Instructors

Kate Adamson

Kate Adamson is an actress, herbal medicine enthusiast, and wedding officiant. She worked for over 10 years as a team-building facilitator at a local camp, and has led children and adults of all ages in cooperative games and decision-making. Kate was a double major in Sociology and Religion at Wittenberg University in Ohio, and went to graduate school in Sociology at UVA. Kate is an ordained interfaith minister, homeschooling mom to her 11 yr old daughter, stepmom to 3 older kids, and has a husband, a garden, and 3 cats.

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!

Jennifer Borishansky

A homeschooling mama, Jennifer has been teaching at CHEC since our doors first opened over 10 years ago. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology, minors in Classics and Archival Management/Community Documentation, and a deep love for West African drumming, astronomy, and Harry Potter. Jennifer offers a wide range of classes including Quidditch, the Classical Origins of Harry Potter, W. African drumming, astronomy, archaeology, archaeoastronomy, physics, math, percussive dance and more! Her primary goal as a teacher is to spark a passion for learning in kids using a creative dynamic learning environment that allows for open discussion of ideas and strengthens community using free movement, games, hands-on activities, patience and a good sense of humor.

Ingrid Cordano

Ingrid is driven by curiosity and finds joy in experiencing and learning new things. She is now a homeschooling mom of two daughters, ages 9 and 11, but has worn many hats in her life. Ingrid was born in Finland, grew up overseas on US military bases, received her B.S. in Systems Engineering from UVA, worked in web development, and went to culinary school. Recently she has taken an interest in teaching children about science and teaching herself to tap dance.

Virginia Cunningham

Virginia Cunningham grew up in the 4-H horse program in Charlottesville, Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS is Animal and Poultry Science with a track in equine science. She spent three years studying in the Caribbean country of St. Kitts and Nevis. She moved back to the area after spending a few years working in Buffalo, NY. She has two kids, two dogs, one cat, two fish, five chickens, too many rabbits, two bearded dragons, and a tolerant husband.

Rachel DiLuciano

I have been an occupational therapist for 20 years but currently spend most of my time homeschooling my two teens. They might say I spend most of my time on never ending home renovations and hiking or running in the woods, preferably with a dog. I earned a B.S. in Health from the University of Richmond and a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University. I appreciate that each student brings to the class a unique mix of experience, skills, and interests. I aim to facilitate a learning experience that is fun for everyone, with opportunities for further learning for those interested in digging deeper.

Ruei-Jen Fan

Ruei-Jen was and still is an enthusiastic learner, from learning about Neurology to how to raise children. She believes that anyone can learn anything just as long as time and effort are used in their ventures. Before working with CHEC, Ruei-Jen was a Research Scientist at the department of Neurology, University of Virginia before becoming a full time mom. She has a BSc in Psychology and PhD in Neurobiology. She appreciates every individual and their interest in different subjects. The classes she teaches range from the science-based (cell biology and chemistry) to the experience-based (cooking, baking, and Chinese culture), and she hopes to aid anyone in her areas of expertise.

Monica Farrell

I have been a teacher since I was around 14 years old when I was hired to teach horseback riding at a local riding school. In High School I taught Spanish speaking kids English with the Big Sister program. As an adult I taught Comparative Literature as a TA in Grad School at UCLA and then in the Freshman Writing Program at The American University in Cairo for years. I've tutored high school and home schooled kids in various subjects and helped them prepared 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.

Will Goss

Sam started as a student at Light House at the age of 13. From there they earned a BFA from the Film Conservatory at SUNY Purchase, a four year program focused on film production and theory. During summers Sam would return to Light House to work as a mentor, and continued to do so after graduation. After college Sam performed various roles as a freelancer, from helping manage a professional camera rental house to working as the editor at a commercial production company. Sam has since returned to Light House full-time, bringing everything they’ve learned back to where they started. When not teaching Sam continues to write and direct their own films.

Heather Hayes

I'm a mom of two boys, a dog and a cat. I love to garden, teach, story tell and go to the movies. I have been nannying, organic gardening and teaching for 14 years. My passion since I was about 4 years old, has been comedy. I've been performing for 7 years in Charlottesville with the improv troupe The Bent Theatre. I have also taught improv workshops and youth improv 101 classes. When I get the courage, I also perform a bit of stand-up. I love to make others laugh, perform and discover stories through improvisation.

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.

Teela James

I love learning about new things and finding connections between diverse topics. This tendency has lead to a rather wandering career path that has included programming, technical training, writing short stories, designing parks, teaching, and guiding wilderness camping trips. I am currently able to share my enthusiasm for these topics with my two custom educated children. I feel that my role as an instructor involves engaging students by presenting fun material and then supporting them in delving into the parts they find fascinating. Students with learning differences are welcome in my classes and I enjoy working with them to find effective accommodations. I have a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Saskatchewan and a MLA from the University of Georgia.

Dannielle Lamison

Dannielle Lamison is CHEC's head site manager. She manages Supervised Stay.

