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 cultivates and attracts 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.  Our culture honors and empowers teachers.  They are treated as professionals, and appreciation for faculty is not confined to one-week in May but is every day and all year by our students, parents, and administration.

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.

Our faculty and staff have been honored as the best in our state by the South Carolina Independent School Association: Head of School of the Year (2012-2013), Middle School Teacher of the Year (2017-2018), Elementary School Teacher of the Year (2019-2020), High School Teacher of the Year TWICE (2020-2021 & 2022-2023) and Middle School Math Teacher of the Year (2022-2023).

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. Every August, USL teachers are certified in American Red Cross CPR/AED, complete Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children sexual abuse prevention program, and undergo an annual background check.

Interested in employment at University School? Is so, please click here for our web page for this.

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Christine Beddia

B.S., M.P.A.,
Director of Development

Christine is a Certified Fund Raising Executive with 17 years of nonprofit, marketing and strategic planning experience. She has served as Development Director at the Alliance for Education and Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle, WA and at the Savannah Music Festival in GA. Prior to that, she served in various roles at Coastal Community Foundation.

A native of Pennsylvania she earned her B.S from Philadelphia University, then earned a Masters in Public Administration from the College of Charleston. She was a Student Ambassador in Brazil with the Rotary Club and spent a semester in Italy.

Christine aims to connect people to what they are passionate about, keeping community improvement always top of mind.

She and her husband Brent and their two kiddos live on the Peninsula with their 16 year old rescue dog, Daisy. 

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Winnie Caetta

B.A., M.S.
School Counselor, LOTCs

Winnie was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from Central Connecticut State University.  While attending CCSU, Winnie played Division I lacrosse, interned with the local preschool, and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club. Upon graduation, Winnie moved to Tennessee to earn an M.S. in School Counseling and to assist in starting the Division II Women's Lacrosse team for Lee University. Winnie was the high school counselor and Head Girls Lacrosse coach at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia before moving to Charleston to be with her family. In Charleston, she was a school counselor at West Ashley High School.  In her spare time, you may find her walking the city, coaching lacrosse or attending local concerts. Winnie has a huge passion for helping others and is excited to be a part of the USL community!

Nicole Brockman

Nicole Brockman

Middle School Director, 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. Her teaching career spans 18 years of guiding children in public and independent schools. She joined University School in 2011. In addition to teaching, Nicole sponsors USL's Chess Club and Math Club.  Due to USL's hallmark individualized approach to mathematics education, as of 2023 she has led her students to eight State Championships (and two runners-up) in the last ten years at the SCISA State Math Meet.  Nicole resides in Mt. Pleasant with her children, Evie and Riley. In her spare time, she can often be found at Starbucks tutoring, hanging with her children, golfing, or reading.  Nicole was honored as the 2017-2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year for South Carolina's Independent Schools.  Nicole was named the South Carolina Middle School Math Teacher of the Year (SCISA) for 2022-2023. 

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Heather Connelly

B.S., M.Ed.
US Chemistry & Physics

Heather moved to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston where she graduated from the Honors College with a B.S. in Biology and Secondary Education Certification followed by a M.Ed. in Math and Science education. She taught High School Science in Charleston for 6 years before finding her way to the University School where she became a Middle School science teacher. After teaching at USL for 6 more years, she stepped away from teaching to stay home with her children for a few years. Heather is excited to rejoin the faculty teaching Chemistry to the Upper School students. Heather lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband Drew and their 5 children. She enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors (especially on or near the water), reading and cooking.

Don Burkard

Don Burkard

B.A., M.A.
College Counseling

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."


Monica Doubal

MS / US Spanish, LOTCs

Monica was born in Acapulco, Mexico, and lived in many different cities within the country while learning local traditions. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Hospitality in Merida, Yucatán. After college, she moved to California where she started her own floral business, raised 3 beautiful children, and enjoyed all that California has to offer. She moved to the Lowcountry where she worked in the Spanish Immersion Program at the Learning Center in Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church. She fell in love with teaching Spanish and the traditions of the Latin culture.  In 2012, Monica joined Charleston County School District where she taught Spanish (K through 5th). She served as a translator when school staff interacted with Spanish-only parents. Monica has also tutored students in Spanish since 2010. She also has worked as a translator, interpreter, and legal assistant in an Immigration Law firm, helping the Spanish-speaking community to understand and follow US immigration laws. She loves to cook and enjoy the beach with her family.  Monica also has an enthusiastic positive attitude, living by this quote: “If you cannot find a kind person, BE ONE.” 

Sonia Goldberg

Sonia Goldberg

B.A., B.F.A.
IS & US Spanish

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. She has been teaching Spanish in several local schools since 2002, and she has worked for an Immersion Spanish program for 15 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."

