- Aaron WellsInstructor
I have a B.A. in Liberal Arts from New St. Andrews College (class of ‘05), but my roots in classical education go back to high school and some of the first online classics-based tutorials with Wes Callihan and Fritz Hinrichs. I have since taught a variety of classes at the junior high and high school level, including History, Literature, and Latin. My teaching has been both local (including 3 years at Logos Christian Academy in Fallon, NV and various opportunities with homeschoolers both there and in my current residence of Moscow, ID) and online for nearly a decade.
I have been blessed to see the rise of interest in classical schooling go hand in hand with the rise of technology that makes the study of the classics easier and more attainable than ever. Now my love of Virgil, Augustine, and Dante can be shared across the globe with students just as eager as I was to lay hold of and read the foundational books of western culture.
Outside of classes about long deceased authors, you’ll usually find me introducing my four children to some of the other joys in my life: things like baseball, mountains, good stories, the music of the spheres, and sleep. I’m going on faith that they’ll figure out that last one in time, as it has yet to take.
On teaching: I use a lecture-based format for my literature courses that mixes in questions and conversation with the lecture period. The questions are intended to guide the students into a deeper conversation of the readings and stimulate creative and critical thinking. Students are also invited to ask their own questions or share observations on the reading. Most evaluation takes place through written submissions (including papers and short summaries) and tests. All submissions are considered final, unless an exception has been specifically provided.
- Amy SamuelsonInstructor
While I have always loved writing, my path to becoming a writing teacher has been a winding one. I earned dual bachelor’s degrees in engineering science and civil engineering from Manchester College and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively, before deciding to pursue my interest in cultural anthropology in graduate school. For my master’s degree at Colorado State University, I conducted household surveys on Pine Ridge Reservation and ranches in South Dakota. As part of my doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), I spent a year in Moldova on a Fulbright grant doing ethnographic fieldwork among environmentalists. I also did a year of research in Romania, and after graduating in 2013, I returned to Moldova and later moved to the country of Georgia.
In all of these places, I spent time writing, editing, and teaching. In addition to my own writing, I edited papers for colleagues as well as non-academic clients. At UWM, I worked as a teaching assistant, taught a course on ways of life in different cultures, and worked as a tutor at the university’s writing center. In Moldova and Georgia, I taught English as a foreign language. For some of my advanced students in Moldova, this included a writing course and workshops where we covered many of the basics found in WTMA’s courses. Working with writers from different cultures with their own writing traditions, both at UWM’s writing center and in Moldova, gave me a new perspective on Anglo-American academic writing.
On teaching: Now that I’ve relocated to Chicago with my husband and our young daughter, I’m excited to continue teaching writing in the U.S. As a teacher, I tailor my classes to the interests and temperaments of the students. I try to create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable asking questions and participating in discussions. I strive to give clear explanations in lectures and useful feedback on written assignments to prepare students for success in their future academic endeavors.
- Amy UppermanInstructor
Warm greetings to you and your family! My name is Amy Upperman and I am thrilled to be joining the Well Trained Mind Academy. I consider it an honor and privilege to provide high-quality science instruction for homeschool families, and I look forward to working with you to provide the best experience possible for the growth and education of your student. To offer a snapshot of my background in science and education, I earned my B.S. in Biology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and subsequently earned my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at William and Mary’s School of Education. Through completion of the Master’s program, I secured a postgraduate professional teaching license and have undertaken rigorous training in the most up-to-date research-based teaching practices.
My interest and commitment to education began early in my working experience—one of my first jobs involved providing intellectual stimulation and basic instruction to profoundly mentally challenged children in a hospital setting. This experience deeply impacted me, and offered me perspective on the spectrum of challenges presented in life, and spurred me to pursue a career in teaching. Other early teaching experiences include developing curriculum and leading instruction (primarily in the English language) for recent immigrant families to the USA, serving as an intern with the Marine Science Consortium (where I facilitated learning in outdoor marine settings), mentoring 14-17 year old students at a local Juvenile Detention Center in Williamsburg, VA, and tutoring middle school students in Toano, VA.
Since becoming a licensed science teacher, I have taught Advanced Placement Biology and Advanced Biology at the high school level. In addition, I have recently secured publication in Northeastern Naturalist as first author of an ecological research study completed in 2012 in collaboration with the Keck Environmental Field Lab through William and Mary (“The Influence of Recreational Crabbing Regulations on Diamondback Terrapin By-catch”). In recognition of my commitment to creativity and excellence in science instruction, I was awarded the Mary Faust Galfo Teacher Scholarship Award, and have also been awarded the Robert Noyce Scholarship as a highly qualified STEM teacher in the USA. This scholarship afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with international leaders in inquiry-based science instruction at a professional teaching conference held in Europe.
