Staff

Joyce Parr, M.Ed.  – Principal,  Academic Teacher

Mrs. Parr has over 20 years of experience as a teacher and an administrator in both public and private schools.  She has a Bachelors of Science in Elementary and Middle Education from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA and a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, VA.   Her passion for her faith, curriculum, instruction, teacher support, and reaching each child is evident to those who know her.  A couple of Mrs. Parr’s favorite verses are Exodus 14:13-14  – 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 

Donna HansonAcademic Teacher

Mrs. Hanson has over 17 years of full time teaching in grades first through sixth in both public and private schools, and she has over 10 years of experience homeschooling her children while teaching Physical Education in a home school cooperative. Mrs. Hanson’s experience also includes establishing a successful home school cooperative of 400 students and serving as Vice President of that cooperative.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from York College of Pennsylvania in York, PA and earned credits in Science and Math Curriculum from Loyola College in Prince George, MD.  Her  motto for education is “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” — Ben Franklin.  She also loves to watch children’s excitement as they discover the power of prayer!  Anyone who knows Mrs. Hanson knows she is passionate about her faith and she excels at providing instruction in a fun, creative, and “hands-on” way to her students!

 

Melissa Holyfield – Academic Teacher

Mrs. Holyfield has over 16 years of teaching experience in grades 2nd – 8th in both public and private schools. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education (K-8) from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  Mrs, Holyfield especially enjoys teaching reading and writing, and she believes “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. ” ( Frank Serafini)  In her free time, Mrs. Holyfield loves to read, watch baseball, and spend time with her family.  She believes in Christian education and loves being able to share her faith with her students.  A verse that means a lot to her is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

 

Jane Hopkins – Academic Teacher

Mrs. Hopkins has many years of experience teaching physical education, speech, and special education.  She has a Master of Education degree in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University, Chicago, IL and a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Speech Communication.  Her experience includes coaching high school volleyball and football.

 

John Hopkins – High School Teacher

Mr. Hopkins has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of North Texas in Denton, TX with a minor in Physical Education/Kinesiology, and he has a special education endorsement from the University of Central Arkansas.  He has experience teaching algebra, consumer education, economics, geometry, government, Spanish and Woodshop, and he has coached baseball, football, and track.  Mr. Hopkins has also been an Athletic Director, Lead Teacher, and established and supervised the student government at the previous high school for which he worked.

Aside from Mr. Hopkins’ experience, he loves the Lord. He and his wife lead Bible studies at their previous church before relocating the Virginia.

 

Julia Nalle – History Teacher

Mrs. Nalle has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Arts in Religion. She designs BiblioPlan’s curriculum and co-writes all of BiblioPlan’s materials. and has years of teaching experience in a local home school cooperative and home schooling her children.  Mrs. Nalle is a passionate advocate for international special needs adoption through Reece’s Rainbow.

 

Ben Nalle – History Teacher

Ben Nalle has an Associates in Science from Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville, VA and a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies and a minor in Psychology from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. He will start his Masters of Arts in Teaching this fall through Liberty’s online program. Ben has spent the last 5 years coaching for Fluvanna’s FAST swim team, and he is actively involved in his family’s BiblioPlan business helping to write material as well as package material for shipping.  Both Ben and his younger brother have written the entire notebooking series for BiblioPlan.  When traveling to conventions to share about the BiblioPlan material, Ben enjoys engaging and interacting with people about this curriculum.  Ben loves playing the guitar and singing.  During his middle and high school years he took part in well over 25 musicals through Black Box Players.  Having  a heart for missions, he traveled to Ukraine in 2013 to help build a home for aging out orphans and again in 2014 to work in a camp designed for orphans and refugee children displaced by the war.

 

Deborah Ryan – Art Teacher

Deborah Ryan comes to the Light Academy with over 14 years of experience in the field of Fine Art. With a degree in communications, she easily transitioned to teaching elementary art when her children attended a start-up charter school with little funding. As a board member of the school, Mrs. Ryan spear-headed the art program that led her to discover her calling as an educator. Subsequently, she taught art for the county school system in Newnan, GA for the following seven years until returning to Charlottesville with her family. She and her husband own a small business, and she currently teaches painting classes in Charlottesville, VA. Debi enjoys spending time with her family, remodeling their house,  playing with her dogs,  and following the Lord.

 Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try! – Dr. Seuss

 

Melissa DiGrazio  – Music Teacher

 Melissa DiGrazio started dancing at the age of 5 and continued her training studying ballet, tap, and jazz at the Kathleen Academy of Dance in Hillsborough, NJ. There she was trained to teach the 3-6 year old program as well as tap and jazz classes for children and adults. Other dance training includes classes at Broadway Dance Center in NYC and workshops throughout NJ, VA, and NY. Throughout her childhood, she had participated in school choirs, dance performances, and musicals. Miss Melissa graduated from Piscataway High School in Piscataway NJ in 1993 with honors and was part of the award winning concert choir as well as lead roles of Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street” and Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” In July 1998 she received her Kindermusik certification and began teaching the following fall. She graduated Cum Laude from Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ  in May 1999 with a Bachelors of Arts  in Music. Since completing her education, she has been working “for” children for the past 18 years with roles of camp counselor and director, after-school teacher, dance teacher, pre-school music teacher, piano teacher, and substitute teacher. She is a member of the Charlottesville Music Teachers Association and the Blue Ridge Partnership for Kindermusik Educators and is currently the music teacher at Millstone of Ivy Preschool in Ivy, VA and a dance instructor at Angell’s School of Dance in Palmyra, VA since 2003.  She continues her Kindermusik education yearly at the Kindermusik International Conventions which are held throughout the US each fall.  Since 1998, “Miss Melissa” has been highly involved with “Camp Happy Times”, a one-week summer camp for children with cancer, as a counselor. In her spare time (yeah right!) she spends loving the outdoors, especially the beach, and relaxing with family and friends.

 

Christy Krammes – Spanish Teacher

 

 

Amee Cantagallo, M.Ed.  – Technology Teacher

Mrs. Cantagallo has over 11 years of experience teaching children and adults, and she has  over 7 years of experience as an Entrepreneur in the marketing industry.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL and  a Master’s of Education degree in Education with over 120 credit hours in Special Education from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. She specialized in Special Education because she fell in love with children with Autism. Mrs. Cantagallo left the classroom to be a mom, but that only lasted three weeks. She just couldn’t not work, so she became a work-at-home mom.  She is an Entrepreneur at heart and was even selected as Yahoo Shines Entrepreneur of the Year. Currently, Mrs. Cantagallo owns and operates six websites and a social media company. As a consultant for large and small brands and being very busy, she is never too busy to be there for her children. After being asked by her son to come and teach at his school, knowing how important it was to him, and realizing how much she missed and loved teaching, she agreed. She looks forward to teaching technology and empowering students!