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.
Ms. Brown holds a Bachelor in Elementary Education and is pursuing her Master in Instructional Design. Previously, she worked in public schools for six years, of that, five years were at Fairfax County. She also has experience teaching dance and color guard to high school students.
Ms. Brown is thrilled to teach at BASIS Independent McLean to provide learners with a foundation and passion to love learning. She believes that everyone can love learning with the right support, guidance, and tools. She shares the same beliefs as BASIS Independent Schools, including creating the love of learning to create forever learners.
During Ms. Brown’s free time, she likes to spend time with her husband and son by exploring new places to eat. She also enjoys singing and dancing to her record collection. “There’s a song for everyone,” says Ms. Brown.
Ms. Chatpolarak graduated with a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Ashland University in Ohio and earned a business degree in Thailand. She worked in the marketing field for several years before switching her career to teaching in order to spend more time with children – including her children. She has been an assistant teacher, substitute teacher, and a parent volunteer.
“I love teaching because one can be a role model by offering a guiding hand when a child is in need of learning or emotional support, enabling them to flourish,” says Ms. Chatpolarak. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking for family and friends, watching TV, and also traveling.
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 once they have left BASIS Independent McLean. While at Old Dominion University Mr. Coquelin played ice hockey, Swam on the club Swim team, and started the Triathlon Club. He graduated from Old Dominion University with a B.S. in Physical Education
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 15 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!”
Ms. Darwiche joins BASIS Independent with seven years’ experience as a kindergarten teacher. Ms. Darwiche was the kindergarten teacher at First Steps Academy, McLean for six years, and most recently she helped run a kindergarten classroom newly created because of the pandemic at a private school in Arlington.
Ms. Darwiche has a B.S. in Architecture from the Lebanese University of Fine Arts, A.S. in Early Childhood Development from NOVA and an International Montessori Teaching Diploma from the NAMC.
Ms. Darwiche is excited to join BASIS Independent McLean because of her passion for working with children from diverse backgrounds, helping them feel honored in the class environment and learning from them about their unique experience, all while creating a classroom community that helps every child in the class learn and feel special.
Ms. Darwiche believes that creating a good relationship between the teacher and the student is key to helping the child advance academically as well as gain the important social and emotional skills. During her free time Ms. Darwiche enjoys reading, listening to music and photography.
Prior to moving into education, Mrs. Echandia spent 10 years in the law field. After moving from Colombia to Virginia, she decided to make a change into education in order to spend more time with her daughter. Since she started at BASIS Independent McLean she has discovered her passion for teaching children and says she couldn’t imagine going back to law. In addition to previously teaching Late Bird and Language and Literacy, she is also a proud BASIS Independent McLean parent. Ms. Echandia holds degrees from the Universidad del Rosario and Universidad Sergio Arboleda (Colombia).
Ms. Glanzer was a founding member of BASIS Independent Manhattan in 2017. There she taught music in the lower school and was the musical director for Drama Club productions. Previously at BIM, she has taught Performing Arts to Toddlers through Kindergarten.
Prior to teaching at BASIS Independent School, she ran her own company doing musical parties for children all over New Jersey, was a music teaching artist for area preschools and camps, and has two children’s music CDs, one of which earned her a Parents Choice Award. She also started a children’s theater company called All About Acting. She holds a M.A.T. in Early Childhood Education from Montclair State University and a B.F.A. in Acting and Directing from Syracuse University.
Last year, she moved to Virginia with her husband of 27 years. Her son is the Computer Science teacher at BIM, and her daughter graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.
Dylan has a passion for teaching young people and wants to inspire confidence and cooperation through the performing arts. She loves reading, drinking coffee, and spending time with her husband and family.
Ms. Hoyt has a Bachelor of Science in Health Science Education from the University of Florida. She dedicated several years to working in non-profit organizations in Chile and Brazil, learning Spanish and Portuguese along the way. After obtaining certification from the American Board, Ms. Hoyt has spent the last six years teaching kindergarten and preschool, including three years at BASIS International School Guangzhou. Mr. Hoyt has been married for 18 years and has two children, Maya and John. She enjoys hiking, playing racquetball, and painting in her free time.
Mr. Hoyt is excited about this school year as she hopes to bring her passion for early education to her students watching them come to life with the love of learning.
Monterey Peninsula College, Music Degree
Strayer University, Business Administration with a Focus in Finance
Mr. Junsay has taught for more than 10 years in public and private schools, assisted in directing and teaching two high school bands, and was recently the head of the music department at Edlin School in Reston, VA.
