Mary Shaffner, Executive Director

I was the Founding Executive Director of Washington Yu Ying PCS and led the effort to open and lead the school from 2005-2012. I have more than 15 years experience in management and marketing in not-for-profit organizations and the private sector. I have an MBA and a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University. I’m passionate about education and entrepreneurial ventures. I love travel, being in the wilderness and in the water. I’m an advanced diver. I have two children and a husband who is a DC Native. We love spending time outside in nature. I speak Chinese and keep trying to improve it. I also speak German. I’m excited about DCI because this is an incredible educational opportunity for students and our graduates will have so many options! I want to see this education available for more students around the world.


Simon Rodberg, Principal

Before DCI, I was an assistant principal at Alice Deal Middle School and an English teacher at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School. I’ve also worked on education policy and as a fourth grade teacher. My degrees are from Harvard Graduate School of Education, University College Dublin, and Yale University. I’m passionate about making school a place where young people are happy and excited to learn. Outside of school, I love traveling, cooking, reading, and going on adventures with my 6-year-old son, Abe. I speak Spanish and try to be polite in Chinese, French, Russian, and Czech. I’m excited to lead a wonderful team of adults to create a truly 21st-century, global school for our students.


Deidra Bailey, Assistant Principal

I hold a B.A. in Government and International Politics as well as a M.Ed in Special Education from George Mason University. I am  also a 2009 Teach For America corps member in the DC Region. For the past five years, I have taught special education at Anacostia Senior High School in Southeast Washington, DC. During my time at Anacostia I taught in both an inclusion algebra 1 classroom as well as humanities for students with emotional disabilities in a self-contained setting. I want to see growth in my student both in and outside of the classroom. I am extremely passionate about social justice and service. In my spare time I volunteer by serving as a member of the regional organizing strategy team for Leadership for Education Equity (LEE). The work I do with LEE focuses on ensuring education equality throughout the various wards of the city.

While I am only fluent in English, I studied both Spanish and French in high school and college, respectively.

I cannot express enough my excitement to be apart of the DCI team. The mission and values of DCI are in line with my own values and views on the world. I am so excited to be a part of the innovation and cultural immersion that is DC International School.


Rachel Sussman, Assistant Principal

I came to DCI after three years of directing the Higher Achievement program at Kelly Miller Middle School, in Ward 7. I have a BA in history from Barnard College (Columbia University) and an MA in history from Yale University. I began my career with New York City youth as the Assistant Director of the Fresh Air Fund’s Career Awareness Program (CAP).  I taught 7th and 8th grade history and activism at the Manhattan Country School for five years, during which time I was named “Rising Star Independent Middle School Teacher” by the Blackboard Awards.  I moved to DC in 2010 to work as the Assistant Director of B’Tselem USA, an Israeli human rights organization. I currently serve on the board of B’Tselem USA and I am also the board chair of The Next Step PCS, a GED charter school.

I am committed to issues of social justice and educational equity. I am thrilled to join the DCI community, where these issues are prioritized. I am also a lifelong language learner – Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and a little French. I love to travel, especially if I can put some of my language learning to use! In my free time, I love to run with my trusty doggie sidekick, Otis, an energetic pit/lab mix. Look out for us, running along the Anacostia River on the weekends!


Gregg Albright, Athletic Director and Physical Education Teacher

I have a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a B.S. degree and teaching credential in Physical Education  from CSUN. I have been a Teacher, Coach, Research Faculty and Administrator for over 25 years serving in K-12 schools and Universities in California, Virginia, Georgia and most recently in Lima, Peru. For the last 10 years I have been teaching, coaching and an Athletic Director at IB World Schools (Atlanta International and Colegio Roosevelt). In addition to Physical Education I have taught Computer and Lego Robotics. I have coached baseball, basketball and field events in track; however, the majority of my coaching career has been focused on volleyball. I started out as a player competing in amateur and professional volleyball tournaments throughout the United States and then transitioned to the sidelines coaching at the Club and High School level. From there I moved on to coach collegiately at The University of Mary Washington and also served as a scout for the USA Men’s Olympic Team at the London 2012 Olympics.

While working at the IB World Schools I received extensive training and experience in the PYP and MYP and also supervised personal projects, CAS groups, class trips and coached in international tournaments. I love being part of an IB school filled with energy and enthusiasm about learning and teaching through inquiry and discovery. There is a unique feeling in the hallways and out on the playing fields that demonstrates itself through students and staff who are knowledgeable, caring, multilingual, and aware both culturally and environmentally.

I am fluent in English and conversational in Spanish. I want to continue improving my Spanish proficiency and also begin to study Chinese.

I am excited to be part of a community of learning where I strongly identify with the mission, vision and values coupled with the potential for the school to be a leading model of International excellence.


Alison Auerbach, Director of Language Learning

After spending the last part of my career leading elementary Spanish immersion schools, I am excited to be a member of the DCI community as we extend such valuable learning experiences to middle and high school students. I am passionate about contributing to a school with such a bold mission and high standards for our wonderfully diverse student body. I began my teaching career working in international schools in Madrid, Spain. I have also taught in New York, Northern Virginia and DC and directed youth programs for several community organizations. Through New Leaders for New Schools, I served as resident principal at one of DCI’s feeder schools, Elsie Whitlow Stokes PCS. From there I served for six years at another DCI feeder, DC Bilingual PCS, as Founding Principal and in other leadership capacities. Most recently, I was the Principal of Bancroft Elementary School. I am fluent in Spanish, can sometimes get by in French, and am determined to learn some Chinese. I have an M.S.A. in Educational Administration from Trinity University, an M.A. in Elementary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in History from Yale University. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children –a DCI and a Mundo Verde student– who have thrived in bilingual learning environments their entire lives.



