There are at least two teachers in every Early Learning Program classroom. Each Early Learning Teacher (ELT) owns a different content area—one focuses on Literacy, and the other focuses on Math/Science. Early Learning Program classrooms also share Early Learning Teaching Fellows (ELTF). The Early Learning Teachers are the primary teachers in the classroom whereas the Teaching Fellows play supporting roles to the Early Learning Teachers and often are in training to become a full teacher. For certain courses, a Subject Expert Teacher (SET) will push into the room to deliver content, and for others, an ELT or an ELTF will accompany students to an SET’s classroom.
Savannah College of Art and Design, BFA in Historic Preservation and Architectural History
Prior to finding a passion for education, Ms. Cherit worked for seven years as a designer at an architectural and design firm in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Chetrit was then drawn to a career in education and received her Early Childhood Education Teaching Certification from the KIPP DC Capital Teaching Residency Program. During her residency year, Ms. Chetrit taught prekindergarten at a KIPP D.C. and later served as a lead early education art and literacy intervention teacher at the same school.
Ms. Chetrit’s goal as an early childhood teacher at BASIS Independent McLean is to “create a loving, nurturing and inspiring school experience for young children, to teach children to care and to use their imaginations to explore, create, and problem-solve.”
Ms. Chetrit admires BASIS Independent McLean’s commitment to teaching students to become independent learners and good citizens inside and outside the classroom. She is originally from Northern California and Austin, Texas, but has lived in Washington, DC for over a decade. She loves experimenting with messy art projects, silly dance parties, and exploring nature with her son and husband.
Old Dominion University, B.S. in Physical Education
Before joining the BASIS Independent family, Mr. Coquelin served as a professional bike fitter and swim coach for the 8 and Under group at York Swimming.
He was attracted to BASIS Independent McLean because he wanted to be a part of an emerging school and help influence the way students look at moving. One of Mr. Coquelin’s primary objectives is that students will want to continue to enjoy being active on a daily basis.
While at Old Dominion University Mr. Coquelin played ice hockey, a sport he still plays today. For the past 10 years, he has also competed in triathlons and is a certified triathlon coach and personal trainer.
George Mason University, B.A. in Integrative Studies, Concentration in Liberal arts for Education PreK-Grade 3
Before joining BASIS Independent McLean, Ms. Darby taught for more than 12 years in private school: “My background has taught me that each classroom embodies a community of diverse learners, which requires educators to incorporate multiple teaching methodologies.”
Her goal at BASIS Independent McLean is to leverage these methodologies to promote an environment in which students learn to be inquisitive and curious, utilizing logic and their senses as tools for navigating through life.
Ms. Darby chose BASIS Independent McLean because of the strong emphasis placed on creative thinking and problem solving, preparing students to excel and succeed across all academic areas: “Within my classroom walls every child will develop confidence, while learning to collaborate effectively with others. An engaging, fun, and supportive learning environment enables each child to grow and flourish, ultimately preparing them to be successful and caring members of society.”
Ms. Darby enjoys photography, reading, and traveling with her husband. She has a passion for the arts and believes every child is indeed an artist! “When a child’s creativity and passions are fostered, the sky is the limit!”
Centria University of Applied Sciences in Finland, Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Management
Concordia University Portland, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction specializing in Mathematics
During the 2015-16 school year, Ms. Dedman taught grade 4 math and science and Mandarin at BASIS Flagstaff in Arizona.
Ms. Dedman’s goal as a teacher is to develop students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills. She is excited to share her passion for engineering with her students. Ms. Dedman enjoys dancing, travelling, and reading outside of class.
University of Virginia, B.A. in Psychology
Prior to working with BASIS Independent McLean, Ms. Forino worked at a therapeutic residential school in Keswick, VA. She is excited to bring her experiences and education to the Early Learning classroom to help the students grow throughout the year.
One of the things that most attracted Ms. Forino to BASIS Independent McLean is the priority the students receive in the classroom. She loves how the teachers are dedicated to their students’ successes and inspire growth in the classroom.
Ms. Forino is currently working towards her Master of Education degree, with a concentration in Educational Psychology Social Foundations. New to the Northern Virginia/D.C. area, Ms. Forino love to explore new restaurants, museums, and national sites. She is still finding new and exciting activities to discover in the area, and appreciates all recommendations!
George Mason University, B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation
Liberty University, M.A. in Teaching Elementary Education, in progress
Ms. Hopchas has previously been a PreK and Kindergarten teacher, and most recently an elementary school intervention teacher in public school and private organizations. She is excited to work with our earliest learners at BASIS Independent McLean. During her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Siberian husky, attending farmer’s markets, and driving through the country.
Virginia State University, B.S. in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in Family, Child, and Community Services
Before to joining BASIS Independent McLean, Ms. Johnson taught Pre-Kindergarten for two years in a private school where she maintained a positive learning environment that promoted the academic and physical development of all students. She also worked as a teacher for the Learning is Fun Too (L.I.F.T) program where she guided students toward success by providing academic support for the upcoming school year. In this role, Ms. Johnson served as a resource to students by helping them understand the importance of educational and career choices.
