Our Teachers


Our teachers are pivotal to the success of our program.

We hire knowledgeable teachers who are passionate about their subjects, teach in a hands-on way, and love and respect our children. Our teacher credentials compare favorably with some of the most expensive private schools in the area: about 40% of our teachers have advanced degrees. In addition, we recognize the importance of small class size in maintaining a quality learning environment, and keep an average of ten students per class.

Our Teachers:


Lauren Batten

Lauren Batten (previously Millhorn) is school counselor here at Leaves and teaches our Teen Discussion class. She received her Masters of Education through the University of Tennessee and although she has lived in both Tennessee and North Carolina, Ohio (home) is where her heart is. In her free time, she enjoys attending Reds' games with her husband, relaxing with friends and going to her dance class. Lauren has two older sisters, two nieces, two nephews, a dog named Ted and a cat named Face. Lauren is excited to be back for a new school year and excited to see all the familiar faces and to meet all the new ones!

Lisa Boys

Lisa Boys is our resident artist extraordinaire, sharing her enthusiasm and love of art with students of all ages. She has a B.A. in Fine Arts and a minor in art history from University of Cincinnati DAAP. Lisa has three daughters, all of whom were homeschooled and attended Leaves. She has taught at LOL since 1998 and enjoys gardening, decorating, stamping, and creative painting.

Neal Brown

Neal Brown is a freelance video content creator and adjunct professor from St. Louis, MO. He is a graduate of Lindenwood University where he earned a BA in Mass Communications and an MA in Communications specializing in Digital Cinema. At the university level, Neal has taught video production, writing for television, nonlinear video editing and other video/film related courses. For ages 6­-18, he has led a variety of filmmaking camps, clubs and classes including claymation/legomation, ipad filmmaking, action film filmmaking, and GreenScreen film effects. In 2011, Neal started the nonprofit group, FilmMakerMakers, an organization created to help young learners discover and develop their creative talents through the craft of filmmaking.

Dan Carlson

Dan Carlson graduated in 1998 from the University of Cincinnati with a BFA in Fine Art, specializing in oil painting. During his junior and senior years in college, Dan developed a keen interest in colonial American history, taking a series of graduate level courses which cemented his passion for the subject. From 1998 to 2000 he worked as a freelance illustrator, with his work appearing in Mcgraw-Hill Educational Supplements and the children's magazine Cricket. In 2001, Dan began working through the federally-funded 21st Century Learning grant in the Norwood school district. There he began to experiment with combining history, literature, and various sorts of games as an after-school program for elementary and junior high school students. Dan joined Leaves of Learning as a full-time teacher in 2006. His classes combine board games, roleplaying games, creative writing, model soldiers and often Lego toys. He is an avid dog lover, coffee drinker, Lego collector, and taco eater. He lives in Loveland with his wife Kim and his son Griffin.

Jennifer Clark

Jennifer Clark has taught Go Green, Junk Art, and Around the World in Six Weeks at The Super Saturday Program for the past 10 years. She attended the University of Cincinnati and studied sociology. Her true passion, however, is education. She is passionate about the environment, animals, and current events. Her hands-on approach to teaching allows every child to thrive in the classroom, letting them bring their own unique personalities to the mix. Jennifer is the parent of two teenage daughters and enjoys spending time with her family exploring different museums and attending local theater productions.

Heather DeLaVega

I began homeschooling my 2 boys in 2000 and have been a part of the Leaves of Learning community since 2001. In 2012, I started back to work as a part-time assistant in the Little Sprouts classroom, where I was inspired to go back to school and obtain my Montessori Early Childhood Education credentials. I’ve attended the University of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education. The opportunity to work with young children is very rewarding for me. I’m energized by their wonder and enthusiasm, and I thoroughly enjoy watching them blossom in the classroom. I’m passionate about the Montessori Method and Leaves of Learning. I love the way they both foster peace, independence, and a natural love of learning in the children. When I’m not enjoying my time in our Little Sprouts classroom, I love traveling and hiking with my family, nature and nature photography, gardening, and reading.

