Our outstanding educators bring their many years of learning, experience, travel, and community work into the classrooms. The faculty includes Ph.D.s in Biology and Chemistry, an M.F.A. in Media Art and Art History, the only CFA Charterholder teaching high school, and a history instructor who has studied at Oxford and traveled in over thirty-five countries.

Sara C. Johnson

Sara C. Johnson

Head of School
College Counseling

Sara C. Johnson was born in Louisville, KY and graduated with honors from Indiana State University where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Art degree with a double emphasis and a minor in art history. Ms. Johnson continued her studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she earned a Master of Fine Art degree. While living in Knoxville, Ms. Johnson taught video and photo courses for the University of Tennessee School of Art.

Ms. Johnson has been at Charlottesville's Renaissance School since 2002 when she began teaching studio art. During her years with Renaissance School, the art program has grown to include photography, integrated Art History and portfolio development work.  Ms. Johnson also developed Renaissance School's unique College Counseling program, which boasts an average of $192,000 per student in scholarships and awards.  

In 2009, following the retirement of founding Head of School Patterson Cunningham, Ms. Johnson joined the School Executive Committee as Head of School.  Ms. Johnson was welcomed by the Board of Directors as Renaissance School's second Head of School.  

Most recently, Ms. Johnson was one of only 20 national and international candidates accepted to the 2020 Klingenstein Heads of Schools Program at Teachers College, Columbia University.  

Ms. Johnson's life work focuses on developing educational leadership in the 21st century.  Outside of school, Ms. Johnson enjoys writing, reading, running, photography, and swimming.  Ms. Johnson is certified through USA Swimming as a Stroke/Turn Judge and enjoys officiating swim meets.  Above all else, Ms. Johnson enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. 

Richelle Claiborne

Richelle Claiborne

DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS
ASSISTANT TO THE HEAD

Richelle Claiborne is a Charlottesville native who has returned to the area to become a part of the Renaissance family. She originally left Charlottesville to enroll in Rutgers, The State University of NJ, from which she holds a B.A. in Sociology and Africana Studies. After Rutgers, she began a career in retail sales management. She returned to Charlottesville in 2000 to be closer to her family, during which time Ms. Claiborne discovered her love for fundraising and donor relations at UVa while working in the Arts & Sciences Development Office and Health Systems Development for the UVa Children’s Hospital. A talented actor and soul, jazz and R&B singer, she has also performed on numerous stages up and down the east coast from Live Arts to The Apollo. Ms. Claiborne brings to Renaissance School almost 20 years of experience in building client and community relationships, performance art and sales. When she is not spending time with her daughter, Ms. Claiborne's interests include reading, writing, music, acting, and cooking huge Sunday dinners for her family and friends.

Bethany Farris

Bethany Farris

MATH & SCIENCE
BUSINESS & SENIOR THESIS

Bethany Joy Farris, CFA, obtained her Bachelor of Science in Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences with an Emphasis in Economics with College Honors, and a Minor in Spanish, from the University of Washington in 2000. She is a Seattle native and enjoyed living and working in the UK, Spain, New Zealand, and Peru, as well as around the US, before moving to Charlottesville in 2010. Ms. Farris was a NASA researcher before serving some of the largest global institutional investors with Mercer Investment Consulting. She is the owner of crowdfunding consulting firm The Artist's Partner, and is a caretaker of an historic farm in the Green Springs National Historic Landmark District.

Ms. Farris loves the Charlottesville arts community and is an instructor and past Vice President of WriterHouse, and former television and film casting associate for Arvold. In her spare time Ms. Farris writes screenplays and reads Murakami novels.

Rick France

Rick France

French

Patrick L. France (Rick) joins Renaissance School in 2017 with 48 years in Virginia independent school education as a teacher and administrator.

Mr. France, originally from Rochester, New York, earned an A.B. from Transylvania University (French), an M.A. from Middlebury College (French), and Certificate programs at the Université d’Avignon in France and the University of Virginia (Academic Leadership). While Mr. France has served in a variety of roles in his three previous schools, he has continuously taught French.

​In the classroom Mr. France believes that all students can learn additional languages, no matter what their learning style might be. His classes emphasize excellent pronunciation and the development of proficiency with the French language.

