DMR Adventures

The focus of DMR Adventures is the development of artists through education and performance opportunities in acting, dance and voice. Classes and programs are led by both local and visiting guest artists who are experts their fields. It is common to see one of our regular visiting Broadway artists working and laughing with students, or to hear our young students discussing professional jobs and audition experiences. Even though we support and encourage professional opportunities and growth, DMR Adventures is also a wonderful place for beginners or those wanting to dust off their old skills and passions. DMR has regularly been recognized at the Junior Theatre Festival (the world's largest musical theatre festival for students) with multiple awards for Excellence in Acting and Excellence in Ensemble Work. Artistic Director, Melissa Charles, is a proud recipient of the 2017 Freddie G Fellowship - this fellowship honors 8 outstanding teachers throughout the world.

Emily Avakian

Ms. Avakian earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Montana where she focused on Native American Studies and Sociology. As an undergraduate student, Ms. Avakian conducted funded research on diversity in Higher Education. From there, she earned her Master’s in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education from the University of Virginia. She is currently a Doctoral student at Liberty University where she is pursuing a degree in Education Administration: Educational Leadership at Liberty University. In addition to her professional endeavors, Ms. Avakian does work that honors her Native American (she is a tribal citizen) and Parskahye heritage. She had had numerous poems published and a play produced in Baltimore focusing on identity. She is also on the board of directors for an ALMA nominated school in Iran to that serves Afghan children.

Megan Bailey

Megan Bailey is a classically trained musician and music teacher, with a degree in biochemistry. While these two fields seem to be at opposite ends of the educational spectrum, Megan feels that they are more related than not. In the science world, she worked in Research and Development for the advancement of testing supplies for people with diabetes. During her time in Denton, TX, she taught rocketry, kitchen chemistry, and remedial math for the county's summer school program. After dabbling in the science world, Megan switched gears to explore her first love - music. She has taught violin, piano, ensembles, and various music classes for over 20 years - the last ten in the Charlottesville area. In addition to teaching at CHEC and private music lessons, she currently runs her own bookkeeping business and teaches full-time for PVCC's Kids College program. Megan has recently jumped, head first, into the homeschooling world with her two children - one of whom has special needs. Homeschooling has allowed her to feed her many passions: music, science, and math, to name a few!

Janet Beals

Janet Beals Orejudos is a process artist, teacher, and facilitator. She has taught in summer camp, year round programs, and Adaptive Recreation with C'ville Parks & Rec, offering 3-14 year olds classes in Beginning and Youth Sculpture, Collage, Home School Art, Paint Like Picasso, and Open Studio. Janet comes from Chicago's Open Studio Project, offering process art and social emotional skills through art to disadvantaged and other diverse populations. Process art, unlike traditional art, focuses on the experience of artmaking rather than the final product. Therefore, there is no "bad art," just a piece with a story or a message. Although classes may have a theme (Dinosaurs, Self Portraits, Dia de los Muertos, Martin Luther King), each child is free to express it in her own way. We honor each child's artistic vision. Classes use unusual materials and techniques when possible, and aim for creativity, learning, and self determination. Janet is open to students with special needs and communication disorders, and children outside the age parameters of the class.

Heidi Betts

Heidi Betts is a homeschooling mother of two children, with whom she enjoys exploring the outdoors. Originally from Seattle, Heidi has lived all over the United States, including the Northeast, the Southwest, and the Intermountain West. She received her BS in Special Education with a focus on learning disabilities from Brigham Young University. Heidi is an active volunteer with the Charlottesville Ballet Academy and the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont and serves as a children’s music leader for her church. She loves cats, crossword puzzles, and the color purple.

Gwendolyn Bright

Painter, poet, and mama to Matilde Zadie and Gideon Apollo, Gwen is a California native full-spectrum doula with an insatiable need to plug into storytelling of all kinds. She is the founder of Bright Birthing and has attended many births in and out of hospital since 2010 (close to 90 at last count). Gwen's first work with editing literary magazines began in middle school, continued through high school, and led to her founding of The Empty Set literary magazine at New College of Florida. Gwen went on to work as an intern at McSweeney's Publishing (home of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, the Believer Magazine, and many wonderful books). Along with a BA in literature and religion and work toward a Masters in traditional Chinese medicine, Gwen's additional studies have included Prenatal Yoga Teacher training; Prenatal Massage; Trauma to Triumph with Nurture in Richmond; and Penny Simkin's When Survivors Give Birth. In 2018 Gwen completed postpartum doula training with Nearby Baby. Most recently Gwen has completed coursework through San Francisco Zen Center in chronic pain and chronic illness, and is studying with Yolonda Coles Jones in a program called Design Your Family’s Education Reality. Gwen is working on a second collection of poetry, homeschooling her kiddos, and helping to coordinate the Novo Collegian Alliance.