Jennifer Deming

Jennifer has been teaching for over 21 years. The first nine years were spent full-time in both public and private schools. When her first child was born she decided to become a stay-at-home mom—a decision that quickly led to becoming a homeschooling mom. During that time she continued to teach small groups part-time, and she also directed several children's choruses and theaters. Jennifer believes that hands-on exploration and play are vital to learning, and she strives to create a respectful environment in which work, active play, and creativity go hand-in-hand. She is looking forward to a great adventure at Leaves this year.

Julie Doughty

Julie Doughty graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. with honors in early childhood education. After graduation she moved with her husband to Blacksburg, Virginia, where she took classes from a professional potter and participated in the annual art show and sale in Baltimore for several years. Julie has been homeschooling since 1999. She began teaching at Leaves of Learning in 2008 but has been involved as a parent since 2001. Julie loves working with clay with her students and watching their projects evolve as they gain new skills.

Allison Evans

Coming soon

Heidi Ferre

Heidi is a creative and energetic teacher who delights in designing motivating learning environments for her students. She is a kind, bubbly teacher with a quick smile. Heidi has an elementary education background and a Master of Arts in Art Education from Miami University, as well as certification in gifted education from Xavier University. She has extensive experience teaching elementary school language arts, including both remedial and gifted programs. Heidi's hobbies include cooking, reading, writing, running, designing, home renovation, movies, music and having fun with her husband and two children, extended family, and friends.

Alexa Glaser

Alexa Glaser is a graduate of the Certificate Acting Program at the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music's Preparatory Department (CCM Prep), the Sanford Meisner Center's Level One Intensive (Los Angeles), and has a BA in Theatre with an emphasis in Acting from Butler University. Her experience includes stage, film, educational, and technical theatre. Currently she is an Adjunct Professor with the University of Cincinnati's CCM Prep, as well as auditioning and working locally as an actor.

Leslie Hamilton

Leslie Hamilton has been teaching at Leaves of Learning since 2002. Her classes have included history, geography, government/civics, international relations, and PeaceJam. Aside from working with amazing students and teachers who delight her every day with their enthusiasm, love of learning, and incredible creativity, her favorite thing about LOL is the opportunity it gives her to build a strong social justice and service learning component into not only PeaceJam but many other classes as well. She is also thrilled to have taken part in numerous conferences allowing her students to interact with Nobel Peace Laureates like Betty Williams, the Dalai Lama, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Mikhail Gorbachev, Shirin Ebadi, Muhammed Yunus, Lech Walesa, and many others. Outside of Leaves, Leslie coaches the 10 & under swimmers with the Mercy HealthPlex Sea Wolves and plays with her fantastically goofy son.

Julie Hamman

Julie Hamman is thrilled to be joining the Leaves of Learning community of learners. For the past ten years, she taught middle school math and science in a private school in Chicago. Teaching in Chicago was such a wonderful experience and she is so happy to be back to teaching. She moved to Cincinnati over the summer with her husband and 2 year old son. Julie received her education degree from The University of Dayton and her masters from Concordia University in Chicago. Julie is looking forward to working with the students and parents at Leaves of Learning.

Carolyn Heck

Prior to joining LOL, Carolyn worked in a private Montessori preschool and kindergarten for four years, and also in the public schools teaching first grade. She received her Early Childhood teaching license from Miami University, and her Montessori license from The Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education. She has a passion for travel and incorporates her various experiences from around the world into her classroom as much as possible. Carolyn has enjoyed teaching in a variety of settings, including Madrid, as well as being a leader on an education-based initiative in Honduras through the non-profit Shoulder to Shoulder. While at home, Carolyn is an avid reader, painter, and baker. She enjoys baking decorative cookies and cupcakes for events around the Cincinnati area.

Dan Hennessy

Dan has a Ph.D. in physics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is passionate about bringing the concepts of physics to life for his students. He has taught introductory college physics and received a Graduate Teaching Award. For fun, Dan loves to fence and has already been a judge in LOL's first ever fencing tournament.

