I am delighted to introduce you to your classroom and specialist teachers for 2016-17. Many of our teachers are the same, and we have a few new teachers to welcome to our community this year. Our teachers understand that where you start matters and are committed to providing the best progressive educational program for your children.
As you will see, our teachers have an excellent array of skills, education, training, and interests. We all have one thing in common: each one of us commits to making Virginia Chance School an outstanding and exceptional place of learning for children and families!
Looking forward to a great year of learning,
Debbie Houston, Head of School
I am proud to present our Preschool Teachers to you:
Hannah Schardein, Fours Teacher
I continue to be influenced by modern research in education and am especially mindful of the central importance of choice, nature, and free play in children’s early educational experiences. These passionate ideas led me to the progressive education program at Virginia Chance School. I hold a Master of Education in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Louisville. I have taught first and second grades as well as taught and directed the Junior Kindergarten Program in local independent schools. I’ve enjoyed presenting at various educational conferences, such as KAIS, and serving on the Early Childhood Board at the Kentucky Science Center. I have a firm respect for the different developmental pathways and knowledge that all humans are born with different propensities. I believe that educators are responsible for caring for each child with a mindfulness of these ideas. Outside of school, my family and I enjoy getting out into nature to camp, hike, and garden, and we are all avid readers.
Margaret Houston, Fours Teacher
This year marks my 5th year of teaching at Virginia Chance School. My mission as a teacher of the Fours is to help children discover the joy of learning through play and exploration. I am intentional in my efforts to get to know each child as an individual and to encourage them in their journey as confident, inquisitive learners. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching, University of the Cumberlands and a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown College. I grew up in Pikeville, Kentucky. Recently my husband Crawford (a Chance graduate) and I moved to Shelbyville. We have enjoyed the farmland, fresh air and stillness that country living provides. We have two dogs (a Rottweiler named Gus and a Lab named B) and four chickens! In my free time I enjoy nights at home with my family, adventures with the dogs, and spending time with good friends.
Jessie Lay, Fours Teacher
I have a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Bachelor in Elementary Education from Western Carolina University. I taught for three and a half years in a program that focused on arts-infused, inquiry-based learning in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System. I was drawn to Virginia Chance School because of our belief in fostering creativity, problem-solving, and skill-building, and a lifetime love of learning. I believe that children can learn best through hands-on experiences, discovery, exploration, and play. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the many things Louisville has to offer. I also enjoy reading and spending time with my family and my dog, Kero.
Natalie Heavrin, Fours Teacher
I graduated from Indiana University Southeast with a Bachelor in Elementary Education. During my studies, I realized that I wanted to teach in a progressive school, and Virginia Chance School was a shining example, I knew it was where I needed to be. I am honored to work at a school that believes in doing what is best for children. I have continuously seen my students thrive in this environment, which encourages age appropriate discovery-based learning. When not at school, I love to hike, bike, and run my way around my hometown of New Albany, Indiana. I also enjoy spending time with my friends, family, and my dogs!
Maureen Harden, Threes Teacher
I am excited to begin my 13th year of teaching preschool at Virginia Chance School. Engaging children in a loving, joyful environment with a whole child, progressive approach to education is something I believe in, and I’ve seen the benefits of this approach in own children. All three of my children began at Virginia Chance School as two-year-olds and attended through the completion of the fifth grade. I have an ABT Master in Psychology with an emphasis on children and child development and a Bachelor of Science from Xavier University. When not working, I spend most of my time with my children. When I do get a free moment, I often find myself solving Sudoku puzzles, knitting, reading, or watching documentaries and old movies.
Jenny Pritchett, Threes Teacher
I have a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia. I have many years of teaching experience, including the privilege of being a mentor teacher. I was once told, “The sweet spot is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” My greatest joy and passion is teaching! Guiding and encouraging students to meet their full potential is certainly one of the world’s needs (and I don’t have the skill set to achieve world peace!). I feel I have found my “sweet spot” at Virginia Chance School with the three-year-olds, and 2016-17 will be my fourth teaching year at VCS. I am also involved in the Magic Ladder Literacy Project, an exciting new technology and methodology for teaching reading. I volunteer with my husband on Mondays and Tuesdays, working with disadvantaged struggling readers in the JCPS school system. Outside of school, I am an active member of my church, I have been in the same book group for 14 years, and I love to work out, hike, and bake.
Clarissa Phillips, Threes Teacher
I have a Master in Education and Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Azusa Pacific University, in California. I taught for four years at a small blue ribbon school in Arcadia, California and three years in the Oldham County School District where I taught a K/1 class. I first heard of Virginia Chance School through a close friend of mine. For many years she had shared with me her personal experiences as a Virginia Chance “parent”, I knew then that this was where I should be because I love teaching! From the first time I imitated a teacher as a little girl to having my own classroom, I’ve always loved to teach. It is the air I breathe and the delight of my heart. What could be better than helping children discover truth and acquire the tools to become lifelong learners? Chance is all about connecting education to real life, and it has been a joy as a teacher and a mom to see the things learned in the classroom translate into everyday life. At Virginia Chance School, not only do we welcome each child’s interest into the classroom, but I too get to share some of my favorite pastimes like cooking, playing my guitar and speaking in Spanish with my students.