Sarah Goodbar

Sarah Goodbar

English

Sarah Goodbar grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1998, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literature from Bard College. Her senior thesis was a study of the narrative method of Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. After graduating, she lived in Times Square for a summer while attending “Latin Bootcamp” at the Latin/Greek Institute of CUNY.  She studied Shakespeare and Virgil at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst while applying to graduate school. In 2000 she was offered a Presidential Fellowship by the English Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia. She moved to Charlottesville intending to specialize in the the classical tradition in 18th-century poetry. At UVA, Ms. Goodbar taught academic and professional writing using the Little Red School House method and did coursework in Old English, Victorian poetics, American Transcendentalism, bibliographic studies, creative writing, and more. Unable to tame her wandering literary tastes, she decided to leave the program with her Master’s, taking her oral examination in Romanticism.  In the ensuing years, Ms. Goodbar has taught English and American literature and language arts in both public and private school settings, done course work in education through the Curry School, and opened a Chinese martial arts studio with her husband. Most recently, Ms. Goodbar was the librarian at the Miller School of Albemarle. She lives in Greene County with her husband and two daughters.

Dhara Goradia

Dhara Goradia

Music

Bassist, composer and band leader Dhara Goradia grew up in Charlottesville, VA, where she learned jazz at her junior high school, starting on piano and electric bass before eventually dedicating herself to the upright bass at the age of 16. She played for the award winning Albemarle High School Jazz Ensemble, was named the All-Star Rhythm Section Player at the Chantilly Jazz Festival, and was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award upon graduating. She went on to play for the University of Virginia Jazz Ensemble and several small jazz combos, studying under the direction of John D’earth, and appeared in performances with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Terence Blanchard, Dave Liebman, Branford Marsalis, and Ritchie Cole.  In 2011, Ms. Goradia attended Berklee College of Music on a scholarship, where she gained the invaluable experience of focusing on her musical development related to performance and composition, while also nurturing a passion for what she feels is one of the most powerful aspects of music—collaboration with her incredibly talented peers from across the globe.

Ms. Goradia has extensive experience in several genres, and has spent time touring with bands in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and all over Virginia. She also played with the Charlottesville University Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups in central Virginia.  Ms. Goradia also leads local world/jazz/fusion band Quiet Fire and west coast trio Emerald Flame and can be found performing in many diverse projects around Central Virginia. In addition to a busy life as a professional musician, Ms. Goradia also holds a formal degree in Architecture and is currently working as an architect.

Nell Halladay

Nell Halladay

Math & Science

Dr. Nell Halladay, “Doc Nell”, is originally from New Jersey where she lived for 39 years. She is a graduate from Glassboro State College with a B.S. in chemistry and also holds M.S. and Ph. D. degrees in chemistry from Seton Hall University. Following a postdoctoral position at City University of New York, Nell began a 12 year career as a pharmaceutical chemist. She switched gears in June of 2000, moved to Charlottesville, and attended the Virginia School of Massage. In 2001 Nell joined the teaching faculty at Renaissance School while earning her national certification as a massage therapist. Doc Nell opened her massage therapy business in February 2002 and loves doing massage. She also does message therapy as a volunteer for Hospice of the Piedmont and works on both patients as well as their caregivers. She taught introductory level chemistry classes at Seton Hall University and Piedmont Virginia Community College and tutored chemistry and math at both the high school and college level. Doc Nell enjoys reading, hiking, and gardening. She now lives in Gordonsville with her partner Walt and Abbey the cat.

Damani Harrison

Damani Harrison

English

Damani Harrison has a rich history as an educator, writer, mentor, musician, and coach.  Mr. Harrison attended the College of William & Mary and has developed curriculum for CATEC and PVCC, which was later duplicated in Monticello and Albemarle High Schools.  Mr. Harrison also worked wtih the Albemarle County Public Schools to redesign the libraries to include multimedia resources.  Mr. Harrison has been a guest lecturer for the UVA Music Department, Curry School of Education, UVA Technosonics Conference, various education seminars, and President Obama’s National Young African Leaders Initiative at Ash Lawn for two consecutive years.  Mr. Harrison has worked as a writer for Musictoday.com, The Source, CMJ, and The Hook Weekly, where he received a Virginia Press Association Award for his work.

Mr. Harrison has lifelong passions in music and soccer.  He served as the Arts and Education Director at Music Resource Center, and has produced and distributed seven albums with his alternative Hip-Hop group, Beetnix. Mr. Harrison has performed with national acts across the country and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the 24-hour Hip-Hop music radio station in Charlottesville, 101.3Jamz. As a soccer player, Mr. Harrison played for SG Egelsbach, an elite soccer program in Germany. He also has coached at every level, eventually forming an elite team in the Monticello United Club that came in 2nd in the State Cup and finished 11th in the State overall.  

Mr. Harrison brings his passion for music, film, comic books, art and literature to every endeavor he pursues.

Steve Haske

Steve Haske

Studio Art

Stephen Haske was born and raised in Southern California. He studied photography at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, where he earned his B.A. in 2000. In 2006, Steve went on to earn his Master's of Fine Arts in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. He returned to Southern California with his family, and began a career as a Designer and Art Director at a leading maker of beach cruisers and city bicycles. After seven years in the design field, Steve decided to hang up his wheels, move to Charlottesville, and pursue his passion of illustration full-time.