Dean Harris, IB MYP Coordinator

Prior to DC International Public Charter School I have been a sixth-grade teacher at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School and a pedagogy and  curriculum advisor for DCI. Before this I worked at other international schools including the Washington International School, the Western Academy of Beijing, the American Community School in Egham, Surrey, UK and Sandford International School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I have also taught at UK state schools in Devon and Cornwall, UK.  

I am an International Baccalaureate workshop leader and site visitor who has presented to, led workshops for, and consulted with, schools and educators in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas. I have taught in IB  programmes since 1997 and have been a workshop leader, consultant and site visitor since 2003. I am also an Apple Distinguished Educator, a member of the ‘Class of 2008’, and have been an adjunct professor for George Mason University’s FAST TRAIN IB teacher training programme. I am extremely excited to be working with such an amazing team, in such a great community, constructing not only the school I always wanted to work at, but one that I also want my children to go to!


Cody Long, Director of Student Life

I came to DCI after having taught Spanish in Prince George’s County and DC for three years. Developing our art and theatre programs at DCI for the last two years was pure joy, and I am honored to lead our after school and lunch activities, as well as our international trips and community partnerships. I am passionate about providing opportunities for all students to engage in enrichment activities. After taking students to Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, the Textile Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, the Italian Embassy and the Newseum (just to name a few), I am excited about helping other teachers plan meaningful field trips and partnerships. I am most proud of my advisory.

I graduated from Temple University with a BA in Religion, with minors in Spanish and LGBT Studies. I grew up in a Spanish immersion program and can speak first-hand to the benefits of a bilingual and multicultural education. Before becoming a teacher, I worked as an associate with Leadership Now at Lancaster Theological Seminary, leading international trips to Mexico, South Africa and Lesotho, Thailand and India.

While my Spanish remains decent, I am proud of the few phrases I’ve mastered in Chinese and French over the last two years! When not teaching, I love to cook, eat and entertain. I also enjoy sewing and seeing theatre in DC.


Melody Maitland, Director of Student Support Services

I have a Master’s in Social Work  from University of Denver, and a Master’s of Education (concentration in Special Education) from George Mason University. I have  worked as a secondary special education teacher in DCPS at Ballou High School. My education passions are teaching students how to advocate for themselves, teaching the power of literacy and reading, researching and applying the latest evidence-based practices for reading, writing, and math instruction as well as behavioral interventions in the classroom, data collection and data-based decision making for academic and behavioral intervention implementation.

My life’s passion is to bridge the gap between educational practice and implementation at the school and district levels and educational policy and discourse at the political and university levels. I am excited to be part of the  founding education team at a school that values multiculturalism and helps develop students that are able to compete in an ever changing global economy. I hope to aid in the creation of a  model that is replicated worldwide, and proves that every child, regardless of his/her background, can learn and thrive!


Allison Sandusky, Director of Student Culture

Hello DCI Community!   This will be my 9th year working full-time in education.  I have spent the past 8 years working as a middle school math and science teacher at three different schools: DCI, KIPP DC: WILL Academy, and Camden’s Promise Charter School in Camden, NJ.  I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 and have a dual degree in Spanish and Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science–Go Blue!

This year, I will be transitioning into a new role: Director of Student Culture.  I have loved teaching because of the relationships I’ve formed with my students; I love getting to know them as individuals.  However, I’m really excited to be able to focus on making our DCI community amazing and look forward to having a positive impact on students in a different way.

Despite studying Spanish all through high school and college, my speaking skills need more work. I’m very excited to improve them, while learning some Mandarin and French along the way.

Outside of school, I am a huge sports fanatic. No matter the time of year, you can find me rooting for Michigan and Detroit sports teams. There is nowhere I’d rather be than a Michigan football game!


Nicole Welsh, Director of Educational Technology

I am thrilled to be entering my third year working at DCI and my eighth year working in education in the Washington, DC region. This year, I will be serving as DCI’s Director of Educational Technology. I am excited to transition into this new role while still teaching sixth grade English classes and supporting other DCI teachers. My previous teaching experience is with KIPP DC and Prince George’s County Public Schools. My passions in education include pushing students to become better readers and better writers and using technology to improve student outcomes. I hold a BA in English from the George Washington University and an M. Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. I was a 2009 Teach For America Corps Member and a 2015 Education Innovation Fellow with the CityBridge Foundation. Outside of school, I love exercising, rooting for the New York Jets, reading, and spending time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to another amazing year at DCI!




Adam Reinhard, Visual Arts

I have a BA in Music and Studio Art from the University of Virginia, and earned my Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design. For the last three years I have taught the visual arts at Frank W. Ballou High School in Washington, DC including photography, digital art, painting and drawing. I am passionate about helping students realize and nurture the immense artistic and creative potential that they each posses.

Outside of school, I enjoy cooking, training for triathlons, and painting, of course. I studied the French language for nine years and I am excited to teach at DCI during the upcoming school year, especially since I will have the opportunity to teach approximately half of my courses in French! I am looking forward to teaching students to learn about world cultures and the arts through questioning and exploration.


