David Bjorgen
Instructor

David Bjorgen is a life-long learner who loves to share his passions with others. David started out studying and working in the field of architecture, eventually transitioning into a career of graphic design, marketing, advertising, web technology, and photography. David’s love for graphic design and global missions has allowed him to serve in a number of capacities in various missions organizations and non-profits. David is an adjunct professor at Ambassador International University in Zambia.

David loves travel, culture, and adventure. He lived in Jordan for three years, which is where he met his lovely wife, Zena. David has traveled to 28 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. When he’s not at home in North Carolina, David can often be found in a far away land, exploring, writing, and taking pictures.


Zena Bjorgen
Instructor

Zena Bjorgen (pronounced ZAY-na BEE-yorgan) is a native of Amman, Jordan, in the Middle East.

Zena attended Princess Sumaya University for Technology where she graduated with a bachelor degree in Computer Science. She has been teaching a variety of subjects since 2007, including Mathematics, Information Technology, and English as a Second Language. Zena has been the Head of Department for Information Technology and Assistant Head of Professional Development for an online school based out of Oxford, England.

Zena has a heart for missions, and has participated in foreign mission trips to Zambia, Honduras, and Mexico. The Lord has led her to return to school to earn a degree in nursing. She is currently pursuing her Licensed Practical Nursing diploma. Zena wants to use her passion for nursing in a missional capacity.

Zena enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She has traveled to 28 countries and speaks three languages: Arabic, English, and Slovak. Zena currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, David, and her dog, Scarlett.


Kerrie Childress
Instructor

Kerrie Childress has a love for science that she desires to pass along to every student she teaches. She graduated in 1996 with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Bob Jones University and in 2001 with a M.A. in Health and Exercise Science from Furman University.  She has over 15 years of teaching experience in 3 states and several different platforms. Kerrie is also currently teaching on-line for a local community college as well as teaching science classes at Excelsior Classes.

Kerrie enjoys traveling and has had the privilege of being part of 8 mission trips to several continents and within the United States.  She also loves history and seeing different historical sites around the US. Her favorite place to visit is the eastern part of Tennessee and one day hopes to build a cabin there to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

When she is not teaching or traveling, Kerrie enjoys reading, crafts and spending time with her family.  Kerrie and her husband and two boys live in South Carolina.


Michael Childress 
Instructor & Club Leader

Michael Childress has had a love for working with computers ever since the days when he was allowed to use the Texas Instruments computer in his fifth grade classroom. He now has a lifetime of experience with computer systems, and over 15 years of experience as a PC technician. He hopes to instill in his students a desire for knowledge and understanding of not only computers, but technology as a whole and how it can be beneficially applied to the many aspects of their lives. He, his wife Kerrie, and two sons Macon and Kallen make their home in Gaffney, SC. Michael also enjoys singing, songwriting, audio and video production, movies, playing games and spending time with his family and friends.

 

 


Jenny Cutler
Instructor & Club Leader

Jenny Cutler graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in Education, and in 2012 with a Master’s Degree in Multicultural Education, both from Eastern University.  Jenny taught in both private and public schools until she had her first child and decided to stay home with him.  She was a children’s ministry director in her local church for 6 years and ran a tutoring business during that time.  Most recently she has taught English classes online to homeschool students, and she serves as a volunteer teacher in the local homeschool co-op her children attend.

Jenny is passionate about seeing students develop a love of literature, as she believes that good books can teach both critical thinking and compassion towards others. She is a voracious reader herself and especially loves seeing students that are not naturally bookworms connect deeply with a work they didn’t expect.

Jenny lives on an orchard in rural Michigan with her husband, children, flock of chickens, mischievous goats, and lazy old corgi. When she’s not homeschooling her children or teaching online, she can be found outdoors with her critters or in the garden, trying out a new recipe, or with her nose in a book.


Gene Doremus
Instructor

Gene is a high energy, “all-fun-all-the-time” type of teacher.  His enthusiasm on every conceivable topic is contagious.  A biblical, Christ-centered worldview permeates everything he does.

