Teachers Bio

BrightNup Academy is very selective when employing a teacher. Every teacher is very carefully chosen. All our teachers are from Fairfax/ Loudoun county public schools. They are very knowledgeable, very experienced and extremely dedicated, and they will make sure that your child is successful and is performing at their optimal capabilities.

Ms. Maria LeBerre

Ms. LeBerre has over 20 years of higher education work experience. She has been currently teaching college courses in University of Maryland University College for about six years. Her approach for test preparation includes things like targeted practice, review with a partner, recall aids and when appropriate, memorization techniques. For bigger picture study skills beyond test prep, she works with students on organization, time management, breaking up projects into smaller pieces, and other approaches as needed.

Ms. LeBerre has extensive experience on TJ/AOS Prep, ACT English, ACT Reading, English, ESL/ESOL, Grammar, Proofreading, Public Speaking, SAT Reading, and SAT Writing.

Ms. LeBerre has Bachelor’s degree from University of Virginia and Master’s degree from Ohio State University and PhD (Oral Communication) from George Mason University.

Mr. Bill Dobson

Mr. Dobson has over twenty-nine years of teaching experience including twenty as a full time teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools system. He holds a Virginia Certification License in Mathematics for grades 7-12 and has taught at both the Middle School and High School levels. His subject matter teaching experiences include teaching pre-algebra, elementary and intermediate algebra, geometry, pre-calculus and AP Calculus. Mr. Dobson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and Master of Arts degree in Management. In addition to his public school experiences, Mr. Dobson has spent many years teaching at the college level students.

Ms. Williams

Ms. Williams graduated from the University of Virginia and holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in the teaching of writing and literature. Ms. Williams has taught all academic grade levels as well as regular, honors and Advanced Placement classes at both the middle and high school levels.

As an experienced English teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools, Ms. Williams is highly effective in teaching critical reading, critical thinking skills, all aspects of the writing process, grammar skills and motivating students. Ms. Williams has extensive teaching experience specializing in test preparation such as TJ, AOS, PSAT and SAT.

Ms. Williams defines herself as an innovative teacher because of her content knowledge, effective tutoring/mentoring skills and imaginative approaches to teaching. Ms. Williams does more than simply transmit information; she helps students develop skills that invoke knowledge and moves them forward. Ms. Williams’s use of differentiated instructional strategies to strengthen students’ reading, writing, and grammar skills equips students with the necessary tools to succeed. Ms. Williams’ helps students become independent thinkers during the writing process by providing comprehensive feedback of written assignments.


Ms. Rachel Pardue

After 10 years of teaching Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Algebra 2 with Trigonometry in Loudoun County, Ms. Pardue has stepped away from the classroom to work on a team of educators creating online middle and high school math courses to be used by schools throughout the United States and internationally. Due to her love of teaching teaching face-to-face and how much she is missing her students, Ms. Pardue brings a high level of energy, warmth, and enthusiasm to the classroom. She has a natural ability to understand a student’s confusion and is able to clear it up with a simple, relatable explanation. Year after year students admit to her, “Math has never been my favorite subject, but this year it was my favorite class.” Ms. Pardue holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with minors in Physics and Secondary Education.

Ms. Kristen Shebek

Ms. Shebek graduated from Duquesne University with BS in Mathematics. Ms Shebek is a very knowledgeable and renowned teacher in Rachel Carson Middle School where she teaches Geometry and Algebra II. She is a Virginia State coach for MathCounts and prepares kids for Mathcounts in RCMS MathCounts club. Under Ms. Shebek’s guidance, MathCounts VA state club became 8th at the national level competition in 2016 (Out of 56 clubs).

Ms. Elisha Votruba

Ms. Votruba is a graduate of the North Carolina State University Graduate School where she received her master’s degree in secondary English Education. She received her undergraduate degree in English from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University magna cum laude with concentrations in both Professional and Creative Writing. She teaches Advanced Academic Placement English 8 at Carson Middle School. Outside of critical reading, literary analysis, and expository writing, she specializes in technology integration and project based learning which brings real world application to the classroom. She also specializes on critical reading, analytical reading, speed-reading, study skills, and comprehension.

Ms. Votruba received multiple accolades for her writing, including from the Secretary of Acquisition of the United States Department of Defense.

Mr. Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones is a twenty-two year teaching veteran, now beginning his twentieth year in Fairfax County Public Schools. He has taught sixth, seventh and eighth grades and has worked in after-school and summer programs with students ranging in ages from 6 to 18. He currently teaches sixth grade, at Sangster Elementary. He loves history and science, but one of his specialties is working with the writing process and helping to make it come alive for students. He is also an author, an accomplished public speaker, and a singer/songwriter.