Jared Hudson

Jared Hudson is an alumnus of Anderson High School and graduate of BlufftonUniversity, where he was the president of the Improv Club for three years. Jared was an acting intern at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati during ETC’s 2013­2014 season. While at ETC, he had the pleasure of understudying several roles and received training in theatrical lighting, set construction, and stage management. From 2013 to 2015, Jared shared his passion for stage, film, and voice acting with the students of Anderson High School, where he was the assistant director of their extracurricular theatre program.

Julie Klettke

Julie taught for nine years in an elementary school and has been at Leaves of Learning since 2007. She has an associate’s degree in nursing and spent 4 years working in healthcare before taking time to stay home with her children. Julie received a BA in biology and a BS in elementary education from UC. She has completed 12 hours of graduate work in gifted education at XU. While teaching in a public school, Julie attended a series of seminars for Assessment For Learning (Rick Stiggins) with a team of fellow teachers. The approaches used in Assessment For Learning exemplify her methods of teaching. She encourages children to take part in their learning by sharing ideas and insights, using creative methods to solve problems, and reflecting on their progress and feelings about their work. Julie uses hands-on activities and critical thinking problem sets to encourage children to learn in different ways.

Charity Kuzuhara

Charity Smith led both the Power of the Pen and Poetry Out Loud programs for many years at Leaves of Learning. Under Charity's guidance, students have discovered passions for writing fiction and poetry—and many have published their work as a result of Charity's encouragement. Charity’s professional background includes a bachelor's degree in English Education from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana and a master's in English Education from Miami University. Her master's thesis focused on The Pedagogy of Poetry, a survey of language arts teachers' views on teaching poetry. As both a student and teacher, Charity's first focus has always been on knowing more about reading and writing. Charity taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts at Milford Junior High for three years, where she was also the founding coach of Power of the Pen, a creative writing team that competes with other writers all around Ohio. She also taught freshman English for three years at Turpin High School summer school before staying home with her four children for ten years. During the time Charity was at home with her children, she was a writing judge for the Ohio Writing Project, Miami University and the writing portion of the SAT exam. Charity loves the creativity and curiosity in learning language arts. She also believes in lifelong learning outside of the classroom; she took a group of 30 Milford students to London and Paris for ten days through EF Educational Tours in 1999. In June of 2010 and 2014, Charity took a group of LOL students on a trip to Italy and Switzerland.

Lorelle Lentz

Lorelle Lentz brings a passion for learning, with experience teaching preschool, elementary school, and college level courses, designing educational software, and tutoring children as a certified Multi-Sensory Structured Language (Orton & Gillingham based) tutor. Lorelle is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Cincinnati where her areas of study include parent decision making regarding technology use, and the impact of self-efficacy in learning to read. She has additional degrees in Learning Sciences (M.A., Northwestern University), Instructional Design (M.A., California State University, Chico), and Developmental Psychology (B.A., California State University, Chico). Lorelle strives to bring the highest standards of knowledge, training and enthusiasm to all subjects and contexts she teaches, and to provide innovative learning experiences to promote rigorous levels of learning and achievement.

Elena Licu

Elena Licu began teaching when she was a graduate student, at University of Cincinnati’s School of Criminal Justice. Since then, she has homeschooled her two bright, beautiful, busy daughters, Julia, and Lara, who have been attending Leaves of Learning for the past five years. Elena credits running, a life-long passion, for her success as student, writer, educator, and mother. A native of Bucharest, Romania, Elena walked, ran, and biked everywhere as a child and teenager. In her early twenties, when she and her family moved to Vancouver, Canada, Elena started running regularly on the scenic shores of the Pacific, to help cope with her transition as a new immigrant. Running has allowed her to stay mentally and physically fit. In Cincinnati, Elena ran her first 5 and 10Ks pushing a double stroller. Now she runs every morning accompanied by her two dogs, Rosa, and Deja. Elena is excited to take over the Runners Club at Leaves! She hopes to impart her love for running upon her students, as well as the importance of physical exercise and good nutrition--the key ingredients to an active, healthy lifestyle.