In her free time, Ms. Johnson enjoys coaching her all-star cheerleading team.
Monterey Peninsula College, Music Degree
Strayer University, Business Administration, in progress
Mr. Junsay has taught for more than six years in public and private schools, assisted in directing and teaching two high school bands, and was recently head of the music department at Edlin School in Reston, VA.
He has worked with students from preschool through eighth grade. He recently created an advanced music curriculum through which students learned to use the tools and elements of music theory and music appreciation (many of which are often not typically introduced until college) and apply them to their everyday lives.
Mr. Junsay’s interests and experience extend well beyond the classroom. In addition to directing bands at a variety of levels, he has also directed an a capella group and numerous children’s theatre performances. Whether as a director, choreographer, set-, light-, or costume-designer, he enjoys creating opportunities for children to use their talents and imaginations.
What particularly excites Mr. Junsay about teaching at BASIS Independent McLean is the school’s commitment to allowing students to choose the path where they are comfortable and confident. Giving children the right tools and encouraging them to use them in concert with their own imagination, opens up a world of possibilities. Mr. Junsay also appreciates that BASIS Independent McLean focuses on the whole child; the STEAM curriculum allows students to make connections and experiment with ideas that might not have otherwise been sparked. He believes this is the foundation a child needs to gain self-confidence and a desire to learn more.
Mr. Junsay loves to cook; his specialty dish is his creamy chicken alfredo with garlic cheese bread and balsamic vinegar zucchini salad. He also loves to decorate for any event or holiday, especially Halloween!
University of Central Florida, B.S. in Early Childhood Education
During the summer of 2012, Ms. Kimbrough studied abroad in Reggio Emilia, where she gained an understanding of an approach to educating young children through the arts and sciences. Ms. Kimbrough has taught kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 3, and has endorsements in Educating Students of Other Languages and reading.
Ms. Kimbrough was attracted to the faculty expertise at BASIS Curriculum Schools, but most notably the opportunity to challenge students through innovation and creativity. At BASIS Curriculum McLean, students are constantly given the opportunity to succeed with various open-ended activities, as well as hands-on learning experiences. She believes that allowing students to take ownership over their education gives them confidence and instills an excitement for learning.
Ms. Kimborough is enthusiastic about health and fitness, as well as music. She was born and raised in Winter Park, FL.
Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, Milan, Italy in Fine Arts
Originally from Milan, Italy, Ms. Mauri has lived in Milan and Perugia, as well as London and New York. In addition to her degree, she studied illustration at Chelsea College of Art, London, and painting and drawing at the Art Students League of New York, NY. She has exhibited her artwork in group shows in England, Italy and New York, NY.
Committed to the arts and teaching, she most recently worked as a graphic illustrator, art teacher, and special education needs teacher at The International School of Europe of Monza, Italy. She has also worked in printmaking and as a textile designer for two New York–based companies.
Ms. Mauri is enthusiastic about BASIS Independent McLean because it offers students and teachers a wonderfully stimulating environment where all students can be challenged to express their full potential. Her goal as a BASIS Independent McLean teacher is to embrace this challenge and offer her students an opportunity to develop their creativity, to express themselves, and become confident and balanced individuals able to tackle and solve a range of tasks from different perspectives.
She loves travelling and experiencing new cultures and lifestyles, as well as art, design, architecture, outdoors activities, yoga and, last but not least, spending time with her family. Among the most unusual thing Ms. Mauri has ever done was to be the bass player of a band, which she enjoyed enormously except for experiencing stage fright before each single concert.
Rider University, B.A. in Theatre Performance and English Literature with a minor in Dance
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, M.A.
Returning to her native Worcester, MA, after graduate school, she became the full-time substitute teacher at Burncoat Middle School, while also teaching ballet technique at Greendale Dance Academy and acting at the Stoneham Theatre Company.
Specializing in theatre movement, Ms. Michalak’s teaching draws from a curiosity about using physicality to communicate a story. She hopes that all of her students can use theatre and acting to become confident individuals who can joyfully express their ideas and form a creative community. She chose to join BASIS Independent McLean to share her passion for the performing arts with dedicated students and faculty in an environment of encouragement and academic integrity.
Outside of class, Ms. Michalak enjoys taking dance classes, hiking, and finding new coffee shops.
James Madison University, B.A. in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies with a concentration in Inclusive Early Childhood Education
James Madison University, M.A. in Teaching in Inclusive Early Childhood Education
Previously, Ms. Moomaw worked at Westhampton Day School as a pre-kindergarten teacher. She was attracted to BASIS Independent McLean because of its wonderful reputation and its rigorous early education curriculum. Ms. Moomaw enjoys teaching young students because of their innate curiosity and their hands-on approach to learning. She loves the “lightbulb moments” in the classroom where the students are able to feel confident and take control of their learning.
When Ms. Moomaw is not in the classroom, she enjoys cooking and trying new recipes.
