Laura holds a Master’s degree in International Business Studies, French track from USC and lived one year in Brussels, Belgium and four years in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. She has fostered a love of languages in her three children (whose libraries of 2000+books and video’s are as much in foreign languages as in English).
She has taught English to French speaking children and adults, and has taught preschool through high school French.
Additional work with children includes being a boy scout merit badge counselor, planning and chaperoning various school field trips, and being a lead teacher at First Baptist Preschool.
Laura has pursued additional language studies in German, Russian, and Spanish. Her German studies include coursework at VCU, Inlingua in Biel/Bienne Switzerland, Interlangue in Neuchâtel, Switzerland plus private tutoring. She completed beginning Russian coursework at VCU and beginning Spanish at the University of South Carolina with extended stays in Ecuador and Guatemala.
Mara is a heritage Spanish speaker and has been teaching at Heartwood Grove since 2015. She previously taught ESL to the Hispanic community in rural Virginia and Spanish in a Richmond Montessori school, as well as private lessons.
Mara holds a BFA in Communication Arts & Design from VCU with a double minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies. She was inducted into the Spanish Honor Society and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Mara has traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, and throughout South America. Her parents were raised in Argentina and she has extended family living near Buenos Aires.
Besides teaching, Mara enjoys working as a freelance photographer and artist. She loves painting, gardening, and spending outdoor time with her family.
Shannon holds an MA in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a BA in English from the University of Virginia, and is currently finishing a second MA from UVA in Religious Studies, concentrating in Religion Politics and Conflict.
She is passionate about languages and has lived and studied in France and in Israel. Shannon speaks French, Hebrew, and English, and she is currently learning Arabic.
She enjoys travel, and has traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and India, alone as well as with her three daughters. The family has enjoyed hosting exchange students from Austria, France and Montreal, Canada.
Shannon teaches French, World History and Geography, World Religions, Model United Nations, the World Peace Games, and as a certified yoga instructor, yoga in French.
Maria Jenkins is a native Spanish speaker from Madrid, Spain with over 14 years of teaching experience. She holds a degree in art from the School of Arts in Madrid and a Certificate of Gemology from the University of Madrid. Maria was the director of Silvan Learning Systems Center of Language in Spain for three years.
In Richmond she has taught in Richmond City Public Schools and at Elijah House Academy, where she led summer camps.
Maria enjoys sharing her passion for cooking with her students, to bring part of her culture into the classroom.
"One thing I know for sure is that everyday when I get up, I go to a job that I absolutely love to do - teaching the culture, language, and history of the world in my native language, Spanish, and using interactive methods where the students are able to demonstrate their abilities and enjoy the process of learning!!!"
Maria lives with her husband, Mark, and their two beautiful daughters.
Mrs. Lau grew up in Hong Kong and London and speaks Cantonese and English. She worked in the field of early childhood for fourteen years, as an after school counselor and a pre-school teacher before joining Heartwood Grove as a reading teacher, reading individually with students using a phonics based program. Additionally, Margaret has training with the Orton Gillingham reading method.
Margaret worked in the fields of finance and accounting in England and Hong Kong before changing professions to the field of early childhood. She attended the University of Northumbria, U.K. where she earned her professional certification in Cost and Management Accounting.
“The most enjoyable moments for me are those when I experience how quickly children love to learn, and how important a teacher is in their lives. They are so accepting and trusting that it’s a constant reminder for me to be a good example to them.”
Margaret is the proud mother of two college students, a son at Virginia Tech and a daughter at Harvard. Her hobbies include handicrafts, reading, martial arts, traveling, and collecting teapots.
Ariel Maloof is a double major graduate in German and International Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She studied abroad in Vienna, Austria and traveled to Munich, Germany during her German Studies at VCU. In her youth, Ms. Maloof experienced Spanish immersion first-hand for six years.
Ariel has backpacked through Central and South America from Guatemala to Colombia, and has lived in Nicaragua volunteering for the Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) and the Biosfera Reserve & Retreat. Her most recent Spanish adventure during the Winter Break of 2019-20 was in Peru, staying in an indigenous Shipibo community.
Ariel has worked with children from two through middle school. She teaches both Spanish and German at Heartwood Grove and especially enjoys sharing her love of nature, teaching our German nature course and incorporating gardening into all of her classes. During her summer free time, Ariel is an unarmed security guard at music festivals. She enjoys biking, gardening, cooking, and soap and candle making.
Paola Roberts is a native Spanish speaker from Bogota, Colombia. She graduated from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a degree in Psychology.
Before becoming a teacher, she was a Sports Psychologist for small children in her home country. She has over 5 years experience teaching and tutoring Spanish Immersion from Pre K - 2nd grade .
Paola was a Professional bowler and part of the Colombian National Bowling team for 24 years. She enjoys traveling, sports, reading and playing with her 3 year old son.
"I love working with children. Being able to explore and have fun together while learning the Spanish Language makes every day exciting and unique."
Magdiel Sampson is a native Spanish speaker from Guatemala. She holds a degree in English as a Second Language from Mariano Galvez University and the American Guatemalan Institute. She has extensive experience in early childhood education and has taught English as a second language to all ages in Guatemala.
As a director of Programs at Maximo Nivel, Antigua Guatemala, she ran the Spanish Immersion Program doing everything from arranging stays with host-families and hotels, managing Spanish class schedules, faculty training to teaching.
In the US Magdiel has taught Spanish in Northern Virginia, at Central Montessori School (Richmond), and at All Saints Catholic School (Richmond).
Véronique Zara, a French native came to the United States as a university student. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D in French from Pennsylvania State University. Her areas of interest include medieval history and cross-cultural communication.
She has enjoyed teaching French for many years to students from a variety of backgrounds and ages, from elementary, middle and high school, university students, to adult learners. She has taught both foreign language students and native speakers.
Outside of teaching, Véronique enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her two children.
William has a double major in Music and Russian from St. Olaf College, having graduated Magna Cum Laude. Prior to enrolling in St. Olaf, he spent a gap year at Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia through the State Department's NSLI-Y scholarship. He additionally studied Arabic in college and later spent twelve months in Amman, Jordan learning Arabic on the Defense Department's Boren scholarship.
William Bice is a musician (violist), who enjoys a variety of music genres, especially chamber music. In the summer of 2020 he developed an Arabic music curriculum for Concordia Language Villages' new distance learning camp where he taught music in Arabic.
His main hobbies are languages, music, travel, and origami. Additionally, William was born in Switzerland and grew up as a French heritage speaker.