Faculty & Staff
Actively fostering a culture of learning is what makes a great school. Offering a rigorous academic curriculum in a safe and functional environment is an important goal. Still, the primary determinants of success for students are the expectations and the quality of teachers.
University School deliberately seeks the best teachers, which entails hiring those who would succeed in many fields because of their drive, insight, curiosity, and ability. They enjoy learning and seek knowledge and understanding of many disciplines, and they are able to make connections among seemingly disparate topics because of this approach to engaging the world.
These "Renaissance Scholars" are passionate about many interests, and this enthusiasm spills over into all disciplines that they teach, lending each lesson to interdisciplinary analysis and linkages to a diverse array of topics. Furthermore, University School teachers are committed to demonstrating and maintaining a healthy and ethical environment. Our faculty have the highest expectations for each other and for each student in all areas of their development: intellectually, physically, emotionally, ethically, and socially. It is in this type of atmosphere that our students can begin to grow and to develop their own interests while feeling supported by the school (family) community.
A great deal is expected of a University School faculty member. In order to retain teachers of this caliber and secure additional quality teachers, University School compensates its faculty at levels comparable to or better than other public and private schools. We also devote considerable resources to the ongoing professional and personal development of our teachers. USL teachers are certified in American Red Cross CPR/AED and have completed Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children sexual abuse prevention program. University School is also one of Darkness to Light's pioneer organizations in its Partner in Prevention program.
IS Art & Extended Day
Nancy has a BA in English from Bard College and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. She moved to Charleston in 2007 after teaching Art History at Shippensburg University as an adjunct professor. She has worked at the Gibbes Museum as the program coordinator and at the Children’s Museum as the Director of Education. Before coming to USL she taught Art at Trident Academy. Nancy lived in Carlisle, PA where she raised her two outstanding sons, Miller and Peter. Her teaching experience spans 35 years of working with children on the autism spectrum to adults with Alzheimer’s, tutoring children who have dyslexia, teaching private art lessons, and mentoring art students bound for college.
Nancy is an artist, the author of “The Orphans of Normandy” and a gardener. She lives with her husband Rick Leary on James Island.
Math Department Chair
Born and raised in Indiana, Nicole graduated with a BS degree in Biology. Later in life, she followed her heart and went back to school to become a mathematics teacher. She graduated with honors from NC State with a BS in Mathematics and Education. Nicole taught for several years in middle school mathematics in North Carolina and South Carolina then decided to stay home while her children were young. For the last 8 years, she privately tutored children from elementary level to college leveled mathematics in the evenings. Last year, she had the opportunity to work with USL students part time. Nicole is very excited to be joining such an amazing staff and this wonderful community that is USL. She resides in Mt. Pleasant with her husband Roger, nine year old son Dylan, and five year old daughter Riley. In her spare time she enjoys playing with her children, knitting, golfing, and reading.
Recently retired from a 30-year career at the College of Charleston where he was Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions, Don Burkard is a member of the college counseling team at University School. His inside higher education insight along with his skills as a counselor combine to make him an invaluable aid for our students. Don especially enjoys focusing on the juniors and seniors and their journey to college and beyond. He resides in Mt. Pleasant with his wife Mary, and he enjoys traveling to explore and to see his three children and his grandchildren. "In my time at University School, I have discovered the overall culture of USL to be unique, in that throughout my career I have rarely encountered a school environment based on so much mutual respect, high level of engagement among students and faculty, and a dedicated commitment for advancing the teaching-learning process."
Heather attended College of Charleston, where she graduated from the Honors program with a B.S. in Biology and earned her Secondary Education certification. While there she worked in the Math lab and as a Supplemental Instruction leader for introductory Biology classes, and she realized that she loved helping others learn. As part of her program to become a teacher, she completed independent study and a bachelor's essay about problem-based learning and realized the educational value of students learning about real-life issues related to a subject and developing solutions to problems. Heather taught at R.B. Stall High school for 6 years, instructing students in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Marine Science. During this time, she also volunteered at the SC Aquarium and returned to C of C to earn her Masters degree in math and science education -- both of which helped her expand her knowledge of various scientific disciplines.