Gene had a 31-year Air Force career, starting as a Cold War defender, then Operation Desert Shield/Storm, and finally Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.  Most of his time was in the Munitions career field, but he finished as Professor of Aerospace Studies at California State University, San Bernardino.  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2005. He has a B.A. in Political Science, an M.P.A. in Public Administration, and completed Air Command & Staff College in residence.

Teaching is his passion: six years in the Air Force, six years in a public high school, and six years as an on-line teacher to homeschooled students. On-line Christian teaching is his calling.   To come alongside parents as they endeavor to teach their children at home is the pinnacle of his life’s work.

Those 17 years of formal teaching pale in comparison to his 32 years of teaching adult Bible classes. The Air Force moved him 13 times, but that did not deter him from quickly getting engaged in a local church and using his gift of teaching to build the Kingdom of God. Teach through the week, then teach on Sunday; it is what Gene does, it is who Gene is.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Doremus lives in rural, upper upstate New York with his wife Mary.  He has three sons, a step-son and a step-daughter.  In his blended family, he has 14 grandchildren, including one set of identical twin girls and another set of identical twin boys.


Gina DussGina Duss
Instructor

“Bonjour! Ici on parle français!” Gina Duss brings her love for everything French: the language, the culture, the country, and the people, right into the classroom! During her college years, she was blessed to study abroad in Tours, France and the rest is history!

A native of Georgia, Gina attended the University of Georgia, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in French Education. As she is a life-long learner of French, she also furthered her studies at the renowned Middlebury College’s French immersion program. She has taught in various capacities over the years from elementary to high school and is thrilled to be able to connect with students from all over the world through online learning!

Gina, her husband Greg, and their 3 children currently reside in Florida. When she’s not “parlant français” in the classroom, she enjoys riding bikes and spending time with the family, including the very important furry family members!


Susan Eggers
Instructor & Club Leader

Susan Eggers loves learning about the past and the people of our world, and sharing that love with her students.  She attended Wake Forest University as a William Louis Poteat scholar, where she earned her B. A. in History, graduating magna cum laude.  Continuing her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she received her M. A. in Russian history and completed additional hours of graduate coursework toward a Ph. D.  While in graduate school, Susan received grants to conduct research in the Lenin Library and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, the National Library and the Russian State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg, the Slavic and East European Library at the University of Illinois, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  She has presented conference papers across the country and has published several articles on Russian history.

While she loves conducting historical research and writing about her findings, her true passion is teaching.  Her first teaching position was as an instructor at Appalachian State University, where she taught World Civilizations.  Since then, she has taught history and geography to homeschoolers, both in co-ops and online.  She has a passion for teaching students how to research and write about history and geography.  In addition to these subjects, she has also taught Russian language classes online.  She has homeschooled her own children since 2003, two of whom are homeschool graduates pursuing college degrees on scholarship.

Susan and her family live in upstate South Carolina.  In addition to teaching history and geography, she enjoys music and has composed several pieces for choir and hand bells, and has taught beginning piano.  She loves her local church and seeks to grow as a follower of Christ.


Becky Frank
Instructor

Becky Frank has been steeped in American History from her early days growing up on the family farm in Northeastern North Carolina. Although Barrow Creek farm has been in her family since the 1680s, her parents were the first to live on it in three generations. On the farm she learned to milk cows, sheer sheep, and drive a tractor.

After an internship at historic Edenton, she received a B.S. in Public History from Appalachian State University in 1992. Answering God’s call to teach in a classroom setting, she added teacher certification from East Carolina University to her degree in 1998. Becky then taught social studies in Gates County, North Carolina where her classes included U.S. History, World History, Economics, Government, and Humanities. After she moved to Northern Wake County with her new husband and began a family in 2004, she taught American History online for six years.

Becky currently homeschools her three children and is active in her church and local Christian homeschool group. She enjoys gardening, cooking, scrapbooking and long walks with her kids and the family dog. Sharing the heritage of our great country is one of her passions as. Her lifelong dream is to return to the family farm and make a portion of the acreage a living history site. 


