Women teaching women.

Nancy Briggs

A native of Arizona, Nancy moved to Front Royal at the age of 17 to attend Christendom College. After graduating with a BA in Politics, and an MA in Political Theory from Catholic University, she spent a few years working on Capitol Hill until she and her husband Doug returned to the Front Royal area in 1986 to put down roots and raise a family. A homeschooling mother of nine and grandmother of 10, Nancy has also taught part time over the past 30 years at Christendom, Aquinas Academic Center and White Oaks School, as well as various private classes for homeschooled teens.

When not teaching, she enjoys helping other families relocate to the Shenandoah Valley as a Realtor, as well as fixing up the family home that is rapidly becoming an empty nest.

Jaime Gorman

A girl from the north country, Jaime originally hails from Detroit, Michigan. She graduated with honors in Literature from Christendom College and went on to earn her MA from the University of Dallas. She focused heavily on the Romantic and Victorian eras, both their literature and philosophy, especially in how these can help us understand and combat the crises present in modern aesthetics. She also has a special love for Shakespeare, Waugh, Faulkner, Tolkien, and T. S. Eliot.

Jaime has over 10 years of experience in several aspects of education. This includes classroom and online teaching, as well as curriculum development. A sporadic free-lance writer, she has been published several times, including by the American Life League and the grassroots Soul Gardening Journal. In addition, her academic writings have had various impacts in her chosen field. She has also been semi-officially studying herbalism for over two years, after seeing the power of herbs to heal her children in acute medical situations.

Jaime is now happy to call the Shenandoah Valley home. She lives with her husband and four boisterous children, who are slowly adjusting to town life after nearly a decade on a farm. In her elusive freetime, Jaime enjoys ballet dancing, playing guitar, training and riding Arabian horses, breeding milk goats, and reading, especially British murder mysteries.

Anna Hatke

Anna Maria Hatke grew up in the Napa Valley in California and holds a history degree from Christendom College. She has spent the past ten years homeschooling her five daughters, dabbling in homesteading, and traveling between her two homes in rural Virginia and Northern Italy.  Between the Shenandoah Valley and the Lunigiana region of Tuscany, she has developed a passion for the natural world and a passion for art.  She has furthered this passion through her studies of nature journaling, watercoloring, natural history, art history, local plant life, permaculture and conservation work. She has taught for TASIS, The American School in Switzerland, and for the past four years she has co-run and taught classes with Shenandoah Skylark Homeschool Cooperative. She has furthered her own education in the arts and sciences through multiple conferences, classes, and immersions with the Charlotte Mason Institute of Washington DC, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Paris Apothecary in Paris, VA. 

Kim Hyland

Kim is a proud Virginia native. Raised in suburban Northern Virginia, she is a happy transplant to the Shenandoah Valley. Kim holds a BS in Child Developmental Psychology, which she put to good use over two decades of homeschooling her six children. Kim has taught high school literature, history, and public speaking in both homeschool and traditional classroom settings. She is also a published author, retreat director, and speaker.

Kim lives mountainside with her husband and youngest son. The rest of her brood are married and have thus far provided her with ten precious souls who call her “Mina.” When not reading, writing, or enjoying family, she enjoys hiking, embroidery, and gardening.

Anne Jansen

Anne grew up in the farm country of Minnesota. Deeply rooted in the outdoors, she fostered a passion for working with the land and all of nature’s offerings.

After graduating from Christendom College with a BA in English, she taught Kindergarten at Holy Family Academy in Manassas, Virginia, until the birth of her first child. Anne currently lives in Front Royal, Virginia and is a full-time mother and teacher to her five children. She pursues a private study on the importance of preserving the traditional wisdom of ancient food and medicine for the health and well-being of her family and community.

Gardening has led her toward an entirely new method called permaculture, an agricultural design that essentially mimics the sustainability of the forest. It’s a work in progress, but Anne and her family are currently converting their postage stamp yard into a fully functioning “food forest.”

They soon hope to be enjoying fruit and nut trees, vegetable and herb gardens, bees, rabbits, ducks, chickens and who knows what else.

Emily Minick

Emily teaches both Economics to high school students and American Federal Government to college students. Prior to entering teaching, she worked on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress in both Chambers working on issues ranging from labor policy, foreign affairs, tax policy and the federal budget. She has also worked at numerous political nonprofits in Washington.

