Middle 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.

 

Jenni Ashley

Jenni Ashley

Titles: Grades 6-12 Technology and Innovation Coach
Biography:

“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.

Meredith Brooks

Meredith Brooks

Titles: Grade 6 Teacher
Biography:

"I believe we are all enhanced by deepening our understanding of ourselves and each other, and I enjoy exploring topics of cultural competence and Social and Emotional Learning with my students."

Our world is a fascinating place, and I find joy in exploring our global classroom. I have traveled extensively, and I have spent time as both a tourist and a resident in countries throughout four continents. My experiences abroad have shaped me personally and influenced my teaching. I believe we are all enhanced by deepening our understanding of ourselves and each other, and I enjoy exploring topics of cultural competence and Social and Emotional Learning with my students.

After receiving my Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, I piloted a health education project as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zanzibar, Tanzania. From there, my curiosity about the world brought me to teaching positions at international schools in Bucharest, Romania and Bali, Indonesia. After returning to the United States, I received a Master of Education from The George Washington University. I joined Potomac’s sixth grade team in 2011. When I am not in the classroom, you might find me engaged in a creative pursuit such as painting or woodworking, experimenting in my kitchen, or making music.

Mary Cahill

Mary Cahill

Titles: Intermediate School Academic Dean & Middle and Intermediate School Science Teacher
Biography:

"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.

Nonie Cameron

Nonie Cameron

Titles: K-6 English/Language Arts Department Chair and Grades 4 & 5 Language Arts Specialist and Support Coordinator
Biography:

"I always appreciate the opportunity to discuss literature and how to become a stronger writer with my students."

Reading, writing, and language have always been of great interest to me, and I feel fortunate to be able to specialize in this area of the elementary school curriculum. I graduated from Duke University with a degree in art history and Spanish and then turned my focus to education a few years after graduating from college. After receiving a master's degree in education from Harvard, I was an upper elementary classroom teacher both at Potomac and at two independent schools in New York City. I then took time off to be at home with my two sons, and during this period, I embarked upon a graduate degree in reading education at the University of Virginia. I worked as a specialist in the Lower School for a year and am currently working in the Middle School. A few of my favorite titles that we read include Bud, not Buddy, Blood Red Horse, Number the Stars, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Teaching all aspects of writing is another highlight of my role at Potomac.

Yuching Chung

Yuching Chung

Titles: Grade 5 Classroom Teacher
Biography:

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

Growth Mindset, Student Agency, Inclusion and Social Emotional Learning have always been the most important pillars of my classroom culture. I was born in Taiwan, raised in Japan and have spent most of my adult life in the US which led me to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and English. Because of these experiences, I strive to show my students that struggles and mistakes are so crucial for our brain growth yet learning is a lifelong joy and journey. 

I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Japan and taught in Florida and California. After moving to Virginia and starting at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, I served as a 4th and 5th grade homeroom teacher, where I taught Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies and as a Resource Teacher at, where I helped with curriculum building as well as coaching other teachers. I continued to help build the curriculum as well as being a 5th grade homeroom teacher at Whittle School and Studios. All of my students really enjoyed our interdisciplinary projects that integrated all the subjects, service projects and solutions to achieve United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

When not teaching, you can find me giving presentations about unique teaching strategies and techniques. In the past three years, I have participated in seven different local and national conferences. I also enjoy reading, swimming, yoga and hiking with my two teenage children.

Mike DiCuirci

Mike DiCuirci

Titles: Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher and Advisor
Biography:

"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.

Trianna Downing

Trianna Downing

Titles: Teaching Fellow and Service Learning Support
Biography:

"Both within my immediate family and especially on my father's extended side of the family, there is a large influence of educators and advocates for students."

My grandmother and two aunts were teachers in New York City. My identical twin sister studied Education Studies during her undergraduate career. My older sister is pursuing a Master's in Higher Education. So, it comes as no surprise that I, too, have entered the education field.

I'm a recent graduate of The George Washington University with a major in Business Administration. While I was studying, I found a passion for K-12 education, so I focused my extracurriculars on programs and organizations dedicated to reforming, improving, and supporting the educational institutions and programs that young students attend. I've interned for education nonprofits, DC public schools, and served as the President of a student organization within the business school that served students throughout the DMV by teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy. 