Diana Mattson

This is Diana's twelfth year of spreading her enthusiasm for science to her LOL students. Her creative projects and experiments are well known throughout the program. Diana earned her degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University and worked in the plastics industry for eight years. She discovered the joy of sharing her enthusiasm for science with children when she started teaching an after-school science outreach program. Diana lives in Loveland and has three children.

Beth McPeek

Beth graduated from Miami University with a B.S. with honors in psychology and sociology and later graduated from DePaul University with a Master of Arts in Teaching with honors. As a teacher, maternity-leave substitute, assistant, mentor, and tutor, Beth has enjoyed working with students of all ages! In Illinois, she was a fifth-grade teacher at a public school. When she returned to her hometown of Cincinnati, she became a fourth-grade teacher at St. Ursula Villa School. While teaching English in Costa Rica as part of a volunteer program called WorldTeach, she fell in love with Spanish and teaching a second language. Her subsequent travels in Central and South America solidified this love. Beth is excited to be a part of the Leaves of Learning team. This venture allows her to continue her passion for teaching as well as spend time at home with her two daughters.

Kim Miller

Kim has been fencing for 18 years and has taught beginner and intermediate level fencing at the Cincinnati Fencing Club for 14 years. Kim has a B.S. in biology from the State University of New York, Binghamton and spent 32 years doing pharmaceutical research for therapies of cardiovascular disease. Kim retired from P&G Pharmaceuticals in 2006.

Cassie Murray

Cassie Murray is an LOL parent whose children are entering their 10th year at Leaves. She works on communications and pr at Leaves, organizes family jobs, and has supervision duties at lunch and free choice time. Cassie has been running our LOL Student News team for two years and is excited to bring the student news to the classroom! Cassie has a BA and an MA in literature from Ohio State University and has worked at Ohio Magazine. She was also a teacher trainer for the US Peace Corps in Micronesia.

Dr. Michael Nichols

Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition from the University of Houston and went on to receive his doctorate degree in chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic College- Los Angeles.  Michael has a chiropractic and functional medicine practice along with his wife Julie, also a chiropractor.   In addition to educating his patients about health, Michael has also taught anatomy and physiology and other health subjects, at the college level since 2002.  He can also be found teaching classes at the Super Saturday program this year. He is a passionate and energetic teacher who is well loved and respected by his students.  He is excited to bring his love of teaching to the Leaves of Learning community.  Michael and his wife have two children who are homeschooled and attend Leaves of Learning. The word doctor in Latin means ‘to teach’ and that is what Michael feels his life’s work is.  His hobbies include hiking, rock climbing, writing, drawing, music, movies, and exploring new places both local and far away with his family.

Adi Nulsen

Adi Nulsen graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in middle childhood education. Adi taught at several public and private schools for ten years as a language-arts and social studies-teacher. She then decided to stay home upon the arrival of her third baby boy (which the older boys were thrilled that “He’s not a girl!”), and has loved being home with the boys ever since. Yet, her true passion has always been teaching children and furthering her own education. Adi is thrilled to join the Leaves of Learning family, as it is just the right balance of home life with her family, as well as being involved in further enriching the lives of young people. Some of Adi’s hobbies include reading, teaching exercise classes at local fitness centers, traveling the world, and spending time with family and friends

Dara O'Loughlin

Dara has been teaching professionally since 1996 and loves sharing knowledge in a clear and light-hearted way. She is passionate about inspiring others to find their own sense of peace, joy, and empowerment. Dara is an Advanced Certified Yoga Instructor (E-RYT200/RYT500) having completed three year-long training programs at World Peace Yoga in Cincinnati, OH and Saraswati Yoga School in Loveland, OH. She also holds extended training certificates in Classical Hatha Yoga, Sanskrit, and Mantra; has a BS in Art Education and a BFA in Painting from Miami University; and is a certified Reiki Practitioner. Dara lights the way to a state of inner peace for her students in a fun, friendly, and supportive manner. She shares the parenting of three magical children with her husband, James, and enjoys a variety of creative endeavors including drawing, painting, acro yoga, and dance.Coming soon

