Laura SymonsPrincipal, Laura Farah Symons

Laura Farah Symons received a B.A. in English (Magna cum Laude) from the University of Florida, and won an Education Professions Development Act Fellowship to attend the University of New Hampshire where she earned an M.A. in English. She recently retired from her position as the Coordinator of The Learning Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College. She founded the Writing Center at Lynchburg College and re-designed the Academic Resource Center at Sweet Briar College. She served as President of the College Reading and Learning Association and served ten years on the board of the National Tutoring Association (NTA) where she is certified as a Tutor Trainer at the Master level, and helped to develop the certification program for Academic Coaching. Ms Symons has presented widely on diverse subjects in education including Brain Compatible Teaching and Learning, has trained over a thousand tutors and tutor trainers, and is currently developing metacognitive inventories for writing, math, and nursing students. In 2012, she received NTA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” –Chinese Proverb


Jehan BradleyFinancial Manager, Jehan Bradley

Ms. Bradley received her B.S., Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton and taught 1st and 2nd grades before moving to Virginia. She worked with the Center for Rehabilitation and Development, Roanoke, as bookkeeper and payroll manager. She is currently Property Manager for the World Community.


Allen LarsonHead Montessori Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry

Allen Larson

40 years Montessori experience

Mr. Larson holds a  BA in Psychology and Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. He graduated from Mankato State University with a Masters of Arts  in Teaching Mathematics.   Certified in Montessori Elementary  (6 to 12) from Association Montessori International for Montessori Training in Bergamo, Italy 1975.

Judith LarsonLead Elementary Montessori Teacher, Judith Larson

40 years Montessori experience

Mrs Larson holds a English from University of North Carolina, and an M.Ed. Elementary Education,  from University of South Carolina. She received her Certification to teach the Montessori Method of Education to ages 6 to 12 years, from  Association Montessori International, in Bergamo, Italy in 1975.  She taught at the Blue Ridge Montessori School, Lynchburg for 9 years as well as establishing The Children’s Center, a Montessori preschool, in Roanoke, VA.

The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”  Maria Montessori

RoyaLower Elementary Montessori Teacher, Roya Leavitt

WCEC Alumna ’04, Ms. Leavitt holds a B.A. in Sociology, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (Randolph College). She received her AMS Montessori Certification for Elementary 6-12 years from the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies, Silver Springs, MD in 2013. She is certified in Modern Standard Arabic Level I and Tajweedi Qur’an, from Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, Amman Jordan.

Sarah ForeePrimary Montessori Teacher, Sarah Foree

Sarah obtained her Montessori Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from the North American Montessori Center. She holds a B.A. in Drama from the University of Virginia. Prior to WCEC, Sarah worked in the creative world of theatre and design. She enjoys hiking with her family and trying to keep track of all the flora and fauna on the farm!


Mathematics, Science, Art, Melissa Pasierb

Ms. Pasierb received her B.S in Environmental Science and a B.A in Studio Art from Randolph College in Lynchburg Virginia. Prior to teaching at WCEC she tutored in the Lynchburg community, planned and planted a butterfly garden in Riverside Park, and researched water quality in the James River watershed. Melissa enjoys hiking, painting, and swimming.


Primary Judith AronsonMontessori Teacher, Tara Aronson

40 years Montessori experience, Ms. Aronson received her B.A. English Education and her Elementary Certification from Keene College, Keene, N.H.. She holds her  Montessori Education Certification (ages 3-6) from Association Montessori Internationale. She worked with Special Needs children at the Center for Rehabilitation and Development in Roanoke, VA for 15 years.  Tara’s deep connection with Montessori’s philosophy and her unique perceptive ability with preschoolers has blended with her inventive nature in designing a line of wooden classroom equipment for children. “Work is love made visible” Maria Montessori

Tom Taylor

Montessori Teacher, Tom Taylor

With 40 years Montessori experience, Tom received his B.A. Psychology from Wagner College, NY and his Masters in Psychology from University of Colorado while in the Air Force. He is AMI Montessori Certified from Southern Montessori Institute, Miami, FL. In 1985, founded the Blue Ridge Montessori School in Forest, VA., where he is a consultant, Montessori teacher and Music teacher.

Spanish, Research Writing, English, Deanna MacNaughton

Ms. MacNaughton received her BA in Spanish from Roanoke College, with a concentration in both Teaching English as a Second Language and Elementary Education. She has worked as a circulation and research assistant in local and academic libraries since 2012, and currently works as a cultural liaison and English teacher for the Boston Red Sox.



GulshanElementary Teacher Assistant, Art Instructor, Gulshan Ziazidinova

Ms. Ziazidinova received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Osh State University, Osh, Kyrgyzstan. She has taught in both private and state schools at elementary through high school levels. She has also taught ESL at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels at Osh Institute of Western Education.



Physical Education, Art , David Zobel

Dave has been with the WCEC since 2016. He began coaching youth sports in 2012 and is a professional artist of over 20 years. He has a love for education and a natural talent for teaching. He currently coaches upper elementary and junior high PE, as well as teaches junior high art classes at WCEC. In addition to his work at WCEC, Mr. Zobel teaches adult continuing education classes in Richmond,Va in digital art, traditional media, figure drawing and more. His artwork has been featured in both local and international publications and can be seen throughout the United States and abroad.


Susan BrockPiano and Voice, Theatre, and Animal Care, Susan Brock

Susan has taught applied piano, voice, vocal ensemble, recorder, and music theater, as well as large animal care and training, at the WCEC.  She studied biological parks management at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, FL; music education at University of Florida;  and music therapy at Florida State University, and has a degree in music.  Susan is currently Administrative Officer / IT and network manager at Legacy International.


Arabic, Priscilla Palmer

Priscilla holds a B.S. in Art Education from Rhode Island College, where she minored in both Art Therapy and Pottery.  She has taught in the public school system with the Gifted and Talented program, as well as at Roanoke College high school summer program.  For several years she was a Children’s Art instructor at the Lynchburg Academy of Arts. She is certified in Modern Standard Arabic Level II and Tajweedi Qur’an, from Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, Amman Jordan.