As a teacher, I find that my mind is never able to completely turn “off” all the ideas to tweak an upcoming lesson I have in store for my students. However, in order to maintain my sanity (and not talk about teaching in EVERY conversation I have with my family!), I have a few interests I do enjoy on the side. When we’re able, my husband and I enjoy swing dancing and tandem biking. In addition, I find time each day to take a walk and appreciate the beauty and elegance of nature apart from my textbook studies of its science. I find these experiences energizing, and I hope that the coming school year will also be a source of inspiration and adventure for your student!
On teaching: I teach my courses with a seminar-style approach where I present information to students and then immediately open for class-wide discussion. In practical terms, this means my classes typically incorporate lectures with slides and other media along with interspersed question and answer periods. I am very responsive to student inquiry, and at times let the flow of student questions drive a portion of our learning together. Students are permitted to submit written work before the deadline to receive preliminary feedback before it is formally graded; however, students are not permitted to revise already graded assignments for a re-grade.
- Chloe’ RichardsonInstructor
Hello, students and families! I spent many years in a part-time classical school, growing up with Aristotle and Shakespeare, writing and debating and dancing with my classmates in a lovely Tudor-style hall, with the best of mentorship. Knowing I wanted to pass on the experience, I got my B.A. in English, still focusing on the classics. There were heaps of writing and even more reading. I learned to write my own thoughts in the context of the interpretive tradition of literature–joining in the Great Conversation not just with the author of the work, but with those who had talked with the author before me.
This last year I’ve spent in Idaho, on a farm outside a small town outside a slightly less small town, settled in the wheat fields and pine forests. There, with other students, I studied Church History, Western Civilization, Theology, and Latin. Mostly the study was independent, with just the students reading together. Oftentimes, the material would drift into obscure or difficult territory, and I’d be teacher for the morning.
I’ve also spent a good amount of time helping my fellow students and friends with their papers and other writing—editing, helping them reshape their words so they more clearly and eloquently express their thoughts. Now I’m beginning my M.A. at New Saint Andrew’s College in Moscow, Idaho, in Theology and Letters (Literature and Writing).
I like long walks, old oak trees, anything with ginger in it (unless it’s mushrooms, but nobody puts ginger and mushrooms together. At least, I hope not. That would insult the ginger). I like amateur theatre productions, reading serious things in goofy voices (there are some days when one must do anything to stay awake), making flower crowns, reading poetry, getting in on the really high part of a choral piece, and massive mugs of tea. I so look forward to meeting you all! It’s going to be a great year.On Teaching: Each class calls for a slightly different approach, both because students make their own dynamics and because the material demands different approaches for each topic. For the most part, I use a workshop style with the lower grades. Students review each other’s work, and I provide clarification or more in-depth analysis when they’ve concluded. Our expository classes encourage students to hone the same skills a little more on new material every week, so the students build up the skill of critiquing. This is an important skill for writers, as they learn to be kind and insightful and precise with others, and to do the same for themselves. For the higher grades, beginning with Rhetoric I, I use a seminar style. Because the material is more complicated and frequently involves classical references unfamiliar to students, I give them background and explainations, then drawn their participation through questions. It isn’t rare for me to ask the same question several ways before we all get on the same wavelength. Students are welcome to ask questions too, and we get some of the most fruitful discussions that way. Seminar style is about give and take and encourages students to engage closely and deeply with the material.
- Courtney OstaffInstructor
I have been teaching online since 2000, including college algebra from 2006-2013. I enjoy teaching so much that I went back to school to earn a second master’s degree in secondary education. Now, I am certified to teach social studies, general science, and students with visual impairments from birth to adulthood. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, and sewing. I live in wild, wonderful West Virginia with my husband, our two children, and my mother. Our menagerie currently consists of two leopard geckos, a cichlid tank, a dog, assorted cats, and a guinea pig.
On teaching: My courses are primarily lecture style, although I do call on students to ensure attention to the lecture. Students are not required to present work to the class for peer review, and are not encouraged to critique each other’s work. That said, they are required to participate in online, written, weekly discussions with thoughtful, substantive participation. Revision of assignments is standard in my classes.
- Dale ScottInstructor | Tutor
I graduated from the College of William and Mary with a BA in Social Psychology. It was there that I recognized my love of writing. After choosing courses in the education department for my electives, I realized that I also loved to teach. I have been involved in homeschooling since 1975—my first teaching experience was helping Jessie Wise with the homeschooling of her three children! In the early 1980s, I accompanied Jessie to Richmond to the General Assembly when she testified on behalf of homeschooling, as the General Assembly was creating and voting on the homeschooling laws we have in Virginia.