Mr. Junsay grew up in Monterey, California where he first experienced music in fourth grade. His first instrument that he learned to play was the clarinet. In middle school, Mr. Junsay moved to the bass clarinet, and it became his main instrument. In high school, Mr. Junsay became the drum major in his sophomore year. He remained drum major for the marching band and pep bands for three years. Mr. Junsay was also fortunate to get to have the experience of student teaching and conducting. Mr. Junsay also ran and managed his own Christmas chamber band in which he toured all over the Monterey Peninsula with in high school.
He has worked with students from preschool through eighth grade. He has 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 a capella ensembles 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 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 moved to Virginia in 2012. Now with two step children, a black Labrador/English setter named Maya, and his partner. Mr. Junsay is very happy living on the East Coast. He loves to decorate for any event or holiday, especially Halloween!
Born and raised in Maryland, Ms. Kenyon’s early experiences in the classroom were influenced by the innovative ideas of Reggio Emilia, Italy and The Project Approach curricula. With over 20 years of experience as an early childhood educator, she strives to partner with families as a nurturing, respectful, and available guide for young children while they explore their growing world in safety and build their knowledge through joyful experience. Valuing young children’s social-emotional development as the foundation of all learning, she maintains a continuous focus on strengthening emotional regulation skills and positive social behaviors in the classroom community.
She has taught in a wide variety of early care and education settings, including a university laboratory school, Head Start program, center-based child care and family child care in her own home. Most recently, Ms. Kenyon has had the privilege to serve other early childhood educators as a mentor, instructional coach, and professional development provider. Her years in a support role have given her deepened knowledge of the profession and an eye for continuous improvement; she is honored to be teaching in the classroom again at BASIS Independent McLean.
Ms. Kenyon is currently finishing her graduate degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She holds an M.Ed. in Leadership, Policy, and Advocacy for Early Childhood from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland.
Ms. Kim has been teaching for six years as a substitute teacher, math competition coach, and Science Olympiad coach. Originally from Seoul, Korea, she moved to the US to further her studies; she earned an Art Education degree at Korea University in South Korea and an Interior Design degree in Illinois Institute of Chicago. Prior to teaching, Ms. Kim worked as an interior designer. Then as she volunteered at her children’s school, she fell in love with teaching and transitioned careers. She says, “I am so excited to join such an amazing team. I love teaching and helping students reach their full potential.” When not at work, she enjoys playing piano, reading, decorating her house, solving math problems, and cooking for family and friends.
Previously, Ms. Soylu Kucuk was a Leopard Cubs Instructor at The Langley School, where she planned, prepared, and delivered age-appropriate activities to children from infant to age 3. As a Turkish foreign language teacher for elementary school children, she taught students to not only learn the language, but promoted cross-cultural understanding. Ms. Kucuk holds a Business Administration degree from the University of Baltimore.
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.
Mr. Morris received a B.A. degree from St. John’s College, after studying liberal arts. After graduating, he moved on to teach fifth grade at a Great Hearts charter school in Arizona. Then he moved on to teaching third grade at a BASIS Charter school for five years. He is excited to teach kindergarten students this year and is thrilled to be back on the East Coast.
Ms. Niciphor is excited to join BASIS Independent McLean as a PreK Teaching Fellow. She has years of experience working with young children who have a variety of learning abilities. Prior to joining the BIM team, Ms. Niciphor coordinated early intervention services for children from birth to age three.
Ms. Niciphor’s goal is to define each child’s unique learning style and help them reach their full potential. She believes that creative expression is a key to unlocking the love for learning! She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a focus in Childhood Studies from Christopher Newport University.
Outside of work, Ms. Niciphor continues her lifelong passion for dance and has experience in teaching, choreographing, and performing.
Ms. Ordonez was born and raised in Colombia, South America, where she got her degree in graphic design at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Bogota. Some years after, life took her to start working as a teacher in the same school where she graduated, and that’s when 13 years ago, she started this amazing career and fell in love with kids. She taught IT, graphic design, and arts to elementary and high school students in private schools. She was lead teacher for grades 11 and 12 and was in charge of the school yearbook as a designer.
In 2015, she got married and moved to the United States. When her daughter was born, she started working in a daycare with the 2-year-old children; that way she could be closer to her daughter, too. After four years, she is now excited to be part of BASIS Independent McLean, where she can continue leaving a mark on children’s lives and train them with love and dedication for their future.
