Faculty and Staff

Faculty

Amanda Baber

Reading Teacher

Amanda started teaching at Oakland in 2000. She became the Admissions Director in 2009 and transitioned to be the Education Director in 2012. She has a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Science in Special Education with a research emphasis from Old Dominion University.

Amanda is licensed in general education and certified in special education and has years of experience teaching children with learning disabilities such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia and processing disorders. Her graduate studies focused on the importance of social skills instruction and multi-sensory techniques. Her final research project was dedicated to “The Oakland Way” and can be found on our website.

Amanda’s background in research has strengthened Oakland’s program recognizing research-based best practices and data driven decision making. As head of the curriculum committee she continues to strengthen Oakland’s core programs all which incorporate the framework, “The Oakland Way”. Amanda fosters communication and promotes the partnership of the teaching and residential staff.

As a mother of two, she understands the unique styles, learning differences and needs of the individual child. Her son a rising sixth grader, attended Oakland during the last three summers. The summer program provides him with the academic boost he needs to feel confident when returning to public school each year.

Amanda’s focus on building positive relationships with students and staff has positively benefited the Oakland community. Amanda is dedicated to ensuring that an individualized program is developed so that each student reaches their potential.

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Sarah Bailey

Equestrian Program Manager and Riding Instructor

Sarah started at Oakland as an equestrian instructor in 1991 and transitioned to be the Equestrian Program Manager in 2003. Sarah is well-known and respected in the local riding community.

Prior to Oakland, Sarah assisted in classrooms that primarily served students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her experience in the classroom working with students with a variety of learning needs allows her to individualize and differentiate instruction at the barn.

Sarah has developed a program that allows students of varying degrees of experience to participate in the riding program building confidence and fostering success. The horseback riding curricula is built on the framework of responsibility. Closely aligned with the academic program, the horseback riding program focuses on individualized instruction, character development and challenging students to reach their potential. Sarah prepares students to participate in annual horse shows. Students often comment that if they can handle a horse, they can handle anything!

As a mother of two and an alumni parent, Sarah understands that the individual child must be appreciated and nurtured. She is excited to have both of her daughters attend Oakland Summer Camp. Although a job that requires a commitment of 365 days a year, when Sarah is not at Oakland, she can be found volunteering in her daughter’s classrooms often focusing on students that require extra attention. Sarah’s dedication to the Oakland equine program, unrequited commitment to our 16 horses, 3 goats, and 2 donkeys, and passion for teaching students with learning differences has helped change lives for over 20 years.

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Ann Forno

Reading Teacher

​Ann started at Oakland in the summer of 2016 as a Reading teacher. She earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Towson University in Maryland, and an M.S. in Reading from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, certifying her as a Reading Specialist. She has taught in public schools, private daycare, and Head Start. She was also Director of the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project in Baltimore. Throughout her teaching career, Ann has focused on incorporating techniques and methods that help struggling learners be successful. One of her core professional beliefs is that the school should be ready for the child, and not the child for the school. Joining the staff at Oakland has been a natural fit for her, and she is thrilled to be surrounded by administrators, teachers, and staff who are so dedicated to helping children succeed. Ann is a Maryland transplant and has fallen in love with Charlottesville. She loves the food, art, and music scenes, and never tires of the views of the mountains.

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Anna Goldsmith

English Teacher

Originally from Lynchburg, Virginia, Anna moved to Charlottesville right before middle school. Anna graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 2012 with a degree in English and Secondary Teacher Licensure. She completed student teaching in Mililani, Hawaii, in the fall of 2012. Anna returned to Charlottesville in January 2013 and began working for a local tutoring company, where she tutored students one-on-one in a variety of subjects including: SAT and ACT reading and writing test prep, middle school math, and elementary through high school reading. While working at the tutoring company, Anna served as the Academic Coordinator, overseeing the Academic Coaching program, which helps students develop independent study skills and organization. One of the highlights was overseeing a partnership with Social Services to provide tutoring to local foster children. In September 2014, Anna started at Oakland as a Residential Instructor and began teaching in January 2015.

Anna’s ability to easily establish rapport with staff and students has made her a wonderful addition to the Oakland team. She is thrilled to teach Reading, English, and Social Studies (study skills) this year!

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Anne Gomola

Teaching Assistant

Having raised four children and working in various school settings, Anne is passionate about nurturing and educating children in the unique Oakland environment. A seasoned childcare provider, she studied at Dutchess College, is a former Piano Teacher, Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4H leader and recently Director of an After School program.

Anne recently transitioned to Oakland as an Education Assistant and is thrilled to work with the Oakland team providing each student with the opportunity to succeed academically and socially.

Being a literacy advocate, Anne is excited to be a part of “changing lives; one student at a time”! Her motto is if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. She is committed and dedicated to the students, supporting staff needs, and making a difference in each child’s life.