I homeschooled my three sons from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My youngest has severe dyslexia and ADD. In seeking answers and solutions for him I learned about different learning styles, different ways of thinking, and impediments to learning. I enjoy connecting with my students, finding out where the glitch is, determining the exact nature of the stumbling block, and then correcting it and bringing the student forward. I enjoy seeing the student’s confidence grow as he or she masters what previously caused frustration. For the last few years, I have also been working directly with Susan Wise Bauer in tutoring Writing With Skill students.
I taught literature and composition classes at homeschool co-ops for ten years, and I have taught in public school.
On teaching: I present themes and concepts in lecture style, accompanied by slides. Students will be engaged through question and answer and practice times. There will not be any peer review or workshop style feedback. Students will be invited to share their work with the class on a voluntary basis. All feedback will come from the instructor. I am most comfortable with an individual approach, and I am willing to meet individually with any students needing extra help.
Apart from teaching I enjoy reading, working out at the gym, running, church activities, and playing with my grandchildren.
- Elizabeth Weber EdwardsForeign Language Chair
With a Swiss mother and a German-American father, I didn’t have much choice about living between three cultures. Summers spent visiting my grandparents, uncle, and extended family in the Swiss Alps and German countryside sparked my interest in German literature, hiking, and chocolate.
I graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where I majored in English and German. A junior year abroad in Germany at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster sparked my interest in Comparative Literature, where I participated in seminars on German translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets, literature and painting, and early American writing. The unique perspective available to me as the only native English speaker in the German college classroom, where I got to share with and learn from my colleagues, got me excited about cultural and literary exchange. While pursuing my doctorate at Vanderbilt University (2012), I had the opportunity to study literature, translation, and theology at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany.
Most recently, I’ve worked as the Associate Director for Graduate Student Development at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There, I helped graduate students to improve their teaching in the classroom, consulted on grant and fellowship applications, wrote a blog on career and professional development, and had the privilege of working with the McNair Scholars as an academic support specialist. In this capacity, I helped Scholars with planning and writing research papers. I also worked with exceptional graduate students who were applying for fellowships and grant funding, helping them refine personal statements and hone their messages.
I am soon to return to Virginia with my husband and son (my very favorite Nebraskan), where we plan to enjoy the beautiful countryside, good food, great art, and wonderful friends.
On teaching: In my foreign language classroom, language is a tool students use to navigate meaning and encounter new ideas. I provide an input-rich environment, where students are immersed in the language through videos, song, text, and stories. Through these different sources, students see language as it’s used in daily context. From there, they grow their vocabulary and grammatical abilities, and gain confidence communicating about an ever-growing range of topics and ideas.
In my writing courses, short lectures introduce themes, vocabulary, and grammar. Students then gain confidence constructing their own sentences sharing them with the class, building the skills they need to talk about their world and encounter new ones. All students must be active participants–there’s no other way to learn language than to make it your own!
- Erica SchauerInstructor
New Instructor (no lecture sample available).
Bonjour mes amis! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to become a part of the Well-Trained Mind Academy. I love nothing more than seeing the light go on in students’ eyes when they discover how vast their world is, thanks to their new language. I’m eager to share this experience with your students.
I began learning French at an afterschool program offered at Ruth Hill Elementary when I was twelve years old, and have been going strong ever since. I continued with French throughout junior high and high school, majored in French at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then worked abroad as an English lecturer in Paris. There, I taught elementary-level English to second and third grade students, conducted conversation workshops with high school students, and expanded my own understanding of French language, art, cuisine, and pop culture. While working on my master’s degree in French Literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I returned to France to teach at the university level, taking a job as an English Lecturer at the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon.
Since completing my doctorate in French at the University of Virginia, I have been working as a French lecturer at my alma mater here in Lincoln, Nebraska and as an online adjunct French instructor for Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. These teaching experiences have revealed to me just how deeply the need to teach runs in my veins—and how valuable the opportunity to hold regular face-to-face class sessions (be they in person or online) are to both the academic ambiance and the overall learning experience of the students.
I love cooking—French cooking, of course—though I have been focused on Thai food of late. I thoroughly enjoy reading fiction late at night when no one expects me to be researching 19th-century French gestural culture (think spy novels by writers like David Baldacci and adventure stories by the likes of Dan Brown). I have become quite the active woman in my thirties, which came as a surprise to many—myself included. I now walk at least seven miles a day, do exercise routines ranging from calisthenics, MMA and kickboxing, cardio and weight training at home, and swim laps in the pool at my local gym.