Zachary Diamond, Music

I graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 with a major in Music History and Theory, and I received a Fulbright to study music and music education in Lima, Peru, at Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas.  After the grant period, I stayed in Lima for another five years teaching music and eventually English as a Second Language, and I completed a Master’s degree in Music Education online through Boston University.  As an educator, I am most passionate about helping students discover and articulate just what they love about music in order to deepen their playing and listening.  Outside of school, I keep active in the local music scene, working as a drummer in musical theater productions, playing mandolin and fiddle bluegrass bands, and teaching private lessons.  In addition to English, I speak fluent Spanish, and I am very excited to work with students in DCI’s Spanish Language track.  I am also looking forward to working with DCI’s eminently diverse body of music-loving students, who I am sure will enrich my musical life just as much as I hope to enrich theirs!




Shane Donovan

I graduated Harvard College in 2009 and got a masters at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. I have been teaching physics, engineering, and robotics since 2009, first in Philadelphia and then in D.C., and have coached FIRST robotics Team 4821 for the last 4 years. I am passionate about helping students unleash their creative potential to design a better world. Outside of school, I play soccer, piano, and guitar, and I speak French and Spanish. I’m looking forward to learning right alongside our students and families!




Danielle A. Boudreaux, English Teacher

I hold a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. Prior to DCI, I taught Literature and Composition at the college level. Over my fourteen-year collegiate teaching career, I taught at Howard University, Prince George’s Community College and the Catholic University of America. I also have a strong background in desktop publishing and electronic media, due to having advised various student publications and a short (and ill-advised) stint in public relations and marketing.

Outside of school, I enjoy watching my kids morph into awesome little people and seeing my husband be a total goofball throughout the process. I also enjoy making wire jewelry and homemade cosmetics.

A poet at heart, I believe passionately that all forms of artistic expression are critical to a fully realized world. That said, what I am most looking forward to at DCI is impacting my students’ impressions of reading and writing in a big way. Using various literary forms, I hope to help them see that English and the written word are not scary at all but essential elements to being a responsible, proactive global citizen.


Michael Hicks, English Teacher

I am very excited to come to DCI this year from the International School of Stuttgart, Germany, where I taught English Language Acquisition in grades 6 and 8 as part of the IB/MYP curriculum. At ISS, I enjoyed working in an incredibly diverse community represented by all languages, nationalities, and cultures.  While there, I also interned in the school’s IT department, served as the technician of our school’s annual musical production, and enjoyed teaching swimming and coaching table tennis after school. Prior to working at ISS, I earned both my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree at the University of Virginia.

Outside of school I am an avid runner and hiker, and have set the goal of completing my first marathon this year. I also enjoy playing the saxophone and learning the piano, and of course I am a constant reader! At DCI I hope to participate not only in classroom learning as an English teacher, but also in areas I am passionate about such as sports, history, and music. I am also very excited to continue to practice and enhance my Spanish language skills, and if possible expand on my limited German. Hopefully with a year of dedicated practice I will be fluent in Spanish!

Working and learning at DCI during its foundational years is a tremendous opportunity to build a globally minded and progressive community, and I can’t wait to share my love of poetry, literature, and history with students!


Maya Stewart, English Teacher

Greetings DCI community!

After earning a degree in Communications from Arcadia University in 2009, I began working as an English teacher in the DC area.

One of my greatest passions as an educator is to watch students chart their own growth while advocating for themselves. When I’m not in the classroom, you might find me cuddled with my dog Dallas, reading or cooking. French is the language that is closest to my heart but I’m open to learning as many as I possibly can! I’m thrilled that DCI is committed to student growth in a way that is unique and genuine. Amazing things in store!


Karolina Terrazas, English Teacher

I am thrilled to have joined the DCI community of people passionate about helping students thrive in the global world. I was born in Poland where I graduated from the University of Silesia with a B.A. in Education and an M.A. in English, with a concentration in American Literature and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. For over eight years I have been teaching English, English as a Second Language, and Social Studies in Poland and in the U.S. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. My passion and mission in life has been to help young people feel confident and empowered to take risks, feel comfortable if they stumble, and have all the tools necessary to succeed. I believe education must be relevant and applicable in the “real world”; therefore, I always design my lessons with my students’ needs at the center. Both my career in Poland and the experience as an educator in the United States focused mostly on designing and implementing rigorous, accelerated programs in middle school and high school environment, but I have also lectured English as a Second Language at a college level. Last two years I had a pleasure of teaching 5th through 8th grade English and providing ESL support at Global Scholars Academy in Durham, NC. In my leisure time, I love reading, travelling, and staying active. I am an avid volleyball player, and I am happy to be given a chance to coach it at DCI this year. The great adventure of the new school year has started, and I am excited to embark on it with our amazing students and in such an excellent company!


Health and Physical Education

Sebastian Kreindel

I am originally from Newton, MA.  I hold a Bachelor’s degree in history from The College of William and Mary and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from The College of William and Mary School of Education.

After graduating from the university, I moved to Washington D.C. where I have taught in the DC public school system for the past two years. I am a dual language teacher who provides instruction in English and Spanish.

I am passionate about helping students achieve an understanding of global citizenship and pushing students to participate in and lead movements for a cause in which they believe.  I aim to show each student the capacity he or she has to change the world.

Outside of school I enjoy traveling, reading, playing and watching sports, and painting. One of my goals in the upcoming years is to learn German.