Anne Kinsely

Math & Science Teacher

Anne started at Oakland in the Residential Program and began teaching in 1989. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from William and Mary and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Virginia. She has recently completed and is taking course work in advanced math and technology integration for differentiated instruction for students struggling with mathematical concepts and those needed to solidify their mathematical foundation before transitioning into high school. She is a certified special education teacher and has taught students with a variety of learning differences such as dyscalculia and organizational difficulties.

Anne typically works with our older students (7th grade, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Consumer Math). Her classes have an emphasis on making math understandable (and fun), increasing student independence, and providing a framework and memorable examples for comprehending and solving increasingly complex questions. She uses a variety of strategies such as memory and study aids; color coding, student made mnemonics, and building or drawing models to increase understanding.

Anne and her students can often be found “talking” math outside of the classroom and Anne’s classroom is larger than the four walls of her room. Anne “maps out” concepts and utilizes real life scenarios to make math meaningful and memorable. Anne provides a relaxed environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and exploring interests.

Anne is an active and integral member of Oakland’s curriculum committee which focuses on research-based best practices and ensuring that Oakland’s curriculum continues to follow the framework of the Oakland Way which incorporates multi-sensory teaching techniques and individualized instruction while also integrating technology and state standards so that students not only reach their potential, but have the tools to excel after Oakland. Anne is also involved with the annual Oakland School Kids Trail race and the popular Pi Day events that include students reciting over 100 digits of Pi, encircling our campus with a Pi chain and of course, consuming round items (such as pie!) for lunch. She understands the importance of boosting students’ confidence and incorporates the Pillars of Character into daily learning.

At the end of each year, she has the students create kind word lists for all students in the individual classes. Students take time to thank each other for their friendship and recognize positive traits of each individual. Alumni often reference these lists as some of their greatest treasures and keepsakes from Oakland and their childhood. Anne’s commitment to Oakland School and her passion for teaching math (24 years!) make her an integral part of the Oakland community.

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David Smieciuch

Math Teacher

David has dedicated his career to Oakland School and our students. David started at Oakland in the Residential Program, served as Director of Residential Services, and began teaching at Oakland in 1997. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in General Psychology from Gannon University, a Master of Arts in General Psychology from San Jose State University and a PhD in Education from the University of Virginia.

Recently, he took the courses Finite Math and Computers: Information Literacy. David has over 15 years of experience teaching students with learning challenges such as dyscalculia, ADHD and organizational difficulties. He generally teaches our younger students and incorporates “The Oakland Way” approach, differentiating instruction, using manipulatives and multi-sensory strategies to teach specific math skills.

David understands that children learn math through different techniques and tools and differentiates instruction to make sure students learn and retain knowledge. Because our program is individualized he can go back and fill in gaps or move students along so that they are being challenged and reaching their potential. He relates math to real-life so that learning is engaging and authentic. David is patient, kind, and extremely proficient in teaching students that have learning differences. As well as being a math teacher, David serves on the Book Fair and Caught Being Good committees. David is an expert in the subject of Math and helping students with learning differences succeed, we are lucky to have him!

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Abby Sprague

Reading & Social Studies Teacher and Director of Admissions

Abby joined the Oakland faculty in the summer of 2015. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and English from Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. She has previously worked with inner city students in an under resourced school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as an Americorps volunteer, and has worked with similar students in Providence, Rhode Island with a focus on improving their writing skills. She held the title of Vice President of RWU’s branch of Future Teachers of America, and served as the Literacy Coordinator on her team’s sight in Baton Rouge. These experiences have opened up her heart towards students who need individualized attention in the classroom. They have also given her the skills and knowledge necessary to assist these students, and to help them grow not only as learners, but also as people.

Abby is also the Director of Admissions, and is a fantastic addition to the Oakland team!

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Administration and Staff

Pete Cormons

Operations Director

Pete joined the Oakland team in 2013 after relocating to Charlottesville from the Washington, DC area. He spent the past 13 years as a boat Captain working on cruise Boats, offshore casino boats, tug boats, and fishing boats where he managed large teams of maritime employees, maintenance projects and vessel security. He was raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia on a self-sufficiency farm and enjoys all things outdoors including fishing, hunting and camping.

Pete graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000 with a double major in Psychology and Philosophy. Pete’s responsibilities at Oakland include managing the maintenance team, dining facility, safety and security procedures, and the Equestrian center. He is excited to transfer his skills from the maritime industry to Oakland and improve the facilities and lives of both the students and staff he supports to make for a more positive learning environment for everyone.

Ann Gooch

Nurse

Anne graduated from the University of Virginia and became a Registered Nurse in 1987. As a nurse, she previously worked at Martha Jefferson Hospital, a local Doctor’s Office, as a public health nurse and has over 15 years experience as a School Nurse in Nelson County (five years) as well as in Fluvanna County (ten years). She started at Oakland in June of 2014. Ann lives very close to Oakland and enjoys farming her own organic food, even growing and grinding her own corn. Her work Motto is “Healthy kids are better learners!”