Anna Garren
Intern & Club Leader

Anna Garren aspires to bring her love of the written word to other young people, and is currently attending Liberty University Online for a B.A. in English in an effort to further that dream. She was a homeschool student from the very beginning of her education, and even had the privilege to take several literature classes under the tutelage of Excelsior Classes’ founder, Jodi Guerra, who nurtured in her a calling towards writing. Anna developed a passion for reading at a young age and to this day can often be found surrounded by books. A veteran of several online learning classrooms, Anna currently serves as the language arts intern for Excelsior Classes; she is the leader of the Excelsior Book Club for Junior High Students, as well as the host of the weekly Homework Helper session for all students enrolled in a language arts class.


Heather Getson
Instructor

Heather Getson graduated from Western Michigan University with a teaching degree in early childhood education with a minor in Science.  For 12 years she taught in public school, teaching grades from Kindergarten to 6th grade.  When her children were ready for school, she decided to come home full- time and homeschool her own kids, which she has been doing for the last 10 years.  Besides homeschooling she has taught in the education department at Jackson Community College and science classes in the virtual world.

Heather has been married to John Getson for 20 years and has four children.  John is 17, Samantha is 15 and Josh and Sophia are 11.  They love to travel as a family and spend a lot of time outdoors.  She lives on a small farm and has chickens, goats and four dogs.

She loves to teach science, especially physics and biology.  It has been a joy to teach online and have the freedom to talk about God and his many creations.  She is excited to work with parents and students this year.


susan_gleasonSusan Gleason
Instructor & Club Leader

Susan Gleason has a passion for the Lord, life, and teaching German! For the past several years, Susan has taught German online. She has an extensive background in foreign languages, also studying French, Spanish and (presently) Russian.

Traveling internationally since the third grade, her adventures include Europe, Scandinavia, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, South and Central Americas and South Africa. She studied German in college and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1986. In 1985, while a college student, Susan led a Bible-smuggling operation into Soviet-controlled Estonia. She was a student radio announcer at WXYC and WUAG and was in a music group whose video clip aired on MTV. Susan lived in Germany from 1986-1991, experienced the fall of the Berlin Wall and had some daring adventures outwitting East Berlin border guards.

She did post-graduate studies at Universität Würzburg, Universität Bonn and FAS Germersheim. She worked as an interpreter at the international trade fairs in Cologne as well as a translator and private tutor. Susan won many regional Tae Kwon Do tournaments in Germany and, as a Black Belt, served as an instructor at Sportschule Yoo. In 1993, Susan started the weekly Blue Ridge Backroads program on WBRF 98.1FM Galax VA, a live old-time and bluegrass show that is still broadcast today. She has toured Germany and France several times with her old-time band, the Farmer’s Daughters.

Susan is a multi-instrumentalist, radio voice talent, event announcer, and an avid cyclist, hiker, and trail runner. She loves serving the Lord on mission trips and is a parishioner at St. Innocent of Alaska Eastern Orthodox Church. Susan lives with her family on a small beef cattle farm nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.


excellence and rigor

Jodi Guerra
Instructor & Coordinator

Jodi Guerra loves teaching and watching others grow.  She graduated in 1988 from the University of Houston magna cum laude with a B.A. in Classical Studies.  (For those who are wondering, that is a major which focuses on ancient Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, culture, language and history.)  She also has a Professional Certificate in Health Care Management from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Jodi has taught and tutored children of all ages from early childhood through high school in public, private, and home schools.  Since 1999 she has taught homeschool students Latin, literature and composition.  In 2009 Hendrick-Long published a study guide authored by Jodi entitled “A Gentle Tour of Texas History,” which is available on Amazon. She most recently taught with an online academy where she served as the founding English Department Chair for several years and taught various literature, composition, and Latin courses. Currently she is launching Excelsior Classes, a consortium of outstanding teachers dedicated to excellence in the classroom. She will teach various courses for them.

Jodi, her husband, and four children live in Houston, Texas. While two children are still homeschooled, two have graduated and have left the nest. Besides teaching and reading, Jodi enjoys cooking and needlework.  She continues to be amazed at how God uses all of her experiences to refine her as a wife, mother and teacher.


bethany-hathaway

Bethany Hathaway
Instructor

Bethany Hathaway is thrilled to share her enthusiasm for great literature and effective writing.  The daughter of an English major and beneficiary of a literature-based homeschooling experience, Bethany could not help but love reading from a young age. After graduating from Wheaton College with a B.A. in English, Bethany first worked at a Christian school, writing and editing development materials. She discovered a passion for teaching when local public school students’ eyes began to light up at The Great Gatsby, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or Momaday’s poem “Simile.” Whether honing in on AP students’ ability to make an essay pop or pursuing another student’s first eloquent paragraph, Bethany never looked back after becoming an English teacher.