My story with Potomac starts with Ida Cook, a pioneer and former teacher of Potomac. As a close family friend, she knew my passion for education and my dream to serve students. After introducing me to the school during a visit, I was drawn to the community and the school's mission. I feel so fortunate to work as a Teaching Fellow and to join a school that has made such a difference for so many of its attendees.

When I'm not in the school building, you will find me outside lounging, trying out new recipes, making playlists, journaling, and scrapbooking!

Beth Dunkelberger

Beth Dunkelberger

Titles: Middle School Art Teacher
Biography:

"A graduate school research project afforded me the opportunity to observe and analyze art classes in Japan for grades K through 5. I completed a research project on the developmental stages of Japanese children’s art according to media."

Ever since my childhood, I have been drawn to making art and exploring the outdoors. With little time in the school day devoted to my favorite pursuits, the day in the classroom felt long. Third grade, however, was different. That was the year I attended an experimental school.The school believed that children are innately aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and that they are best equipped to self-select a curriculum that meets their learning style. Rotating between art, science and physical education, third grade was a dream. Upon reflection I now see how the experimental system would have failed me in the long run, and my parents were finally forgiven for pulling me out.

Yet it was not until undergraduate and graduate school that my education was once again geared toward my life passions: art-making and outdoor recreation. I had enthusiastic support for: sharing ideas about art and artists, discussing one’s own and other’s art-making experiences, talking about the nature of art and artists, and examining the work of artists both past and present. A Semester at Sea program my sophomore year gave me insight into arts and cultures from many countries around the world as well as the itch for more travel. Junior year I attended art school in Rome, Italy, where my art history books came to life with so many of the painters, sculptors and architects I had studied. A graduate school research project afforded me the opportunity to observe and analyze art classes in Japan for grades K through 5. I completed a research project on the developmental stages of Japanese children’s art according to media. I still use some of the fresh and inventive techniques learned from this research in my classroom today.

Although I continue to use many strategies taught in my own college art education courses, I have also changed my ways of thinking over the years. In my fourth year of teaching, I became a parent. Observing my children make art gave me new insight and heavily influenced my teaching. Whether arranging stones, sticks and sand in unusual ways or bringing invented worlds to life with Play-Doh, I realized there was no shortage of imaginative ideas. The ongoing narrative dialog that took place during creative play showed that they naturally discussed the creative process. It was the most honest art I had witnessed. I no longer wanted to impose my adult ideas for art-making on the purest form of art: children’s art. Instead my place in the process was to provide enthusiastic support for their exploration while setting up artistic situations that inspire them.

As my students search, discover and invent, they never cease to provide fresh observations and inspire me with their creative ideas and art. A circular relationship exists where we are learning from each other. Sharing ideas, discussing works in progress, providing feedback and working on methods to refine works with a supportive and interested audience are vital to the growth of all artists. As an artist/teacher, the more immersed I am with my own art, the greater understanding my students gain from the art processes of others. Being an artist/teacher at The Potomac School, I am where I have always wanted to be: working with a community of artists and often enjoying the beautiful outdoor campus.

Catherine Fields

Catherine Fields

Titles: Grade 6 Teacher
Biography:

"It is refreshing every day to come to work with a group of students who want to learn."

Learning about the past has always intrigued me, and I think sharing that curiosity with my students is the most rewarding part of my job. With the help of Potomac, I have had many opportunities to travel and hone my craft. Most recently, last summer I spent a week in England exploring the mystery surrounding the death of King Richard III. He was one of the most hated kings in English history, and he had a dramatic death, but the discovery of his body 450 years gave his story new life. This trip, like many others, gave me a newfound focus and passion that I was able to share with my students.

Over the past 13 years, Potomac has certainly helped foster my love of teaching and learning. I have loved every moment. From the children, to the parents, to my fellow teachers, I have found a real home. It is refreshing every day to come to work with a group of students who want to learn.

My education background has always been English language arts/history. After receiving my bachelor's degree in English/creative writing from San Diego State University, I decided to pursue my graduate degree in British literature/history. Upon graduating from SDSU, I immediately found a love for teaching 6th graders, and this is the age group I have been working with ever since. Sixth graders are fun, energetic, and always keep me on my toes. There is never a dull moment in my classroom, and not one day has ever felt like the one before. I consider myself lucky to have such a profession and love of learning.