Diana Osborn

Diana is the founder of Leaves of Learning and has been the director since the beginning of the program. She loves working with children of all ages and has a passion and commitment to individualize education. She feels that while an education certainly provides skills and opportunities for a child's future, it is also an important part of the journey, and as such, should be enjoyed. She believes that education should meet children where they are and take them where they want to go, through caring guidance, enthusiasm and support. Her favorite moments at LOL are when students discover their talents and passions for learning. Diana has three children, all of whom attended Leaves of Learning. Her daughter has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Voice Performance and is currently pursuing a master's degree in vocal pathology. She has a son with a BS in mechanical engineering, and another son with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, materials science, and nanotechnology. Diana has taught Hands-on Science classes for NSF and L.O.L. She was a chemist for DuBois Chemical and a pharmaceutical representative for Whitehall Robbins. She holds a BS in Chemistry.

Kristin Osborn

Kristin has performed in many operas and plays over the years and had an internship with the Salt Marsh Opera in Connecticut in the fall of 2012. She has a passion for teaching and has been teaching voice and piano for six years. Kristin graduated from Otterbein University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Voice Performance in 2012 and is currently working toward a master’s degree in voice pathology. She is an enthusiastic, engaging, patient teacher who gives each student a unique experience based on their needs and goals. She strives to help students discover their own personal voice and style so that they may express themselves through their instrument. Kristin is comfortable teaching all levels and styles of singing and beginning piano.

Heather Ralphes

Although Heather was born right here in Cincinnati, her love of world languages and cultures has taken her far afield and back again. She has a B.A. in International Studies with a European focus and a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Ohio University. While at OU, she studied abroad in both Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. She has always been fascinated by Russian language, culture and history. After graduation, she lived and taught English to all ages in Japan for two years. While she was there she spent time immersed in the modern Japan of Tokyo and bullet trains, while appreciating the timeless beauty of Kyoto and tea ceremony. Upon her return to the United States, she worked as an adviser in the International Students Services Office of the University of Cincinnati, where she made even more friends from all over the world. She began graduate study at UC in Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology, culminating in an M.Ed. degree and a K-12 teaching license in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and Russian. She has been teaching lots of ESL (and a little Russian and Japanese) over the past 15 years. In her free time, she loves to dance, hike, and read about all kinds of interesting things over a cup of tea. She also loves to spend lots of time with her friends and family, which includes her husband, son, two dogs and two cats.

Tiffany Roark

Tiffany is a mechanical engineer from Purdue University. She worked as a process engineer at Procter & Gamble and as a manufacturing engineer at Cummins (diesel engines) before joining Leaves. She is teaching engineering the way she wishes she had been taught—learning concepts through hands-on experiments first instead of deriving equations. In addition to understanding science and engineering concepts, she believes it is important for students to develop skills in teamwork, writing and communication, recording and interpreting data, and drawing conclusions.

Christie Sawyer

Christie has been at Leaves of Learning since 2003 and is the Assistant Director. Her commitment and positive attitude make her stand out as an effective teacher and administrator. She taught in Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago for five years before moving to Cincinnati. She has a master’s degree from Xavier University in educational administration and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ohio University. She believes that experiencing the excitement and joy that a child expresses when he/she learns something new is one of the greatest benefits in the business of education. Christie loves to read, run, bike, travel and experience new and exciting things. She is looking forward to watching your children grow in their knowledge and enthusiasm during the upcoming year.

