Faculty and Staff Bios

Laura Bice:  Director of International Education and Elementary Teacher

        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, elementary, and middle 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 has completed beginning Russian coursework at VCU and beginning Spanish at the University of South Carolina.

Karla Y. Livas: Advanced Middle School Spanish Immersion and Mathematics in Spanish  

        Karla Livas is a native Spanish speaker from Monterrey, Mexico. She has enjoyed teaching, not only the STEM subjects of Math and Computer Literacy at the middle and high school level in Monterrey, but also Spanish, civics and art history. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Monterrey, Mexico and has completed graduate coursework at Florida Southern College’s teaching program, Lakeland, Florida.

        Her creative self enjoys designing food crafts (candy making, cake decorating), and origami design.

Mara Dovis: Elementary Spanish and Art Teacher

        Mara was raised in a bilingual home and has been educating children for the past 14 years. 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 in Mexico, Costa Rica, and throughout South America. Her parents were raised in Argentina and she still has extended family living near Buenos Aires with whom she hopes to visit again soon. Besides teaching children, Mara enjoys working as a freelance photographer and artist. She loves making sculptures in clay, gardening, and spending outdoor time with her family.

Julia "Kitsie" Helo: Spanish Teacher

    Kitsie grew up in Richmond and holds a fine arts degree with a major in Spanish and a minor in French from King College in Bristol, Tennessee.  After graduating she lived in Mexico and taught elementary students English, then later lived two years in Japan, where she taught high schoolers and three to five year olds.

    Later Kitsie attended Regis University of Denver, Colorado and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  She specialized in the NICU.  Having lived for twelve years in Colorado she and her husband, love to snow ski, bike, and hike trails.

        Kitsie is the mother of three children who attend Heartwood Grove School.  She regularly travels with her family to visit relatives in Colombia, South America

 Violaine Michel: Middle School French Teacher

        Violaine Michel, a French native, and professional violinist, is a recent graduate of La Sorbonne University in Paris, where she earned a diploma in teaching French as a foreign language.
        She grew up in Normandy, France, where she completed her violin studies before becoming a member of the Caen Orchestra and serving as an adjunct faculty at the Regional Conservatory of Music of Caen.
        She has a passion for music, languages, and teaching, having taught violin for more than 16 years in France, Montreal, Canada, and Richmond. She has studied the languages of English, German, and Modern Greek, and while living in Montreal, she studied translation at the University of Montreal becoming increasingly interested in research on bilingualism and language acquisition.
        As a musician, Violaine has played with renowned orchestras and ensembles in Quebec such as the Metropolitan Orchestra of Montreal, the Quebec Symphony, and Appassionata Chamber Orchestra. Since moving to Richmond six years ago with her husband, who had been hired as Director of Orchestral Activities at VCU, she has been a substitute player with the Richmond Symphony and also has taught violin privately and with the Greater Richmond School of Music.
        Passionate about music, languages and all that involves art and communication, she has always been eager to share and teach what she considers to be the essence of a happy and a fulfilling life. She is the mother of three, David, Juliette and Léa, all bilingual, with whom she shares her passion for nature, music, learning and life as a whole.

Shannon Griffin: 

Social Studies/Humanities


Model United 

Nations, World Religions
Substitute Yoga teacher

        Shannon is excited to offer World Geography and Middle School Model UN, as well as High School level MUN and World Religions. She has lived, studied, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and India. She spent three years in Jerusalem and one year in France and speaks Hebrew and French. 
        Shannon holds an MA in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a BA in English from the University of Virginia. She has experience teaching World History, High School Jewish History, and Hebrew to adults, teens, and children. 
        Shannon also is a certified yoga teacher. 

Nilufar Allamuradova: Elementary French and Russian Teacher

        Nilufar, a native Russian and Uzbek speaker from Uzbekistan, is a graduate of The Uzbek State World Languages University with a B.A. in French Language Translation. Additionally, she has lived and studied in France, earning a Certificate in Political Science from the University of Toulouse.