Deirdre Furr

Deirdre Furr

Titles: Grade 4 Teacher
Biography:

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats

I am local to the area, having grown up in Fairfax County and graduated from Stone Ridge in Bethesda. I attended Boston College, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and my Master of Education in curriculum and instruction. After graduating, I worked at a parochial school in Rockville, MD, where I taught fifth grade. Later, I moved to Oxford, Mississippi, to achieve my M.B.A. from the University of Mississippi. Upon returning to the area, I worked at a school in Tenleytown, where I taught science labs to kindergartners through fifth graders and science to sixth through eighth graders. When that school’s door closed, it opened one for me at Potomac.

Potomac is family. I am beginning my fifth year here teaching the fourth grade. Potomac has encouraged my growth as a teacher and as a member of the greater school community. Not only am I a faculty member, but I am a Potomac parent as well. I look forward to watching my sons grow and learn in such a wonderful and caring learning environment.

When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my husband, our two sons, and our dogs, Sherlock and Merlin. We love old cars and spending time outdoors.

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.

Nick Hanson

Nick Hanson

Titles: Handbells Teacher and Intermediate School Advisor
Biography:

"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.

Henry Heidtmann

Henry Heidtmann

Titles: Middle, Intermediate and Upper School Band Teacher
Biography:

“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.”

Sarah Heist

Sarah Heist

Titles: Middle School Mathematics Coordinator
Biography:

"Teaching was always something I felt called to do from the time I was a child."

Teaching was always something I felt called to do from the time I was a child. It began with games of school, turned into tutoring friends and peers, and resulted in attending UConn, where I received my bachelor's in elementary education and my master's in curriculum and instruction. I began my career in Connecticut and quickly realized it was time to move away from home and chose Washington, DC, as the place to begin my next chapter. I have taught in DC Public Schools for the past three years, with two of those years spent teaching fourth grade math.

My love of elementary mathematics has led me to Johns Hopkins University, where I am completing a degree in math leadership and technology integration for grades K through 8. My hope is to help teachers and students alike see how exciting math can be when presented in a way that makes it feel like a discovery instead of a chore. I feel very grateful to be joining the Potomac community to fulfill these dreams!

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.

Jenna Hoogstra

Jenna Hoogstra

Titles: Grade 4 Teacher
Biography:

"I have been on my journey in education since high school, when I realized I loved working with children."

I am so excited to be a part of the Potomac community. I attended Calvin College, where I received my bachelor’s degree in education, and then I went on to Michigan State University for my master's degree. I have taught in the DC metro area for the past six years, working with students from 2nd through 5th grades.

I grew up as the middle child of three sisters in Wyoming, Michigan. Lake Michigan and the Provincial Parks of Ontario were places for exploring, camping, and hiking for me and my family. All of these experiences with the outdoors became my inspiration to teach children how to explore the world around them. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, running, and learning everything I can with my husband and dog.

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.

Greg Lefever

Greg Lefever

Titles: Grade 6 Teacher
Biography:

“I enjoy teaching this age group because students are starting to think critically and get excited about problem-solving challenges at the same time that they are developing their sense of self.”

A native of the Midwest, I graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Afterward, I earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Notre Dame. 

I have had the pleasure of teaching in independent schools for for over a decade. When I am not in the classroom, I like to run, bike, hike, and spend time with my wife. I enjoy teaching this age group because students are starting to think critically and get excited about problem-solving challenges at the same time that they are developing their sense of self.
 

Kim Mackay

Kim Mackay

Titles: Executive Assistant to the Middle School
Biography:

"I have the unique experience of working closely with a dedicated team of teachers, an enthusiastic parent body, many staff members who also quietly support our mission, and most importantly - our young, eager students."

My days are never dull. As there is always something requiring my attention, I have ample opportunity to hone the skill of multi-tasking in order to best support our Middle School. I strive to do this each day with a smile, energy, dedicated effort, humility, and a sense of humor.

I love the traditions at Potomac, particularly those in the Middle School: May Day, Class Plays, Greek Olympics, Medieval Bazaar, Field Day, Tuesday morning gatherings and more. Through these events, our students have the opportunity to showcase and share their learning by practicing the critical skill of speaking comfortably to groups of both peers and adults.

My husband and I have two grown daughters who fortunately both live nearby. We spent many years living overseas for my husband’s job with the US government. We thoroughly enjoyed the years we spent in Korea, Germany, Finland, and Poland; however, we are happy now to keep our roots planted firmly in the Northern Virginia area.

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.  

John Mathews

John Mathews

Titles: Head of Middle School
Biography:

"Fourth, fifth, and sixth grades are really the 'golden years' of education."