When she and her husband started a family, Bethany began teaching online to homeschoolers. She is blessed with the experience of teaching online, of raising four children, and of obtaining a Master’s degree from the renowned Bread Loaf School of English within the past six years. When she is not teaching, homeschooling, or mothering, you might find Bethany trying to get back in half marathon shape on the trails of Northeast Connecticut.


Chris Johnson
Instructor

Chris Johnson has a passion for both design and education. He hails from the great state of Michigan. GO BLUE!! He was raised in Detroit (yes, inner city Detroit) but currently live in Adrian, MI. He has a son, Samuel (6), and daughter, Sepporah (14). They are his life.

Chris has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Master in Educational Technology. Ten years ago God led him to start his own graphic design company, Tyrus Design. Recently Chris felt a tug at his heart to get back into teaching of some sort. Through a string of God-ordained circumstances, Chris found his way to Excelsior Classes and teaches graphic design. It is his hope to build a graphic design program that will give students the knowledge they need to know in order to pursue a career in that field.

Some of his hobbies include CrossFit and Baseball. He is currently the head varsity baseball coach at Lenewee Christian School and a HUGE Atlanta Braves fan. He looks forward to teaching your kids!


Melisa Kaiser
Instructor

Melisa Kaiser is an architectural designer and homeschool mom of four. She completed an undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Architecture degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she received the Henry Adams Medal for graduating with highest honors. She studied high rise design, with an emphasis in energy efficiency and façade technology.

Melisa has practiced architecture in residential design, including high-end kitchen design at a world-renowned Chicago firm.  Melisa’s teaching experience spans a broad range of ages; she has taught freshman level design at the Judson University Department of Architecture, and art & design to K-8thgraders at her homeschool co-op. Melisa also teaches the Judson University Design Discovery Summer Workshop, a week-long camp experience for high school-aged students interested in pursuing architecture or design in college. Melisa has been teaching online architecture classes to high school students since 2014. Currently she is homeschooling her four children, and does an occasional freelance design project. Melisa and her family live in the Chicago area.

Melisa began a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as a freshman in college. While in college Melisa attended and led bible studies and worked as a camp counselor. Presently she is serving and worshipping at a bible-believing church, and leading a small group study with her husband.

Melisa loves to see the image of the Creator shining through each student, and considers it a privilege to inspire and guide students in developing their creative abilities.


Tom Khazoyan
Instructor

Tom began his career on the production side of the film and television business. He’s been fortunate to have worked on award-winning projects as a producer, director, cameraman, and editor. He has produced projects ranging from television commercials to documentaries to dramatic films in over 30 countries.

Since 1998 Tom has served as a missionary video producer, beginning at Caleb Project, a ministry dedicated to seeing Christians mobilized for the completion of world evangelization. In 2005, he co-founded 10X Productions to create a feature-length motion picture, “The Enemy God.” In 2012, 10X Productions, now a ministry of Pioneers, formed a strategic partnership with International Media Ministries based in Spain.

In his ministry life, Tom works collaboratively with filmmakers in other countries to produce visual stories and to empower emerging filmmakers in other cultures with the goal to make the knowledge of Jesus Christ and his kingdom known in places that are yet unreached. This work takes the form of film training workshops, partnership in producing films, and individual mentoring.

Tom has been teaching online film and screenwriting classes and in-person workshops and seminars since 2010.

Just so you know, Tom understands what being in school is like; in 2015 he finished graduate school with an MFA in Professional Screenwriting.

