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:

Dr. Joanna Abrams

Joanna received her bachelor's degree in biology and psychology from Earlham College, before graduating with a PhD in neuroscience (focus on child development) from the University of Minnesota. Joanna has taught in many environments, and at many grade levels, including as a camp counselor, a museum science educator, a substitute teacher at Cincinnati Public, a troop leader for Navigators USA (an inclusive, all-gender scouting organization), and a community college instructor focusing on biology. Joanna is thrilled to be part of our team, and is excited to see science come alive through hands-on activities and experiments in her LOL classroom.

Paige Andrew

Paige was a student at Leaves of Learning beginning at the age of eight until high school graduation. In 2016, she joined the staff as the assistant teacher in the Little Sprouts classroom. She is currently attending school at the Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education to become an accredited Early Childhood Montessori teacher. In the 2019-2020 school year she will remain as the assistant in the Little Sprouts classroom in the mornings and will take on the role of co-teacher in the afternoons. She is passionate about making children's education a positive experience and is so grateful to have a place that helps make that possible.

Lisa Andrews

Lisa Andrews started her career as a clinical dietitian at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and is currently the owner of Sound Bites Nutrition, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Nutrition and provides individual counseling, nutrition lectures and cooking demos. She taught nutrition as an adjunct instructor for the University of Cincinnati from 1998 to 2017 and served briefly as a community dietitian for the Nutrition Council of Cincinnati. In addition, Lisa is a freelance writer for Food and Health Communications and Dietitian Pros. In 2018, Lisa designed Lettuce Beet Hunger, a line of food pun tee shirts that donate a portion of proceeds to those suffering food insecurity. http://soundbitesnutrition.com/shop Lisa is the newly elected president of the Ohio Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and has served on the Ohio board and Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association as the chair of professional issues and as media chair. She has done several TV interviews and is quoted regularly in local and national publications. In 2002, she won the Ohio Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award and in 2017, received the Ohio Recognized Dietitian of the Year Award. In 2016, Lisa was recognized as the Arthritis Foundation’s Adult Honoree and also received a $10,000 People’s Liberty Project grant for her project People’s Pantry Cincy. http://facebook.com/peoplespantrycincy. Lisa loves music, cooking, walking, traveling and spending time with her family.

Julie Aubrey

Julie Aubrey is a literature and language arts teacher who partners with students to equip them to read deeply, think critically, and write effectively. After graduating summa cum laude from University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, Ms. Aubrey spent a decade in the classroom developing curriculum that was engaging, comprehensive, and impactful. She also developed the understanding that what is most important in education is knowing and valuing each and every student, so Ms. Aubrey works hard to connect with and challenge students individually. In addition to her teaching career, Ms. Aubrey enjoys writing poetry and fiction. She has been published in the University of Cincinnati’s Short Vine: Undergraduate Literary Journal and the Cincinnati Writer’s Project anthology. But on a beautiful day, Ms. Aubrey tosses the book and pen aside, pulls on hiking boots, and explores the nature preserve adjacent to her Northside dwelling. If it’s a good day, she’ll spot a bug or two.

Alfonso Barnes

Alfonso was born in Salamanca, Spain; and was raised in the most beautiful country in the world, Panamá. He came to Cincinnati as a teenager and graduated from Finneytown High School. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. Alfonso was the Program Coordinator for Language Training at Cincilingua Language Services, Inc., Cincinnati, OH for 20 years. He has taught Spanish for many years. Alfonso can be found doing volunteer work around the city, enjoying the outdoors, Reds games, Bearcat Football, performing Panamanian folk dances with Que Lindo es Panamá, and pretending to dance Salsa.

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!

Chelsea Borgman

Chelsea Borgman is an artist and educator. She received her masters degree in Art Education and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Penn State University and her bachelors in Studio Art from Kenyon College. She was the 2019 recipient of the Judy Chicago Art Education Award. Chelsea teaches a variety of art classes at Leaves of Learning and has experience teaching across age groups and contexts. She was a teacher and gallery coordinator at Brazee Street Studios for 6 years, where she taught children and adults glass fusing techniques. Chelsea has also worked as an educator in art museums, galleries, and schools. She is passionate about learning and experimenting through art-making.

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.

