Middle School Math Teacher
Degree: B.A. Virginia Wesleyan University
Gabby loves working with children of all ages as they truly brighten her day, but she's especially fond of seeing the growth in concepts as middle schoolers move through the years. Teaching at Friends gives her an opportunity to share her love of math while also advocating for students' social and emotional development. Geometry, Algebra and problem solving are her favorite math concentrations and her goal at Friends School is to help change children's attitudes towards math by growing their confidence in the subject. Her students describe her as funny, crazy (in a good way!) and supportive. Gabby is also a member of the VBFS Diversity Committee.
All School Music Director
Degree: Berklee College of Music
Carley Allison is a Virginia native singer/songwriter that grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Culpeper, Virginia. She studied songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston and moved to Nashville in 2007. She has spent the last decade touring with her band, Aberdeen Green. She has shared the roster with many nationally acclaimed artists and played stages such as the National Christmas Tree Lighting at the White House and the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.
Carley recently moved to Virginia Beach with her husband and two young children to be closer to her family and raise her growing family. She was inspired at a very young age by the power of music, singing, and dancing before she could talk and is extremely passionate about enriching the lives of the youth. As the Music Director at Virginia Beach Friends School, she loves giving back to the Hampton Roads community through her passion for early childhood education and music.
Head of School
Degree: B.A. Political Science Wake Forest University
Greg, a New Jersey native and a graduate of Wake Forest University, comes to the Friends School after spending 9 years as the Director of Student Life / Dean of Students at Cape Henry Collegiate where he was also an integral member of the Leadership Team. Prior to that, Greg was the Director of Athletics and member of the Senior Leadership team at The Urban School of San Francisco as well as a highly successful real estate broker and a nationally recognized high school lacrosse coach for St Ignatius College Prep.
Assistant Head of School & Academic Affairs
Degrees: PhD in Ecological Sciences, Old Dominion University
Masters in Environmental Management, Duke University
B.A., College of William & Mary
John is a Virginia Beach native and Norfolk Academy graduate who comes to Friends School having spent more than fifteen years in various teaching and administrative roles in both the private and public school systems. He was trained as a coastal ecologist, blending science together with public policy but quickly shifted to education as soon as he had his first taste of teaching at TCC fifteen years ago. Since then, he has continued to define his passion for students and learning in a wide range of academic settings. In addition to his time in the classroom, John has designed both high school and college course curricula as well as a K-5 curriculum to accompany a nationally traveled oceanographic art exhibit and served as the associate director of admissions at Norfolk Collegiate.
Having spent so many years in a wide range of academic roles, he is most excited to be in a position where he can focus on supporting and empowering our amazing faculty and he could not be more excited about joining the Friends School community! John and his wife, Alexandra, have two young boys at home with a third boy on the way, so on the rare occasion he is not at school or wrangling his boys, he can usually be found at the beach or in the ocean either here in VB or down in the Outer Banks.
All-School Physical Education Teacher, Middle School Health Teacher, Athletic Director, Facilities
Degrees: B.S in Parks and Tourism, Radford University
Friends School is thrilled for Max to join our community in multiple capacities for the 2022-2023 academic year! Max is beginning his fifth year teaching physical education, coming from Virginia Beach Public Schools and Christ The King Catholic School, where is also served as the Athletic Director.
Max loves everything about sports, which only makes it fitting that he is the new PE teacher at Friends. He loves to interact with his students and teach them skills in a variety of sports and activities. Max believes that being active and learning new techniques will help his students grow and appreciate physical activity. When Max is not teaching, he enjoys the beach, pickleball, basketball and spending time with friends and family.
Cottage Teacher Assistant
Degrees: Bachelor's in Physical Education, University of National Mayor of San Marcos
Angela joins VBFS as the new Cottage Teacher Assistant for the 2021-2022 academic year! Angela joins the school after four years as the Assistant Teacher and then Lead Teacher for Virginia Beach Montessori School. Angela has dedicated her twenty-five year career to helping children learn fundamental development with positive encouragement and passion. She was born in Peru, and has a passion for swimming. where she was a swim instructor for twenty years. Angela brings her great personality, personalized instruction and experience to the Cottage. We are thrilled she has joined VBFS!