Tom and his wife, Cara have been homeschooling since their son was in second grade (he graduated from college in 2013.) Their oldest daughter is in nursing school. Their youngest daughter is in 9th grade. He also enjoys music (guitar and hand drums) and telemark skiing. He lives in the Denver, Colorado area.


diana lamolinoraDiana Lamolinara
Instructor

Diana is a native speaker of Spanish who has lived in the Spanish-speaking countries of Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Spain. She also spent several years living in Italy, where she studied Italian. A few years after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a BS in Business Administration, Mrs. Lamolinara accepted a part-time job teaching Spanish. She loved it so much that she went back to the University of Maryland and got a BA in Foreign Language Education.

Since then (over 25 years), Diana has been teaching Spanish to students in all levels from Pre School to AP. She has tutored individual students and has taught in public and private schools, homeschool coops/tutorials and, most recently, in an online academy.

In addition to teaching, Diana enjoys reading, exercising, cooking and taking long walks with her dog in the woods around her house. The Lord has blessed Diana and her husband with four children and three grandchildren.



Ann LeBlanc

Instructor & Club Leader

Ann LeBlanc loves learning and deep discussions. She received her Juris Doctorate from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has a B.S. degree in finance, and is licensed to practice law in the states of Texas and Louisiana. Ann’s experience includes many facets of the legal field and she has argued and written legal briefs at both the state district and appellate court levels in Texas and Louisiana and has also represented clients in Federal court. Ann is also an author and has distinguished herself in the authoring of legal publications and the presentation of seminars for clients and organizations such as the National Business Institute and various insurance agencies.

Ann fulfills her love of learning, however, by teaching. Ann has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette, teaching Business Law. Her passion for education extends to the home, where she homeschools her own children employing the Socratic method. A keen lover of logic, Ann is passionate about teaching critical thinking skills and empowering today’s youth with the ability to analyze the problems of tomorrow, to ensure that our God given rights and freedoms remain unalienable.

Ann, her husband and two children live in Texas where they are actively involved in their church community. Teaching their children that God is first in all things and emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our best friend, Lord and Savior are paramount.


Sarah Lehtinen
Instructor

Sarah Lehtinen has always found the French language to be a faithful friend, and she hopes that her students will feel the same way! She has degrees in French and economics from Sweet Briar College and studied at La Sorbonne in Paris. After schooling, she began her career as a foreign language educator, first in public school, and later in online education for homeschoolers. She loves working with students, building their confidence, and seeing them improve each class.

Beyond teaching, Sarah loves building her life in beautiful Charlottesville, VA. She does yoga daily and frequents local coffee shops often. She also has several certifications in health and fitness, which she hopes to continue to employ. Additionally, she and her husband enjoy trying new restaurants, cooking together, hiking in the mountains, and spending time with friends.

 


Jennifer Pasos
Instructor & Club Leader

Jennifer is the wife of Franklin and the mother of Frankie (11), Bella (8) and Jaydon (6). She resides in Oklahoma and homeschools two of her 3 children. Jennifer is a classically trained chef and pastry chef with dual degrees from Sullivan University in Louisville, KY. She has over 22 years experience in the hospitality industry and over eight years experience developing and presenting private culinary and pastry classes for local youth and co-ops in Tennessee. She has taught online for four years presenting culinary classes, pastry classes, culinary camps, and a culinary apprenticeship. She has worked as an Events Chef for G Catering & Events in Nashville, TN for 8 years and has catered many upscale weddings, corporate events, Nashville Junior League Gala,CMA, CMT Events and the 2013 Artist of the Year Awards.

 


Julie Rapelje
Instructor & Club Leader

Ms. Julie Rapelje is both a homeschooling parent and a professional educator.  She has served students of all ages and skill levels in both live and online settings.  She has written curriculum and has presented on topics in local, national, and international forums.  Julie has taught for the past 20+ years in many areas of art and culture.  She knows there is more to enjoy in great art than just “The Last Supper.”  Ms. Rapelje has personally developed a series of Art History courses that delights and engages students.  Her drawing classes have seen participants grow in leaps and bounds!  She enjoys helping young adults take the next step in attending college or working in their field.   The results of her time in class and clubs are confident, thoughtful, informed students who are ready to contribute to the culture around them with a biblical view of art and creative skills.  Ms. Rapelje has presented locally and nationally on social etiquette and creative topics.  She is pleased to also facilitate a special club covering these subject for ladies only.