Shawn Braley

Shawn is the Co-Founder of the multi- Emmy-Winning non-profit Cincy Stories, where he is involved in crafting the stories of the folks who call Cincinnati home. Through this work, he coaches everyday folks on how to better craft their stories and tell them on stage around the city. In addition to hosting events and coaching storytellers, Cincy Stories produces a PBS series and short films based on greater Cincinnati residents. His passion for storytelling and helping others understand the ways we both engage with the stories of our neighbors and embrace our own stories has been a driving force for this work. Being a part of the Leaves of Learning team and helping students better understand and craft stories is a huge honor for him.

Donald Broerman

Donald Broerman, a Cincinnati native, earned his BM in Classical Guitar Performance at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) under the direction of Clare Callahan, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2013. He has also studied with David Case at the University of Oregon (School of Music), as well as, Jazz guitar with Mike Denny and Chris Sorenson and started his training at the Musical Arts Center in Cincinnati. His high school rock band also won first place in the High School Band Challenge and fourth place in the Battle of the Bands at Bogarts. During his time at CCM, Mr. Broerman performed in master classes from internationally acclaimed artists such Oscar Ghiglia, David Russell, Robert Belinic and Rupert Boyd and participated in classes given by Zoran Dukic, Marcin Dylla, Carlos Perez, Johannes Möller, Daniel Lippel and others. Coruses completed for degree include: Guitar Pedagogy, Guitar repertoire and History, Guitar Ensemble. Donald is an active composer, whose compositions are primarily solo guitar works. He briefly studied composition with Terry McQuilken at the University of Oregon, Orchestration at CCM and private lessons with Jennifer Jolley (Composition Professor at Ohio Wesleyan, President and Co-founder of N.A.N.O. Works Opera Company). A budding interest in this field has led to performances of his own works at CCM’s Something Different, Classical Revolution and a commission by The Ascend Project. Mr. Broerman serves the community through his work in non-profits. He is the current President of Greater Cincinnati Guitar Society, as well as, a member and guitar adjudicator for the Ohio Music Educators Association. Donald is a dedicated pedagogue. His students have won gold medals in the Royal Conservatory of Music examinations. He currently teaches at Indian Springs Academy of Music, Wyoming Fine Arts Center and Northern Kentucky School of Music and is a co-director of and instructor for the CCM Guitar Youth Workshop.

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

Allison is an enthusiastic life-long and self-directed learner and encouraged those around her to do the same. She has an equal amount of corporate (GE - Cincinnati) and community volunteer (Scouts, schools, church) experience. Currently, she enjoys the freedom of freelancing and is associated with Xavier Leadership Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute as well as Leaves of Learning. BS Metallurgical Engineering, Iowa State University, MBA, Xavier University, PE License, MBTI Certified, Six Sigma, LEAN, Managerial Coaching, Awards for Youth Leadership. She is proud mom to Gwen (Masters Degree Structural Engineering, Case Western University), Burke (BA MAth/MMSS/Econ, Northwestern University), Drew (Madeira High School) and multiple dogs. She has lived in six countries (so far) and visited all continents except Antarctica and survived speaking German and French.

Laurel Fiorelli

Laurel Fiorelli coaches students to grow a love for Spanish at Leaves of Learning. She enjoys learning about other cultures, immersion-style travel, and spending time with her family and friends. Her relationship with Spanish has taken her on many adventures and opened many doors, and she looks forward to sharing that enthusiasm and those opportunities with her students. Previously, Laurel worked at Sojourners and at The Global Fund for Children in Washington, DC., taught in international schools in Ecuador and in Saudi Arabia, studied in Mexico and in Uganda, and worked with international students and service-learning programs at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and at St. Ursuline Academy locally. She holds a B.S. in journalism and an M.A. in international development.

Becky Flanagan

Becky has returned to Leaves in a new capacity as a staff member who has many roles and responsibilities. As a former teacher of American Sign Language and interpreter, she might be caught signing with students at lunch or in the hallways. Her current responsibilities include coordinating school event calendars, sending electronic communications, installing printed event posters, working with the hospitality team, planning and overseeing student parties, dances, performances and other events and posting on social media and occasionally substituting in the classrooms. She attended California State University Northridge (CSUN) graduating with her degree in Deaf Studies and later studied linguistics at Gallaudet University. She worked as a freelance sign language interpreter in Los Angeles and Washington, DC for business, government and educational events before becoming a business owner (Signing Safari) and teacher at Leaves of Learning. She has 3 children in college; two attended Leaves during their elementary and middle school years. She enjoys getting to know the teachers, staff, students and families that make Leaves of Learning such a unique place.

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.