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Ginger Colvin

B.A. / M.A.T.
Middle School English

Originally from Easley, SC, Ginger received her B.A. in English from Furman University and her M.A.T. from the University of South Carolina. She has taught English at the college, high school, and middle school levels since 2002. Ginger is a recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (2016-17). She has South Carolina Endorsements in the areas of Gifted and Talented and Read to Succeed. Ginger is certified as a Highly Qualified Teacher in the areas of English and Middle Level Language Arts.  

Some of her interests are wildlife and traveling. She has been on safaris in Tanzania and serves as a volunteer on the Sullivan’s Island Turtle Team. In addition, Ginger is a Dominion Energy School Programs volunteer at the SC Aquarium. 

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, running, and biking with her family and dog on Daniel Island, where she resides. 

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Bennett Jones

MS/US Humanities, Environmental Science, LOTCs

Bennett was raised in Greer, South Carolina, and has been in Charleston since 2009. He graduated from College of Charleston with a degree in Urban Planning and a minor in Geography. Over the last ten years in Charleston, he has organized thousands of community initiatives and events to connect vital resources with those that need them, including food, after school education/tutoring, school supplies, and community space for outdoor education. Most recently, he was the Community Director at Charleston-based non-profit Enough Pie, working to integrate the arts into the traditional learning curriculum at James Simons Elementary, Sundrops Montessori, Charleston School of Math & Sciences, and Sanders-Clyde Elementary. Last year, he co-authored and published his first book, Tales From The Manor, a history of Charleston based on a series of interviews with the wise elders at Joseph Floyd Manor, a low-income elderly and disabled federal housing unit in Charleston's Upper Peninsula. 

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Jake Keim

Upper School German

Jake is a native South Carolinian: he was born and raised in Spartanburg. He decided to make his move to Charleston more permanent after graduating from the College of Charleston in 2019. Jake earned his undergraduate degrees in English with a concentration in creative writing and German as well as a degree from the school's Honors College. While at C of C, Jake worked for Miscellany, the school's undergraduate literary magazine for four years and served as Managing Editor and Editor in Chief his last two years. Jake also has articles and work published online through the Frankfurter Neue Presse based out of Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany where he worked as an intern in the summer of 2018.  Outside of the classroom, Jake enjoys good coffee, loud music, weird movies, and weirder books.

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Nan Kleiner

Intermediate School Humanities

Originally from Greenwood, SC, Nan received her B.A. in Public Relations and her M.A.T. from the University of South Carolina, where she was a South Carolina Teaching Fellow. Nan started her teaching career in Columbia, SC and also taught the elementary grades in New Jersey and Maryland. She became passionate about the needs of high achieving learners when she taught in the Center Programs for the Highly Gifted in Montgomery County, Maryland - a program designed to enrich, accelerate and extend the district's gifted curriculum. Nan has a special interest in how the brain learns and enjoys planning lessons that teach with the brain in mind. Formerly, Nan spent summers teaching a graduate course for educators on teaching and learning through movement. Nan lives in Charleston with her husband, Jonas, and kids, Lila and Sam. She enjoys hanging with her family, being outside, reading and cooking. She is thrilled to be a part of the USL community!

Jason Kreutner

Jason Kreutner

B.A. / B.S., M.A.
Founder & Head of School
Leadership & Life Skills
College Counseling, 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).

USL's model features leaders who are also faculty members.  Kreutner teaches all students in Leadership and Life Skills, organizes and leads the weekly experiential learning activities (Learning Outside the Classroom), and coaches the Quiz Bowl teams.  In 2020-2021, University School was the first school in the state to win the Quiz Bowl State Championships in all three divisions (Elementary, Middle, and High School) in the same year.

Prior to establishing USL, he was a teacher and administrator at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, SC, Porter-Gaud School, and Charleston Collegiate School.

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. In 2022, he was honored by SCISA with the Charles J. Beach, Jr. Award for the Volunteer of the Year (Head of School).  This meant that Kreutner has been honored with all three Head of School Awards that SCISA bestows. His leadership of USL was spotlighted in USC’s alumni magazine, Carolinian (“Chalkboard Champs”). He consults and has provided guidance to several existing and new independent and public schools, and he has presented at South Carolina, Southeast region, and national education forums.

Mr. Kreutner is married to Ashleigh (Tasha) Eady, a member of the corporate management team for Ooh! Events. They have two children: a daughter, Kessler (USL '23, University of Virginia '27), and a son, John Ross (USL '31). In addition to his work in school settings, he is also a longtime coach, builder of strong and positive organizational culture, and developer of successful young people through swimming. In 2008, Mount Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman awarded him the key to the city for his work as Head Coach of Snee Farm Swim Team since 1990.

