photo by Kristi Tsiopanas
First row, L-R: Jill Heim, Jessica Kuhn, Melanie Olsen, Jen Azzariti, Kate Root, Joci Khalifa
Second row, L-R: Allison Soffer, Stephanie Burry, Brigitte Dubois, Lisa Brooks, Melanie Ruston, Marley Joyce
Lisa Brooks, Teacher
Before joining St. John’s, Lisa was a pre-kindergarten partner teacher and special education student teacher at Van Ness Elementary School. Prior to that, she spent a decade working in criminal and juvenile justice system reform as a researcher, policy analyst, and consultant. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood special education from the George Washington University, a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Virginia.
Jill Heim, Teacher
Jill has a degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Maryland. She has taught in full-time programs, worked as a center director, presented at conferences, and volunteered as a NAEYC accreditation specialist.
Allison Hutt, Teacher
Prior to joining St. John’s, Allison taught at early childhood centers in Maryland, Colorado, and New Jersey. She holds a dual baccalaureate degree in Art History and Visual Art and completed a master’s degree in education and human development with a focus on early childhood and the Reggio Emilia Approach from the University of Colorado, in partnership with the Boulder Journey School.
Toniann Iovine, Teacher
Toniann holds a master’s degree in Art & Design Education from Pratt Institute and has many years of experience working in progressive education. After starting a career at Friends Seminary and Beginning with Children Charter School, she took a break from teaching to continue her work as an artist. Toniann returned to education to apply her art background to design and implement curriculum for children in Sri Lankan communities impacted by the tsunami. As part of her work in Sri Lanka, she opened and ran a gallery that exhibited local artists and provided community art instruction to participants. She returned to New York City where she began work for Tompkins Hall, the Columbia University early childhood center. She supported play-based instruction with topics of interest. After relocating to the DC area, she taught art in a Fairfax County Elementary School.
Jocelyn Khalifa , Teacher
With a bachelor’s of art degree in psychology and a master’s of art in education, Jocelyn (Joci) began her career as a special education teacher trainer in the U.S. Peace Corps in Honduras. Her travel and work with children continued overseas when her husband’s job took the family to Venezuela, Peru, Germany, and back to the United States. She is beginning her 15th year at St. John’s.
Melanie Olsen, Teacher
Melanie recently completed her masters of arts in education with an emphasis on early childhood from Trinity Washington University. She holds a dual baccalaureate degree from Bucknell University in the fields of environmental studies and comparative humanities. Prior to her coming to St. John’s, she taught at three public charter schools in Washington, D.C.
Kate Root, Teacher
Kate obtained her bachelor of arts degree in public relations from Susquehanna University in 2012 and returned to school in 2013 to acquire her teaching certification from The University of Vermont. Shortly after graduating from UVM’s early childhood education program, she relocated to Washington, D.C. and began teaching at St. John’s Episcopal Preschool.
Melanie Ruston, Teacher
Melanie graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, followed by a master of arts in teaching. Her previous teaching experiences have been with children of all ages at the Walters Art Museum, as well as in two public schools in Baltimore County, Maryland.
Marley Joyce, Head of School
Marley has been in the field of education for 26 years. She began teaching young children at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School and went on from there to become a private tutor for elementary school age children. With a degree in business management from the University of Maryland, Marley has been able to bring together her love of children, teaching, art, and business during her years at St. John’s.
Jessica Kuhn, Educational Program Assistant
Jessica graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s of art in public relations, and a master’s degree in elementary education. Jessica taught fifth grade at a Title 1 elementary school in Summerville, South Carolina, for 5 years before relocating to Washington, DC. where she directed a transitional kindergarten program and school age enrichment program in Montgomery County, Maryland. Jessica will begin her 3rd year at St. John’s.
Jennifer Azzariti, Studio Consultant and Pedogogista
For the past 26 years Jennifer has worked both locally and nationally with schools inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, focusing particularly on the culture of the atelier. She has been with St. John’s for 17 years as a studio and pedagogical consultant and has two proud St. John’s alumni. Jennifer is a board member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, and Founding Chair of the DC Reggio Emilia Alliance.
Theresa McCoy, Business Manager
Theresa is a Certified Public Accountant with over 15 years of experience with international non-profit and community management organizations. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from the George Washington University. She was honored as a National Scholar of the Horatio Alger Association for Distinguished Americans. She has worked part-time at St. John’s for the past 13 years.
Aletha Peters, Business Administrator
Aletha is the part-time business administrator at St. John’s Preschool. She has a bachelor’s of art degree in business administration with a concentration in business management and a master’s of science in fashion design. She has over 10 years of professional experience in various areas of business operations.