In my French classroom, students are introduced to language structures in a natural, conversational format before receiving a formal lecture explaining the underlying linguistic rules of the grammar topic. Once students have learned why a specific part of language functions the way it does, we walk through typical conversations that one might have using these grammar points in pairs or in groups. Students will then be exposed to the language via texts, stories, short videos and music. Student work always receives feedback—both before and after receiving a grade, and I provide students with the opportunity to revise graded work.
Student participation is key to soaking up French and letting it become a sort of sixth sense. With the primary goal of instilling foreign language into the everyday cognitive functions of each student, my classroom is set up to encourage gradual, natural absorption of foreign language in an amicable and enjoyable atmosphere. Over time, students will no longer need to reference their rulebooks of French grammar—they will be able “feel” when their French is en pointe.
- Erin KennedyInstructor
I have always enjoyed learning a variety of subjects in various settings, from Montessori school in Dallas to college outside Philadelphia, to homeschooling my children today! I also find myself teaching others wherever I am-this was true even in elementary school. I earned my B.A. in Religion at Haverford College in 2001 with a minor in Music and a specialization in Math (I also took a lot of Spanish!), and then I earned my teacher’s certificate in Secondary Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania. I have taught and tutored math on all levels from third to twelfth grade in public, private, and online schools.
I have been homeschooling my children since 2011, and I really enjoy following the philosophy laid out in The Well-Trained Mind. I love homeschooling because I get to explore with my children myriad subjects and make connections among them…plus I have the opportunity to learn things I never did before!
Music has always been an important part of my life. I took over ten years of piano lessons, and I have enjoyed singing in multiple choirs in high school, college, and beyond. Most recently, I sang soprano in the Choral Society of Montgomery County. In college I developed a love of composing and music theory. I also enjoy gardening, reading, and laughing. Our family lives outside of Philadelphia.
On teaching: I primarily employ a lecture style when presenting material in my classes, but students are by no means passive in this process. Typically, I try to balance the class between periods of my direct instruction (presenting new material), opportunities for students to practice new skills or respond to questions, and times of reinforcement or demonstration. In general, I am directing the class. At some points, however, students may have the responsibility to present a research project to the class and help lead the discussion for that day. Overall, I try to balance clear, direct instruction with students’ opportunities to practice and respond.
- Heather QuinteroInstructor
More than 20 years of experience in math and science education has given me a passion for logic and mathematics. After teaching Pre-Algebra and Physical Science in Virginia’s public schools, I began teaching my own children at home using The Well-Trained Mind as a guide, while also working as a private tutor. I have taught mathematics ranging from Kindergarten to advanced high-school level. After working with both accelerated and remedial students, I remain convinced that a strong start in pre-algebra will allow students to experience the beauty and logic of upper-level mathematics without anxiety and confusion.
I am possibly one of the oldest home school graduates you will ever meet! I was homeschooled when home-education was barely legal, and, yes, my family did own goats. I live with my husband Josh, three sons, and three unruly dogs in Lynchburg, Virginia. I enjoy mystery novels, watching my sons compete in rock-climbing and baseball, and occasional headache-inducing logic puzzles.
On teaching: My math classes primarily follow a seminar approach. Algebra topics are briefly introduced then explored through student questions and comments and problem-solving. During class, work is often completed in small groups with discussion of techniques and methods afterward. Because of the challenging nature of the class, students have three attempts on every assignment to complete and revise work. Each attempt is graded and then students have the option of resubmitting the work to bring up their grade with no penalty, as only the highest grade is recorded.
- Jacquelyn WilkinsInstructor
New Instructor (no lecture sample available).
My love of the ancient world grew out of my mother’s habit of reading Greek myths to me instead of the usual bedtime stories. My interest in these stories quickly developed into a passion for learning languages and studying archaeological sites. I have a love/hate relationship with the riddles of the Bronze Age and much of my study has focused on the literature of the Iliad and the archaeological context of the Minoan and Mycenaean Periods. I am also extremely interested in discovering information about the daily lives of Romans through the study of language, literature, and archaeology.
I graduated from Sweet Briar College in Virginia, where I majored in History and Classical Studies. Next I completed the Classical Studies Post-Bacc program at the University of Pennsylvania. Then I began teaching Latin in Roanoke County and traveling. I haven’t visited all the archaeological sites on my list, but I’m making strides. It has also been my privilege to work at the Virginia Governor’s Latin Academy since 2009, first as a teacher, then as lead teacher, and in 2017, as the director.
I was recently able to buy back my great-grandmother’s farmhouse in a remote part of Virginia. At the same time, my grandfather started to need care from home. Thus, I’ve switched gears and am excited to begin teaching in an online setting were I can share my love for Latin, writing, and the ancient world. When I’m not teaching or traveling, I’m trying to restore some of my great-grandmother’s gardens, or I’m playing with my five cats (Psyche, Amber, Eirene, Oberon, and Loki). I’ve also become interested in recording and gathering the local history of my family as a result of listening to my grandfather’s childhood stories. I also love to read, and write, and I just started knitting.
