Middleburg Academy welcomes new faculty for the 2015-2016 school year.

Dave Gillis / Director of Computer Science and Technology

Dave Gillis is a firm believer that learning is about taking risks and discovering things. He has been an educator for 13 years: at public and private high schools, and community colleges. Dave has taught Math, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, AP-Calculus, Statistics; Science, Physics, AP-Physics, Mechanics; as well as Engineering and Computer Science. Before that he was an Engineer for 20 years at places like IBM, Thomson & Thomson, and Derwent.

A father of four and a grandfather of five, Dave is an avid outdoor person. He loves coaching soccer, cross country, and lacrosse. He also loves to mountain bike, ski, hike, and do all things outdoors. In 2008 he climbed Denali in Alaska with his oldest son who was 19 at the time.

At Middleburg Academy, Dave will be teaching Engineering and Computer Science. This week he is tinkering with AutoDesk Inventor and a 3D printer. Dave believes his role as an educator is to create a safe and supportive environment that encourages and facilitates curiosity.

 

Jennifer Grubb / Director of Learning Services and Counceling

Jennifer Grubb majored in both Psychology and Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and holds a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Monmouth University. She played soccer for the Washington Freedom, where she became known as "Ironwoman" after having played every minute of every game during the league's duration. Following her career as a professional soccer player, Jennifer spent three years at Flint Hill School as a learning specialist, advisor, and coach. In 2006, Jennifer moved to New Jersey, and while there, she held various positions which include: academic support, counseling, teaching, advising, and coaching at the Peddie School; coaching soccer at Seton Hall University; teaching Psychology as an adjunct professor at Brookdale Community College; and counseling and consulting in private practice.  

After nearly ten years away from Virginia, Jennifer Grubb is looking forward to her return. In her spare time, she enjoys the sun, animals, kids, reading, sports, music, and travelling - in no particular order! She looks forward to adventures ranging from hiking in the Shenandoah to swimming with stingrays in Antigua.  

As she begins her career at Middleburg Academy, she is looking forward to meeting the students and faculty, becoming integrated into the community, and meeting new challenges. As the Director of Learning Services and Counseling, she is excited to encourage growth in individuals and small groups, and she looks forward to supporting students in developing their unique strengths.

 

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Art Pekun / Assistant Director of Advancement

Art Pekun was born in Eastern Europe a year before the Berlin wall came down. He has called Virginia his home for the past 17 years, but on occasion still travels halfway around the world to visit his birthplace. Art studied Russian history at James Madison University; double majoring in History and Media Arts.

Art landed a full time job at Rosetta Stone as a senior in high school. In the past 8 years, he has worked in I.T., designed software, photographed, and produced videos for this company. His work can be seen in over 30 language products. In 2014, his voice was used in the Russian iPhone app for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Art has also traveled a good part of the globe, taking a year off work to do this. He has been as far as Cape Town and Helsinki; climbed rooftops in St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Rome; volunteered in orphanages and offered freelance photography services. He loves to ski, snowboard, and ice skate in the winter. He tends to hide from the heat in the summer, but still loves to hike and swim.

At Middleburg Academy Art will take on marketing, redesigning the website, posting on social media, and writing press releases (including this one). He will also document day-to-day activities and cover sporting events. He looks forward to advising the photo/video club and telling stories of his travels.

 

Dayton Slye / Admissions Officer

Dayton Slye is the newest addition to Middleburg Academy's Admissions Team. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where she worked in the admissions house during her four years as a student. Dayton was born and raised in the Boston area, where she was fortunate enough to grow up near her entire family, including 22 cousins!

Dayton has traveled to the UK, Copenhagen, Scotland, Ireland, India, and studied abroad in France during her junior year of high school. However her favorite place to visit is Lake Sunapee, NH, where her grandparents used to live. Dayton loves to watch movies, see her friends, and listen to all types of music. Her favorite concert is the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, where she worked for a family friend during the festival, and had the opportunity to meet many of her favorite musicians. She is also an avid Boston sports fan, and won third in her family fantasy football league this year (Go Pats!).

Dayton is excited to put her admissions experience and psychology degree to work in her new job. She is very happy to be working with such an excellent team at Middleburg, and looks forward to meeting all the students, prospective students, and their families.

 

Bala Selvakumar / Biology Teacher

Balakrishnan Selvakumar, or Bala, grew up in Chennai (formerly Madras), a coastal city in southeastern India, before coming to the US to pursue doctoral studies. He received his PhD in Cell Biology from Duke University, and then completed a research fellowship in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University where he worked as a Research Associate until his recent decision to teach Biology at Middleburg Academy.

Bala chose biology as his profession because he is fascinated by how living things function. Much of his research work has focused on the cell-signaling role of the reactive molecule nitric oxide. Specifically, he identified mechanisms by which this molecule influences the physiological function of the vascular system and the brain. His research has been published in journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; it has been selected as Editors Choice by the journal Science Signaling; and, it has been cited as being "of special significance in its field" by an academic for the directory, Faculty of 1000 prime.

Bala enjoys being a home cook as much as being intrigued by the relationship between food and people. With the help of a scholarship from the Culinary Trust USA, he recently graduated from a gastronomy program in France organized by Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and the University of Reims, Champagne-Ardenne, writing a thesis on food and human interaction. He writes about his interests through his blog, www.madrasbala.com.

