Signed in as:
- Support Us
- Global Connections
- Contact Us
- Calendar and Events
- Forms and Documents
- Job Opportunities
Signed in as:
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.
Salwa holds an MA in French Literature from from the University of Virginia and a BA in French Literature from the University of Cairo, Egypt.
Salwa is of Greek and Arab heritage. She grew up in a French immersion school environment in Libya. She is passionate about languages, and speaks French, Arabic, and Italian.
She enjoys travel and has traveled extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Salwa has taught both French and Arabic at all levels from elementary to the university level.
Her personal interests include cooking, writing poetry, playing piano, and dancing.
Mrs DiFiglio was born and raised in Lyon, France. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the Institut de la Communication et de la Presse.
Her love for teaching began when she was hired as an au pair by a family from Washington, DC to teach French as a second language to their two middle school children.
She later taught summer camp with the Alliance Française Richmond.
Florence loves to work with young children and see their eyes light up when they discover new words. She is thrilled to share the passion she has for her native language and is committed to helping students understand the world around them.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, hosting family and friends and above all spending quality time with her two children, husband, and the family great dane.
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.
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 7 years experience teaching and tutoring Spanish Immersion from Pre K - 5th 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 6 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."
Jenny Zacari is a native Spanish speaker from Lima Peru with 20 years of experience working in early education. Before joining Heartwood Grove Jenny taught Spanish Immersion at Communikids and worked in both the Richmond Montessori School as a Spanish enrichment teacher and as a teacher assistant at Midlothian Montessori where she acquired her Montessori Method teacher training.
Jenny attended Federico Villareal University in Lima, Perú. She holds a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Jenny loves working with children and sharing the Spanish language and culture with students. She lives with her husband and their 4th grade daughter in Midlothian.
In her free time she is active as a Girl Scout volunteer use her skills in camping and crafting.
Phyllis Claytor is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Education from Elon University and her Masters in Spanish Literature from New Mexico State University.
Phyllis returned to her Alma Mater Tucker High School to teach in the Immersion Center for Spanish Language and Global Citizenship, the International Baccalaureate program, and the Advance College Academy in collaboration with Reynolds Community College. After 10 years in public education, Phyllis left to join Heartwood Grove where her son is now a student!
Traveling is Phyllis’ favorite pastime, especially to El Progreso, Honduras where she has been involved over the last 10+ years with ProNiño, a children’s home dedicated to helping kids growing up in extreme poverty overcome obstacles to be successful through education, physical and mental well-being, and family-style living.
When given the chance, Phyllis can be found on the dance floor. She loves salsa, merengue, bachata, and anything Latin. In college, she was a member of Elon’s competitive ballroom team and now is passing on her love of dance to the students at Heartwood Grove.
Poppy Marquez holds a BFA in Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth. Her love for childhood education started early when she worked during high school at Early Years preschool for three summers. During college she worked at Keystone girl's camp in Pa as an art teacher and counselor and at Interlochen Academy of Music as a fine arts teacher.
Poppy began as an assistant teacher and art teacher at Heartwood Grove when her daughter, now at Appomattox Governor's School, was an immersion student.
She has a passion for children’s literature and is excited to help children grow their passion for literature and reading by connecting them with books that capture their imaginations. She enjoys all kinds of creative projects including arts and crafts, drawing and baking. She also enjoys nature walks and nature photography.
She is thrilled to be back with Heartwood Grove to support its youngest students and their families.
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 has taught 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.
William holds a Master's Degree in teaching from DePaul University with certifications in French and Arabic. He also holds a BA as 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 eleven months in Amman, Jordan learning Arabic on a Defense Department sponsored Boren scholarship.
William Bice is a musician (violist), who enjoys a variety of music genres, especially chamber music and Scottish fiddling (on viola). 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. He teaches at Concordia in the summers and also Arabic and French with the Virtual Pennsylvania High School Program.
His main hobbies are languages, music, travel, and origami. Additionally, William was born in Switzerland and grew up as a French heritage speaker.