        Ms. Allamuradova lives in Richmond with her husband and two young children.

Armine Alaverdyan: Beginning Russian 

        Armine, originally from Armenia, holds a Master's in Slavic Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor's degree from Yerevan State Linguistic University, Yerevan, Armenia in Russian language, literature, and English language.

        She has experience teaching in the Henrico County School system and is an Armenian teacher at St. James Armenian Church.  Armine's experience additionally includes work in the field of translation and administration of standardized tests.  She speaks Armenian, Russian, and English and has reading knowledge of Polish.

        In Armenia Ms. Alaverdyan was an English Instructor at “Language Center”, Yerevan, Armenia and taught English to beginner level students developing curriculum for students ages 7-12.

        Armine is CPR/AED  Certified  by the American Heart Association.

Margaret Lau: Afternoon Kindergarten Teacher

        Mrs. Lau has been working in the field of early childhood for fourteen years, most recently working as an after school counselor at the Shady Grove YMCA, and as a reading teacher at Heartwood Grove School.  Margaret spent six of her eleven years at Epiphany Lutheran Pre-School as a half-day 4/5-year-old teacher. She also worked in Epiphany’s after-school enrichment program.

        She worked in the fields of finance and accounting in England and Hong Kong before changing professions to the field of early childhood. Margaret 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. 

Susana Mulcahey:  Teacher Administrator, Elementary French Teacher, and Culinary Instructor 

        Ms. Mulcahey, originally from New York, has over seventeen years experience teaching and counseling children and youth. She holds a BA in French and Portuguese (Cum Laude) from the University of Connecticut where she studied abroad at  The Université de Haute Normandie, Mont St. Aignan France  and The University of Lisbon, Lisbon Portugal.  Ms. Mulcahey also speaks Italian and holds a master's degree in special education. 

        She has taught in a variety of educational settings which have included Reggio Emilia, Montessori, ESL and foreign language instruction settings.

        Working in a NAEYC- accredited early education center, she was observed during instructional time, leading to the center earning a five- star rating.

        Susana also loves reading, swimming, boating, biking, and cooking. She is a professional chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.  

Coach Dee Hayes - Fencing
        Dee Hayes, a native of Cuba, has fenced in the Olympics and in two Pan-american Games representing her native Cuba.  She teaches at Richmond Fencing Club, has provided coaching for two seasons of Character Works productions of "Peter Pan" and "Pirates of the Caribbean", and has provided lessons and classes for the William and Mary Men's and Women's Epee Teams, resulting in several individual and team championships.
        Dee started fencing at nine years old at Barbodos Heroes, a national sports school in Havana.  She studied foil and epee under Coaches Ichi, Margarita Rodriquez, Jorge Valdez, Orlando Durruty, and Manuel Ortiz, all world renowned and ranked icons.  After graduating  from the University of Sports "Manuel Fajardo" in Havana, she taught at the National Academy in Havana.  During her five year tenure, Dee monitored 72 athletes between the ages of 7 and 21 and promoted an innumerable amount of students to higher techniques schools and the Cuban National Team of Fencing.
    She placed first in epee in the 2011 VA Division Championships and first in foil and third in epee in the 2009 VA Division Championships, where she was a silver medalist in the Women's Epee Team event.  In Cuba, Dee was the captain of the Women's Team of Havana, three-time winner of the Cuban National Tournament (age divisions 13-14 and 15-16), and champion of both the Tournament Games of the Youth and the Nationals Tournament of Teams. Dee placed second in the Holy Cross Tournament of the North and third in both the National Games Tournament and the Games of Peace.
    Additionally Dee has experience with children with disabilities, as well as with ESL students.

Charles Bice, Finance Manager

         Charles has worked in Finance in Switzerland, Eastern Europe, and the US since he graduated with a Master’s degree in International Business Studies, French track from USC in 1991. He worked for 17 years in Finance and Operations Management for Altira.

        Charles also holds a BA in both Economics and English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has lived in London and Brussels, and six years in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.