I am very excited for the DCI school year to begin and to meet all my future students.  This year will be excellent!


Lindsay McKeon

I grew up in New Jersey and I have a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from Montclair State University. I have been teaching and coaching for 9 years in 3 different countries outside the USA-South Korea, Kuwait, and Argentina. I was fortunate enough to learn the languages of these countries while I was there, but I was most recently in Argentina, and Spanish is my strongest second language. I am excited to continue practicing Spanish at DCI and working towards becoming fluent! I am extremely passionate about guiding students down a path that encourages and empowers them find a balance mentally, emotionally, and physically in their day-to-day life. I enjoy teaching and practicing mindfulness to help model and encourage this balance. Outside of teaching and coaching, I enjoy cooking, reading, exercising, and travel! I look forward to settling in at DCI and becoming part of a diverse community of hard-working, open-minded people working together for a happier, healthier future!




Nicholas Curwen

I am extremely excited this year to be working at DCI this year as the 9th grade US History and Government teacher. I am originally from New Hampshire. I attended Kalamazoo College for my undergraduate degree. I completed a dual major in Political Science and Spanish and a minor in East Asian Religions.  I moved to D.C. following my undergraduate studies and have worked in a parochial school, DC Public Schools and most recently spent five years at a charter school. I completed my Masters in Education at American University with a specialty in curriculum design and administrative leadership.  In the classroom, I love to focus on conversational learning, implementing technology and novel based studies of historical topics. I am really looking forward to an to being a part of DCI as it continues to grow into a high school. Outside of the classroom, I love to cook and explore the outdoors. Travel abroad has been a very meaningful part of my life and spent almost two years living in Spain. My Spanish maybe a little rusty, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to practice at DCI.


Chris Merriman, Individuals & Societies Teacher (French)

Bonjour! I graduated from in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in History Yale University, where I received two departmental prizes for my senior thesis on the Algerian National Soccer team’s role in the Algerian War of Independence. I then joined the Peace Corps, where I taught 5th grade for two years at Tiguibery Elementary School in the West African nation of Guinea-Conakry. After a six-week road trip through West Africa, I moved to Washington D.C. in 2014.

I love learning and teaching history, especially that which pertains to lesser-studied parts of the world. I studied journalism in college and am also passionate about teaching creative writing and journalism.

I spent much of my childhood attending public schools in southern France, where I learned French from an early age. I also studied Spanish in high school and college and, most recently, led teenagers on soccer service trips to Costa Rica. The next language I hope to learn is Arabic

I am an avid soccer player and fan. I also play the drums and enjoy listening to various types of music. I enjoy traveling, speaking foreign languages and learning about different cultures.

I am thrilled to join the DCI staff. I look forward to joining an internationally-minded community that prizes different cultures and languages. I hope to instill in my students a life-long curiosity in the outside world and guide them on the path to becoming global citizens.


Miao Zhang, Chinese

Hi, Da Jia Hao! My name is Miao. I am very proud of coming from the capital of China and living in the capital of the United States!

I came to the U.S. in 2009 and had a Masters Degree in Teaching Additional Languages at the University of Georgia. Before DCI, I have been working at Washington YuYing, an IB Chinese immersion school for four years.  I love working with kids, and I found life is meaningful to pass the knowledge to the young generation and all of us can make a better world. I believe learning should not be limited in classroom. A powerful educational documentary teaches students social justice; an oversea traveling experience allows students to see the diversity of the world; an exhibition in art gallery may help students think differently. We are all constantly learning and I encourage students to think on their own and to think critically.

During my graduate school, I did a research about how and where did the Burmese refugees relocate in the United States and how well they did at school. We went on a road trip with four refugee kids from Georgia, through Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa and up to the Wisconsin. We talked about the cowboy culture when we were in Tennessee, and showed the kids where Lincoln was from and talked about the civil war when we were in Illinois. We took the kids to the University of Iowa and we also stopped at the Mississippi river and talked about Mark Twain’s life. It tells my passion outside work is traveling and I believe traveling is the best way to learn and teach.

Outside work, I also love music, especially jazz and classic rock from the 60s. I look forward to working at DCI and to learn from the wonderful DCI families! If I can pick up some Spanish and French from my DCI students, that would be awesome!






Jorge Arana, Spanish

With great joy, I look forward to joining the DCI family. I was born in Mexico, and my family and I moved to Lexington, Missouri when I was 11 years old. After high school I attended Missouri Valley College, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Psychology. I was also a proud member of the Cross Country and Track team.

Upon graduation, I knew my calling was to teach. I joined the Lasallian Volunteers Program where I was given the opportunity to teach and work on social justice issues in a Chicago inner-city school. After two wonderful and memorable years in the Southside of Chicago, I received a scholarship to Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. I earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching, with a concentration in middle and high school Spanish. I currently have a Postgraduate Professional License to teach Spanish Pre-K through 12 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I have had the honor of teaching in Memphis and Chicago respectively before moving to the DC area. Over the past two years, I was teaching Math and Spanish at Saint John Academy in McLean, Virginia.  I have been entrusted to teach many subjects during my tenure as an educator. I also had the opportunity in my previous schools to address and work on Social Justice issues that impact our communities, our country, and the world.

I am very grateful for all of the experiences and knowledge that I have gained throughout my eight years of teaching. I am thrilled to learn from and contribute to my new DCI family and community.