Ms. Royal has been working with children for more than 20 years. She loves to work with young children because they are always excited to learn and inevitably teach her so much. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland University College and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Grand Canyon University. Previously, she has been a PreK teacher and a live-in childcare provider.
Elizabethtown College, B.S. in Elementary and Special Education
Prior to joining BASIS Independent McLean as a Kindergarten Learning Expert Teacher, Ms. Sarver has taught and served as a learning specialist and special education teacher in elementary programs in Virginia, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
“Teaching is in my soul,” she says, “and my true love for teaching lies in the early learning years. I yearn to cultivate the wonder and awe present in each child with exploration and creativity in my classroom.”
Ms. Sarver describes herself as a teacher, a visionary, a dreamer, and a leader. “As a kindergarten educator,” she says, “I can provide a young student with the confidence and enthusiasm necessary to learn about the world in which they are such a vital part.”
Ms. Sarver infuses her passion for learning and teaching into all areas of her life. She enjoys cooking, reading, and both practicing and teaching yoga. She has an insatiable quest for knowledge, to learn, to go, to do, and to make each day just a little bit better for as many people as she can.
University of South Carolina, B.A. in Sociology
Christchurch College of Education (New Zealand), M.A. in Primary Education
Ms. Setty’s first taste of teaching was as part of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program, where she spent two years in rural Japan teaching English to elementary and middle school students. After returning to the U.S., Ms. Setty taught in a grades 3 and 4 classroom in a private school in Annandale, VA. After the birth of her first daughter, Ms. Setty made the switch to preschool. She taught in a private preschool in Ann Arbor, MI for four years before taking a couple years off to complete the adoption process and bring her second daughter home from India. She returned to the preschool classroom in 2013 and hasn’t stepped away from the sensory table since.
Ms. Setty initially attended an information session at BASIS Independent McLean as a prospective parent and left the meeting thinking, “I want to be part of that!” She is excited to be a member of a teaching staff, which not only encourages children to ask big questions, but builds an atmosphere where teachers are encouraged and expected to ask big questions of themselves and each other. She believes that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
Ms. Setty and her family are avid travelers and they regularly return to India, the motherland of her husband and daughters. Never say “you should come visit” to her unless you are prepared for company, because she will definitely take you up on it. She and her family spend most long weekends and vacations visiting family and friends and making connections all over the United States. When she is at home, Ms. Setty enjoys growing vegetables, biking, watching her daughters play basketball, reading, and walking her dog in the woods.
Roberts Wesleyan College, B.A. in Communications
George Mason University, M.Ed. in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction
Ms. Smith began her career in education on staff with Teach For America in the Las Vegas Valley region in 2007 before moving to Washington, D.C., as a corps member, where she taught second grade and PreK. Mrs. Smith was part of the founding PreK team at KIPP D.C.: Discover Academy in Anacostia where she was grade level leader and the Teacher to Teacher award recipient in 2016.
Ms. Smith’s deepest desire as a BASIS Independent educator is to provide a joyful, safe, and learning-focused community for children so that they are empowered to be curious, motivated, and risk-takers. She believes that when students are held to high academic and behavioral expectations they are able to access accelerated opportunities and become the change-agents of our future.
In her free time, Ms. Smith is Pure Barre enthusiast, an interior and event designer side-hustler, the test-taster for all of her husband’s gourmet cooking, and, most significantly, mama to Elsa.
National Taiwan University, B.A. in English and Literature
New York University, M.A. in Education, specializing in Elementary Education
No stranger to the BASIS Curriculum Schools network, Ms. Tozzi joins BASIS Independent McLean from BASIS Scottsdale, one of the top-ranked high schools in the country, where she taught Mandarin to students in grades 9-12.
A native of Taiwan, Ms. Tozzi believes that language is the key that unlocks a culture, and is passionate about sharing the richness of Chinese language and culture with her students. One of the highlights of the year, which she and the students look forward to, is celebrating Chinese New Year – from sharing the traditional Lion Dance to eating Chinese dumplings, a special treat that also tastes great any time of the year!
Azad University, Science and Research Branch (Tehran, Iran), B.A. in French Language and Literature, specialty is French Translation
George Mason University, M.A. in Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners, specialty it Curriculum and Instruction
Following her passion for working with bilingual children, she moved to the U.S. to pursue her graduate degree. At George Mason, she won the Redjali graduate scholarship from College of Education and Human Development.
Before joining BASIS Independent McLean, she was a Head Start and VPI teacher in Alexandria, VA. She still serves as the director of Yekibood, a Saturday school for Iranian-American children in Falls Church.
Ms. Zafari’s goal as a BASIS Independent McLean educator is to create a safe, approachable, nurturing, and joyful environment that keeps the integrity of each child’s creativity and curiosity. She believes when children have opportunities to make choices in an environment which is inspiring and exciting, they are more motivated and interested to learn.
Ms. Zafari enjoys cooking, traveling, dancing, listening, and making music playlists for her friends to enjoy.