Both parents and students praise Julie Rapelje as having a knack for presenting material in a way that makes it interesting to understand and absorb.  She is known for her enthusiasm and insight in to the arts.  More than once, she has been proclaimed as “my favorite teacher.”   She has been known to discuss in class such diverse and curious things as:  art history cover-ups, faith-filled famous artists,  DIY bacon roses, dirt collections, the existence of dragons, Ukrainian Easter eggs, and even unibrows.  Have you ever heard of a spontaneous virtual toga party?  Apparently, she has.

In her free time, Julie enjoys museum visits, travel, sailing, dancing, floral art, and good conversation.  She home schools her youngest and enjoys every opportunity to work with eager students of all ages.  She hopes to serve as a catalyst for people, that they might see and create more good in the world. Perhaps you will spend some time with her this semester!


Charlotte RoyalCharlotte Royal
Instructor

Charlotte Royal is a missionary aide and educator from the Southeastern U.S.

Miss Royal holds a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Art from Pensacola Christian College and a Master of Arts in Studio Art from Bob Jones University. Having an interest in education since high school, Miss Royal took every opportunity that College and University offered her to hone her skills of instruction, and taking extra education courses gladly, despite their falling outside the usual requirements of an art major. After graduating with her Master’s degree, Miss Royal completed the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, approving her to teach in the South Carolina Public School System.

Once a homeschooler herself, Miss Royal recognizes the wonderful potential offered by online education. She began her own studies of the Japanese language through a distance learning course while still in high school. Miss Royal continued her studies of Japanese formally and informally for the next decade, and began teaching Japanese lessons online in 2015 from Moroyama, Japan, where she was filling in for some missionaries on extended furlough. Miss Royal has been back in the U.S. since August 2016 and is looking forward to where God leads next!

Miss Royal’s artist and educator statement: “Visual and auditory language are not only beautiful; each shares the same, fundamental purpose: to strive to share the greatest news ever given humanity, the news of the Artist who made us and who loves us more than words can ever quite tell.” Feel free to check out Miss Royal’s blog: https://thoughtcolors.wordpress.com/. Her art portfolio is available here: charlotte-royal.com.


Erin Sipe
Instructor

Born and reared in the home of an English educator, Erin Sipe began her teaching career as a young girl teaching her baby dolls in her own mother’s high school classroom on teacher workdays.  Erin’s lifelong love for writing and reading led her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow.  After five years teaching English in public school, she began a private teaching business to local homeschoolers, The Front Porch Place (TFFP). Since founding TFFP in 2002, Erin has taught over a thousand North Carolina homeschoolers how to write powerfully, speak eloquently, and analyze literature perceptively in her weekly English classes.

Most recently Erin has taught for an online academy and followed in Jodi Guerra’s footsteps of serving as department chairperson while teaching grammar and vocabulary intensives as well as literature and composition courses.  In this new season of teaching online, Erin is eager to share her passion for the English language with her students by teaching them that communicating well can have powerful impact for His glory no matter the calling.  Erin derives much JOY in seeing her students succeed in their English studies and is eager to partner with parents to prepare students for advanced studies in college.


Debbie Stokes
Instructor

Debbie Stokes has been teaching science classes for over twenty years and still finds great awe in how beautifully and intricately the Creator designed all things. She finds it a great privilege to journey through the “study of life” with students!

Debbie graduated cum laude from Kennesaw State University in 1991 with a B.S. in biology. She also earned her M. Ed. in science education from Georgia State University. She taught high school science classes in the public school system of Cobb County, Georgia for sixteen years and has taught science classes online for the past six years. She describes her teaching style as a combination of passion for the subject matter mixed with creativity and fun. “One of the best parts of teaching is creating clever and meaningful ways to break down complex information in a way that makes sense to the student. I like to do this by making the information relatable to the personal life of the student, adding some humor or emotion, and a twist of power that helps the student to remember the information long after the test is over,” says Debbie.