Henry Garcia, Spanish

Hello! My name is Henry Garcia and I am so excited to be a part of the World Languages team. I speak Spanish and am passionate about my students using their target language knowledge across the curriculum. Most importantly, I am thrilled to be teaching Spanish in what will be a productive, challenging, and exciting year! I have high expectations and several big goals for each student. I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and raised in Germantown, Maryland. I have experience teaching Spanish 1 and Spanish 3 in the District of Columbia to 10th and 12th graders. This year I am looking forward to teaching Spanish 2! I love teaching Spanish because I get to know exactly where students are coming from and where they need to go by the end of the year! Having experience in a range of language acquisition levels will allow me to challenge and assist each student in reaching their fullest potential.  


Daniel Liano-Garcia, Spanish

Greetings! My educational background consists of a master’s degree in Translation and Interpretation, as well as a post-graduate master in International Relations and Law. For many years I have dedicated myself to finding my true vocation; I worked in the Canary Islands as a French teacher. This was part of my educational training and so I specialized in the teaching of modern languages.

My passion is to impart knowledge in an engaging and appealing setting. My educational objective is to find a dynamic method to link with the younger generation by promoting a technological and interactive learning environment.

Life is a short moment that needs to be lived intensely. I enjoy the simple challenges of every day, I love traveling so I can experience the excitement of meeting new people and getting to know new places.

Born and raised in Spain, just as a high school teenage graduate, I had the opportunity to live in London and then Brussels, where I learned English and French. In addition, I am fluent in Italian and Portuguese and a novice in Catalan and Romanian. As you can appreciate, Latin languages are my strength but learning Arabic has become a major struggle that I need to overcome.

It is very exciting to be part of the pioneering team of DCI and be an active part of its growing process.

Muchas gracias por la oportunidad de formar parte de este equipo.

Merci bien pour l’opportunité de faire partie de cette équipe!


Leticia Rodriguez, Spanish

Hola! My name is Leticia Rodriguez and I am a native of the Republic of Panama. I received my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Panama in 2002 and have eleven years of teaching middle school in my native country. I came to the U.S. in 2007 and in 2013 I received two Master’s degrees in teaching Spanish as a second language from University Interamericana in Puerto Rico and Spanish linguistics from the University of Jaen in Spain. In the metropolitan DC area, I taught Spanish AP at DCPS and for the last three years I taught Spanish I, II and IB Spanish at WMST-PCHS.  

For me, my passion is teaching and in sharing my culture with my students. I believe that every child deserves to live the experience of new cultures and it’s that challenge that motivates me as I begin my adventure at DCI.  

When I’m not teaching, I love to cook for friends and family, listen to music, dance, attend Spanish cultural events and exercise.  
I’m  very excited to be part of the DCI family and to teach my language to students.




Yuanyuan Gao (Gao Laoshi), Chinese

I’m from Shanghai, China. I got my Master’s degree at the University of Georgia in Teaching Additional Language and my Bachelor’s degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at Shanghai University.


I was a Chinese teacher at Washington Yu Ying PCS, a Chinese immersion IB school 4 years. I have had a great interest in Chinese literature, history and culture since I was a child. As a Chinese major student in college, I gained a better and deeper understanding about Chinese classic language and literature as well. So I hope I can pass on my passion to my students. As a language teacher I think the importance is not only teaching students about the language itself but also teaching them how to learn the language through the content and culture.

I love traveling to different places and trying different kinds of food. I also enjoy reading and writing. I can speak Chinese and English and I want to learn to speak French and Korean.

I’m really excited to be a part of DCI’s founding education team because it will be a fun and wonderful journey to teach Chinese in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural IB world school!


Jessica Zhang, Chinese

I studied English Literature in Hunan University of Commerce in China and got my M.Ed. degree from University of Maryland. I was teaching Chinese at the Peak School in Colorado for one year before I came here. I feel so happy and lucky to join DCI!  I like hanging out with friends, reading, or doing some gentle sports outside of school. Chinese is my native language, I speak English fluently and a little bit Cantonese and French. I am eager to learn more French! I really look forward to getting to know everyone in DCI family and growing together with you!



Phil Nomel has taught French at charter and public schools in Maryland and DC since 2004. A native of the Ivory Coast, he has extensive journalism experience as well.




Christine Contreras-Slaughter, Mathematics Teacher

My parents are Chilean and I was the first in my family to be born in the United States. As the child of immigrants, I had to rely on the knowledge and support of my teachers and school counselors to navigate the educational system in this country.  I became a teacher because I wanted to enable all children to have access to a quality education and to have the skills necessary to accomplish their goals. After graduating from Duke University, I remained in North Carolina, which is where I began my career as a math teacher. After moving back to the DMV area (where I was born and raised), I worked in charter schools in southeast DC for three years before joining the DCI family. In addition to English, I speak Spanish and German. I am excited to improve my French conversational skills and learn some Mandarin from the students at DCI.


Steve Gornstein, Mathematics Teacher

I grew up in D.C., graduated from Wilson High School, and received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. In 2011, I joined Teach for America. I have taught sixth grade math at the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C. for the last three years. I took Spanish throughout high school and also took several Spanish courses at the University of Michigan. During college, I had the opportunity to teach English for a summer in Ecuador and to study abroad for a summer in Spain. I can’t wait to practice my Spanish skills at DCI and become more fluent. When I am not teaching math, I enjoy running, biking, and playing guitar. I am so excited to join the DCI community and be part of a school that embraces diversity, multilingualism, and social justice!