IS Director, IS Writing, LOTCs
Alauria was born and raised in western Georgia and made her way to the Lowcountry about ten years ago. Alauria has twenty years of teaching experience ranging from inner city Atlanta, working as a Director for Sylvan Learning, teaching at Hammond School in Columbia, and nine years as a second and third grade teacher at Porter-Gaud. She graduated with honors from Kennesaw State University, earning her B.S. in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing her Masters in Educational Leadership at The Citadel. Alauria resides in West Ashley with her husband, Mickey. They both enjoy the time they get to spend with Mickey's son, Dylan. She enjoys cooking plant-based meals and learning about the impact food has on our health and longevity. When she isn't cooking or reading, she can be found spending time working in the yard, kayaking, hiking, or being amused by her wacky dogs.
MS / US Latin, Spanish
Global Languages Chair
A recent arrival to the Charleston area, Chelisa was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but spent many years in Virginia. She attended Virginia Tech where she earned a B.A. in classical studies and a B.A. in Spanish. Currently, she is working towards obtaining a M.A. from the University of Florida. She has experience teaching Latin to both middle and high school students and enjoys working with the students at University School. Chelisa currently lives in West Ashley. When she isn’t studying or at USL, she can normally be found among the shelves of the bookstore, at the beach with a newfound book, or playing at the dog park with her puppy.
Sonia was born in Toledo, Spain. She attended college in Spain and earned an AA in Business Administration. She moved to the USA in 2000, and to Mount Pleasant in 2001. She lives with her husband and two boys, 13 and 14 years old. She has been teaching Spanish in several local schools since 2002, and she has worked for an Immersion Spanish program for 10 years. Sonia loves sharing her country's happy, extraordinary, relaxing, amazing culture and language with the children. She says, "Spaniards are very friendly and they always find a good reason to celebration and have fun. Kids are so curious and learn so fast, and that fascinates me. I love USL kids because they are eager to engage in my culture and language."
MS & US Science
Elizabeth, a Mount Pleasant, SC native, recently graduated with honors from Clemson University receiving her B.S. in Biological Sciences. Elizabeth developed a passion for leading and serving children through her experience teaching music camps with the Town of Mount Pleasant Recreation Department and a Math and Movement class in the upstate. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family and friends on the boat, frequenting the beach, trying new restaurants, hiking, and traveling.
IS Humanities, Communications
Jenny Hirsch is originally from Mobile, Alabama. She ventured out from her roots and graduated with honors from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She graduated with a BA in Advertising and Marketing. Jenny then worked in the fashion world in Los Angeles, California. Coming from a family of teachers, Jenny soon felt her heart tug and her true vocation was revealed. She returned to Pepperdine to further her education. She received her Masters in Education. The world seemed to call and Jenny spent the next years teaching in classrooms in California, Colorado, Peru, France, and Tahiti. Jenny has now landed permanently back in the South with her 6 year old daughter, Juliette. They live in Mt. Pleasant. Jenny enjoys lego building, coloring, baking cookies, and the beach with her daughter.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson states, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Judy has been with USL as the Office Assistant since 2014. She brings with her many skills and experiences as an educator and administrative assistant. Judy was born and raised in Florida, attended the University of Florida, and graduated with a BA in Secondary English Education. In 1993, she received her Elementary Education Certification from the College of Charleston. Her teaching career spans over 17 years. Prior to teaching, Judy worked as an Administrative Assistant for a medical supply company in Charleston. She and husband Mark enjoy boating, traveling, gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends! They have two children - Justin and wife Kristina live in Mt. Pleasant. Daughter Cary lives in Charlotte NC. To keep active, Judy loves to run on the beach, walk the bridge, and practice yoga.
Life Skills, LOTCs
Jason Kreutner, raised in Mount Pleasant and a current resident, is founder and Head of University School of the Lowcountry. He has extensive experience as an educator and leader in independent schools and is a recipient of a National Association of Independent Schools NAIS Fellowship for Aspiring School Heads — (2006-2007 cohort). Prior to establishing USL, he was Dean of Students and then Director of Studies at Charleston Collegiate School, served as Upper School Dean and History Department Chair at Porter-Gaud School, and was Dean of Students and Humanities Instructor at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the South Carolina Honors College (Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae) and received his master’s degree from Emory University in History. Kreutner was recognized by the South Carolina Independent School Association as the Headmaster “Rookie of the Year” for the 2007-2008 school year. In 2013, he received SCISA’s Dr. Charles S. Aimar Educational Leadership Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding leader among the association’s 100+ schools. He consults and has provided guidance to several existing and new independent and public schools. Mr. Kreutner is married to Ashleigh (Tasha) Eady who works at Ooh! Events. They have one daughter, Kessler, and a son, John Ross. In addition to his work in education, he is Head Coach of Snee Farm Swim Team. In 2008, Mount Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman awarded him the key to the city for his work with Snee Farm Swim Team since 1990.