Kelly Hilgeman

Kelly is a graduate of Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She has taught for thirteen years in Northwest Local School District. During that time, she taught all subject areas and all grade levels but spent a majority of the time teaching language arts and math for third grade. After having her fourth baby boy, Kelly stayed home to focus on her family. Now, she is excited to join the Leaves of Learning team and to get back into the classroom. Kelly brings an enthusiasm for educating and enriching young students and inspiring them to have a love for learning.

Julia Jackson

Julia received her undergraduate degree in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Dayton and a Master’s degree in elementary education from DePaul University. After teaching kindergarten in Chicago for 6 years, she relocated to Cincinnati in 2013. For the past 7 years, Julia has been raising two daughters as well as running her family owned service technician dispatch company. She loves traveling, cooking and spending time with her family. She is thrilled to join the Leaves team this year to provide a unique, challenging and fun experience in the classroom.

Trelan Jones

Known for her talents as a whimsical collage artist with a self-reflective vision and approach to fine art and art education, it is no surprise to some that Trelan Jones is a highly talented studio artist, Smithsonian recruited, and an art educational professional. Her unorthodox and intricate mixed media artwork and creativity have made her a highly sought after artist and art educator. In 2004, she graduated with a BFA in Painting and Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia. Additionally, she possesses an Art Education Licensure and studies toward an MFA from the University of Cincinnati DAPP, Cincinnati, Ohio. Soon after undergrad, Trelan continued her work as a studio artist and began substitute teaching. She has experience teaching in the Indian Hill Primary and Princeton High School Districts, and as a Resident Art Teacher at Wyoming Middle School. Similarly, she has taught private art classes for young people and adults for over ten years. Trelan incorporates STEM into art instruction through mixed media exploration, painting, collage, use of color, drawing, photography, commercial art, installation art and art history. She is an advocate of self-reflection and fun in her classroom and utilizes oral presentations and creative group critique methods for class assessments. In her spare time, she enjoys hosting fun, art classes with her girlfriends in her front yard, flea-marketing, art show exhibitions, and spending time with family.

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.

Joe Kozak

Born in Philadelphia, PA (and a huge Eagles fan) Joe is proud to be a recent addition to the Leaves of Learning family! He graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in History. After calling Chicago home for ten years (Go Cubs) he met and married Elizabeth, the love of his life, but they soon relocated to Cincinnati, where they now share a house with two cats and a baby to be named later. He has taught some fun classes over the years including History, Reading, Mythology, Film Analysis, and Drama, and is happy to be adding Psychology and Law and Speech and Debate to the mix this year. When he is not teaching or directing at Leaves of Learning, he enjoys acting in community theatre. His theatre credits include “Paul” in Barefoot in the Park, “Gus” in It’s Only A Play, “Uncle Louie” in Lost in Yonkers, “Sidney” in the Stagecrafter’s production of Catch Me If You Can and “Owen” in the Beechmont Players’ production of The Foreigner. Joe looks forward to meeting all of the families and staff associated with the school, and is excited for the new school year.

Elena Licu

Elena has lived on two continents, has attended school in three countries, and she is fluent in four languages. She loves to cook and bake for her family and friends, listens to chamber music, and enjoys jogging with her amazing LOL Runner’s Club students, or in the company of her two dogs: Rosa, an intelligent and intuitive Collie-mix rescue, and Deja, a giant, loving, and protective German Shepherd. Elena attended Law School in Bucharest, Romania, where she was born and raised. In Vancouver, Canada, her second home, Elena continued her studies at Simon Fraser University, where she focused on Criminology and Law. She married, and followed her husband, Dragos, to Cincinnati, Ohio, when he graduated and landed an engineering job in Aviation, at GE. Elena was offered a full merit scholarship to attend graduate school at University of Cincinnati, where she earned her MS in Criminal Justice. As a doctoral student at UC, Elena taught Research Methods and Statistics for Social Sciences on campus, as well as facilitated distance learning classes for Criminal Justice graduate students. She conducted research, reviewed for the Security Journal, and published work in the areas of International Crime, Victimization, and Statistics, and Workplace Violence. When her first daughter was born, Elena became a stay-at-home- and homeschooling mom. In 2012, Elena joined the Leaves of Learning community. Her two daughters, Julia, and Lara, are home-schooled and attend LOL. Elena began working at Leaves of Learning as lunch duty coordinator, but education is her true love! She is honored and excited to share her passion for learning and discovery with her students. Elena is looking forward to a great year at Leaves.