Wei Ma

Wei Ma

IS Mandarin

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.

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Jen Payes

Physical Education
Red Cross Instructor

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!

Sara Peck

Sara Peck

B.A., M.A.
Upper School Director, US English, US Journalism
College Counseling

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. Sara has been teaching middle and high school writing and English at USL since 2013.  She was honored as the 2020-2021 High School Teacher of the Year for South Carolina's Independent Schools.

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Maya Rawls

B.A., M.A.
Science, LOTCs

Maya grew up on Folly Beach and graduated from our Middle School (there was no Upper School at that time) in 2011 as Duke TIP State Scholar.  She went to high school at Academic Magnet and college at Furman University in Greenville, SC. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, with a focus on environmental science and science education. After her graduation in 2019, she also completed a Masters in Special Education (focused on Learning Disabilities) from Furman University. Maya completed her first year teaching 6th grade science at an arts integration school in Greenville County, and then went on to teach 6th grade science for the Greenville County Virtual Program for the past year. Maya also has participated in a teaching fellowship with the Public Education Partners, focusing on advocacy and community outreach for the past year. Maya moved back to Charleston this spring, and is so excited to be a part of the USL family, this time as a teacher instead of a student. In Maya’s free time, she enjoys wakeboarding, going to the beach, and exploring Charleston!

Randy Straff

Randy Straff

B.A., M.Ed.
Intermediate School Director, IS English, US Film Studies, LOTCs

Randy was born and raised in Havertown, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. He received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.Ed. from Temple University. He moved to Mt. Pleasant after 25 years as an Honors English / Literature teacher at the prestigious Philadelphia High School for Girls. Randy also taught Poetry, Film Study and SAT Prep at Girls High and he coached the tennis team and the National Academic League team. He was also a Class Sponsor for over a decade. During his summers, Randy is Senior Director at Arrowhead Day Camp in West Chester, PA, where he works with campers age 4-17. Randy has lived in Mt Pleasant for four years with his wife Erica and daughter Savannah, who is a Senior at the College of Charleston. He also has a son, Robbie, who graduated from West Virginia University and works in Philadelphia. In his free time, Randy plays golf and loves going to the beach. He is also an avid baseball fan(Phillies, of course) and a collector of Beatles memorabilia. Randy enjoys reading and loves the classics, especially the works of Shakespeare, Poe and Lewis Carroll.

Tiffany Thompson

Tiffany Thompson

Math & LOTCs
Red Cross Instructor
Job Shadow Program
School Testing

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.  They have two young boys.  In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys playing piano, swimming, playing with her two cats, and playing trivia. Tiffany was honored as the 2022-2023 High School Teacher of the Year for South Carolina's Independent Schools.

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Tasha Tirpak

Director of Community Life, LOTCs

Tasha was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, SC and is a lover of all things topped with sprinkles and near the water. She is a recent graduate of Winthrop University and earned a degree in Elementary Education. Her time as a swim coach for Snee Farm Swim Team is what drew her to a career in education. Tasha has experiences in grades kindergarten through 8th, from several student teaching internships and fellowship programs in South Carolina and California. She also enjoyed teaching art and cooking classes to University School students on Zoom during the 2020 quarantine. Outside of the classroom, Tasha loves to bake cookies and cakes, watch the sunset, and spend time with family and friends.

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Jody Lemmon

Intermediate School Math

Jody Lemmon is a multi-talented educator, entrepreneur, and artist with a diverse range of experience and interests. With a New Jersey K-8 certified teacher certification, Jody has been a dedicated teacher throughout her career, with experience in both general and special education. She has served as a lead teacher in preschool and middle school and has also worked as a computer instructor and contributed to various educational programs and enrichment activities. 
In addition to her work in education, Jody was a successful hairstylist and salon owner for ten years, where she developed skills in entrepreneurship, marketing, and customer service. Jody grew up in New Jersey and attended Saint Peter's University, where she earned a BA degree in Elementary Education and American Studies. She later moved with her family to Mount Pleasant in 2009 to escape shoveling snow and enjoy the sunny weather.
Outside of work, Jody enjoys exploring her creative side through mixed media art and cultivating her garden. She also loves building with Legos and has a 5-star Animal Crossing Island. Jody's diverse interests and passion for adventure reflect in her teaching, where she encourages her students to think critically and approach math with a sense of creativity and wonder.
With her skills, experience, and passion for education, Jody is an excellent fit at USL as the IS Math Teacher. Her dedication to her community and open-minded and curious approach to life make her a valuable asset. Jody is excited to bring her enthusiasm for math and creativity to the classroom and inspire students to reach their full potential.
Frank Williams

Frank Williams

B.A., M.A.
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.