I've been at Potomac for over a decade, but I can still remember the excitement I felt at my interview. At the end of the first of the two days, I called my wife and gushed, "Oh man, I hope I can work at Potomac. Today I visited a dozen classes, and in each of them the students were fully engaged in projects. The only time I saw a teacher stop the activity was to clearly and succinctly introduce a new project." Over the past years, this active learning is what I've seen consistently throughout our classrooms, and it's a large part of what makes me love working at Potomac.

After graduating from college and feeling a bit undecided about what I would "do" now that I was "grown up," I traveled to Kansas City to teach in a summer program for educationally at-risk public school adolescents. I was immediately bitten by the teaching bug--I taught biology, algebra, literature, ultimate frisbee, and improvisational acting to rising 7th graders. It was surely the toughest thing I'd ever done, but also by far the most fulfilling. After a year of misery in the business world, I was lucky enough to return to a school environment,serving as an assistant teacher at Grace Church School in New York City. That was over 20 years ago, and I've been an educator ever since, spending the first 10 years as a classroom teacher and the last decade-plus as an administrator.

I knew when I started at Potomac as head of Middle School that I had the best role in the place--fourth, fifth, and sixth grades are really the "golden years" of education, and our teachers help to facilitate an optimal learning situation in the classrooms, on the fields, and on the stage. Little did I know then that things would soon come full circle, and that in 2015, I would be back working with adolescents like those I had taught in Kansas City, and that I would potentially adore the seventh and eighth grades as much or even more. I supervised both Middle and Intermediate Schools simultaneously for four years (with a lot of help!), and learned so much in that time about child development, the beauty of the connection between Potomac teacher and Potomac student at multiple ages, and about myself and my capacities to juggle many balls in the air. That said, I am overjoyed to return to my "home" in Middle School, and see the division through our upcoming renovation project as well as supporting its growth academically.

Barb Mays

Barb Mays

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

"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.

Alisha McClain

Alisha McClain

Titles: Grade 5 Teacher
Adam McNeil

Adam McNeil

Titles: Grade 5 Teacher
Biography:

“I was drawn to Potomac because of the strong sense of community and the focus on helping students lead purpose-driven lives.”

In my life's work, I have always focused on doing good work that makes a great difference. While attending JMU, I spent my summers working for an international camp in support of coexistence called Seeds of Peace. Upon graduating, I was inspired by my work with youth, and I began working in Washington, DC, for a non-profit focused on dropout prevention called Communities in Schools. While the mission behind this work was meaningful, my desk job was not as fulfilling. However, it did point me in the direction of teaching. 

While in my second year at Communities in Schools, I enrolled in a M.Ed. program at Marymount University and, a year later, found myself a fourth grade teacher for Arlington Public Schools. After four years in Arlington, I was eager to go deeper into my practice and looked into work on the independent school front. For the past five years, I served as a Grade 4 co-teacher at Sidwell Friends School. I was drawn to Potomac because of its strong sense of community and its focus on helping students lead purpose-driven lives. I see myself as a Middle School teacher and am happy to be a part of the Grade 5 team!

When I’m not teaching, you can find me living an active lifestyle – I run, swim, and bike with my wife and our two children. We spend a good bit of time outside hiking, gardening, and playing in the yard. We like to travel to national parks, and we enjoy visiting our parents in Virginia Beach and the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY and our siblings in Richmond.

Douglas Mogle

Douglas Mogle

Titles: Grade 4 Teacher
Biography:

“I am passionate about educating the whole child!”

A native of the Chicago suburbs, I have a bachelor's degree in special education from Ball State University and a Master of Education in elementary education from the University of Notre Dame.

As I enter my 15th year of teaching, I’ve had the great fortune to teach at schools across the United States, big and small. I am passionate about educating the whole child and I am honored to be a part of the Potomac School faculty and coaching staff.

Sean Moran

Titles: Director of Technology and Innovation
Kathleen Morgan

Kathleen Morgan

Titles: Grade 6 Teacher
Biography:

"I am an avid drummer and an enthusiastic member of an all-woman Brazilian percussion band based in Washington DC."

I have enjoyed teaching sixth grade at Potomac since 2006, and I have been a classroom teacher for the past 13 years. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and now raise my two children in Great Falls, VA. I am an avid drummer and an enthusiastic member of an all-woman Brazilian percussion band based in Washington, DC.

I have a master’s degree from Virginia Tech in curriculum and instruction, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from St. John Fisher College.