On teaching: In my foreign language classroom, we use a mixture of styles to navigate the challenge of learning language skills. We will utilize lecture for historical and grammatical context with lots of question and answer opportunities. We will use workshops to perfect translations and compositions. We will use discussions to master vocabulary and forms. Finally, we will use authentic sources from the beginning, searching for ancient voices in texts and archaeology. In my writing courses, short lectures introduce themes, vocabulary, and grammar. Students then gain confidence constructing their own sentences. The students share their work with the class, building the skills they need to talk about their world. In every classroom, my goal is to create an environment that nurtures the skills and understanding of students while giving them the freedom to learn and make mistakes.
- Jennifer RoudabushInstructor
I’m thrilled to be joining the Well-Trained Mind Academy. I earned my doctorate from Virginia Commonwealth University in Media, Art, & Text, my M.A. in English Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University, and my B. A. in English Studies from the University of Virginia. Most recently, I’ve held an appointment as an assistant professor of Focused Inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I taught a whole lot of writing and rhetoric, a good amount of literary analysis, film studies, and creative writing, and a little bit of everything in between. When I’m not teaching, lesson planning, responding to student work, researching, or writing, I’m probably at home telling my cat “No!” She usually likes to spend her days making a mess, getting into trouble, and then passing out for the next few hours to recover from her antics. If I’m not cleaning up something the cat broke, I’m probably spending time with my family and friends or playing with my young son. So far, he and the cat seem to share a lot of the same interests (see above). The times I spend with my family and friends is my greatest joy, although I also enjoy taking nature hikes, photography, cooking, creating art, and (surprise, surprise) reading.
On teaching: My teaching style is such that I really love to engage with all the students in my classroom, and prefer to think of our time together as one in which we are all creating a community of learning, rather than one in which I’m spouting off knowledge and students are furiously typing notes. During our time in class, we will sometimes work to critically analyze materials from the masters, although we will spend just as much, if not more, time together parsing out the successes and potential improvements possible in our own classwork. My classes are often much more participatory than lecture-based, so it is important for my students to be keeping up (and playing along) at home so that we all get the most out of our time together. Many assignments will receive formative assessment (working feedback) from me and even other student peers before it is turned in for a grade. Because I’m much more interested in the process as the product (rather than just the product as the end-game), students will vary rarely find themselves with the option to revise work after it has been assigned a summative assessment (the final grade). And, while I’ll sometimes spend a little time lecturing in class, I usually deliver my lessons with a healthy mix of seminar and workshop style instruction. Students who would make a good fit for my classes might describe themselves as creative, thoughtful, self-motivated, and not afraid to get their hands a little bit messy. I’m so excited to work at WTMA with this next generation of thinkers, writers, and (no-doubt!) world-changers.
- Jessica OttoInstructor
It was probably inevitable that I would study English in college (B.A., University of West Florida…go Argonauts!) From the time I was a child, I was an incurable reader, re-reader, and scribbler-downer.
I have homeschooled my three children for the past 11 years, in settings ranging from urban Florida to dirt-road Virginia. For four years, I taught English as a second language in Guatemala. I love teaching English, not only for the solve-the-puzzle delights of diagramming (not everyone gets as excited about that as I do), but also for the sake of seeing a student learn how to better express herself in clear written communication.
When I’m not teaching, I can most likely be found running the back trails of our Virginia county, or searching for the nearest Starbucks.
On teaching: My classes utilize a great deal of interaction with the students, including frequent in-class exercises, review games, and discussions. I strive to make the classroom feel as “real” and “live” as possible, and I craft each lecture to that end, using slides and practice sessions during each class to engage the students. In my writing classes, I prefer to utilize instructor-led feedback rather than a workshop model.
- Jocelyn SwansonInstructor
What thrills me the most about being a teacher is the journey I take with my students. The lessons we learn together as we explore new vistas and accept new challenges convince me that learning never stops. As a teacher of the Humanities, I enjoy working side-by-side with my students as we all discover our natural curiosity, humor, and creativity. This is especially possible through the format provided by the Well Trained Mind Academy. And I am very excited to be part of it.
I have worked with students in both school and homeschool settings for almost 30 years. Some of my students have been and continue to be my own homeschooled children! But I actually started out as a writer/editor and ran my own marketing company before putting into play my lifelong dream of teaching. Therefore, both my undergraduate degree in business and communications and subsequent master’s degree in education from Xavier University have come in handy!
