around the DC metro area, sketching, reading, or writing in my journal. I love to travel, and I have a secret addiction to bubble tea and ice cream. I’m passionate about the DC community, and I grew to love it even more as I finished my last years of college at George Mason University in Fairfax, right outside the city. I’m constantly amazed by the impact we can all have by living right here in Washington.

I can’t wait to grow as a teacher in my role as both a Lower School Fellow and as a robotics coach. It is such a joy to be working with the same wonderful teachers who shaped me into who I am today. 
 

Kathie Loving

Kathie Loving

Titles: Lower School Library Assistant
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.

Diana MacKenzie

Diana MacKenzie

Titles: Lower School Art Teacher
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 completed a Masters of Arts in Teaching and licensure in Visual Art grades pre-K through 12 from Mount Holyoke College in 2017. Since starting at Potomac, I've tried to take full advantage of the rich art and culture the DC area has to offer!

Calvin Mainor

Calvin Mainor

Titles: Teaching Fellow
Biography:

"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.  

Ross McEwen

Ross McEwen

Titles: Grade 3 Teacher
Biography:

"Teaching children in Lower School is a dream come true.  I never wanted to stop being a kid, and now I'm fortunate enough to immerse myself within energetic and creative personalities on a daily basis.  I wouldn't have it any other way."

I grew up in Littleton, CO and eventually went to school on the east coast.  I attended Westminster Prep School during high school, and then later played soccer and hockey at Colby College.  My mom was an educator and my dad a coach, so it's no surprise to me that I ended up teaching and coaching here at Potomac.  I began my journey as a Panther in 2004 as in intern, eventually getting my masters degree in 2006.  I have been teaching in Lower School and coaching the Girls Varsity Soccer team ever since!  My wife and I have 2 daughters, both of whom attend Potomac, so the "daddy bus" is often busy from September till June.  In my mind, Potomac is the perfect place for me and my family!

Jessie McKinney

Jessie McKinney

Titles: Lower School Science Teacher
Biography:

"As an educator, I strive to ignite and grow a student's curiosity through creating a learning environment that challenges them to question, wonder and grow as an individual."

Growing up along the river in Great Falls, the childhood moments I remember most are those of independent play and investigation watching schools of fish navigating the waters or creating islands of various sediment sizes. With Potomac's glass enclosed Lower School lab, outdoor science deck, and 90 acres of creeks, and biodiverse plant populations, students have a remarkable opportunity to truly immerse themselves in nature and science. As an educator, I strive to ignite and grow a student's curiosity through creating a learning environment that challenges them to question, wonder and grow as an individual.

Previous to joining The Potomac School community, I served in roles including, JK- 6 Science Department Head, JK- 5 science laboratory teacher, eighth grade environmental science teacher, middle school coach, Director of Outdoor Education, and Programming Director. I received my bachelor’s degree in environmental science and kinesiology from The College of William & Mary and my master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. 

>When not teaching, my husband and I have two active little boys and a Belgian Malinois that we enjoy taking on outdoor adventures including our trail running races and bike racing.

Kirsi Mendoza

Kirsi Mendoza

Titles: Kindergarten Teacher
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.

Erin Mulligan

Erin Mulligan

Titles: Assistant Athletic Trainer and Physical Education Teacher
Biography:

“It is so exciting to help students develop skills they will use now and for the rest of their lives.”

I developed a love for teaching while teaching the “six and under” swimmers on my hometown swim team in Charleston, SC.  My initial major in college was elementary education, but my love for sports led me to study athletic training in the School of Education at the University of South Carolina.  After earning my undergraduate degree in athletic training I continued teaching young swimmers here in DC while pursuing my masters at George Washington University. Upon graduation, I accepted an athletic training position working with football and women's lacrosse at Georgetown University.  I am thrilled to be able to combine my passions for children, sports, education, and medicine at the Potomac school.  It is so exciting to help kids develop skills they will use now and for the rest of their lives.  When I am not teaching PE classes I am either in the athletic training room or on the field.  In my spare time I enjoy cooking and spin classes as well as trying out different restaurants.

Kristen Neuman

Kristen Neuman

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

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 write 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.

Katie Peters

Katie Peters

Titles: Grades K-1 Mathematics Coordinator
Nancy Powell

Nancy Powell

Titles: Head of the 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!

Precious Singson

Titles: Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Tessa Smalley

Tessa Smalley

Titles: Grade 3 Teacher
Biography:

"As a Potomac lifer, I feel so lucky and honored to start my teaching career at the very school that shaped me into the person I am today. "

Having the opportunity to teach alongside teachers who inspired me when I was in the Lower School makes me feel extremely grateful.  Potomac’s ability to shape younger and older minds alike will allow me to continue to grow and become the best teacher I can be through the Fellows Program. After four years at Ohio Wesleyan University, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Psychology. Now, with a certification in grades Pre-K through 3, I have decided to move back to the Washington area to pursue my teaching career. In college I played softball my freshman year, participated in service events, and even joined an intramural dodgeball team! A few things I enjoy doing in my downtime are drawing and painting, traveling, eating spaghetti, and going on a shopping excursion every now and then!

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith

Titles: Grade 1 Teacher
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
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
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.

Sarah Tiamiyu

Sarah Tiamiyu

Titles: Grades 2/3 Mathematics Coordinator
Biography:

"What is Math?"