Bala lives with his lovely wife, Pavithra and adorable baby girl, Ileya in Fairfax, Virginia. He hopes to continue research and teach a course on gastronomy at Middleburg Academy.

 

Theresa Dames / Chemistry Teacher  

Originally from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Theresa Dames grew up as the youngest of four siblings. She has always felt compelled to go beyond her older siblings' accomplishments, and that propelled her through many successes in high school. But the sibling rivalry dwindled by the time college rolled around, so Theresa had to find personal interests to pursue, instead of competitive interests.

Theresa spent her college freshman year at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, studying history. It was there that she came across an archaeology course that piqued her interest. This prompted her to want to learn more about the science behind the techniques and she switched her focus to forensic chemistry. She eventually transferred to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Theresa has a huge passion for chemistry, and is always looking for ways to interest others in the topic. She is excited to teach at Middleburg Academy and is ready to take on the challenges and successes that this school year will bring.

Theresa spends most of her time reading, as well as playing sports, board games, and musical instruments. She loves being outdoors, and especially enjoys hiking, gardening, and running cross country.

 

Janet Dewey / English teacher

Reading has always been Janet's passion, and it naturally followed that she became an English major in college. After graduating from Furman University and working briefly in the banking industry, she returned to graduate school, earning a PhD from the University of South Carolina. Janet wrote her dissertation on six Victorian novels, focusing on gender issues in "sensation fiction" - a form of mystery novel popular in the 1860s.

After teaching English and Women Studies at the college level, Janet decided to relocate closer to family on the East Coast and try a new educational arena. Since then she's taught 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade English at The Potomac School, coached JV and varsity cross-country, and chaired the English Department. She's also led school tours for Great Country Farms and coordinated weddings for Bluemont Vineyard.

Here at Middleburg academy, Janet will be teaching grades 10 and 11. She says that working with high school students is "never predictable, always exciting and immensely rewarding."

 

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Matt LaMotte / History teacher

A native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, Matt grew up in Baltimore and attended St. Paul's School for Boys. He then attended Washington & Lee University, where he majored in History and played Lacrosse. Besides following his passion for lacrosse by coaching and playing on a high level, Matt is also an avid bird hunter (especially waterfowl) and fly fisherman. Matt is very proud of his two sons, Matt Jr., and Peter, the former a media producer for Interscope/Universal Records and the latter a Navy veteran who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Matt has taught at college preparatory schools in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia. Here at Middleburg Academy, Matt will teach a variety of history and social studies courses - Western Civilization, US History, AP US Government & Politics, and International Relations - as well as being an advisor to the new Model UN Club.


David Sturdevant / Drama teacher

David Sturdevant is a professionally trained actor, director and acting teacher. As an actor, he has performed and directed locally with numerous theatres, including Loudoun Centre Theatre, the Pickwick Players, and Not Just Shakespeare. He performed in Louisville, KY with the Creation Theatre Group and in Washington DC at the Source Theatre Festival, appearing at the Kennedy Center. He has taught acting to students ranging in age from middle school to the university level. David is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Loudoun Center Theatre and was formerly the Chairman of the Board of the Not Just Shakespeare Theatre Company in Leesburg, VA.

David is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Louisville, where he was a member of the Repertory Company. He has studied Shakespearean performance in Cambridge, England and is a graduate of the Classical Acting Workshop at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC. Most recently, he studied Shakespeare's Language at Everyman Theatre with Gary Logan (author of The Eloquent Shakespeare). He is trained in the Linklater voice system and in the Leqoc movement technique. The foundation of his approach is the Stanisklavski System, including modern variants such as the Practical Aesthetics approach. He is a proponent of theatre games and the use of improvisation techniques to stimulate creativity and discovery when working on a role. In his development of actors, he strives for clarity, truth and dynamism.

David's love of all things Shakespeare has become a family affair - he met his wife at a workshop at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC and has been involved in two local Shakespeare productions with his wife and children. Perhaps he should have drawn the line playing opposite his wife as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth!

 

Jared Eastridge / Music Teacher 

A native of Blacksburg, Virginia, Jared earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and a Performance Certificate while studying at the University of South Carolina. During his studies, Jared formed the wind quintet, Syzygy, and toured South Carolina while performing outreach concerts at elementary, middle, and high schools. Jared was also the principal clarinetist of the wind ensemble and symphony orchestra at the University of South Carolina. He then went on to earn a Master of Music degree from Florida State University where he was also the principal clarinetist of the wind ensemble, performing multiple chamber concerts and music festivals.

Jared began his teaching career in Chester, Pennsylvania, teaching music to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. At Middleburg Academy, Jared is looking forward to directing the choral and instrumental ensembles and hopes to incorporate non traditional ensembles as well as music composition and improvisation into the curriculum. He is excited about the opportunity to expand the size of the performing ensembles at Middleburg Academy.

Jared is a freelance musician in the D.C. metro area as well as a clarinetist with the Liberty Winds. He teaches private lessons at A+ Music in Leesburg and A&A Music in Brambleton. Jared lives in Leesburg with his wife, Jessica, and their two dogs, Sadie and Fannie. When not teaching or performing, Mr. Eastridge enjoys cooking and dog training.