I have taught a variety of ages, but I currently teach middle and high school classes for the Well Trained Mind Academy. I live with my family of people, dogs, cats, horses, and chickens. I love farm fresh food, fresh air, and a good pen and paper to write on!
On teaching: During each class, I give a short lesson, accompanied by slides or other media. These lessons are integrated into a seminar-style environment that gives students the opportunity to interact with each other and share writing strategies along with questions and encouragement. Having come together as a writing cohort, we frequently open up a workshop for those students who feel ready to inspire others with their work as well as receive peer input. Students will always receive individual written feedback from me on a writing assignment. They will have the opportunity to learn from this feedback and revise their work before it is graded and ready for their portfolio.
- Kathleen BrianInstructor
I am a historian whose research and teaching interests are located at the intersection of histories of U.S. culture and society; histories and philosophies of the democratic state; and histories of philosophies of science, medicine, and technology.
I earned my BA with honors in History and English Literature from Indiana University—Bloomington, and my MA and PhD in American Studies at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. My work has appeared in the History of Psychiatry, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, and The Historian, and I have devoted more than seven years to teaching U.S. history with students at the secondary and postsecondary levels.
I have held positions as Research Fellow with the Pennsylvania Area Center for the History of Science and as Historian with the National Park Service (NPS). During my time with the NPS, I collaborated on educational materials for the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, among others.
On teaching: My primary pedagogical goal is to assist students in becoming empowered, independent, flexible learners who are enthusiastic not only about the specific material that they encounter in my classroom, but, more generally, about the world around them. Knowledge and its acquisition, we find, is a dynamic process of exploration and misadventure, exaltation and frustration, creation and attainment. While I carry these goals into each classroom I enter, the process of moving toward them is necessarily dependent upon who and what I encounter when I arrive. My teaching is thus structured by a deceptively simple caveat: it depends. Students can expect to encounter a heterogeneous style that combines discussion, collaborative analysis, lecture, and other modes of learning.
- Lara RobinsonInstructor
I am proud to be from Lexington, Kentucky, the land of rolling hills and horses. Growing up, I was homeschooled and attended a classical Christian school. In high school, I was inspired by two teachers who demonstrated excellence in teaching because they were rigorous yet caring. I look forward to training students to think clearly and express themselves well using the classical model.
Academically, I have always been drawn to reading and writing, especially poetry. During the years I was homeschooled, you could sometimes find me stuck in my room for an entire day with my face in a book. My literary memories are full of Jane Austen, Soren Kierkegaard, C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, and many others.
I received my B.A. from the University of Kentucky where I studied English and Philosophy. Before returning to get my M.A. in English Education, I spent sixth months living at an orphanage and teaching ESL at a private school in Acapulco, Mexico. My love for travel and teaching has also taken me to South Africa, where I taught creative writing and literature during graduate school at an Afrikaans High School on the Indian Ocean. I have spent the last five years teaching literature, writing, and grammar at the middle school, high school, and college level.
My personal interests include watercolor painting, baking, yoga, and discussing literature and ideas with my husband. I am currently living in Germany where my husband teaches college mathematics. I spend my time learning the language, traveling, and teaching as an adjunct professor.
On teaching: My style of teaching tends to be mostly lecture style, but I also value student interaction through class discussions and individual questions. I strive to build an energetic and engaging relationship with students that challenges them to work hard. I also provide prompt feedback on graded assignments and like to be available to discuss thoughts and questions.
- Marquita HockadayInstructor
New Instructor (no lecture sample available).
Hello, students and families! I am very excited to join the Well-Trained Mind Academy family. I spent the majority of my teaching career in a middle school environment, teaching students how to craft the perfect essay and establishing relationships with my students and their families. Now I do the same for college students in an online environment. Here’s a quick background of my academic career: I have a BA in History Education, a MFA in Creative Writing, and a M Ed in Reading Education. As a current PhD student in Curriculum Leadership at the College of William & Mary, I continue to build on the foundational skills of classical education. I use critical thinking skills, work through arguments, express myself both orally and in written form, and evaluate sources on a daily basis. Transferring what I have learned throughout my education to my middle and high school students over the past eight years has been one of my greatest pleasures and this will continue to be a joy for me as I further my teaching journey with the Academy.
I am privileged to facilitate in the writing instruction of homeschool families and hope to inspire students to love the written word as much as I do. Besides writing fiction for young adults and reading young adult books, as well as enjoying all things involving academia and research, I appreciate watching TV and movies—these all lead to good story ideas! Traveling around the United States (and around the world when I can!) also has helped me to create some of my best stories. I also like to spend time with family and my dog; however, one of my most favorite things to do is try out new recipes, especially those that involve baking.
