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.
Our faculty and staff have been recognized 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), and High School Teacher of the Year (2020-2021).
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.
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, she has led her students to six State Championships (and two runners-up) in the last eight years at the SCISA State Math Meet. Nicole resides in Mt. Pleasant with her husband Roger, on Dylan, and daughter Riley. In her spare time, she can often be found at Starbucks tutoring, hanging with her children, golfing, or reading. Nikki was honored as the 2017-2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year for South Carolina's Independent Schools.
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."
Alauria was born and raised in western Georgia and made her way to the Lowcountry in the early-2000s. Alauria has twenty-five years of teaching experience ranging from inner city Atlanta, working as a Director for Sylvan Learning, teaching at the Hammond School in Columbia and 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 Georgia 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. Alauria was honored as the 2019-2020 Elementary School Teacher of the Year for South Carolina's Independent Schools.
School Counselor, LOTCs
Lara has a Master of Arts in Counseling, with an emphasis in school counseling, from Seton Hall University and a Bachelor in Science in Psychology and Music Therapy from Charleston Southern University. She is a licensed professional counselor associate (LPCA) and a board certified music therapist (MT-BC), as well as a certified Parent Talk System Facilitator. She also has extensive experience and training in supporting gifted and talented children. Lara has her own private counseling practice, runs parenting groups and often speaks at conferences for teachers on the social and emotional needs of students.
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 -- mountains, desert, ocean and city lifestyle. Almost 10 years ago, she moved to the beautiful Lowcountry where she began working in the Spanish Immersion Program at the Learning Center in Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church. She fell in love with teaching all about the Spanish language and the beautiful traditions of the Latin culture. In 2012, Monica joined Charleston County School District where she taught Spanish (K through 5th) at Whitesides Elementary in Mount Pleasant. She was also able to connect and serve as the translator when school staff interacted with Spanish-only parents and community members. Monica has also tutored students in Spanish since 2010. Most recently she 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 and the beautiful nature that South Carolina has to offer. Monica also has an enthusiastic positive attitude, living by this quote: “If you cannot find a kind person, BE ONE.”
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."
MS & US Science
Elizabeth, a Mount Pleasant, SC native, 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.
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.
MS/US Humanities, 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 Simmons Elementary, Sundrops Montessori, Charleston School of Math & Sciences, and Sanders-Clyde Elementary School. Last year, he co-authored and published his first book, Tales From The Manor, a history of Charleston based on a series of interviews (available via podcast) with the wise elders at Joseph Floyd Manor, a low-income elderly and disabled federal housing unit in Charleston's Upper Peninsula. Bennett is thrilled to be a part of the USL family and collaborate with the students and faculty.
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). 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.
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.
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!
Rosemary joins the USL team with over 40 years of teaching experience. Born, raised, and educated in Massachusetts, she earned a triple major B.A. in Education; Music-Choral/Vocal, and Spanish from UMass Dartmouth. She later studied Spanish language at the Masters level from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain and Second language Acquisition at CofC. Recent teaching experiences in the Charleston area include elementary Spanish I- IV AP and IB at Fort Dorchester HS (where she worked with Sr. Ann Rowland), JICHS, and Academic Magnet HS. After retiring from CCSD, she has taught Spanish II and currently tutors at Charleston Day School. In addition, Rosemary is a well known soloist and choir director (Soloist, Section Leader, and Director of 3 choirs at St. Michael's Church 2002-2009). Rosemary has five adult children, seven grandchildren and lives in West Ashley with two rescue dogs, two rescue cats and two parrots. She is very pleased with USL's educational philosophy and is excited to become part of the team.
Upper School Director, 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. 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.
IS Math and 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!
Intermediate School Director, IS Reading and Writing, 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.
Math & LOTCs
Red Cross Instructor
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.