Arianne Dallas

My name is Arianne. I’ve been a gymnastics, dance and art instructor for over 5 yrs for parks and Rec and other gyms in the area. I taught for an early childhood development center in Washington DC and Philadelphia. Fun fact I was a competitive gymnast by the age of 10. I competed at level 7. I love teaching because I love to help build confidence in my students. I love to challenge my students and see them grow! I’m all about building confidence! I’m originally from Boston, I have a B.S in Design and Merchandising from Drexel University and in my free time I love cooking with my daughter, painting and roller skating.

Amy Eachus

Amy Eachus is a former public school teacher who took a different path and now homeschools her three children. She loves learning beside them. She’s passionate about nature, art, and children’s literature. She also enjoys gardening, watching science documentaries, and crocheting. She feels her primary role as a teacher is to assist her students in making their own discoveries. As Socrates said, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”

Monica Farrell

A lifelong teacher of English, French, Writing and Mindfulness, I have taught writing in the Comparative Literature Department at UCLA and then in the Freshman Writing Program at The American University in Cairo. I've tutored high school and home schooled kids in subjects including English, World Cultures, Critical Thinking and French and helped them prepare for GCSE exams (high school exams in the UK). I have a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature (ABD) and currently teach yoga and mindfulness in Charlottesville in addition to teaching Yoga Teachers in my annual retreats around the world.

Julie Gottschalk

I retired during the Pandemic from teaching. For over 20 years, I taught grades 1-5 (but mostly third grade) at Peabody School. There, I taught all academic subjects and also had a weekly Philosophy class and a daily Mindfulness session. Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, I taught Drama and I was a Gifted Resource teacher in Albemarle County. Since I retired, I've been volunteering and tutoring--mainly math and Adult Literacy, but I miss working with groups; I think we all learn best when we collaborate and build off each others' ideas.

Wes Iseli

Wes Iseli has been a full time Magician & Illusionist performing all over the country since 1996. He currently performs over 400 shows a year and has performed at resorts, theaters, private shows, company parties, family shows & has even performed for MGM Grand Casino and resort as well as the British Embassy. He worked as a magic consultant and animal trainer on The Carbonaro Effect on TRU tv. He has been teaching magic since 2003 at resorts and schools when his schedule allows.

Amber Jones

I have a BFA in Painting & Printmaking from VCU. Throughout the post-college years, I’ve worked in many art supply stores and am familiar with a wide range of art making techniques and materials, including intaglio etching, welding, fiber spinning, encaustic, plaster, and woodworking. Currently, I own and operate a small farm which specializes in goat milk soaps. I homeschool my three young children whom you may have seen running around the playground at CHEC. We’ve been with CHEC for about three years and absolutely love this community!

Owen Lamison

Owen is in his final year of homeschooling and has been involved with CHEC for the last 7 years, since he was 10 years old. He has been a student and assisted in several different classes including Playground Potpourri, D&D, and Dino Dig. He is now ready to take on the role of teacher. Owen loves games of all sorts, be it board games, card games, video games, or athletic games. He is looking forward to introducing more kids to one of his favorite games, Magic the Gathering.

Susan Maccarelli

I recently moved to Waynesboro and have enoyed teaching several classes at CHEC, including board and card gaming classes and an all about me class. When I am not teaching classes at CHEC, I am filling the roles of CHEC Registrar and planning CHEC field trips. I have a Masters degree in Education from JMU, and figure that if I am too old to take all of these great CHEC classes myself, at least I can teach some!

Jacob Pugh

I am Jake Pugh and I will be sharing a lifetime's worth of passion and over 25 years of experience in keeping reptiles through my uniquely interactive class. I grew up in northern Virginia and am just barely old enough to have missed out on the internet during my elementary school years, thereby limiting my exposure to the reptiles I longed to learn about. As a result I have remained insatiable in my pursuit of knowledge and experience with the cold-blooded, which has taken me from avid collector to breeder, and now a forever-home rescuer. I have even had the opportunity to work directly for one of the original pioneers of the herpetological hobby, and can boast that any ball python you have seen for sale in Petco or Petsmart over the past year came from the breeding season that I played a majority hand in while at Ophiological Services.

Rebecca Reilly

I've been teaching piano lessons in Charlottesville since I was a student at UVa 20 years ago. At UVa, I majored in Music and earned my Master's of Teaching in Elementary Education. I taught 6th grade math at JJMS after graduating. I feel like I've been homeschooling my kids since they were born, but we truly started "school" in 2019. My family loves CHEC and I can't wait to get to play with more of the community through our classes together :)

Elizabeth Riner

Elizabeth has been tutoring (mostly science), coaching creative problem solving teams, and offering private art instruction for 20 years. She loves all creative outlets and is well versed in dozens of art mediums because she can't chose just one. She has always been a talented artist, but is most passionate about helping other artists improve their skill and develop their own style. She loves science, reptiles, creating elaborate costumes, crafts, art and homeschooling.