Julie Locker

Julie Locker earned her B.A. in Performing & Media Arts from Cornell University and her M.A. in Acting from East 15 Acting School in London, where she had the opportunity to complete a residency at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and wrote her thesis about Lady Macbeth. In her first year after grad school, she performed in The Winter’s Tale and Macbeth at Richmond Shakespeare Festival and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Actor’s Theatre of Columbus in addition to teaching at Town Hall Theatre in Dayton. She moved to Cincinnati for the acting internship at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where she is now a teaching artist. She also teaches with Pones and Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and additionally tutors academic subjects and SAT/ACT test prep.

Sarah Mahoney

Coming soon!

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.

Tiffany Medcalf

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.

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.

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

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.

Justine Patton

I am a Cincinnati native and have my B.A in Montessori Education from Xavier University. My husband and I have 4 and 6 year old sons. I have been on hiatus from teaching for the past 4 years to enjoy my family. I am excited to return! Montessori is a way of life for me. I have been a Montessori Teacher for 18 years. I love to watch the progression of children through the 3 year cycle. It is so wonderful to not only watch but participate in their development. By the time they complete the cycle, they have grown into confident, capable, curious and caring people. I treasure being apart of the process. I am so happy to have to opportunity to work at Leaves of Learning.

Layla Reed

Layla is an e-RYT 500 yoga teacher who has been teaching yoga for over eleven years. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and from Wright State University with a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught fifth and sixth grade for a few years before finding her calling teaching yoga. Layla loves creating community and connecting with people. Her classes reflect her welcoming and inclusive style. She is excited to invite Leaves of Learning students to the mat and explore all yoga has to offer. Her personal yoga practice is rooted in mindfulness, meditation, movement, and Ayurveda. Off the mat, Layla loves to cook, read, travel, listen to music, garden, bicycle, and hike. She and her husband adore their grey pitbull named Byrd.

Chris Santoro

Chris Santoro has been with Leaves for most of our 22 years. Her two boys were part of Leaves for the first seven years until they left to play baseball at Madeira. While Philip and Ryan attended Leaves, Chris was assistant director and substitute teacher. Over the years she's been involved in just about every part of our program. Chris has a degree in Communications from The Ohio University and runs an organizational business called 99Organize. She has 20 years of experience in marketing and copywriting. Her real love is history and writing, and working with kids, especially teens. Chris and her husband Bob live in Madeira surrounded by an overwhelming garden that she has no one to blame for but herself.

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.

Alex Schrank

Alex joined the Leaves of Learning family as a student when he was ten years old and graduated from Leaves in 2014. He continued his education at George Washington University where he is graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Journalism this May. During his time in the nation's capital, he worked with multiple political campaigns and organizations to develop communications strategies and brand identities. He has studied under Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and reported on subjects such as deceptive charter school marketing practices and federal regulations on cargo airlines. Alex's hobbies include reading, graphic design, following the news, and writing letters the old-fashioned way. He's thrilled to be bringing the exciting world of government, global politics, and media to Leaves this year.

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

Dr. David Stark is returning for his fourth year at Leaves of Learning. He is a trained and published historian, with a PhD (2011) from the University of Manchester (England). He grew up In Nashville, TN, just within walking distance of 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. He has also earned an undergraduate (2004) and two masters degrees in the fields of Philosophy and Religion (2007), and, just for good measure, a third masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington (2007). David was an All-State and Academic All-American basketball player in high school and college. Dr. Stark has seven years of experience teaching and coaching at private schools in the Kansas City and Cincinnati areas, namely: The Barstow School, The Seven Hills School and Leaves of Learning. He incorporates interactive and student-driven educational practices into his teaching methodology and expects a high level of in-class participation from his students. Outside of Leaves, David manages the Strauss Gallery, The Strauss Gift Shop and the Artspace Hamilton Lofts in Hamilton, OH. He enjoys the arts (both creating and curating), playing golf, basketball and board games.

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.

Anna Wieters

Anna Wieters is an American Sign Language Interpreter in the Greater Cincinnati and Tri-State area. She graduated from Cincinnati State from the Interpreter Training Program in 2017. She has continued her education at Wright State University and will graduate with her B.S. in ASL Interpreting May 2021. Her fun, high spirited energy draws students of all ages into learning this new language in a - quite literal - hands-on experience! Her interpreting has brought her into environments such as hospitals, doctors' offices, religious events, schools, performances, business meetings, Deafblind clients, and much more! She has worked with children teaching dance, childcare at church, and summer camps. She is looking forward to teaching students ASL while also instilling an appreciation for the rich Deaf community that thrives around us.