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.

Russell Nadel

Russell Nadel

Titles: Middle School Music Teacher
Biography:

"I feel enormously privileged to teach here, in a school where music has a long and distinguished history, is highly valued, and is an integral part of the Middle School calendar year."

I started playing piano in third grade, but it wasn’t until eighth grade, when my piano teacher challenged me to compose an original piece for a local Philadelphia-area arts competition, that I discovered how exciting creating my own music could be. After more intensive study during my final two years at Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA, I earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music composition and a bachelor's degree in music education at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD.

I have completed my certification and post-certification coursework in Orff-Schulwerk, an way of approaching and thinking about music education that emphasizes students learning music through making it and creating it themselves rather than passively "consuming" it. I remain constantly amazed and inspired by our students' overall creativity and musicianship, as shown through games, speech, singing, instrument playing, movement, improvisation, and composition activities and projects! (For more about Orff-Schulwerk, I encourage you to visit http://aosa.org/about/more-on-orff-schulwerk.)

I taught K through 6 general music and chorus for five years in Fairfax County Public Schools before coming to The Potomac School. I feel enormously privileged to teach here, in a school where music has a long and distinguished history, is highly valued, and is an integral part of the Middle School calendar year. Potomac students are artistic, creative, expressive, and willing to take risks in their performing--to commit--in a way that continues to inspire me every day. It has also been a joy to immerse myself in the Potomac Middle School traditions of May Day, Halloween, and so much more.

I enjoy teaching private lessons in piano, music theory, composition, and more, and I love to read fiction and play video and board games when I’m not playing musical instruments or singing. For more information about my compositions, including a listing of works available on commercial CDs, I invite you to visit www.russellnadel.com.

Diana Page

Diana Page

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

"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.

Brian Parry

Brian Parry

Titles: Arundel Librarian
Biography:

"Coming from a literary family—my father wrote espionage novels and my mother wrote poetry—I cherish the opportunity to encourage students to read and to investigate the world through research."

When I came to Potomac in 1989 as an intern in the Middle School, I was guided by teachers of an extraordinary caliber—Barbara Barksdale, Angela Bullock, Liz Whisnant, John Hebeler, Madeline Hancock, and Sarah Corson. These remarkable teachers showed me the many paths to superior teaching and allowed me to borrow their ideas and incorporate them into my own teaching style.

Born approximately six blocks from the White House at GWU Hospital, I have not strayed far from my roots. I have lived most of my life in the DC area but for a brief seven-year anomaly when I attended high school and college in Connecticut.

My wife and I met as fifth grade teachers here at Potomac and continue to work together in the Middle School, though now in different roles. She is presently a counselor for the fourth and fifth grades. Coming from a literary family—my father wrote espionage novels and my mother wrote poetry—I cherish the opportunity to encourage students to read and to investigate the world through research.

Weezie Parry

Weezie Parry

Titles: Grades 5-8 Counselor
Biography:

"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.

Diane Pelak

Diane Pelak

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

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

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

Jon Pirnia

Jon Pirnia

Titles: Upper School Science Teacher
Biography:

"For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations."

I graduated from Loyola (the Baltimore one) with dual degrees in Biology and the Classics around the turn of the millenium. Sounds like a long time ago, but my time there still resonates with me. It was there that I had two hugely impactful capstone projects: (1) undertaking independent research on a gene that affects cancer, and (2) joining an archaeological team to reconstruct a newly unearthed ancient temple in southern Greece. My adventures continued at Penn and WashU, where I had the opportunity to intensify my language studies, intern at art and archaeology museums, develop research on epic poetry, theatre, and the history of medicine, and grow my passion for teaching through increasingly involved TAships and ongoing work with a volunteer group whose mission was "to promote literacy through the arts."

I’m excited to join Potomac's Upper School as an advisor and science teacher. For an adventurous kid with diverse interests, it meant the world to have professors during my formative years who not only took sincere interest in my curiosity and growth, but also took pride in guiding my bright-eyed aspirations. Their attentiveness and encouragement has influenced much of how I view my role as an advisor and mentor, and why I gravitated to teaching here. I credit a constellation of teachers for helping orient me on a path whereon I could define my own research questions, make discoveries in the lab and in the field, recognize the vital importance of service learning and community engagement, and ultimately encounter the joy of teaching.

Ginny Ramos

Ginny Ramos

Titles: Arundel Library Teacher
Biography:

"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.