On teaching: My teaching style includes student-directed, fluid instruction that is autonomous. I believe that student voice and choice are essential in the classroom and instructors must always observe and take note of what students are responding to and where students are making connections. Students must feel like they are able to make their own choices in order to take ownership of their learning. Also, differentiation is key. This goes back to choice. I believe that when students are given various choices on assignments they can demonstrate knowledge on a given topic in their own way. Finally, I believe in projects that are attached to student-made goals in the classroom. Students need to have personalized learning goals in order to feel empowered in their learning environment. Again, this will give them a sense of ownership and help them feel like they are helping to shape their learning. Classes will be conducted in a seminar format. I use discussions on a regular basis, encouraging students to ask questions of each other and come to class prepared to participate in discussion based on assigned readings or notes. Students are encouraged to turn in essays before they are due for final grades. Further, they are encouraged to revise graded essays.
- Mary BrinkerhoffInstructor
I was born and raised in central Ohio, where I was homeschooled through high school. In high school I took several online courses, such as Rhetoric, Church History, Astronomy, and 4 years of Great Books from Schola Classical Tutorials. I then attended Cedarville University (located in the middle of cornfields in central Ohio), graduating in 2011 with a B.A. in Chemistry (with a pre-med emphasis) and Music (piano with a piano pedagogy emphasis). During my time at Cedarville I started teaching piano and tutoring organic chemistry, and so found out that I loved explaining new concepts to students.
Given my experience with online classes in high school, I knew I wanted to teach at a private school or for homeschoolers, so I went on to Wright State University, completing an M.S. in Chemistry in July 2013. While there, I worked as a graduate teaching assistant for two years, teaching pre-lab lectures and labs for a variety of chemistry courses. I started teaching online immediately after graduation, in part so I could move across the country to northern Idaho for a year. Since then I have continued teaching online (chemistry & piano!) as I enjoy the challenge of learning the most effective way to help students learn in a long distance setting.
I spent my favorite semester of college in Strasbourg, France, studying French, French history, and traveling as much as possible. So I am very excited to now be living in France with my husband. We are living just across the border from Geneva at the base of the Jura Mountains and in sight of the Alps for a few years. In my free time I still enjoy playing the piano, torturing whichever longsuffering friends and relations are nearby with interminable practice sessions. I also read as many books as possible and then some. Why sleep when I could be reading? Favorite authors include, but are not limited to Alexander Schmemann, Dorothy Sayers, St. Augustine, G.K. Chesterton, St. Athanasius, C.S. Lewis, N.D. Wilson….When not reading or teaching or grading, you can find me taking long walks with my husband, baking, cooking, playing the piano, or reading some more.
On teaching: When I was in college, I always appreciated the professors who wrote on the whiteboards as they taught. As a result, they tended to lecture at a slower pace, and I was able to write with them and keep up with their lecture speed. So while I do use PowerPoint slides in my lecture, I treat them more as an outline, still writing and drawing the majority of my lecture material on the slides as I teach. In order to help students stay engaged during classes, I ask a lot of questions, some based on the reading and some intended to help students think through the new idea logically. When I teach new calculations in chemistry, I always conclude with calling on the class to help me solve a few practice problems. I do encourage students to ask questions as we go, but also pause between topics to give students a chance to ask questions. In regards to homework, I do not typically allow students to revise graded homework, though I welcome questions on assignments. Whenever a paper is due, I do require students to submit a rough draft so that they can hear my initial thoughts before they submit their final draft.
- Mattias CaroInstructor
My passion for history and writing began during my time at the College of William and Mary, where I had outstanding professors (including Susan Wise Bauer!) who cultivated in me a passion for learning. After graduating with my BA in history, I spent a year in Lugano, Switzerland teaching at an international boarding school and visiting many of the historic sites of medieval Europe. History lived is history loved. Soon thereafter I worked with various not-for-profits in the United States and in Central Europe. The latter opportunity brought me to a medieval castle in Vienna, Austria where I worked closely with central and eastern European college students, as they struggled to develop their own ideas in rebuilding their country’s identities following the fall of communism.
While I in law school, I continued my passion for teaching by tutoring in a variety of subjects and leading Sunday school courses for middle schoolers and high schoolers at my local church. The reality is that despite my love for the law, teaching is not just my passion but my vocation. I want to pass on what was given to me, and more importantly, I want to plant, water and nurture the seeds of life-long learning in my students. I believe in providing the virtues and tools necessary for every student to make learning a life-long endeavor.