Aude Newton, Ph.D., Mathematics Teacher

I come to DCI from Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School after an eight year stint as a 6th teacher. I spent thirteen years with a non-profit organization called the International Movement ATD Fourth World, whose mission is to eradicate poverty throughout the world. Prior to this, while a student, I tutored inmates, and high schoolers in impoverished neighborhoods in France.

I most recently attained a Master of Professional Studies in Middle-Grade Mathematics from the George Washington University. I also have a Master’s degree in Optical Engineering from École Supérieure d’Optique, a leading French graduate school in this field and I have a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Université de Provence Aix-Marseille I, in France.

Teaching has always been a big part of my heritage. Many of my relatives were teachers and have instilled in me a desire to learn and share knowledge. My experience fighting poverty has also inspired me to teach. I am excited about being able to teach a subject that has developed a reputation of being difficult. In this regard, I feel I have a challenge and an opportunity to be a pioneer to change this view, so that students can start develop an appreciation for the subject and excel in it.

I grew up in France with French as my native tongue. I speak fluent English, proficient Spanish, and some Dutch. I would like to learn Farsi. I am married with one daughter. In my free time I enjoy gardening and spending time with my family.


Laura Ryan, Mathematics Teacher

Hi! I am so excited to join the team at DCI because I value the school’s commitment to developing well-rounded students who think critically about the world around them. I graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Public Policy. I joined Teach for America in 2012 and spent three years as a seventh grade math teacher in Charlotte, NC. While in Charlotte, I received my Masters in the Arts of Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I moved to DC last summer and spent a year working for an education non-profit. I can’t wait to get back into the classroom because I love helping students grow as problem-solvers. I am currently re-learning Spanish after taking a pretty long hiatus. When I’m not teaching, I love to run, cook, practice yoga, read, and explore DC.




Charlene Cummings, Science Teacher

I am very excited to be teaching at DCI this year! I am from Connecticut where I attended the University of Connecticut (UConn) for my BS in Biological Sciences and Evolutionary and Ecology Biology. After working in a research and development pharmaceutical lab outside of Boston, MA, I went back to UConn and received my MA in Science Education and Curriculum. I have been teaching science in Washington, D.C. for the past few years and recently started working with LEGO robotics, a club I hope DCI students will love!

DCI’s mission and ideals, especially the emphasis of scientific inquiry and discovery, are the reasons why I was drawn to this school. I believe if students are able to investigate, explore, and discuss science and its applications, they can become active learners and critical thinkers in charge of their own learning.

In my spare time I like to travel, walk my dog, read, and try new restaurants.  In high school I only took Latin, an unspoken language, so I would love to learn to speak French here at DCI!


Juliet Meltsner, Science Teacher

I am very excited to be joining the staff at DC International! Last year, I received my Masters of Arts in Teaching Biology Secondary Education through American University’s Lab2Class fellowship program. Through the program, I student-taught 7th grade Life Science at Alice Deal Middle School and Applied and Integrated Sciences and Environmental Science at Thurgood Marshall Academy.I am a proud alumni of the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!) where I received my Bachelors of Science in Microbiology. Prior to going into education, I conducted research at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Aging. I look forward to getting students enthusiastic about science research and the variety of exciting career opportunities available. I would like to inspire the next generation of microbiologists, doctors and scientists.I can understand and speak French at an intermediate level and am excited to learn Spanish. I am looking forward to getting to know the staff and students at DC International through participation and involvement in afterschool clubs and activities. I am also passionate about creating an engaging and unique student-focused learning environment. Outside of school, I enjoy playing volleyball, running, and drumming in a cover-band with other DC teachers.


Student Support


Natalie Barbieri, Student Support Teacher

Ciao! I am a DC native and graduated from Wilson High School. I have been working in education for over nine years. My first experience was in Detroit public schools teaching reading and writing, then in DC public charter schools teaching Special Education and ESL students. Following my time in the USA, I taught an IB curriculum in Japan for ESL and EFL students in high school. I earned a BA in Psychology from University of Michigan, a Masters of Education from George Mason University, and a Masters in TESOL from Temple University. As a former Special Education student, I am very passionate about helping students become successful.

I believe that with teacher dedication any student can succeed. I love the DCI educational model and am excited about teaching students from various language backgrounds. I speak Japanese, English, and some Italian. I am now learning Spanish and Chinese.

When I am not teaching, I enjoy painting, gardening, fixing electronics, and cleaning.


Mary Briggs Graham, Speech/Language Pathologist

I am thrilled to join the DCI community this year! I have a Bachelors degree in Communication Disorders and French from the University of Virginia. While at UVA, I studied in France at Université Lumière Lyon and Sciences Po Lyon for a semester. I recently earned a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) at East Tennessee State University. I studied for seven weeks at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria in Brazil, conducting research on cultural competence and multicultural affairs while picking up some Portuguese.  

As a Speech-Language Pathologist I am well aware of the cognitive, social, and developmental benefits of learning a second language. I am impressed with and am excited to become a part of this language learning, social justice oriented community! I believe effective communication is crucial for a student to develop their full potential. I hope to help my speech students strive to their full communicative potential and to ensure that gains in speech are generalizing to the classroom.

In my free time I can be found cooking, running, traveling, creating, or learning about other cultures. I spend a lot of time hiking in the mountains of Southwest Virginia where I am from. I have thru-hiked over 1,370 miles on the Appalachian Trail.