Ms. Elizabeth Balke

Ms. Balke is currently a 6th grade Advanced Academics teacher at Sangster ES. While at Sangster ES, she had the opportunity to teach 6th Grade General Education, 5th Grade Advanced Academics, and 6th Grade Advanced Academics. Her experiences over the years in FCPS have allowed her to be able to create and implement curriculum, activities, and experiences that require students to think on a higher, more meaningful level. Through fostering relationships with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators, she was able to provide the most meaningful learning environment to each of my students.

Ms. Balke has BS from University of Pittsburgh and Master of Education from George Mason University.

Ms. Judy McDermott-Jeter

Ms. McDermott-Jeter is a High School teacher in Fairfax county public school teaching 11/12 grades. Throughout her teaching career, she has worked extensively with students who need to progress more than one year of English in an academic year, and she has many strategies to help students acquire English Language skills, especially vocabulary.

Ms. McDermott-Jeter also has extensive training for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program to mentor and teach academic skills to bright underachievers, to have them successfully graduate high school and college.

Ms. Ashley Williams

Ms. Williams is an elementary school Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools. She has been instrumental in developing and implementing lessons that support Program of Studies, Standards of learning and grade level benchmarks using best practices. She has been assisting Collaborative learning Team (CLT) with planning, creating common assessments, and developing curriculum maps. She uses a balanced literacy instruction that incorporates comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary to help students reach benchmarks. She is true believer of differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students learning styles and adjusts teaching methods as appropriate to increase student achievement.

Ms. Williams has a BS degree on with major on Elementary Education K-6. He also has a Masters of Education and a Reading Specialist Certification.

Ms. Deborah Hollings

Ms. Hollings is an Advanced Academic Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools. She was instrumental in implementing the Advanced Academic curriculum into the general education classes. She was a part of the math committee, and led workshops on Math Talks and Hands on Equations. She was also instrumental in developing and facilitating S.T.E.M. lab at her school.

Ms. Hollings holds Master of Science, Education Leadership from George Mason University, Bachelor of Science from State University Cortland

Ms. Sara Montague

Ms. Montague is an elementary school Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools. She provides targeted instruction to bring students up to above grade level expectations in math and English. She is a true believer of differentiated activities and worksheets to meet the learning abilities of each student. She has been instrumental in integrating technology into mathematics and language arts lesson plans to increase the student’s attention and mastery of the material.

Ms. Montague holds B.A. Communications with concentration in Public Relations and minor in Anthropology, May 2006, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Ms. Jancy Kostkan

Ms. Kostkan is an experienced Loudoun County math teacher who currently teaches high school level Geometry and Algebra 2 with Trigonometry. She leads both teacher cohorts for these subjects and guides curriculum planning, pacing, and teaching strategy at her school. Ms. Kostkan mentors new teachers and provides guidance on engaging instructional methods.

She has taught a wide variety of students including students at the honors level as well as students who face learning challenges. With years of service in educating students with varying competency levels, Ms. Kostkan prides herself in her ability to effectively communicate and explain math concepts in terms that students can easily grasp. Ms. Kostkan places great emphasis on student mastery and employs a variety of instructional approaches in order to reach all students with unique learning styles. Ms. Kostkan has lived in five states around the country allowing her an opportunity to connect with many diverse groups of people. She is able to relate to all students and create a positive learning climate in which every student's contributions are appreciated and valued.

Ms. Kostkan graduated with high distinction from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Mathematics Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Statistics. She brings enthusiasm and great passion as she assists students in deepening their mathematical knowledge, enhancing their critical thinking skills, and building their confidence to succeed at BrightNup Academy!

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Teacher is great. The curriculum and worksheets are exactly what my daughter needed to motivate herself. She really loves the critical thinking and word problems. We have made the right choice.

                                                                  - Vikram T.

BrightNup’s critical thinking and problem solving worksheets are really well thought out. These worksheets are very interesting and challenging. My daughter loves doing these worksheets. She loves the teacher too. It’s a great value for the money we spend.

                                                       - Farhana A.

My son is in eight grade and I have been looking for a place to prepare him for TJ exam. I have enrolled him in BrightNup’s TJ Prep program. The English and Math teachers are excellent. They are so detailed that my son gets everything that he needs to master a concept. We are really glad to have enrolled him in BrightNup’s TJ Prep program.

                                         - Igbal A.

We have enrolled both my son and daughter in BrightNup’s English and Math programs. I see tremendous value in these programs. The curriculum is very structured and weekly worksheets are just great.  Moreover, the class is very small-sized and the teacher is superb. I wonder how BrightNup has found such a nice and dedicated teacher.  She makes learning fun for young kids! I see a tremendous improvement in them in just two months. I am so pleased that I have started recommening my friends to enroll their kids to BrightNup programs as well.

-- Genevieve W.