Davette Leonard

Davette Leonard is an artist, calligrapher and art educator. Ms. Leonard's paintings are reminiscent of 16th to 18th century European still lifes which reflect exacting draftsmanship and old world techniques. With her students she teaches methods of observation, problem solving, drawing, understanding color and looking to nature and human imagination for inspiration. Residing in Rappahannock County, Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ms. Leonard teaches art, calligraphy and art history at the Hearthstone School in Sperryville and at Belle Meade School in Sperryville, Virginia. She has been teaching at CHEC since 2008. Other teaching experiences include private art lessons, the Headwater’s Summer Workshops, Rappahannock County Adult Education Classes, Rappahannock County Elementary School International Day’s workshops in Chinese Calligraphy, after school Curriculum Enrichment classes. She also worked as Artist in Residence at Rappahannock County Elementary School teaching puppet making, painting, figure drawing, calligraphy and stage sets creations. Davette Leonard has a BLS in studio arts from the University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA and was a student at the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. Exhibitions include: the Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour, The Berkley Gallery in Warrenton, VA, The Gay Street Gallery in Washington, VA, The Riemer Gallery in Nashville, TN, The McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA, The Caulfield Gallery in Washington, VA.

Kim Lohan

Kim Lohan is a homeschooling mama who loves exploring ways to use all our senses to engage with learning and especially loves hands on activities. She and her family are beekeepers with a passion about the outdoors. She graduated with a Bachelor in Science from Minnesota State University.

Tom Lynch

Tom Lynch is a software engineer and musician. Nearly 20 years of computer programming has required him to be a lifelong learner to keep up with the rapid pace of changing technology. He believes the best way to learn new technology is to use it, even if you don't know what you're doing, by working through projects that challenge you to figure out how stuff works and learn from your successes and mistakes. Tom aims to inspire students to learn programming as both a practical skill and a way to have fun through video game-based programming activities that offer opportunities to learn from their own process of trial and error with a new technology. He currently works for the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia where he builds custom software applications to support the pedagogical, research, and administrative goals of the academic side of the UVA Health System. Tom is also a performing member of two bands, playing music described as experimental electronic and electro rock. His music has taken him on the road to several states as well as to local theatre productions at Live Arts and PVCC. Tom holds a B.A. in Literature and a M.S. in Library and Information Science.

Lori Madden

Lori Madden is director of the Blue Ridge Irish Music School (BRIMS) which she helped to found with her homeschooled children (and other homeschooling families) in 2000. Lori has been providing Irish dance instruction for all ages since 1999. Classes are geared towards learning Irish dance basics in a fun and relaxed environment.

Shelley Marshall

Hi, I'm Shelley. I have one daughter who has been home schooling all along. We became part of the CHEC community in 2019. At home school, I teach according to my daughter's attention span. I strive to choose a variety of subjects and spend time on those in which she is most interested. When I was younger, I won my very first job, newspaper deliverer, at age 13. I was continuously employed thereafter (until becoming a stay-at-home mom). I mostly worked as an administrative assistant and performed tasks such as bookkeeping, database management, and retail. I have worked at a movie theater, a blacksmith's shop, a garden center, the SPCA, a vet clinic, and as a massage therapist. I have a strong work ethic and I pride myself in a job well done. I expect my students to apply themselves too. I am a graduate of Berea College with a degree in Philosophy (the love of learning). I went back to school and earned a Massage Therapy license in 2010. I used to teach adults at the Virginia School of Massage where I had to organize my lessons and teach all the relevant information in an allotted time. This experience has been useful to me a home school teacher. Between 2017-2019, I was heavily involved in the Religious Education Committee at Charlottesville Friends Meeting (Quakers). I have spent many hours teaching children in Sunday School. I selected and presented lessons for the children and even chose and directed the Christmas Pageant in 2019. These experiences have helped me understand what kids enjoy and how a classroom of children behaves. For fun, I enjoy baking, crafting, reading, playing games, swimming, walking, visiting animals of all types, and hanging out with our two cats (always with my kiddo by my side). I enjoy watching kids grow-up and seeing them succeed. I still love learning and hope that my excitement will be passed on to those I teach.

Emily Norris

Emily Mohajeri Norris is a homeschooling mother of three boys ages 8-15. She is passionate about hands-on learning, global education (her sometime career field), service-learning, and creating custom educational opportunities for her children. Her kids’ interests led her to coach a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics team for four years and her family’s desire to raise their kids with a global orientation moved them to Beijing, China, for a year. She has a BA from UVA and an M.Ed. from Harvard; loves photography, travel, hiking, yoga, and rainy days at the art museum; and is learning to swim laps.

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.

Erin Riley

Erin Riley, the Magician of Life, is an Athlete & Entertainer based out of Virginia. She is a member of the International Juggling Association & the United States Parachute Association. When leading a workshop her teaching technique leaves you feeling energized after a fun physical and mental workout. Erin’s creative approach to living an out-of-the-box life often takes her traveling, allowing her to live her motto: Whoever has the most fun wins!

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. 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 21years 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. 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.

Lou Volpendesta

Lou Ann has worked professionally for 20 years directing, performing, and writing for young audiences. Under the auspices of Young Audiences of Virginia Inc., she has toured schools all over the state, performing for elementary and high school audiences in productions ranging from story theater to Shakespeare. She has also conducted drama residencies and workshops in schools, museums, and community centers throughout Virginia. She studied dance, theater, and movement at New York University and Old Dominion University, as well as stage movement and pantomime with Mina Yakim in New York City. Lou Ann homeschooled her son (now in college), and has taught classes at CHEC for the last six years – writing, adapting and directing plays, as well as using the dramatic arts, creative movement, and storytelling to teach history and literature, and geography.

T Williams

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.