Faculty and Staff
With nine advanced degrees and scores of years of teaching experience among them, Summers-Knoll faculty know what learners need to succeed. As veteran instructors, Summers-Knoll teachers reach every student and bring joy to every lesson. They are a community of committed, progressive teachers dedicated to building community and preparing students for the next stage of their academic career.
Head of School
Walter is the Head of School at Summers-Knoll School and has been an educator for over 20 years. Walter began his teaching career in California, teaching grades one, two and three, and had his first introduction to project based learning in the Boston area at Innovation Academy where he taught a mixed age 7th and 8th grade classroom. Walter then served as the Head of School at Innovation Academy, in Massachusetts, significantly growing the school over twelve years. Walter was the founding leader of the high school program at Innovation Academy (modeled after High Tech High’s program in San Diego) and oversaw the graduation of the first three classes, with students receiving college acceptances to ivy league schools among other selective programs. Before joining Summers-Knoll, Walter served as a head of school in Los Angeles. Walter earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology from Holy Cross and has an Ed.M. from Harvard. When not at the helm at Summers-Knoll, Walter enjoys reading, working with his hands — doing his own “project based learning,” being active, and when the family travels, it is usually to a place where he can pursue his passion for surfing.
Preschool Program Director and Lead Teacher
Clara comes from Minnesota with 16 years of experience of teaching as a Preschool, Pre-K, or Kindergarten teacher. She has an Elementary Education degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Clara’s passions are in music, dance, art, theatre and exploring the world. She is a marathon runner (ran Detroit this October), a dog lover/owner, and also plays the bassoon. Clara is new to Ann Arbor, just moving here with her boyfriend Matt in May, and is enjoying being part of the vibrant community here. Her philosophy in education suits Summers-Knoll, being someone who likes to encourage children to be humanitarians and environmentalists as well as showing how kindness is magic. Clara is so thankful to be part of the amazing Summers-Knoll family!
Val joined the faculty at Summers-Knoll in the fall of 2011. Val has extensive experience in leading active, project-oriented, exploratory and creative classes in a preschool/kindergarten environment. Val’s warmth, humor, high expectations and abundant sense of adventure result in a classroom that resonates with ideas, wonder, and discovery.
1st/2nd Grade Teacher
Grace has a B.A. in Art History and Psychology from Bucknell University and an M.S.Ed in Early Childhood Special & General Education (Pre-K to 2nd) from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Grace believes that learning is most meaningful when children are engaged, creating, and enjoying themselves. She strives to create an environment and experiences that encourage children to love the process of learning and inspire them to want to discover more. Prior to starting at SK, Grace taught Kindergarten for four years in a Progressive independent school environment. She is thrilled to be a part of the warm, engaging, creative, inspiring, and joyful learning community at SK.
1st/2nd Grade Teacher
Susan Carpenter joined the faculty of Summers-Knoll in the fall of 2002. She holds a degree in Education and an Early Childhood Specialist Certificate. Susan is a passionate believer in creating a calm, beautiful, and peaceful space where children can learn. Early childhood is a time where students learn by doing, so there are plenty of hands-on projects such as building terrariums, sewing pillows, or planting herb gardens. Susan believes that as children connect happily and meaningfully with the world through their studies, their academics soar.
3/4 Grade Teacher
Chris has a B.A. from Oakland University and a M.S. in Education Studies from U-M. He wants students to leave his classroom with a greater awareness of themselves and their environment, seizing the opportunity to move forward in the world as creative problem solvers who nurture their passions and act with empathy.
3/4 Grade Teacher
Michelle became a part of the Summers-Knoll extended learning team in the summer of 2015. After receiving her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2017, Michelle joined the SK faculty as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher. In the classroom, Michelle aims to foster critical thinking about, deep connection to, and compassion towards ourselves, our communities, and our earth.
5th/6th Grade Teacher
Wendy Lawrence earned an M.Ed. in Education from Boston College and a B.A. with high honors in Biology and Economics from Swarthmore College. Before Summers-Knoll, Wendy worked as a Middle School Head at Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland, WA, where she was a founding faculty member and curriculum coordinator. She wrote curriculum for multiple subjects and grades and worked with other faculty to develop interdisciplinary units and courses. As Middle School Head, she helped grow the school from its founding 17 kids to over 200 six years later.
Wendy has been teaching for over ten years in both public and private schools and in grades 3 through 8, as well as a year of teaching in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, where she also wrote a national biodiversity curriculum and led workshops for local village chiefs and development councils. No matter the setting, Wendy is passionate about getting to know her kids, challenging them to be great students and great humans, and asking them to revise, revise, revise.
Wendy is also a writer, having several published essays and articles, mostly about parenting and education, in national and local publications. She’s hoping someday to see her name in the middle grade section of a bookstore. Wendy is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and an active Ann Arbor community volunteer and board member. She’s presented at and attended many education conferences and, like our SK kids, is always looking for the next place to learn something.
Wendy is a Summers-Knoll mom with two very happy students. She considers herself lucky to have found such a creative and supportive environment to challenge and nurture both her own kid
5th/6th Grade Teacher
Lisa is a biologist by nature, and education. She earned her PhD in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and worked as a research scientist at the University of Michigan School studying gene regulation in fruit flies for 10 years before joining Summers-Knoll in 2015. Lisa brings her love of nature and her experience in experimental science to her 5th and 6th grade classroom, as well as to the middle school after care program through her club known as “Fish Lab”. Fish Lab students design and maintain aquariums and pet habitats in the middle school “Cove Lounge” and in other rooms in the school, while surreptitiously learning about water chemistry, microbiology, physics, biology, animal behavior, and ecology.
