FACULTY

Our outstanding educators bring their many years of education, experience, travel, and community work into the classrooms. The faculty includes PhDs in Biology, Chemistry, and English, an MFA in Media Art and Art History, and a history instructor who has studied at Oxford and traveled in over thirty-five countries.
SARA C JOHNSON
HEAD OF SCHOOL

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JAY PUN
MUSIC

Jay Pun is a Charlottesville native who returned to the area in 2003 after graduating from Berklee College of Music (B.M. in Professional Music) in Boston.  Jay's primary instrument is guitar and he regularly performs with violinist, Morwenna Lasko as the duo "Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun."  

 

In 2009, Morwenna and Jay released their critically acclaimed CD, "Chioggia Beat" and toured extensively for 3 years all over the world including the U.S., Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands. They shared shows with a variety of great musicians including Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Julian Lage, Vusi Mahlasela, Dave Matthews Band, The Avett Brothers, Ralph Stanley, and have also played at many great venues and festivals such as The Kennedy Center, FloydFest, The Festy, and Rockflies radio broadcast (Milan, Italy).  

 

In 2014, Jay composed and scored original music with Morwenna for a film funded by NASA called "The Birth of a Star and Her Entourage" which will be shown in planetariums across the world.  Jay and Morwenna are currently finishing up work on their forthcoming CD (yet to be titled), which is set to be released this fall.  

 

Jay co-founded Fingerdance Studio with Morwenna where they teach guitar, violin, viola, bass, songwriting, and music theory.   Outside of music, Jay loves to make hot sauce, go out for sushi, and hang out with his two dogs (a Dachshund/Beagle/Coonhound mix and a Hungarian Vizsla).

Sara C. Johnson was born in Louisville, KY and graduated with honors from Indiana State University where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Art degree with a double emphasis and a minor in art history. Sara continued her studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she earned a Master of Fine Art degree. While living in Knoxville, Sara taught video and photo courses for the University of Tennessee School of Art.

Sara has been at Charlottesville's Renaissance School since 2002 when she began teaching studio art. During her years with Renaissance School, the art program has grown to include photography, integrated Art History and portfolio development work. Students have continued their studies at some of the most competitive and prestigious art schools in the nation.

In 2009, following the retirement of founding Head of School Patterson Cunningham, Sara joined the School Executive Committee as Dean of Students.  In 2011 Sara was welcomed by the Board of Directors as Renaissance School's second Head of School.  

 

Sara's life work focuses on developing educational leadership in the 21st century.  Outside of school, Sara enjoys writing, reading, running, photography, and swimming.  Above all else, Sara enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. 

 

BETHANY CARLSON
 MATHEMATICS

 

JIM RESPESS
STUDIO ART

Bethany Joy Carlson, CFA, obtained her Bachelor of Science in Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences with an Emphasis in Economics, with College Honors, and a Minor in Spanish, from the University of Washington in 2000. She is a Seattle native and enjoyed living and working in the UK, Spain, New Zealand, and Peru, as well as around the US, before moving to Charlottesville in 2010. Bethany was a NASA researcher before serving some of the largest institutional investors in the world with Mercer Investment Consulting. She is an entrepreneur and her latest venture, The Artist’s Partner, helps authors, musicians and filmmakers become publishers and producers.  Bethany is also a Casting Associate with Arvold, casting film and television such as Lincoln, Turn, and Ithaca. 

 

Bethany appreciates the Charlottesville arts community and serves on the Board of WriterHouse, as well as being actively involved in the Piedmont Council For The Arts and The Arts Incubator at The Bridge. In her spare time Bethany writes screenplays and enjoys Jansson and Murakami novels.

Jim is a Charlottesville native who has been a resident artist at the McGuffey Art Center since 1990.  He received an MFA from the Sculpture and Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989.  Jim teaches in many different venues, including Mary Baldwin College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Averett University and the Virginia Governors School for the Visual and Performing Arts.  Courses taught include Art History and Appreciation, Introductory and Intermediate Design, Introductory and Intermediate Drawing, and various levels of Sculpture.  Of particular interest is a class he taught through the Mary Baldwin Graduate Education department for more than 20 years called Inquiry in Art, where the arts are re-conceived as the core of dynamic curriculum development.