IS Math & Science
Cristan was born and raised in N.Y. where she received her BS degree in Business Management. After a few years working in Human Resources/Accounts Payable, Cristan went back to school to earn her Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Level Education from Cal State San Marcos. During this time Cristan married a Marine Corp Officer, which took her from state to state for six years. This gave her experience teaching in many environments including teaching Middle School Mathematics in California and Baltimore, Maryland. When Cristan moved to Mt. Pleasant in 2012 she began working at University School as the Middle School Math teacher, and after taking an extended maternity leave following the birth of her 4th child, is now back teaching our IS students. While on her extended maternity leave Cristan started a business providing STEAM education to the Lowcountry through after school enrichment and summer camps. Outside of school Cristan spends most of her of time with her four children and husband Mike. You will find all six of them at the beach most weekend mornings!
Wei Ma was born and raised in China where she received her B.A. in Education. She immigrated to the United States in 1997 and received an A.S. from Santa Barbara City College (CA) in Office Management. Wei Ma has been teaching Mandarin Chinese to children in Charleston for several years. She is passionate about her teaching and believes learning the Chinese language and culture will give students more opportunity in the future. Wei Ma is also the director of Charleston Chinese Language Center which offers one-on-one and small group lessons. She likes to do Chinese calligraphy and Chinese folk dance in her spare time. She lives in West Ashley with her husband, Elijah Siegler, and two children, Lucy and Henry.
Angeles was born in Punta del Este, Uruguay but lived and did most of her schooling in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated from high school as “bachiller nacional.” She earned her degree in Social Communication in 1987: she had always wanted to be a journalist. Her career in Education was launched when she enrolled in 1985 in an Argentine government program to learn to teach illiterates how to write and read. Angeles was trained by the “Ministerio de Educacion” and taught for 4 years until she moved to the U.S in May of 1989. She started teaching at the College of Charleston in 1990 as a Spanish adjunct professor: she taught there part time until she became a full time instructor in 1992. She was part of the Hispanic Studies Department until the Fall of 2005. In October 2005, Angeles created Spanish Your Way. She tailors and customizes Spanish courses to the needs her students. Most of them need to speak Spanish at work, at home, at school, or for traveling. It has been such a rewarding experience for her. Angeles moved to Charleston from Buenos Aires in 1989, and she and her family live on James Island.
Born and raised in the upstate of South Carolina, Mandy graduated with a B.A. and M.Ed. degree in Secondary Education and English from Clemson University. She is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence ELA. Upon graduating from Clemson, Mandy moved to Charleston to begin her teaching career. She has taught middle and high school English for many years in both private and public schools around the Lowcountry. Her most recent job was as a full release mentor for Charleston County School District. In this role, she coached and mentored 4K to 12th grade teachers throughout the district in an effort to support their teaching practice and professional growth. Mandy resides in Mt. Pleasant with her husband Patrick, son Charles Patrick, and daughters Kendall Gail and Ann Carlyle. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Jennifer, or as friends refer to her, Jen, is a Maryland native and made her way to the Lowcountry in 2010. She graduated from St. Joe’s University in Philadelphia with a BS degree in marketing. While obtaining this degree she played basketball all 4 years for St. Joe’s
Women’s Basketball team. Jen was in sales for AT&T Business Solutions for a brief stint before realizing that her true passion was still with basketball. She made a career switch and became an assistant coach at Long Island University for the women’s basketball program. After coaching for 6 years at LIU, she transitioned to Monmouth University and was an integral part of the Women’s basketball program for 2 years. After the arrival of her second son, she decided to stay at home in order to spend more time with her kids. Her family relocated to the Lowcountry in order to be closer to extended family and enjoy warmer weather, and Jen has given private basketball lessons, organized kids’ camps, and coached elementary and middle school girls basketball. She resides in Mt. Pleasant, and in her spare time, she enjoys hanging out on the beach, stand up paddle boarding, hiking in the North Carolina mountains and exploring all Charleston has to offer!
MS/US Writing, Grammar, & Speech
Though born in Charleston, Sara was raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She returned to the Lowcountry to receive her BA in English and Creative Writing from the College of Charleston before completing a Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Following graduate school, Sara resumed managing Blue Bicycle Books, teaching a creative writing day camp for kids, Write of Summer, and began working with the University School. Additionally, she privately works with students in writing, test preparation, and college admissions. Her poetry can be find in various literary journals, and she has published two volumes of poetry, Yr Lad, Bob (2013), Here You Are (2015), and a third is forthcoming August 2018. This is her fifth year teaching middle and high school writing and English at USL.