Debbie lives in Georgia with her fellow scientist husband, an Emergency Medicine Physician, and their four children. With such strong science genes, one might think the children would be four little scientists in training. But, to their surprise and delight, the older two children include a daughter studying dance at the University of Alabama and a daughter in high school planning on majoring in music. Well, it might make sense after all as their dancer daughter explains: “The thing my mom loves about science the most is the beauty of the creativity of it — the art in it.” Debbie agrees saying, “Yes, one can’t really separate the arts from biology because there is something just so mesmerizing about the beauty of this life that God created!” Maybe that love of the arts is why Debbie also enjoys photography, writing, and designing…oh, and taking in the sights at Disney World as often as possible!


Marilyn Whitlock
Instructor & Club Leader

Marilyn Whitlock loves learning and sharing that love with others. She has a bachelor’s degree in English education, a master’s degree in English literature, a graduate certificate in instructional design, and has completed coursework for a Ph.D. in English literature with a concentration in British literature of the 18th century. While completing her bachelor’s degree, Marilyn student-taught five sections of senior English and served as faculty advisor for the editors of a school newspaper. As part of her master’s degree studies, she taught remedial English grammar and composition skills. As a Ph.D. candidate, she received a full academic scholarship, was a graduate assistant, and taught freshman composition.

Since completing her education, Marilyn has taught in a variety of venues. She taught English literature and composition at both public and private schools before serving the homeschool community. While homeschooling, Marilyn taught courses in British literature, Shakespeare, and Old and New Testament survey courses at co-ops and as a private tutor. Most recently, Marilyn taught comprehensive secondary English classes, specialized literature classes, and advanced composition for an online academy.

Marilyn and her husband Dan live in Lee’s Summit, MO. They homeschooled their daughter Sara who, after achieving a nearly perfect score on the English section of the ACT, attended college on an academic scholarship and will shortly begin a graduate program. Recently both Marilyn and her daughter published articles, Marilyn’s, an article on the uses of The Oxford English Dictionary, was published in Practical Homeschooling and Sara’s, an article on the significance of bowing in The Brother’s Karamazov, was published in The Journal of Student Research. Mom and daughter enjoy writing and reading great books together.

Besides copious reading—she always has multiple books on her nightstand—Marilyn dotes on her Pomeranian Simba and enjoys singing in her church’s choir.


John Willoughby
Instructor

John Willoughby is a life-long learner dedicated to not just teaching students but helping them become permanent members of a lifelong learner journey.  He believes that students need to be empowered to be learners. John has been teaching for the past 17 years both in the United States as well as overseas. His subject focuses have been social studies and technology.  John has taught a variety of advanced placement courses as well as college preparatory courses.

John has a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois.  He has also been head of Department for Social studies and Head of Professional Development for an online school based out of Oxford, England.

John and his wife Heather currently homeschool their three children.  They have been home church pastors on and off for the past 12 years.  The Willoughby family also lived in South Korea for 5 years as missionaries.  They love exploring outdoors.


Caitlyn Wise
Instructor

Caitlyn Wise is a photographer from the mountains of North Carolina. She studied photography in high school and college and has a Bachelors of Art-Fine Art Photography. She has been photographing for over ten years and has been teaching photography for seven years. Caitlyn has a passion for photographing the world and people around her. She hopes to instill a bit of that passion for the science and art of photography into her students. Besides photography, Caitlyn also enjoys reading, traveling to see friends and family around the world, and cooking.

 


Jess Woods
Instructor

Jess Woods graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with a degree in English Education. Upon graduating she taught in a public high school for three years before deciding to stay home with her children.  She has spent the past four years teaching middle school and high school English courses for an online academy.  Jess is a life-long reader and writer.  She comes alive in the company of words and music, and she has a passion for literature that reaches through every part of her being.  She believes wholeheartedly that each person has a relevant voice and perspective, and she eagerly teaches her students to embrace their individual voices by exploring their own thoughts and learning to confidently articulate them.  It is her desire to encourage growth in all students (regardless of their love for English courses…or lack thereof).  She considers it a tremendous success if she can awaken a love of literature and/or composition in her students, an event that occurs often in her classes.

Jess grew up in Georgia, but she currently resides in upstate NY with her pastor-husband, Josh.  The couple has three children, a dog, and two birds.  While reading and writing are clearly on the top of her hobby list, Jess also enjoys all things musical, cooking competition shows, hiking, and running.


Interested in joining the consortium of Excelsior Classes? See here.