Chris Schaljo

Christopher began performing professionally in his hometown of Cincinnati and has traveled to twenty-five countries over a thirty-six year career. He holds a MM from Oberlin Conservatory. A versatile singer and actor, Christopher has performed over 150 roles and made a career in various genres including opera, musical theater, television, radio, and straight theater. Performance credits include: Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Joe in Damn Yankees, Eronious in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Tom in Glass Menagerie, The Viceroy in Il Campenello di notte, Belcore in L’Elisir d’amore, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Treat in Orphans, Action in West Side Story, Joseph (and some time later The Pharoah) in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Louis in The King and I, Fagin in Oliver, El Gallo in the Fantastiks! Germont in La Traviata, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Marcelo in La Bohème, Pirates of Penzance, Count Almaviva in Le nozze de Figaro, Apollo in Orfeo, Phantom in Phantom, Papa Charlie in Shenandoah, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo e Juliette, On The Verge, Turandot, to name a few . As a pianist and singer Christopher has performed in the US, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and has musical directed a review of jazz vocal classics to Guatemala. His unique repertoire of Opera, Broadway and Jazz is frequently called upon as he has been tapped to play piano and sing for politicians, dignitaries, royalty, yet in spite of a busy schedule, Christopher lends his time and talent to retirement centers, half-way houses, nursing homes and hospitals across the Queen City. Chris is excited to be working with Kara and looks forward to a year of singing, dancing and acting with the students at Leaves of Learning.

Jennifer Showalter

Jenny graduated from Miami University with a BA in mathematics and statistics and a BS in secondary mathematics education. She taught everything from algebra to calculus at Middletown High School for four years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She taught part-time at Miami University Middletown. She has taught at Leaves of Learning since 2006. While teaching at Leaves, Jenny earned her master’s degree in education. She lives in Franklin with her husband, two children, three cats and one dog.

Sarah Skeggs

Sarah Skeggs is an engaging teacher known for her creativity and animatedpersonality. Her lifelong love of literature led to her pursuit of a career in language arts, and her enthusiasm and energy help foster a warm, welcoming environment where creativity can blossom. Sarah has a passion for Shakespeare, and is an engaging, energetic teacher who can't wait to continue the tradition of Shakespeare performance at Leaves! Sarah studied Shakespeare extensively in her graduate program at Xavier University, closely analyzing A Merchant of Venice in her coursework. While at Walnut Hills, she attended Cincinnati Shakespeare Company productions with English classes; Sarah has also taught AP English Literature, in which her class read and discussed Hamlet and Macbeth. Sarah received her B.A. from Ohio University in Psychology, where she also cultivated skills in social science, film, media studies, and art. She earned her Professional Licensure in Secondary Education, Integrated Language Arts, grades 7­12 and M.Ed. from Xavier University. Sarah also enjoys swimming, hiking at her favorite parks, and animals (especially dogs).

Rick Sowash

Rick Sowash is an accomplished composer, author, publisher, storyteller and filmmaker. You might ask how Rick became a teacher at Leaves of Learning! In 2013 he spent a day here presenting his touring program to our language arts classes and was taken with the students and program. He inquired about the possibility of becoming more involved, and the rest is history! All his life, Rick Sowash, 64, has loved stories and music. He has earned most of his living by weaving the stories of his native Ohio into books which he writes, publishes, and markets himself. His books include Ripsnorting Whoppers: A Book of Ohio Tall Tales; Critters, Flitters and Spitters: 24 Amazing Ohio Animal Tales; Heroes of Ohio: 23 True Tales of Courage and Character, and The Boy Who Would Be Famous (a comical boyhood autobiography.) Over the past twenty five years Rick has presented storytelling assemblies based on his books at more than 2000 Ohio schools, entertaining and inspiring more than 750,000 students. Rick is also a filmmaker, having written, produced, and starred in two documentaries, Johnny Appleseed and Storytelling Know-How for Teachers, Preachers, & Speechifiers. But Rick’s true calling is the composition of classical music. He publishes sheet music and produces CD recordings of his 400+ compositions. Rick’s music has been featured in several film scores for Florentine Films, Ken Burns's production company. His cello concerto was premiered in Carnegie Hall in April of 2007. His newest major work, Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, was recently recorded by the St. Petersburg Symphony in St. Petersburg, Russia. His music has been performed many times in Europe and many, many times in the United States, and his CDs are broadcast regularly on classical music stations all over North America. He has also been an elected public official, an arts administrator, a classical music radio broadcaster, an innkeeper, and a church music director. Rick lives in Cincinnati with Jo, his wife of 42 years. They have two children, poet/teacher Shenandoah, 32, and trombonist/chef Chapman, 28.