 

His sculptural work is primarily larger gallery scale objects with an emphasis on the repurposing of common materials, humor and architectural invention. Jim exhibits in many regional venues.  Some examples of his work can be seen at jimrespess.com.

 

Jim has been with his wife for 25 years, has two step-children, Damaris and Nathan, a daughter-in-law Kim, and two of the most incredibly adorable grandchildren you will ever meet (just ask him).

NELL HALLADAY
MATH & SCIENCE
ANDREA ROWLAND
ENGLISH

Dr. Nell Halladay, "Doc Nell", is originally from New Jersey where she lived for 39 years. She is a graduate from Glassboro State College with a B.S. in chemistry and also holds M.S. and Ph. D. degrees in chemistry from Seton Hall University. Following a postdoctoral position at City University of New York, Nell began a 12 year career as a pharmaceutical chemist. She switched gears in June of 2000, moved to Charlottesville, and attended the Virginia School of Massage. In 2001 Nell joined the teaching faculty at Renaissance School while earning her national certification as a massage therapist in December. She opened her massage therapy business in February 2002 and loves doing massage. She also does message therapy as a volunteer for Hospice of the Piedmont and works on both patients as well as their caregivers. She taught introductory level chemistry classes at Seton Hall University and Piedmont Virginia Community College and tutored chemistry and math at both the high school and college level. Nell enjoys reading, hiking, and gardening. She now lives in Gordonsville with her partner Walt and Abbey the cat.

Dr. Andrea Rowland has a PhD in English from the University of Virginia. She has taught at the University of Virginia, at James Madison University and at Wake Forest University. Most recently she taught for four years at Stuart Hall School in Staunton Virginia. She has directed plays by Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights with the Midsummer Players in Charlottesville and with the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton. Dr. Rowland offers theater classes in the summer at Renaissance School for various ages, including a course for teens called "Words Live."  In addition to literature and theatre, she enjoys music, food, family and humor.  Her son Liam graduated from Renaissance in 2013 and is entering his second year in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts this fall.

MARIANNE LUND
 SPANISH
ALAN STEWART
PHYSICS

Señora Lund was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in Europe, Latin America, and United States, traveling extensively since she was three years old. Languages come naturally to her and made studying literature, history, and politics a natural compliment to her life experiences.   Señora Lund graduated from Mount Holyoke with a dual degree in Latin American Literature and Politics, and minored in women’s studies.  She has a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in the Art of Teaching, and dreams of returning to complete her Masters in Latin American Literature.  Outside of the classroom Señora Lund is first and foremost a mother of four, then an avid gardener, a knitter, a cook, and an herbalist. In addition, she serves on the Board of Youth Orchestras, and The Montanova Stable Foundation.  Señora Lund has been a faculty member since 2010, and enjoys teaching Spanish Language and Literature.

Alan Stewart embraced the Charlotteville area after spending the last 34 years in Vermont, where he taught math and sciences at the elementary, high school and college levels. A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Education and a Minor in Science, and a graduate of the AP Institute of Physics,  Alan has taught a multitude of sciences ranging from Astronomy, Meteorology, Geology as well as Physics and AP Physics. In addition to his love of teaching, he enjoys composing music, gardening, woodworking, traveling, and spending time with his wife Shirley, a retired elementary administrator. He also enjoys visits with his three grown children, his grandsons Noah and Arie and playing with his golden retriever Willa!

LOU TANNER
HISTORY
ANNA MINUTELLA
SCIENCES

Mr. Tanner has been teaching History and Government at Renaissance School since its founding in 1999. After first receiving a B. A. from University of Virginia in 1975, he later studied Russian, European, and American History in Graduate School. Along the way he took or audited courses in numerous other fields as well, including Ancient, Middle Eastern, and South and East Asian History. Within a somewhat narrow range he reads widely, with interests tending to history, travel writing, biography, current affairs, and non-fiction in general. With wife Stephanie, whom he met while backpacking in Australia light years ago, he enjoys traveling, gardening (mostly as an armchair hobby--it is her passion), reading, hiking, and birdwatching. In addition, he speaks Russian and French --though only passingly--and has a smattering of Spanish and Latin. Extensive travel in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia -- where he also lived for almost five years -- has only deepened an abiding conviction that the study of History is not only essential, it is also--dare it be said--fun.