Flexible thinking, pattern seeking and the “productive struggle” all the makings of a mathematician. Math is not a subject but rather a provocation that invites exploration. Math is everywhere.  I am a firm believer that math must be an experience; a complete activation of at least four of the five senses. As a math educator I see my role as a facilitator that nurtures abstract thinking, creativity, as well as critical thinking and problem solving. 

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My childhood was spent sitting atop the Rocky Mountains of Banff and Jasper, ultimately instilling an insatiable curiosity for the world around us. I attended the University of Alberta where I earned a 5-year degree in combined Elementary and Special Education. Immediately after graduating, I moved to Toronto where I honed my craft for differentiating instruction through the Toronto District School Board, teaching French Immersion and Special Education. Shortly after, I attended the University of Toronto and completed additional qualifications in both Primary and Junior Mathematics. Six years later, I found myself in Washington, DC where I gleaned multiple perspectives in education, working for the Office of the State Superintendent, as well as Public and Independent schools, including seven years at Sidwell Friends School.

In my downtime, I am nourishing my life-long learning zeal by engaging in professional development. In the past, I have participated in the Project Zero Classroom at Harvard University (3), the People of Color Conference (7) and the Project Based Learning Coaches Institute (2). My husband Josh and I spend the after-work hours, carefully noticing with our daughter Bianca and adding to her ever-growing bug collection. We are a multinational family and enjoy visiting our relatives in Toronto, Edmonton and San Francisco.

Jamie Tolson

Jamie Tolson

Titles: Grades K-4 Counselor
Biography:

“Don’t let your worries tell you stories.” 

I don’t recall where I first heard this quote, but I have it on a sticky note just inside my laptop computer.  It serves as a reminder that much of what we perceive to be true in our minds, is not always accurate.  Mental health and well-being are central to the work I do with students, faculty and families.  As a life-long learner I have a passion for exploring the fields of neuroscience, mindfulness, and Social Emotional Learning.  I believe that the key to well-being is not just physical care for our bodies but also, understanding emotions, and the processes of the brain that are connected to behavior.  
Since coming to Potomac in 2010 this has been my approach with students in kindergarten through the fourth grade.   Students love to learn about the brain!  Giving students a sense of agency through learning about their brain, identifying the myriad of emotions they experience throughout their day, learning about and practicing mindfulness as a tool for self-regulation, supports students growth in building independence and resilience.  

During graduate school I focussed on clinical mental health and worked at the Center for Mental Health in Anacostia and The High Road Middle School both in Washington, DC.  After graduate school and the birth of our daughter, Sophie, I took time off before returning to work as a social worker at High Road where I provided support by providing individual and group therapy with middle school students.  I come from a family of educators, my grandmother, mother, sister, aunts and cousins have or currently are working in schools.  So it feels natural to be working at Potomac!  
I recently completed course work for a Graduate Certificate in Mindfulness Studies from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and have completed several courses through Mindful Schools and the Institute for Social Emotional Learning.  I often tell students that like them, I too am a student and that everyday I learn something new from them.
After graduating with a BA in Journalism Advertising from the University of Oklahoma, I moved to Washington, DC to work on Capitol for my home state senator.   I have over 13 years of experience in communications, public relations and public affairs working on Capitol Hill, trade associations, US Senate Campaign, and  DC based public relations firms. In 2003, I  earned a Masters of Social Work from The Catholic University of America.

My family, David, Sophie and our Australian Shepherd puppies, Leo and Pearl, live near Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.  I am an avid hiker, skier, traveler, and former marathoner and like my puppies, I’d rather be outside on an adventure than inside!  

Joy Webster

Joy Webster

Titles: Grade 2 Teacher
Biography:

"Teaching truly is my joy and passion, and I have found a home alongside many other passionate educators at Potomac."

Teaching truly is my joy and passion, and I have found a home alongside many other passionate educators at Potomac. My journey as a teacher began in Cedarville, Ohio, where I graduated from Cedarville University in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Upon completion, I moved home to St. Petersburg, FL, where I taught third grade in the independent school where I had grown up. In 2003, my journey led me to an independent school in Maryland where I once again taught third grade while also beginning work on my master's degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Maryland. It has been a privilege to serve as grade five teacher at Potomac since 2008. When not in the classroom, I enjoy traveling to far-off places, reading a good book, heading home to the beaches of Florida, or golfing.

Tamisha Williams

Tamisha Williams

Titles: Director of Equity and Community Initiatives
Biography:

“I’m excited to be back in my home state of Virginia. Home for me is family, friends, and a deep love of hot and humid summers. I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, so I look forward to exploring the DMV area.”

My educational experiences in the Richmond Public School system and at the University of Richmond increased my awareness of inequities in education and influenced my passion around education access. My role in schools has always been centered on eliminating barriers to full participation for school community members by addressing systemic inequities. Most recently, I served as the Director of Diversity Initiatives at Bosque School in Albuquerque, NM and the Dean of Adult Equity & Inclusion at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, CA.

I earned my B.A. in Studio Art and Comprehensive Education from the University of Richmond and headed east to The College of William & Mary for a M. Ed. in Family and Marriage Counseling. My artistic and counseling background informs my recognition of the power of storytelling and my belief that movement and art are integral to healing.