Jordan Rucker

Jordan Rucker

Titles: K-6 Chair of the Mathematics Department and Middle School Mathematics Coordinator
Biography:

"I love teaching in the Middle School, working with both the students and the families."

I am native to the DC area and an avid sports fan. I love cheering on both the Caps and the Nats. I moved back to the area in 2004, and besides a few years at home when my kids were young, I have been working at Potomac in a number of roles since then. I love teaching in the Middle School, working with both the students and the families. The challenge and excitement brought forth from Thinking Through Mathematics makes my job the best.

Shefali Sardar

Shefali Sardar

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

"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.

Christie Westermann

Christie Westermann

Titles: Grade 5 Teacher
Biography:

My class motto is “try everything!” Challenge yourself, make new friends, try a new hobby, join a club, taste new foods, listen to different types of music, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and find joy in every day.

I grew up just down the road from Potomac in Arlington and McLean. I am a graduate of Bishop O’Connell High School and then attended James Madison University where I received a bachelor of arts in early childhood education. I began my teaching career within Arlington County Public Schools at Page Traditional School (now Arlington Traditional School). My next stop was in New York City where I taught at The Dalton School, a progressive independent school on the Upper East Side. From there, a move to Hermosa Beach in Southern California took me to Chadwick School on the Palos Verdes Peninsula where I taught fourth grade for a number of years both before and after I had my children. In between teaching and raising children, I worked in admissions at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica. Since returning to the East Coast, I’ve also taught fourth grade and was a parent at Norwood School in Bethesda.

 

Outside of teaching I love spending time with my two wonderful children, extended family, and friends. I enjoy running, hiking, golf, paddle boarding, cooking, traveling, and photography. I am happiest when I’m with kids or at the beach!

Courtney White

Courtney White

Titles: Grade 4 Teacher
Biography:

"I am eager to create a joyful, purposeful, engaging, and inclusive classroom filled with lifelong learners. As I enter my fourth year in education, I am thrilled to join The Potomac School community and look forward to building lasting relationships with my students and their families!"

I am native to the Washington, DC metro area — having grown up in Potomac Falls, Virginia — and look forward to returning after a three-year stint down in New Orleans. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from The University of Alabama — Roll Tide! While at Alabama, I majored in Advertising with a concentration in Marketing, and minored in Psychology. After spending four years in the digital marketing and non-profit world, I decided it was finally time to pursue my dreams of becoming a teacher.

While living in New Orleans, I received my Master of Arts in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education, with a focus on elementary education and cultural competence. I have taught third grade Math and Science and fourth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies. I am eager to create a joyful, purposeful, engaging, and inclusive classroom filled with lifelong learners. As I enter my fourth year in education, I am thrilled to join The Potomac School community and look forward to building lasting relationships with my students and their families!

Outside of teaching, I am an avid traveler who loves to explore. To date, I have been to over 20 countries and over 30 states. I also love to bake, read, and spend quality time with my six year old son, extended family, and friends at the beach whenever I can!

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.

Mark Wilson

Titles: Upper School and Middle School Science Teacher
Steve Wolfe

Steve Wolfe

Titles: Middle School Science Teacher
Biography:

"As a science teacher, I work hard to create an environment that is fun, engaging, and provides a safe place for children to explore their natural imagination, curiosity and creativity. "

I am dedicated to incorporating visual and performing arts into the lessons I teach, making challenging content more meaningful and leaving a strong, lasting impression.  My passion for science, the arts, and the natural world have helped me develop as a professional and connect with my students.  After teaching science at The Lab School of Washington for 17 years, I am very excited to join the community at Potomac School. 

I grew up in Mclean, VA,  and as a child I loved riding my bike to the local creek, hopping rock to rock, catching crayfish, and exploring the woods.  That creek happens to be the same one that runs through our campus--Pimmit Run.  My summers were spent living abroad in Cairo, Egypt where I would enjoy two months of exploring the city, the ancient sites, and the Red Sea.  That experience led to a deep love of culture, history, and the beauty of our planet. 

Outside of teaching science, I enjoy spending time with my family (my wife, four teenager and a rescue dog), gardening, playing and composing music, soccer, and adventuring in the outdoors.  

Adela Wynn

Adela Wynn

Titles: Strings Teacher, Private Music Lesson Program Coordinator
Biography:

“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.

Esther Yu

Esther Yu

Titles: Middle School Spanish Teacher
Biography:

"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.