Julia Patterson, Threes Teacher
I have taught and led the Early Childhood Theatre Education Program at Imagination Stage for five years in Bethesda, Maryland. I was also Professional Teaching Artist at two local youth theatre programs here in Louisville as well as a Professional Storyteller with the Blue Apple Players. I am also a two-time children’s book author and playwright. I have a BFA in Acting from the Conservancy of Performing Arts at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. I believe that play is ‘the work’ of early childhood and find the Chance philosophy to be perfectly aligned with my views on education. I bring with me to Virginia Chance School over ten years of experience educating, empowering and working creatively with young children. I love bringing stories to life with small children by having them participate in the storytelling, and I’m excited to bring that gift to Virginia Chance School.
Aleisha Pendleton, Threes Teacher
My passion for the best practice education brought me to Virginia Chance to teach preschool because I love our whole child, progressive approach to learning. I graduated from Indiana University Southeast with a Bachelor of Education and taught in the Indiana school system. I feel so blessed to be a part of guiding and observing young children as they grow and develop. I believe in the importance of teaching children how to be learners and problem solvers at an early age. I love that I am empowered and challenged at Virginia Chance School to take my teaching and children’s learning to a new level by focusing on their interest and then building pathways to deep learning from those. Outside of school, I have a passion for health and fitness, and I love bringing that knowledge into the classroom and teaching students the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.
Beth Loster, Threes Teacher
I obtained my Child Development Master Teacher Permit from San Francisco City College, and I am licensed to both run and oversee the operations of an early childhood site, as well as teach. I have a Bachelors of Arts from UC Berkeley. My first five years of teaching experience were at a preschool co-op in San Francisco. I led a mixed-age classroom, serving children ages 2 to 5. After moving to Louisville two years ago, I spent one year as the lead teacher for a room of 4-year-olds. As I sent them off to Kindergarten, I began looking for a school more closely aligned with my beliefs. When I discovered Virginia Chance, with its commitment to child-led discovery, development of the whole child, and environmental responsibility, I knew I had found the right place. Chance embodies all the elements I believe are essential in developing capable and confident children, who are invested in a lifetime of learning. My goal is to empower every child to be able to identify and meet their needs, to learn empathy and self-care, and to marvel at the world around them. Spending my days with children is truly the most joyful and fulfilling career I could imagine. Outside of school, I am most often doing yoga, drawing cartoons and writing, baking, and enjoying nature in any way possible. Being able to do these things with students at Chance on a daily basis is a gift.
Amanda Bass, Twos Teacher
I graduated from Converse College with a B. A. in Applied Art and furthered my education by becoming certified to teach art in K-12. After careers teaching high school art and creating exhibits in science museums, I found my way to Virginia Chance School 24 years ago as a parent of my then two-year-old son, Noah. While Noah continued his Virginia Chance education through the fifth grade, I joined the Chance faculty in 1993 as an assistant teacher, and four years later I became a lead preschool teacher.
This year I am looking forward to co-teaching in the Twos classroom with Corinne Kamiya. I was inspired to become a teacher by my 10th grade English teacher, who encouraged me with a smile and a kind word to always try my best. Playing music (hand bells and piano) and singing in my church choir bring great joy to my life away from Virginia Chance. I also enjoy traveling to Illinois, Mississippi, and Florida to visit family and friends and I spending one of the final weeks of the summer with them at the Neshoba County Fair in my hometown, Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Amy Fowler, Two Day Twos Teacher and Physical Education & Preschool Movement Specialist
I have a Doctoral degree in Leadership Education from Spalding University in May 2000 and a Master in Education from the University of Buffalo and a Bachelor of Arts from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. I began working at Virginia Chance School in 2005 as the Director of Communication, and I remained in that position until 2013 when I became the Physical Education Specialist. New last year, I began teaching the Two Day Twos along with being the Physical Education Specialist. This position allows me to provide our youngest students with a positive and nurturing first school experience and start them on a path that fosters a love of learning. When I’m not at school, I love to stay active. I enjoy playing tennis, backyard football and basketball, biking, hiking and gardening. I also sit on the board of Falls City Soccer Club, and I am the Parent Administrator for the Kentucky Country Day boy’s high school soccer program.
Elizabeth Moe, Twos Teacher
I have taught preschool for 11 years at Virginia Chance School, I look forward to each new year. I love teaching the Twos and being their first teacher! It is wonderful to be with the Twos as they begin their journey at Virginia Chance School and to provide them a loving, safe and nurturing environment for their first learning experience. I received my B.A in Art History from Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and after completing I discovered Virginia Chance School through family friends who had previously been preschool teachers here. Once I began teaching at VCS, I knew I had found my teaching home!
Outside of school, I am a busy wife and mom. I have been married to my husband Jeff for 19 years, and they have three wonderful children- Andrew, Stuart, and Sarah. I keep busy attending all my children’s games (football, lacrosse, field hockey and volleyball!) throughout the year, cooking and traveling to my favorite place- Seabrook Island in SC.
Corinne Kamiya, Twos Teacher
I fell into teaching preschool while living in New York after finishing graduate school, and I fell in love with the everyday wonder and incredible growth that happens in preschool. I have a Master of Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Hawaii. I discovered Virginia Chance School in 2014 when my husband Eric proposed that we consider moving from Hawaii to Louisville to be closer to his family. We visited Louisville to explore the idea of a move, and after touring the school, I told my husband, “I would move to Kentucky for this school.” This fall will be the start of our third year at Virginia Chance School, and it will be my first year with the two-year-olds. I love finding out what the children are passionate about and exploring those interests deeply so that I am always learning new things alongside them. In my time outside of school, I love to sew dresses, bake bread, make art, and take TRX and hot yoga classes.