7th/8th Grade Teacher
Sam joined Summers-Knoll as a math teacher during the 2012-13 school year. He earned a B.A. in Arts and Ideas in the Humanities and a M.A. in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan. Sam has been a teacher since 2001, and has worked for the last 10 years in independent schools, teaching math and science at the middle and high school level. Sam has also taught interdisciplinary classes relating to cultural history, futurism, and media literacy. Philosophically, Sam is drawn towards creating interdisciplinary curricula, bringing great energy towards integrating mathematics in broader contexts.
7/8 Grade Teacher and Librarian
Rachel received her MSI from the School of Information at the University of Michigan and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. In addition to her work as a librarian, Rachel also created and developed the youth enrichment arm of Summer in the City, an award-winning Detroit-based nonprofit organization devoted to engaging young people in meaningful service opportunities throughout Detroit. As part of her work both with Summer in the City and in schools, Rachel has developed programs for young people that aim to recognize the value of diverse perspectives and the complex nature of community-building efforts.
Imogen holds her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of London in England. She has over twenty years of teaching experience in Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient and Medieval History and French. She has taught at South Hampstead School, Sydenham High School and Cobham Hall School, where she was Head of the Classics Department. She has taught courses at Goldsmiths College and for the extra-mural department of the University of London. She has been teaching at Summers-Knoll since 2007 and was instrumental in introducing Latin to all our students from Kindergarten upwards and in developing the French program. She has also taught Exploration Block classes in classical dance and is a fervent believer in the power of language and literature to enrich and illuminate the lives of children.
Mary holds an undergraduate degree from the Residential College at U-M and a Master’s degree in teaching students with diverse emotional and education needs. An educator with more than 30 years of experience, Mary taught in the public schools for 27 years, first as a Teacher Consultant and then in her own 3rd-5thgrade classrooms. She integrated her curriculum with thematic instruction while always working to build a sense of community and global responsibility in her classes. She has been committed to progressive issues since her youth and has traveled extensively for pleasure and social justice work. She is thrilled to be a part of the Summers-Knoll community.
PE and K-2 Science Teacher
Shan joined the Summers-Knoll staff in 2005. Shan has 20 years of experience in education ranging from being a paraeducator, bus driver, to coaching many different sports ranging from Community Education to High School Varsity. She has filled many roles at SK such as Summer Camp Director, PE teacher and lower elementary science teacher. She believes that Physical Education plays a critical role in a child’s education experience. Research has supported the importance of movement in educating both the mind and the body as well as time spent outdoors supports many aspects of a child health, physical activity, and the overall well-being. Shan incorporates Science and Physical Education by hiking and exploring the world around us.
Mary’s Bachelors of Fine Arts is from Eastern Michigan University with focuses in oil painting and sculpture. Before coming to Summers-Knoll in 2016 her background in education was in working with students with special needs, specializing in nonverbal students, as well as teaching a wide variety of classes and ages as a substitute teacher in the Ann Arbor area.
In addition to teaching Mary is a working artist and active costumer. She does commission costume work for both theater groups and individuals, and finds the art of appearance fascinating.
In the art room Mary encourages students to learn and master new materials and subjects, and hopes everyone leaves with the appreciation that art is everywhere, and everyone is an artist.
Director of Extended Learning
Preschool Teacher Assistant
Natalie has lived in Ann Arbor for ten years and has 8 years of experience teaching as a Preschool teacher. She has her Bachelors (BA) in Developmental Psychology and her Masters in Social Work (MSW) from University of Michigan. Natalie’s greatest passion is traveling around the world. She has travelled to over 20 countries studying parenting styles across cultures and has done extensive research on the significance of trauma and attachment relationships in early childhood. As a teacher, Natalie values child-centered, play-based learning with an emphasis on the importance of social-emotional learning, mindfulness, and compassion. In line with the U-School as well as Summers-Knoll’s philosophy, she values place-based learning and having children engage in their learning outside of the classroom through exploration and service in the local community. Natalie is excited to learn and grow as part of the Summers-Knoll team.
Preschool Teacher Assistant
Resa spent 20 years at Ball State University producing training materials for early childhood professionals. She has a degree in math, economics and political science from the University of Michigan. The Summers-Knoll preschool is opening the door to understanding more about the meaning-making children do through stories and play, and about the changes in children’s thinking when they spend time in nature.
Director of Operations
Karen joined the staff at Summers-Knoll in 2008. She has a Bachelors in Business Administration degree, majoring in Finance, from the University of Michigan. Karen manages and leads the operations for all of Summers-Knoll School. Karen’s major work includes admissions, supporting teachers, technology, communications and all organizational aspects of the school’s operations.
Kimberley is an experienced professional with a long track record as a results-oriented and solution-focused individual. She arrived at Summers-Knoll first in 2007 and then happily rejoined the Summers-Knoll team in 2013, having relocated back home to Michigan.
Reception and Administrative Support
Reception and Administrative Support
Jazmine is one of our SK receptionists and administrative support staff. She will greet you with a smile, answer any questions you may have or direct you to the appropriate individual here at SK. You may also see Jazmine in the classroom as she substitutes for faculty when they are unable to attend to their classrooms. Jazmine was a previous participant in Teach for America and taught a kindergarten classroom through the program. She holds a BA in American Culture and minor in Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Michigan.