Assistant Kindergarten Teacher
Director of Admissions & Director of Special Programming
After spending many years in the legal field, Sarah left her career when her daughter, Zoe, who is enrolled at VBFS in first grade, was six months old. While being a stay-at-home mom, Sarah became Secretary of a local chapter "mom's club", and eventually was voted President. Her responsibilities were to seek out and plan fun and engaging events for children. Now with both of her children enrolled at Friends, Theo is enrolled in the Pre-Kindergarten program, she was hired to be the Director of First Adventure's at Friends, an infant through four year old grown up and me program. The program was planned to begin in the fall of 2020, but with the pandemic, VBFS had to delay the inaugural year of the program until this past Spring! The program is thriving and we are thrilled that Sarah was patient in waiting to show all the work she has put into the First Adventure's program! Sarah is also the Director of Extended Day, which is the after care program at VBFS, and the executive assistant for the Assistant Head of School and Chief Financial Officer, Candice Jarden, where she provides her organizational and leadership skills for administration.
Director of Development
Degrees: Masters in Business Administration, Old Dominion University
B.B.A. James Madison University
Virginia Beach native, Anna is mother to three young children, who all attend Friends School. She thrives in a fast-paced environment and with three little ones in tow, considers herself a problem solver and task master. After past corporate experience, owning a small business, and a stint as a stay at home mom, Anna eventually found herself in her element when leading the social and fundraising committee at Beach Day School. After a few years volunteering at Beach Day, she now puts her MBA with a background in marketing to use by planning fundraising events and focusing on the growth and development of Friends School. She is thrilled to be part of the Friends School community and of the success of her children’s education here. It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization and she can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Friends School!
Courtney is an avid reader and lover of books. Starting in Elementary school, she made the Library her home away from home. Now as the VBFS Librarian, she hopes to instill that same love and passion for reading in each and every Friends School student. Courtney has rebuilt the library program into a special class that aids students in learning the foundations of stories, and to develop the critical thinking skills needed to isolate and understand many different concepts. She hopes the library will forever be a safe place for students to explore and engage new thoughts and ideas. Courtney's three sons are also enrolled at VBFS!
Pre-Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Degree: A.S., Early Childhood Education, Tidewater Community College
Anticipated December 2022 graduation with a B.S in Early Childhood Education from Ashworth College
Tanya loves the early childhood program because this is the time when students' personalities blossom and she truly enjoys seeing the "light bulb" go on when they catch on and learn something new. Her favorite subject to teach is math because it involves other disciplines such as phonics, the alphabet, sounds, and correct formation of letters and numbers. Tanya has numerous certifications in specific early childhood learning, such as; emergent drawing, pre-writing skills, foundation blocks and milestones, and sensory solutions. She is also certified in Creative Curriculum, which is the Pre-Kindergarten program at VBFS. Tanya is also a member of the VBFS Diversity Committee. She served as a Sunday School Director for almost 10 years, worked in the public school Pre-K program for 6 years and in a private daycare for 3 years. Her teaching began as a stay at home mother and then home schooled her oldest children. "As mothers we are all truly the first teachers our children have." Did we mention Tanya has 8 children? Two are teachers and one graduated from Friends School!
Early and Lower School Spanish Teacher
Degree: B.A. Saint Joseph’s University
Maestra Kate became a teacher in order to share her love of speaking the Spanish language; knowing another language is empowering and broadens horizons tremendously. She loves seeing her students gain confidence in their abilities, from new songs to counting and identifying things about themselves and their world in Spanish. She also loves teaching about Hispanic culture and helping them connect with Spanish speaking countries in ways that are meaningful and relatable to them. Maestra's methods of teaching often involve student's full body participation in the learning, which makes her classroom active and fun and also imprints the new knowledge. From raising her own children to teaching Sunday School, every area of her life encompasess teaching and she wouldn't have it any other way.
S.T.E.A.M Teacher and Early and Lower School Science Teacher
Degrees: Penn State and Old Dominion University
Kate loves teaching S.T.E.A.M and science! She is thrilled to be piloting the S.T.E.A.M program this year for our cottage through fourth graders! The students are in for a treat! Kate initially came to Friends as a parent of a preschooler and fell in love with the school as a parent. After becoming a full time assistant she quickly found her passion for children, and returned to school for education. She hopes her students would describe her as "fun and a little nutty! But always willing to help them with anything." Kate is known for getting her hands dirty in the garden and walking around with snakes draped around her neck. In addition to caring for animals, she loves people too, coming to Friends with over 25 years in the service industry, where she really developed her people skills. Her childhood in Pennsylvania is where she developed her passion for nature. She loves cultivating that shared joy alongside children of all ages, gaining intrinsic rewards from each grade level.
Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Degrees: B.S in Psychology, Lynchburg College
Pursuing Master's in Education Degree and Teaching License from Regent University
Marissa is excited to join the VBFS family as the new Kindergarten teacher! She graduated from Lynchburg College with a bachelor's degree in psychology, and has been working with children ages infant to kindergarten for over 12 years. Marissa has worked in a variety of settings, from military bases to non-profit organizations, and has served many different types of families throughout her career. In 2017, she was awarded Teacher of the Year from Washington FAMILY Magazine. She moved to Virginia Beach two years ago from Northern Virginia, where she grew up. Marissa loves working with young children and believes that children learn best through active exploration.
First/Second Grade Teacher
Degrees: Masters in Education and Curriculum with an emphasis on Literacy from San Diego State University
Nicolette comes to Friends School from teaching at the Manor Schools in Virginia Beach. Prior to the Manor Schools, Nicolette was a tenured K-6 educator in the Chula Vista, CA school district where she taught multiple grade levels to diverse groups of students each year. Nicolettte's passion is teaching reading and writing to our young minds and creating a love for reading through daily read-alouds. Nicolette focuses on creating a safe learning environment for lifelong learners where students collaborate together in meaningful ways and mistakes are welcomed and embraced as they are one of the many ways of how we learn! She encourages students to have a growth mindset and inspires her students to reach their full potential through engaging curriculum and promoting a joy of learning. Nicolette recently won the 2022 Cox Education Hero Award! The award honors 10 teachers in Virginia who have gone above and beyond to support their students.
Degrees and Certifications: B.S. Psychology, George Mason University; M.Ed. Special Education George Mason University; Autism Spectrum Disorders Cert. George Mason University; Registered Behavior Technician; Provisional Teaching License, Special Education, General Curriculum, K-12, University of Virginia, Anticipate Completion, December 2023
Kaleigh is our new Learning Specialist for the 21-22 school year! Kaleigh has always loved working with children of all ages and abilities. She has also had a close connection to the Friends School community, as she attended and graduated at the top of her class from Friends in the Spring of 2015. Since then, she has continued to learn with the Friends school SPICES instilled within her. She began her collegiate career at George Mason University studying psychology and childhood development. While dedicated to her studies there, she started working with college-aged students with developmental and intellectual disabilities as a specialized tutor, helping students to reach their highest academic potential. In her senior year of college, she shifted gears a bit and started working as a Registered Behavior Therapist for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In this position, she truly found her passion for working with children with learning and behavior challenges.
The families that Kaleigh has worked with over the years describe her as someone who is energetic, intuitive, and supportive. She knows how to reach and connect with children of all ages and abilities, and understands that collaboration with families and teachers is imperative to learning. Watching students succeed in meeting their goals is one of her biggest joys in life, and she can’t wait to make a difference in the Friends School community!
Lower and Middle School Science Teacher
Degrees: Master in Business Administration, Old Dominion University
Bachelor of Science, University of Maryland
Barbara is excited about the 2021-2022 academic year! She is transitioning from teaching kindergarten through twelfth school students at VBFS to teaching science for our third through eighth grade students. Barbara returned to VBFS in 2019 after teaching science from 2001-2006 at Friends. Barbara is a seasoned educator with over twenty years of teaching science in independent schools across Hampton Roads.
Head of Visual Arts
Degrees: B.F.A. The University of the Arts Philadelphia Studied Abroad at: Illaboratorio per Affresco *Qualified professional technique certified by the Italian Government under Leonetto Tintori
With over 23 years of experience in teaching at MOCA (previously known as the Contemporary Art Center) and 13 years with us at Friends. James inspires students and adults with his amazing artistic skills and talent. He works with every age demographic and specifically enjoys the early childhood group, anticipating the discovery moment when they "get it", which makes all of the hard work worth it. Life drawing, independent film, classical arts and contemporary forms are a few of his favorite lessons to teach. His wealth of knowledge from studying abroad, to extensive field experience and on site experiences at places like the Philadelphia Zoo, glass blowing studios and outdoor adventures, help shape his passion towards art. Ultimately, he became a teacher because he loves sharing what was shared with him- a passion for creating.