Karin Holtz

Finance Director

Karin’s first experience with Oakland began as a parent. The Holtz family found Oakland as the answer to support their daughter who was struggling with academics, organization, and self-esteem. Originally only slated as a summer student, the family quickly recognized the need and benefits of the year-round program.

Today, Karin’s daughter is a successful high school student in the local public school system and the family frequently praises Oakland for her success. Karin continued her relationship with Oakland as an alumni parent and in 2007 began working as Oakland School’s Finance Director.

Karin’s responsibilities include managing SMART tuition, Oakland’s tuition management company, dorm accounts for the boarding students, and the many complex needs of the boarding and day school programs. In addition to her financial responsibilities, Karin is a key member of the book fair committee ensuring that our students have the most up to date novels and resources both for classroom instruction and personal interests.

Karin often serves as an initial parent contact for prospective families and welcomes the opportunity to share her personal story with families experiencing similar struggles. Karin is an important member of the Oakland family as is her daughter. Karin’s personal connection strengthens her passion for the program and her dedication is an asset to the Oakland community.

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Evan Kearney

Residential Director

Evan started at Oakland as a Residential Instructor in summer 2006. He served as Residential Supervisor in 2011 and has held the position of Residential Director since 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Longwood University.

Evan coached soccer, basketball and cross-country for many years and is now the Athletic Director and PE teacher. As the PE teacher, Evan has the unique opportunity to teach every student at Oakland. Evan is an avid runner and was instrumental in the creation of our cross-country team at Oakland. He participates in many community races and events. He is proud of how successful the annual trail race has become, attracting over 100 participants each fall.

As Residential Director, Evan’s primary function is overseeing the boarding students and residential staff. Evan works closely with school administration and parents to ensure collaboration and communication. He plans exciting on and off campus activities that incorporate culture, service, learning, and fun. His many years of experience working with students with varied academic challenges and social interests has helped build and shape Oakland’s successful boarding program.

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Brian Kiernan

Psychologist

Brian began counseling students at Oakland in 1999. Prior to Oakland, he spent ten years providing day to day physical care, counseling, and “parenting” to youth with physical disabilities. He then spent the next four years working in a home for youth with legal or behavioral problems, and through graduate school, spent his weekends working in a local psychiatric hospital caring for youth with emotional, family, or psychiatric problems.

He attended graduate school at the University of Virginia where he was granted a Presidential Fellowship and received a Master’s and Doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He also works at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. For the past seventeen years, he has provided therapy for students at Oakland School. He considers Oakland to be an ideal setting for such work, first of all, because of his deep respect for the supportive, psychologically-informed, program and, especially, for his respect for Carol, the teachers, and the administrative and residential staff at the school, as well as his long association and collaboration with Dr. Julia Green.

He also finds Oakland to be an ideal setting because of the model of therapy which allows for close communication through participation in teacher’s meetings and regular communication with residential instructors, teachers, and administrators. Brian has thirty-six years of experience in counseling children. The Oakland Community cherishes Brian’s dedication and support. He truly makes a difference in children’s’ lives.

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Carol Williams

Head of School

Carol started at Oakland in 1978 and has held the position of Residential Instructor, teacher, Assistant Director and, since 2001, Head of School of Oakland School. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Virginia.

Carol holds a certification in special education and has instructed, mentored and encouraged students with a range of learning challenges, from mild autism and dyslexia to organizational difficulties and ADHD, for 35 years. Carol works with each member of the Oakland team and has an understanding of the unique importance of each individual as they work toward the common goal of helping students reach their potential.

Having worked in a variety of roles at Oakland she knows first-hand how boarding schools have lifelong impacts on individuals’ character, education and community. Carol is committed to fostering relationships with professionals locally and across the nation and is considered an expert in the field of individualized boarding and day programs. She frequently attends work shops, conferences, and professional development opportunities, to not only share her expertise and knowledge of Oakland but to continually increase awareness of educational trends and programs that will benefit students with learning differences.

Carol has dedicated over 35 years to children with learning disabilities and those who struggle in a traditional classroom setting. This dedication sets her apart as a renowned leader in the field of education and has been the leading factor in changing lives.

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Patti Williams

Secretary

Patti started at Oakland in 2006. She has extensive office management experience working in the Virginia public school system and at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Prior experience in the classroom as a preschool teacher working with diverse students with a variety of learning needs strengthened her commitment to early intervention.

After raising three children, Patti’s time is now devoted to helping other children succeed through her role in education and organizations that benefit children with special needs. Patti has a broad technological awareness and she is an integral part of Oakland School’s technology committee. Her work has helped Oakland continue their technology plan with increased computers in the classroom, software upgrades, etc.

Patti’s diverse work experiences and technological knowledge coupled with her passion for helping children with learning differences succeed make her an essential part of the Oakland community.

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