Dr. David Stark

His story is History, but this History teacher is a present-minded kind of guy. He is interested in how our perceptions and approaches to engaging the past(s) influence our fulfillment in the ongoing Now. David was raised by loving parents in Nashville, Tennessee during the first wave of widespread Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fandom. He grew up living very close to The Hermitage—the home of 7th President Andrew Jackson—and credits field trips to the house of “Old Hickory” among his earliest moments of experiencing a love and fascination of living History. Today, David is a trained and published historian. He has earned an undergraduate (2004) and two masters degrees in the fields of Philosophy and Religion (2007), a third masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington (2007) and a PhD in History from The University of Manchester [England] (2011). Dr. Stark has several years experience of teaching and coaching at private schools in the Kansas City and Cincinnati areas, namely The Barstow School and The Seven Hills School. He has also tutored students from the elementary, middle and upper school, collegiate and post-graduate levels in a wide range of subjects, including ACT and SAT prep. He was an All-State and Academic All-American basketball player in high school and college. His hobbies include hiking, carpentry and creating repurposed furniture, spending time with his family, and playing and coaching sports. Dr. Stark believes that maintaining a balance of interests and a sense of humor in the learning and living process are keys to success… He is also one with the Force.

Kara Sulzer

Kara Sulzer graduated from the University of Iowa in 2006 with her B.A. in English and Secondary Teaching Certification. She taught Language Arts, English as a Second Language, directed drama and coached competitive speech for 9 years in public high schools. She has loved all the different hats she has worn as a teacher, but teaching the dramatic arts has always been her true passion. As the Assistant Director of Drama at George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she had the opportunity to pair passion with experience. Over her four years there she worked on 12 productions, directing musicals, children’s theater, and a Shakespearean play, costuming 10 shows and jumping in as a supplemental choreographer as needed. As a speech coach, she loved and specialized in the categories of Group and Solo Musical Theater and Group Mime. She is excited to be at Leaves of Learning this year, incorporating her two passions: theater and education. In her free time, Kara loves to read, write, perform spoken word poetry, attend musical theater productions, and dance! What kind of dance? You name it, she loves it: ballroom smooth, rhythm, salsa, lindyhop, charleston, hip-hop, contemporary, jazz and the list goes on. Kara and her husband relocated to Cincinnati last year for his position in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Education. They reside in Pleasant Ridge where they love to drink coffee, talk educational philosophy, and spoil their cat.

Jessica Summers

Jess has been active in the photography field as a professional for over 3 years with her company, 'Say Yes To Jess', but she has been a practicing photographer for over 10 years. Jess has a background in digital arts, video and business. In the past couple years she has taught several after school enrichment classes to children looking to further their skills in the arts. She is excited to be able to share her passion for photography with Leave's students.