Ann retired from teaching in May of 2019. She is a veteran teacher who taught all levels of Spanish in Charleston and Dorchester 2 schools. She was also trained and taught in the International Baccalaureate program. She was chairperson of various Foreign Language Departments for most of her career, organized Spanish Clubs and the SADD club - Students Against Destructive Decisions - and was an active member of local, state and national foreign language organizations. She organized 14 trips for her students to Europe and Mexico and developed a homestay program for Lowcountry students in Mexico. She lives with her husband, Chris, in their log home in Ravenel, and they are very active in the shag community in the tri-county area. They enjoy time with their 3 grandchildren, cat, and Australian Shepherd. Ann is thrilled to be a part of USL and was one of the first teachers on staff to help launch it. She remains active with LOTC programming.
Upper School Director
Jessica grew up in Pawleys Island, S.C. and attended the College of Charleston for her undergraduate degree. After several years of working and living in Montana with her hound dog Ruby (hiking, skiing and white water rafting) she returned home to be closer to her family. To enter the field of student services, she pursued her graduate degree in Student Affairs and Counseling from The Citadel. She is excited to join the University School family and work with the students of the Upper School in helping them set and achieve their goals to prepare for college and beyond. She lives on James Island with her adventurous family (husband Kiah, son Nolan & Lab Jed).
Math & LOTCs
Job Shadow Program
Tiffany Thompson grew up in Mount Pleasant and is very excited to be returning back home after a few years away in Waynesville, NC. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Pure Mathematics at Erskine College. Tiffany realized that she loved to teach and decided to pursue education right away. She spent one year substitute teaching, as she was transitioning into married life in NC, then she taught seventh grade math for two years in Canton, NC. Tiffany is married to her husband, Kirby Thompson, who is also a Charleston native. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys playing piano, swimming, playing with her two cats, and playing trivia. She is very excited to work with students at USL and is excited to call Charleston home again!
MS / US Latin
Frank grew up in Northern Virginia and attended the Westminster School, an independent coeducational day school with emphasis in the Classics. He continued his study of the Classics and Latin throughout high school and holds a B.A. degree in Classics and a Minor in Art History from Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest he also studied overseas at Casa Artom in Venice, Italy. Upon graduation he attended Florida State University, where he earned a Master’s degree in Classical Archaeology and his teaching certification. At FSU Frank was a graduate assistant for four summers at the excavations at Gaiole in Chianti, Italy, located between Florence and Siena. He has been teaching at the high school level, university level or online for over 20 years. He currently is an Instructor and Department Chair for the North Carolina Virtual Public School. Frank has been living in Charleston for almost 5 years after relocating from Raleigh, North Carolina. He enjoys his family, traveling, and the water.
Nannette was born, raised, and educated in Southern California. She started counseling at age 6 when she put up her sign from Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoon that said "Psychiatric Help 5 cents." She knew she would work as a mental health therapist. She has worked with all ages of students from K-4 through higher education as a professional school counselor, teacher, and academic advisor. Nannette moved to Charleston 20 years ago when her husband accepted a job at The Citadel. They have 5 children. Since arriving, Nannette earned her license to practice therapy (licensed marital and family therapist) and has also run her own private practice. She is involved in local and state counseling associations and remains current on developments in her field through consistent professional development. A long-time advocate of learning by doing, mentoring, and teaching civility, Nannette is grateful to be a part of the USL family.
Jaime is a freelance illustrator, educator, and entrepreneur. Jaime grew up in both Southern California and suburban Maryland, eventually earning a BA in photography from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 1999, and a BFA in Illustration with Distinction from the Art Center College of Design in 2003. She taught graduates and undergraduates for 6 years at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) She has illustrated children's books, magazines, newspapers, and ad campaigns. Her clients include United Airlines, Random House, The American Red Cross, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Clarion Books, Quarry Books and the L.A. Weekly. Jaime's art has been recognized by Taschen's Illustration Now, American Illustration, Communication Arts, The Society of Illustrators, 3x3, Spectrum, Curvy Australia, Design Taxi, XFuns Taipei, DPI Taiwan, BBC's Culture Shock, Small Magazine, Creative Quarterly, the SI-LA, and the SCBWI. Jaime now lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina with her husband, son, and daughter.