Lead Cottage Teacher
Degree: AS in Early Childhood Education Bryant and Stratton
Anticipated Completion with a B.S in Early Childhood Education, Regent University
Tieshia comes to VBFS from Courthouse Montessori School where she was the lead Toddler Teacher for 18 years. She is certified in Infant, Toddler and Twos Montessori Teaching with the North American Montessori Center. Tieshia's Montessori background meshes perfectly with Friends education and the pedagogy of teaching to the whole child. Tieshia instantly and instinctually gravitates to the Quaker testimonies (S.P.I.C.E.S) and sees working in a classroom guided by these values as an extension of the Montessori philosophy, a philosophy that believes teachers act as guides who follow children. Tieshia is also a member of the VBFS Diversity Committee. Her two sons are also students at VBFS.
3rd & 4th Grade Teacher
Degrees: M.S. Education, University of Miami Florida
Bachelors in Anthropology, Binghamton University
Dafna Sonnenthal is a career educator who has worked with children and adults in primary, secondary, and college level programs. She is a certified licensed educator for third through sixth grade, and for teaching English as a second language for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. She has taught in inner-city public schools as well as at one of the nation's oldest private academies. A highlight of her early career was having Queen Elizabeth visit her classroom in Miami to showcase her English as a Second Language students and curriculum. Dafna has taught at the Virginia Beach Friends School for over a decade. Here she has enjoyed melding the high ideals of the Quaker social and spiritual framework with innovative methods for optimizing student appreciation and learning of today's subject matter. In the 2021-2022 academic year, Dafna was a celebrated educator by the school's accrediting body, Virginia Association of Independent Schools. The award recognizes teachers who have done a tremendous job enriching the lives of their students. Beyond the classroom, Dafna loves the art of photography, and is always looking to capture compelling moments with families, children and surfers against the natural beauty in and around Virginia Beach. She and her husband live in Virginia Beach and currently have two Friends early-school alumni attending university.
Cottage Assistant Teacher
Degree: AS in Physical and Recreation Education from The Callao National University
Maritza Sutyak joined VBFS in 2019 as the Extended Day Specialist and Kindergarten Assistant. She transitioned to the Cottage Assistant Teacher position in the fall of 2020 and teamed up with her long-time friend and co-educator from Courthouse Montessori, Teacher Tieshia. Maritza is certified as an Early Childhood Professional with The Cares Association. Maritza has fifteen years of experience with infants to three years in a classroom setting as an assistant teacher. Previously, for five years, Maritza was a swim instructor teaching students ages one to twelve and coached volleyball for three years. She has numerous early childhood certifications in toddler development and guidance, cultural diversity, literacy play, and outdoor learning environments.
Pre-Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Degree: Primary Education, St. Joseph's Teacher's College
Roberta is the best Office Manager around. She doesn't just work for one administrator, she works for multiple and she does so beautifully! Roberta has worn many hats at VBFS since 2011 - subbing as a teacher's assistant, school purchasing and helping the front office. She also assisted in the Business and Development Office. As a Friends School parent, her daughter Courtney graduated in 2015. She moved to Virginia Beach from New York; and worked 25 years for Lillian Vernon as a Supervisor, Manager of Quality Call handling, and 2 years as an accounting associate for an Apartment Community.
She has completed various classes for business leadership through Tidewater Community College and attended many workshops on leadership roles for women and telephone skills. In her spare time, Roberta enjoys cooking, inventing spice blends and travelling when she can. Mostly, her role as a mom to a law student is the most rewarding!
First Grade Teacher
Degree: BA in Psychology, Certified Elementary Education PK-4, Hollins University
Braden returned to the classroom this year, joining the Friends Community, after taking a break from teaching to be a stay at home mom. Braden started her career as a 3rd grade teacher with Suffolk Public Schools and continued her career with Hampton City Public Schools and Virginia Beach City Public Schools, teaching 4th grade. Her love of teaching brought her back to the classroom after her son Sam began attending Friends School. She had the opportunity to get to know the school and wanted to play a more integral part. She loved the atmosphere and culture of Friends! While 1st grade is a new adventure for her, she is thoroughly enjoying being a part of an incredible lower school team! She loves developing creative lessons for the students that will engage their learning!