On a personal note, I live with my wife and daughter at the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Hamilton, Virginia. I work closely in the educational ministry of my local church and I also spend my time doing website development for a small company. I’m an avid sports fan—I spent a summer in college touring baseball stadiums in the United States (Camden Yards, Wrigley and Fenway are your three can’t miss spots). I love cats, corny jokes and books. My wife and I spend our time together on home projects (painting, building, dreaming), the garden and experiencing everything the Great Commonwealth of Virginia has to offer. And yes, I do consider myself a retired lawyer.
On teaching: My teaching style aims primarily to walk along with the student as he or she learns a new skill and works to strengthen the skills acquired during the semester and in other environments. As such, student assignments in my courses build on one another; the expectation is that a paper written in December shows significant improvement from one in September. Students should incrementally and steadily build their abilities to maintain confidence and interest in the subject through sustained success in challenging situations. Classes are dedicated to review key points of practice and to deepen subject-matter knowledge through interactive slides, media (including artwork, maps, and photographs), and directed discussion, suitable to the level of the class.
- Mindy BullerInstructor
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was in first grade and never looked back (unless you count the year I wanted to be a librarian and taped envelope pockets and index cards in the back of all my books!) I have a BS in math from Biola University and a master’s degree in online education. I taught for several years in a public high school and took a hiatus when my children were born. I started teaching math at a homeschool co-op when my children were old enough to attend and have been doing this for twelve years. I have taught everything from pre-algebra to calculus.
I consider myself first and foremost a homeschooling mom and I have followed the Well Trained Mind philosophy for all twelve years. (I have worn out all three editions!) When I’m not teaching, the things I love to do (other than cheering at theater productions for my daughter and soccer games for my son) are reading, gardening, Zumba, and going on long driving vacations (Our family has set foot in all 50 states.) I’ve been known to get pretty crazy cheering for the Seattle Seahawks as well.
On teaching: My classes are formatted primarily in the lecture-style, although I try to get the students talking and working as much as possible. I will often pose problems and send them to their own blackboard room so I can interact individually with each student. In a typical class period, I will spend about ten minutes going over homework questions that students ask, give lecture notes, give practice problems in breakout rooms or with the whole classroom, and have a quick wrap-up of the learning. I have students correct their own Saxon work so that they have immediate feedback on whether they are doing it correctly or not. When a student knows he missed a problem, my goal is that he will then ask me to help him with those questions. I will always allow a student to make corrections and resubmit his work. My philosophy is that any time a student revises his work he is learning, and I want to encourage learning!
- Thomas HummelInstructor
For more than a decade, I have dedicated myself to teaching children and adults of every age, origin, and academic background. Whether in the primary, secondary, or post-secondary settings, I believe that true learning, and therefore true understanding, only arises when the student discovers his or her own way of thinking critically while remaining ready and willing to embrace, negate, synthesize, and appreciate any and all perspectives that may come their way.
Most recently, I have dedicated myself to teaching in communities that are economically, politically, or culturally marginalized. I have led classrooms for students with emotional disabilities, students entangled in the juvenile justice system, and students whose behavioral and academic needs exceed that which can be provided in traditional school settings. Which is to say: nothing surprises me. Except, of course, the beauty that arises when a student learns something new.
I have a B.A. in English from James Madison University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University. In my life outside of the classroom (if there is such a thing), I am a father, poet, and performing artist. My writing has appeared widely in national and international journals, and my first book, Letters & Buildings, was published by Subito Press in the fall of 2014.
On teaching: Allow me to be the first to acknowledge: it’s unusual for someone to teach both writing and mathematics. Not only are the two disciplines seemingly disparate in practice, but they are—frequently and quite literally— considered the very poles of the intellectual spectrum. Despite their illusory opposition, however, writing and math are all-too-similar in one crucial way: they can bore your child to tears.
This boredom is not inevitable, nor is it inherent to the disciplines themselves. Nor, for that matter, is it inherent to any one type of student. The frustration and limitations that are felt in writing and math classrooms across the country are, in many cases, the direct result of instruction. Process takes a back seat to product. Inspiration is secondary to memorization. As such, the excitement of self-discovery that accompanies critical thinking and analysis gets lost.
In my classrooms, I hope to engage and excite the students in ways they haven’t foreseen. I want the student who refuses to write to find a way to express her thoughts and ideas. I want the student who fears equations to see and understand the math all around him. I want students to take ownership of material; to make it work for them. As such, I try to create an atmosphere of openness and dialogue in all of my classes, regardless of the subject.
There will be times when I launch into uninterrupted instructional monologues, just as there will be times when I ask student inquiry to drive discussion. Additionally, student work will be discussed and evaluated in class to facilitate the synthesis of course material, while also posing great intellectual potential for new and unforeseen opportunities. No matter the class, it is my hope that students leave our time together feeling challenged, excited, engaged, and empowered.