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.

Stephanie Burry, Teacher

Stephanie graduated from American University in 2013 with a bachelor of science in health promotion and a minor in marketing. Prior to St. John’s, she worked in the health and physical education department at an elementary school in Washington, DC.

Brigitte Dubois, Teacher

Brigitte holds a master’s degree in elementary education (University of Florida) as well as two years of doctoral-level coursework in the history of education (University of Maryland). She has ten years of teaching experience at the early childhood level and worked as a museum educator prior to entering classroom teaching.

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.

Melanie Olsen, Teacher

Melanie recently completed her masters of arts in education (MAT) 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.

Allison Soffer, Teacher

Allison worked at Temple Sinai Nursery School for seven years, bringing her love of children’s literature, music, and dance into her classroom. A certified teacher of young children, she attended Princeton and Columbia Universities (BA) and received her master’s in journalism from  Northwestern University 9MSJ). Allison is the author of Apple Days (Kar-Ben, 2014).

Administrative Team

Marley Joyce, Head of School

Marley has been in the field of education for 25 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.

Jennifer Azzariti, Studio Consultant and Pedogogista

For the past 25 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 16 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.

Jocelyn Khalifa , Director of the Early Childhood Educators Series

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. Now beginning her 15th year at St. John’s, Joci is looking forward to her new role as Director of St. John’s Early Childhood Educator Series.

Theresa Edwards, 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 12 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.

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