Kim Taylor

Kim started her college path at the University of Cincinnati as an English Literature major with a concentration in Victorian literature. Her high school background in music performance (piano, flute and guitar) and her passion for words soon found her also making records and playing her original songs around the city. This led to her touring for several years as a background vocalist/guitarist for Cincinnati based Over the Rhine. She would eventually tour with acts like Grace Potter, Ron Sexsmith, open for legends like Kris Kristofferson, and gain representation with the reputable Paradigm Agency in NYC. She has recorded and released 5 full-length records, 2 EPs, and 2 live records over 15 years and has had songs placed in numerous television shows including Smallville, One Tree Hill, Cyberbully, Army Wives and Flashpoint. In 2013, Kim starred in the Sundance-selected independent film "I Used To Be Darker" and toured throughout Europe supporting the film. She brings years of songwriting and recording experience (she's written for Epic Records and recorded at Will Smith's studio in LA among other thing) as well as practical finish-what-you-started knowledge to the classroom. She's passionate about short stories (her first desire of vocation), poetry (particularly Charles Simic, Ted Kooser, and Emily Dickinson), and the crafting of a good, strong sentence. Kim is married to Leaves teacher Dan Carlson and is a proud mother to Griffin. They live in Loveland, Ohio with four rescue dogs.

Elizabeth Tillis-Gilland

Elizabeth loves the hands-on philosophy LOL embraces, the passion with which children are encouraged to learn, and the opportunities for success LOL provides. She is excited to meet her students and delve into learning with them! Elizabeth has a B.A. in international affairs and a M.Ed. in elementary education from the University of Cincinnati and is a certified teacher. She taught sixth grade at Freedom Elementary in the Lakota school district for five years. She has also tutored children in math, reading, and writing. Elizabeth believes strongly in creating a nurturing learning environment in which children are supported in their individual learning styles. As the workshop facilitator for the Bullies and Victims program, she worked with students, parents, and educators throughout the Greater Cincinnati area to teach strategies to eliminate bullying. Additionally she has been a teacher at Camp Invention. Her son, Evan, attends Leaves of Learning and is an enthusiastic learner with many, many interests! She enjoys reading, cross-stitch, playing board and card games with her son and husband and attending cultural events.

Dan Vickers

Dan has been busy raising his 3 children as a stay at home dad for the past 15 years.. As a young student Dan struggled with ADHD and Dyslexia. Sports helped him tremendously to overcome these issues and he is committed to bringing the joy of sports to his students. Presently, Dan is a substitute teacher and Physical Education instructor for a small Montessori School in Mason. Over the past 10 years he has coached all of his children's sports teams. Dan was the Head Soccer Coach at Mariemont High School for the past 15 years. He also coached the Junior High School Wrestling Team while attending UC. Dan has been a ski instructor in Colorado.. The only thing he loves more than sports is the opportunity to work with children and aspiring athletes. Dan has a BS in Sociology, a BS in History, a minor in Psychology and a Masters in Education..

Teresa Wickstrom

Teresa Wickstrom became actively involved in sign language education and curriculum development for children since 2007, when one of her own children needed this visual language to assist in his communication and education. Because local sign language education courses focused solely on adults, she developed classes to enable children to learn sign language in a child friendly environment with games and activities geared towards them. In time, she became a licensed educational interpreter and academic tutor. Teresa holds a Master and Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University as well as an Associate of Science degree from Cincinnati State in Sign Language Interpreting. She is passionate about sharing this beautiful language and culture of the Deaf with students seeking foreign language opportunities in American Sign Language.

Robyn Williams

Robyn has been teaching at Leaves since 2005 and has loved every minute of it! She moved to Cincinnati in 1998 with her two sons and husband, who transferred here with Procter and Gamble. Prior to her move here, she owned her own business, Proactive Fitness, where she designed personal fitness programs, ran a variety of workshops, and taught a variety of children's fitness classes. She has over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry and currently teaches spinning classes at the YMCA. Robyn received her bachelor's degree in physical education, and after seven years working in the recreation field, went back to school for her business diploma, majoring in marketing. Being a mature student was a new, but very valuable experience! Her teaching background includes teaching physical education for a gifted school, substitute teaching at Loveland Elementary, coaching the Loveland High School diving team, leading programs at a family summer camp, and creating leisure/cultural programs. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, an athlete who pursues the sport of triathlons, and an active volunteer in a variety of community roles. When she does sit down, her quiet time involves a good book!! "I can honestly say that my teaching experience here at Leaves has been truly rewarding. The children, teachers, and staff are all very talented, highly creative, imaginative, energetic and innovative."