She received her B.A. from Christendom College in Political Science and Economics and her M.A. in Government from Johns Hopkins University. She currently lives in West Virginia with her husband and 4 children.

Tara Johnson

Tara E. Johnson studied English, Communications, Acting, and Dance at Elizabethtown College in PA and at Cheltenham University in England. Mrs. Johnson has appeared in a plethora of ballets, musicals, and theatrical performances. In addition, Mrs. Johnson has directed and choreographed full length productions of; Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Smarty Pants, Shrek, Madagascar, Beauty and the Beast, The Nutcracker (abridged), The One and Only Santa Claus, Grease, The Wizard of Oz: Deleted Scenes, and Footloose. In addition to being an English, Mythology, Writing, Theatre, and American Sign Language teacher in public and private schools, Mrs. Johnson is also a professional Voice Over Artist and an Interpreter for the Deaf. She has travelled the world, is a returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, and loves reading suspense/action/mystery novels, camping at Claytor Lake, coffee, her two teenage daughters, four dogs, and two horses (her awesome husband should probably get a “shout-out” as well). Tara is grateful for her many blessings, including being a part of St. Edith Stein’s faculty!

Dian Schmiedicke


Dian Schmiedicke grew up in the coastal community of Santa Cruz, California, the eldest daughter of Bohemian and German immigrant parents. Raised as an evangelical Christian, she discovered and entered the Catholic Church while attending college in Asheville, North Carolina in 1995.

Dian discovered Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as a new mother searching for truth and beauty in parenting and began to study. She holds a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry from Warren Wilson College, an Association Montessori Internationale Primary Diploma from The Washington Montessori Institute, and a Masters Degree in Education from Loyola University. Dian also holds Levels I, II and III Certifications from The Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

In 2012, Dian founded Divinum Auxilium Academy, a flourishing Montessori to Classical elementary farm school in Front Royal. In 2018, she established an all girls junior high and high school, St. Edith Stein School for Girls, of which she is Headmistress, and in 2022, co-founded along with Joel Trumbo, its brother school, St. Joseph the Just School for Boys.

Dian lives with her husband and their four children in Linden, VA with their horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, and bees. She enjoys raising and growing food and tinkering in her laboratory kitchen. Dian is passionate about pairing her love of nature with athletics. She has competed in a variety of equestrian sports as well as swimming, mountain biking, triathlon, CrossFit and adventure racing. For fun she enjoys reading, hiking, fox hunting, running, scuba diving, skiing, rock climbing and backpacking with her family.

Susan Schwartz

Susan was raised in Arizona where she trained in Classical Ballet. After her own professional career, she taught ballet for nearly three decades and many of her students have gone off to have professional careers of their own. She earned her BS in Zoology at Arizona State University and has been homeschooling her nine children for the past 17+ years. Through it all, she has choreographed and directed many ballets and theatre productions.

Abigail Thomas

Abigail recently graduated from Christendom College with a degree in English Literature, and she is ecstatic to join the staff/faculty of St. Edith Stein School. She will be wearing several hats as the Administrative Director for the school as well as the Literature I and Religion II instructor. She is excited to share her passion for reading and writing with her students. Her all-time favorite book series is the Chronicles of Narnia!

In addition to teaching, Abigail is also a wedding coordinator for The Manors VA. When not teaching, sending emails, and helping people get married, she can be found enjoying coffee, baking a new recipe, or attempting a new DIY home decor project in her Front Royal apartment.

Anita Torzala

Anita was born and raised in Arizona where the inspiration of her homeschooling mother instilled in her a life-long love of learning which has served her throughout her continued education as well as her many creative endeavors.

In addition to traditional academic courses, Anita has continued to broaden her knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. She has taken courses in such lost culinary arts as cheese making and fermentation, and is a self-taught knitter and seamstress.

A true renaissance woman, Anita’s professional history reflects her many skills as well as her proven competence and work ethic. She has served in a number of positions, including secretary at a law firm, office manager, administrative assistant with multiple small businesses, farm hand, manager of a farm-to-fork food truck, and woodworking. Her jobs have exercised her talents in such varied fields as grant writing, hospitality, event coordination, accounting, and catering.

Anita lives in Front Royal, Virginia, where she continues to pursue personal interests in art and interior design, reading, cooking, holistic living, organization, and her latest creative endeavor—writing a children’s book.

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