Ms. Ordonez loves to travel, watch movies with her husband and daughter, go to the beach, gather with friends and family, and listen to Latin music that reminds her of her country. She also loves to do art and crafts, lettering, and jewelry.
Ms. Sanders is a passionate and dedicated role model, who brings more than 13 years of experience, knowledge and expertise in early childhood education. Utilizing her Bachelor Degree in Computer Science from the University of Economics (Bulgaria) to dive in and use data on daily basis, she develops and foster rigorous, engaging and fun experience for the little ones. Originally from Bulgaria, she speaks, understands or reads four languages, loves spending time with family and friends, and playing volleyball.
Ms. Sharma has previously worked at child development centers helping young children through their daily routines and activities to ensure their growth. She holds an M.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in English and Sociology, both from Tribhuvan University (Nepal). Prior to living in the US, she lived in Nepal, and she worked with older children and young people in various behavior change communication initiatives through an international non-governmental organization. She has also been a radio presenter and producer in Nepal.
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 Grade 2 and PreK-1 with DCPS. Mrs. Smith was part of the founding PreK-1 team at KIPP D.C.: Discover Academy in Anacostia, where she was the department chair (2013-2017) and the Teacher to Teacher award recipient (2016). She holds an M.Ed. from George Mason University in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction and a B.A. from Roberts Wesleyan College in Communications.
Ms. Smith joined BASIS Independent McLean in 2017 and her deepest desire as an educator is to provide a joyful 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 expectations they are able to access accelerated opportunities and develop as the change-agents of our future.
Ms. Smith has taught the PreK-2 Protons (2017-2020) and has now found her happy place in Kindergarten Nitrogen (2020-present). She considers it a great privilege to partner with families and enjoys the opportunity to teach the younger siblings and cousins of former students now that she is in her fifth year at BASIS Independent McLean. In her free time, Ms. Smith loves to travel, host events, and cheer for the Washington Nationals (#natitude). She is also a fitness enthusiast, in part, to offset her husband’s gourmet cooking. Most significantly, she is mama to Elsa, a BIM student.
Mr. Taylor previously worked as a teacher assistant in the physical education and math department at Marley Middle School. He holds a B.S. in kinesiology from Frostburg State University. While in college, he competed in football, earning 1st Team All-Conference and Honorable Mention All-Region awards representing the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
Since graduating, he spent the past three seasons coaching high school football. Before working in education, he was a sports performance coach and held a division I athletic internship with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Over the summers, he leads the multi-sports camp for a summer camp in Maryland.
His goal at BASIS Independent McLean is to connect with as many students as possible while engaging with them through physical education. He is also excited to add to our student-athletes athletics experience and continue to grow BASIS Independent McLean athletics
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 high school students. Ms. Tozzi holds a M.A. in Education, specializing in Elementary Education from New York University and a B.A. in English and Literature from National Taiwan University.
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!
Ms. Turner joined the BASIS Independent McLean team after serving as an Early Childhood Master Teacher for a pubic charter school in Washington, DC over the 14 years. During her tenure, she created amazing learning opportunities for students. Some of the tools that she utilized included coordinating demonstrations of learning, parent workshops and constructing centers that help develop student’s thoughts, ideas and activities that can expand on a child’s interest. Ms. Turner also served as the Early Childhood Team Leader, where she conducted team meetings, collaborated with lesson planning, reviewed data and organized school/classroom activities and events for students and families. She holds a B.S. in Human Ecology, concentration in Early Childhood, from University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.
Ms. Turner is excited to become a part of the BASIS Independent McLean team and is looking forward to meeting her students for the 2021-2022 school year. She believes that every child learns at different paces and it is her responsibility as an educator to provide safe, fun, and adventurous opportunities in order to help her students learn and grow. “You can’t rush something you want to last forever!”
Ms. Turner lives with her husband and is a “BoyMom” of four awesome boys. During her leisure time she enjoys event planning, traveling, and spending quality time with her family. Ms. Turner also collects candles, which provides her relaxation and comfort.
Ms. Vu has worked with children for several years at a daycare in Virginia. She holds a degree from Phan Dang Liu High School in Vietnam. Ms. Vu enjoys working with all children, but especially the younger ones! She hopes she can contribute to making BASIS Independent McLean a better place for everyone. When not at school, Ms. Vu also enjoys spending time with her family, which includes a son and a puppy named Oreo.