New to Renaissance School in 2013, Anna Minutella was born and raised in Wytheville, Virginia on her family’s farm.  She attended the University of Virginia where she earned a B.A. in both biology and psychology and spent much of her time doing research in language development. 

 

After graduation, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland with her husband.  There, she taught science to seventh and eighth grade students for five years in a private school.  She also served as chair of the science department and developed the curriculum for the middle school science department.  She and her husband moved back to the Charlottesville area in the summer of 2012 and Anna spent that following school year teaching science and math at Stuart Hall in Staunton. 

 

Anna’s teaching philosophy is based on using a variety of perspectives and methods for each subject in order to truly involve the students in the material and insure they gain a deeper understanding.  She wants her students to acquire the same appreciation for the material that fuels her passion.  In her spare time, Anna enjoys being with her husband, son, and two small dogs.

LOUISE TRUDEL
BUSINESS MANAGER

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BRIDGET MITCHELL
REGISTRAR
PERFORMING ARTS

Louise Trudel joins the Renaissance School in 2011 as Business and Marketing Manager. She was previously Business Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum and has worked in other nonprofit and for profit organizations. Louise was raised in New Jersey, and lived in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Singapore before settling in Charlottesville in 1996. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. Louise is a graduate of Brown University and has a MA in Educational Psychology.

Bridget Mitchell is a native of Pittsburgh, though she’s called Charlottesville home for almost 17 years. Stella Adler, teacher to Marlon Brando, of Stella Adler Studio in New York had the greatest influence on her acting technique. She attended Otterbein college as a Drama Major and Adelphi University as a full-tuition talent scholarship recipient. A semester at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in Design and another semester of Drawing at PVCC helped sharpen her visual experience of the performing arts. Bridget taught Drama and Dance for Linda Schmidt’s School of Performing Arts in Somerset, PA and McGuffy Arts Center here in Charlottesville. She has performed at many area venues, including - Live Arts, Four County Players, MLK Performing Arts Center, Farmington Country Club, The Haven and two one-woman acts at McGuffy Arts Center for Miki Liszt Dance Company's First Fridays series. She was a part of the opening act for Tony Bennett for the grand opening of the Paramount on the downtown mall. She greatly enjoyed performing with the group she started with friends, the Fourtunettes, which sang Andrew Sisters and McGuire Sisters at community nursing homes. Presently she’s working on a performance art piece about a World War II painter. Her favorite use of time is spent with her husband, Kevin and her kids, Sophie and Keenan - both Renaissance School graduates.

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LYDIA VON BRIESEN
 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Lydia studied at the Alexander Technique Training Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she qualified as an Alexander Technique teacher in 2007. She has continued studying and practicing the technique, with particular interest in applying it to yoga, meditation, and breathing.  Lydia has a personal yoga practice and teaches both privately and at Common Ground, a non-profit in Charlottesville.

     

Lydia grew up in Batesville, VA, and is now raising her two boys there. She enjoys spending time with her family -- including her twin sister, studying the Japanese Tea Ceremony, playing outside, and discovering new ways of looking at the world - through both the body and the mind.

BECKY WILBUR
 MATH & SCIENCE

ph 434.984.1952      f 434.984.5313      418 East Jefferson Street  Charlottesville, VA  22902

Dr. Wilbur grew up in the Midwest (Minnesota), went to college on the west coast (Stanford University, BS Biology), spent some time north of the border (Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School Assistant Instructor), and went to graduate school on the east coast (Duke University, PhD Botany). In 1991, she and her husband and two daughters moved to Charlottesville where Henry assumed the directorship of the University of Virginia’s Mountain Lake Biological Station.

 

During the past 22 summers she has been a mentor, teacher, and researcher at the station. Her main interests are Forest Ecology and Ecosystem Function, and she has also taught Biodiversity of the Southern Appalachians. During the last 22 winters, she has worked with the Environmental Education Center and Ivy Creek Foundation, helped teach science at the elementary school level, taught a non-majors Biology class at UVA, tutored math and science at the Learning Center of Charlottesville, taught biology and calculus (all levels) at Renaissance School and coached many Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination teams. In her spare time, she enjoys whitewater canoeing, volleyball, playing the cello, baking bread, reading, and hiking.