Rebecca Ferrer, Counselor

I have worked in DC Charter schools for the past few years and am very excited about joining the DCI Team! I have a B.A. in Psychology and Human Development from the University of Maryland and a M. Ed. in School Counseling from the University of Maryland (Terp for life!). I am a nationally certified counselor (NCC) and utilize both cognitive-behavioral therapy and solutions-focused counseling in my work with students. In my time outside of DCI, I enjoy yoga, travelling with my husband, and taking naps with my dog!


Gabby Grebski, School Counselor

Greetings!  I come to DCI from Sidwell Friends School where I was the Upper School Counselor, Health Teacher and Track Coach for 10 years.  Originally from New York, I graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology after which I worked in New Haven, Boston and New York City at various non-profit organizations serving a number of underserved populations.  I came to DC after receiving my Masters in Social Work at Columbia University where my main focus was providing health and mental health services to children and adolescents.

I love working with kids in a number of capacities and have had multiple opportunities to travel abroad in Latin America and Africa with students from public, private and charter schools on service and engagement trips, particularly around HIV/AIDS, gender issues and access to education.  One of the things that drew me to DCI was its focus on internationalism, multiculturalism and social justice.  I’m looking forward to helping DCI students reach their full potential and develop the skills and confidence to go forth and make a difference in their global communities.

Outside of school, I love sports, particularly running, and have been running and competing since middle school.  I love to travel, be outdoors, and take as many pictures as possible.


Justin LaRocque, Student Support Teacher

Greetings DCI family! I have a Master’s of Science in Special Education; Cross Endorsement K -12 and a Bachelor’s of Science in Art Education; Pre K-12 from Central Connecticut State University.

I taught for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) for 10 years at three campuses; each provided specific services for students grades K-12. In 2012 I relocated to Houston, Texas where I taught grades 5-8; ELA, Reading, and Integrated Art at The Harris School with my behavior support specialist, Benson (my pet dog). I have taught a variety of subjects over the course of 13 years starting with Art. Through the Arts, I discovered an opportunity to become more engaged with my student’s learning, social, emotional and behavioral strengths and needs.

My passions in education are deeply rooted in positive behavior intervention strategies, evidence based practices, multi-sensory learning, social skills, and building on specific learning styles and strategies that promote and facilitate student learning and growth. My journey through education as a student, researcher, advocate and teacher has inspired me to continue to learn and to share my experiences.

Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my family, our Schnauzer – Benson, who will also be joining us at DCI! – and friends. With my art background I tend to always be creating (or renovating) something! I also enjoy anything health and fitness related – especially if it is outdoors; canoeing, kayaking, biking and hiking in particular.

I’m nowhere near as fluent as I once was with Spanish and I embrace the opportunity to learn and practice once again!

I am excited to be joining a team of professionals that is dedicated to their students and families, that encourages us all to see things from a different perspective and, above all, knows that every student has the ability to learn.


Fatoumata Magassa, Student Support Teacher

I hold a B.A. in Sociology from Purchase College, State University of New York. Recognizing my love for education and the desire to acquire and share knowledge with others, I later attended George Washington University and attained a M.A. in Education and Human Development with a specialization in Special Education. Since obtaining my M.A., I have worked at various schools in DC and Maryland as a special education teacher.

After some time, I made the decision to pursue my dream of living and working abroad as an educator. My first stop was rural Ghana,where I lived amongst Ghanaians and learned about Ghanaian culture and traditions while working as a director at the Youth Institute for Science and Technology, a nonprofit Ghanaian school. My service learning experience left me wanting more, so I explored the possibilities and landed in East Africa — Iringa, Tanzania, where I worked as a learning support teacher at Iringa International School.

On my travels, I have delved into the wonderful world of photography and digital storytelling. The opportunity to document my adventures and the people and cultures I’ve encountered along the way has changed my outlook on life. I hope to continue doing so as I brush up on my French and explore the Spanish language.

I look forward to moving back to DC and starting a new chapter of my career with DCI. I am thrilled at the opportunity to provide support and guidance to DCI students and can’t wait to take part in engaging lessons and activities where knowledge and experiences are exchanged.


Lauren Smith, Student Support Teacher

I am so thrilled to be at DCI this year! After working as a learning support teacher during DCI’s inaugural year, I left to complete a year long west coast adventure as a Special Education director at a school in Oakland, California. Before that, I was born and raised on the east coast in Massachusetts, where I completed a BA in Education and in Psychology. While working in Boston, I visited my sister in DC where I went to the National Zoo and fell in love with the pandas (and the rest of the city), so I decided to come teach here! I completed my Master’s degree in Special Education and made a switch from elementary to secondary education, which I have grown to really love. My passions in the field of education revolve around building self-advocacy skills in students from every background, and empowering students to know and embrace their strengths, challenges, and unique learning styles. I think all of these goals are best accomplished by developing meaningful relationships with students and families. In my free time I love to cook, travel, and hang out with family and friends. I am incredibly excited to be back at DCI for another school year and beyond!


Aaron Stone, Student Support Teacher

Currently, I am going into my eighth year of working in education (sixth year of teaching). I’m a certified Special Educator with my masters from Johns Hopkins. Before DCI, I worked as a high school special ed English teacher. This past summer, I taught underprivileged kids English in Israel as a part of TALMA.