Nancy Rosen

Nancy moved to Charlottesville four years ago from Boston. She is most well known as Rosie’s grandma and Alena Solenne’s mother. She is currently retired from forty years of teaching as a speech pathologist, as a high school teacher (psychology and American history) and as a college professor ( psychology and sociology).Her educational preparation includes a BA from the University of Michigan and a MA from Cleveland State University . Her current activities include helping in Rosie’s kindergarten homeschool , playing French horn in four community groups, playing piano at home and quilting. After four years of retirement she is eager to add some teaching back into her life and her passion for psychology seems a good fit for Chec.

Megan Ruby

Hello, we recently moved to Virginia from the Pacific Northwest of Oregon. I program manage the Compassionate Schools Program of Charlottesville, where I support teachers with mental health & wellness curriculum/workshops. I am loving how beautiful and lush Virginia is! I have spent over 18 years in the K-12 school system, as either a General Education or Special Education teacher. I love to create and explore hands on learning! I am looking forward to meeting the families in the CHEC Community!

Brian Ruby

I have been an educator and coach since 1992. I recently moved from Oregon to Virginia with my wife Megan and our last child at home Aesop. I hold a master’s degree in education and a bachelor's degree in history. I have many life experiences that I have been able to draw on to connect with youth. I have worked as an actor, social worker, ghost tour guide and career counselor. I am always excited to work with kids.

Torey Schultz

Torey Schultz is a homeschooling momma to 2. Born and raised in Southwest Michigan, she has relocated to the Cville area in 2020 to be closer to family. As a registered nurse with a background in Obstetrics and Community Health Education she has a passion for education and preventative health. She is a firm believer in the "more we know, the better we can do." Homeschooled from K-12 herself, she loves reading and challenges herself with finding new hobbies to develop her creativity.

Alena Solenne

Alena Rose Solenne, M.Ed, is an independent teacher based in Charlottesville, VA. She has been teaching and tutoring children and teens in the homeschooling community over the last three years. She has recently been focusing on the teen community as they bridge out of the offerings of the homeschooling coops, and become ready for a more academic setting in a local community college or high school. She has her Masters in Education from Antioch University, and has completed additional training in both Integrated Learning and Waldorf teaching modalities. She has a love and appreciation for each unique developmental stage, including those that we continue to experience as adults. She has a passion for exploring culture, history, geometry and art, and then finding the interesting connections and patterns hiding within them. In each class, there is a focus on aesthetics and beauty, while also gently integrating social, developmental, and academic skills.

Mary Soulia

Hi friends! I’m excited to see the energy and excitement the kids bring to hairstyling, and to share some of what I’ve learned through the years with them. I homeschool my son, Abdi, and believe that each child learns differently and needs to go at their own pace. Our dogs and cats are a big part of our family, and in my free time I like to read, watch something funny or scary, or spend time with friends enjoying the sunshine. I’m usually on a quest to find a new hobby, they just don’t always stick. Except for napping, of course.

Louis Torkornoo

My name is Louis Torkornoo and I'm originally from Ghana in West Africa. I'm a proud alumnus of the University of Virginia (Go Hoos) where I began as an Engineering student but graduated with my Masters in Math Education and Bachelor's in Religious Studies. I recently earned my Education Specialist degree in curriculum and instruction from UVA. As a result of my unique background, experiences, and numerous talents, I've been gifted with the opportunity to serve the youth in more ways than one. I've been in the states for 25years and during that time, I've encountered and shaped lives of young students through different forms. I taught middle school students as a licensed, professional Algebra 1 and Pre-Algebra teacher for 13yrs. I've also served as a Math tutor, Karate instructor, Guitar and Piano teacher, Soccer coach, Sunday school teacher, Christmas Pageant coordinator, Computer coach, SAT Math and college prep instructor, Summer camp counselor, and Talent Show coach. I've also experienced several volunteer opportunities in Charlottesville such as Madison House's Big Sibling Program, Computer 4 Kids, and free tutor. I'm currently part of the folk music team at my church and have been a guitarist and back up pianist for 16yrs. I'm excited to join the CHEC team where I can share my talents and skills with the community's youth help more young students grow as well-rounded individuals.

Coach West

I have been teaching and coaching children and families through Westcity Soccer in the Cville area for the past 10 years. As a former Division 1 College Coach and former 2 Sport College athlete, I provide students with insight and training into what it takes to compete at the highest level. I implement a personalized coaching and training approach with each student. I follow a curriculum for teaching technique, tactics, fitness and mental aspects of team sports with emphasis on American football and soccer. I support each player in the moment, aiding in their complete development over time. I provide a teaching and learning environment where each student can succeed.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson-Segar is a homeschooling mother of two, originally from Midwest. Sarah has a passion for the outdoors; hiking, foraging, camping, mushroom cultivating, and exploring our world. After over a decade in the world of corporate finance, she left to focus on what she truly loves, her family. She has been teaching children for the last five years, with a degree in Developmental Psychology. Sarah currently has a homestead and Wilderness School in Palmyra, VA.