I’m passionate about teaching kids from a variety of backgrounds and helping them expand their critical thinking skills.

I only speak English, but I’m picking up some Hebrew day by day.

I’m looking forward to bringing back my positive energy and working with our amazing students and staff! I like going to the beach, exploring DC and rooting for the Redskins!


CT Taylor, Student Support Teacher

I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky and moved to Maryland in 2013.  My teaching career began when I was chosen for Teach for America’s DC Corps in 2013 and through TFA and George Mason University, I received my master’s degree and certification in special education.  Prior to teaching, I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kentucky and my Master of Science in Criminal Justice and worked in a detention center as a Mental Health Case Manager and Clinician.

This is my fourth year teaching and my second year at DCI!  I have experience teaching math, reading, and writing, but I am passionate about teaching math as I struggled with that subject in school.  I learned through my own struggles that if I looked at a problem in a different way, I could solve anything in my path (and I hope to teach that to our students, as well!)

Outside of teaching, I enjoy relaxing in my hammock, gardening, playing with my three dogs, traveling with my partner, hiking, cycling, coaching sports (for DCI), and visiting my family in Kentucky.  I am very excited for the 2016-2017 school year and all the new and old faces I’ll see!


Instructional Aides and Educational Fellows


Cassandra Martinez, Educational Administrator

Saludos! I am thrilled to be part of the DC International School team! I am an El Salvadoran, first generation born, D.C. Native! I attended and graduated from DC Public Schools, so working for a DC school is close to heart. As an urban child of immigrant parents, it is my passion to provide students and families with assurance of cultural understanding and academic success regardless of socio-economic backgrounds.

I received my education from St. Mary’s College of Maryland where I first experienced working with middle school students. During my time at Lexington Park Middle School, I supported students in their reading and reading comprehension. I learned that students in middle school require someone to listen to them and validate their sentiments. I enjoy being able to provide students with motivational conversations to help thrive their academic potential and expand their cultural competency.

Most of my educational experience comes from working with school-aged children in an out-of-school time non profit program at CentroNia in Washington, D.C. During my 6 years at CentroNia, I worked as an assistant and lead teacher with students from kindergarten to sixth grade. I led a large number of after-school classes ranging from creative arts, such as Latin dance to academic enrichment classes which integrated what students learned in the classroom with real-life engaging activities. Later, I became a third grade coach for the program.

While working as a coach, I also interned with DC Bilingual’s Special Education director where I worked one-on-one as a reading intervention teacher. I was also a first and second grade small reading group Spanish instructor. Outside of school, I enjoy attending comedy and sporting events and cheering on all D.C. teams!

I come to DCI with a huge smile as I am still able to service some of the very same students I’ve watched grow since kindergarten! I am ecstatic to be able to continue watch all students master their world languages and am eager to improve my conversational French and begin to learn Chinese!


Robert Wright, Computer Programming and ACE

Hello, my name is Robert Wright. I grew up in a military family which gave me the opportunity to live and attended a number of schools in Europe then Asia and lastly coming to Bolling AFB in Washington, DC. I am currently finishing my schooling to receive my degree in Social Work. I came to DCI from Pittsburgh, PA where I ran various after school extracurricular activities, athletics, and STEM academics. My passion is for students to believe that they can complete and achieve anything that they put their minds to with hard work and confidence. Outside of school I like to stay active by playing soccer, traveling to new places, and taking pictures. I am not completely fluent in Spanish but I would say my comprehension is muy bueno. I am excited to experience DCI’s Chinese immersion program and learn the Chinese language.


Business Team

Aurelia Akpan, Human Resources Manager

I am a graduate of Saint John’s University and I have been working in human resources for three years now. I love traveling, meeting new people and exploring all that DC has to offer! I am thrilled to see DCI grow and watch students become global citizens!


Jennifer Bellamy, Development Director

I recently joined DCI as the Development Director! I have a passion for youth development and have over 9 years of professional experience in non-profit fundraising, communications and corporate sales.

I work to bring experience from various non-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area including National Children’s Center (NCC), Metro TeenAIDS, and National 4-H Council. Through these opportunities, I was responsible for raising funds through individual, corporate, foundation, board and event fundraising. This included managing over $5 million total within a portfolio.

I received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed my Master’s of Science in Administration in Organizational Management at Trinity Washington University.

Personally, I have contributed to my community both locally and nationally for many years including Hurricane Katrina relief projects, feeding the homeless, teaching career building skills and serving as a youth mentor.


Lauren Games, Communications and Business Associate

I earned my BA in International Affairs and Spanish from West Virginia University and my Masters of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. At DCI, I handle communications, marketing, facilities, student recruitment. I am also working hard to make DCI’s vision for international travel a reality for all of our students. In my free time, I love kayaking, baking, and volunteering. I’m excited to watch our students grow this year and am proud to be part of such an amazing team!


Denise Lyons, Business and Compliance Manager

I earned my BA in English from the University of Maryland, College Park.
My experience in Education started in April 2008, when I joined the founding team of Washington Yu Ying PCS in the Business Department. An internationally-minded, multi-lingual education is an attainable goal and should be available to public school students in the District.

In my personal life, I love spending time with family, cooking, hiking, swimming in the warm ocean, cycling and traveling.

I am conversationally proficient in Mandarin and possess a rudimentary evel of French, which I hope to enhance by working at DCI.

DC International School will be a great school for DC students, and I am thrilled to be a part of the adventure.