​Mr. Haske's illustrations have been featured in local and national publications such as Pink Magazine, Charleston Magazine, The Gaurdian and ads for Virginia National Bank and others. A music lover, Steve has designed gig posters for bands such as Lake Street Dive, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, and Lotus. He has also done design with and for brands such as Coca-Cola, Paul Frank, Sanrio (Hello Kitty), The Rolling Stones, John Deere, and more.

​Mr. Haske loves to explore Charlottesville and the surrounding area with his wife and two sons. The history, natural beauty and unique cultural possibilities offer so many opportunities for drawing and painting, which is what he likes to do most. 

Marianne Lund

Marianne Lund

Spanish
Independent Study

Señora Lund was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in Europe, Latin America, and United States, traveling extensively since she was three years old. Languages come naturally to her and made studying literature, history, and politics a natural compliment to her life experiences.  Señora Lund graduated from Mount Holyoke with a dual degree in Latin American Literature and Politics, and minored in Women’s Studies.  She has a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in the Art of Teaching, and dreams of returning to complete her Masters in Latin American Literature.  As a mother of four, Señora Lund enjoys riding, gardening, and reading, and looks forward to the adventure of sending her kids off to college.  Señora Lund has been teaching at Renaissance since 2010, and simply loves developing curriculum that are both challenging and creative, and suited to her students.

Anna Minutella

Anna Minutella

Sciences

Anna Minutella was born and raised on her family’s farm in Southest Virginia.  She attended the University of Virginia where she earned a B.A. in both biology and psychology and spent much of her time doing research in children's language development and brain formation.

After graduation, Ms. Minutella moved to Baltimore, Maryland with her husband.  There, she taught middle school science, served as chair of the science department, and developed the curriculum for the school's fifth through eighth science program.  She and her husband moved back to the Charlottesville area in the summer of 2012 and she joined the Renaissance School faculty in 2013. 

Ms. Minutella obtained her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 and is pursuing licensure as a licensed clinical social worker. She is currently doing attachment-based therapy with children and their families and is part of a research team working to improve therapeutic methods.

Ms. Minutella's teaching philosophy is based on using a variety of perspectives and methods for each subject in order to truly involve the students in the material and insure they gain a deeper understanding.  She wants her students to acquire the same appreciation for science that fuels her passion and excitement.

Jay Pun

Jay Pun

Music

Jay Pun is a Charlottesville native who returned to the area in 2003 after graduating from Berklee College of Music (B.M. in Professional Music) in Boston. Jay's primary instrument is guitar and he regularly performs with violinist, Morwenna Lasko as the duo “Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun.”  ​The duo has shared shows with a variety of great musicians including Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Julian Lage, Vusi Mahlasela, Dave Matthews Band, The Avett Brothers, Ralph Stanley, and have also played at many great venues and festivals such as The Kennedy Center, FloydFest, The Festy, Rockflies radio broadcast (Milan, Italy), Festival delle Colline, Musicastrada, and many others.  

In 2014, Mr. Pun composed and scored original music with Morwenna for a film funded by NASA called “The Birth of a Star and Her Entourage” which is shown in planetariums across the world. In 2015 Mr. Pun and Morwenna also released their highly anticipated new CD, “The Hollow” internationally, coupled with a tour all over Italy, including Charlottesville's sister city, Poggio a Caiano. 

 Mr. Pun co-founded Fingerdance Studio with Morwenna, where they teach guitar, violin, viola, bass, songwriting, and music theory. Mr. Pun loves teaching music theory and performance at Renaissance School. In his other world, he helps run two restaurants with his family, Thai Cuisine & Noodle House and CHIMM.

Nolan Shaffer

Nolan Shaffer

Physical Activity

Coach Nolan Shaffer joined Renaissance School in the spring of 2018.

Coach Shaffer has a Bachelors Degree in Nutrition and Wellness from Bridgewater College (2008) where he also played baseball. After Bridgewater College, Shaffer pitched professionally for various teams all over the country.

After retiring from baseball in 2013, Shaffer opened The Baseball Company, an indoor baseball training facility in Charlottesville. In addition to the facility, Shaffer also owns and coaches with Invaders Baseball, a national level showcase organization. Shaffer also serves as an Assistant coach with State Champion Miller Mavericks in during the high school season.

Lou Tanner

Lou Tanner

History

Mr. Lou Tanner has been teaching History and Government at Renaissance School since its founding in 1999. After first receiving a B. A. from University of Virginia in 1975, he later studied Russian, European, and American History in graduate school. Along the way he took or audited courses in numerous other fields as well, including Ancient, Middle Eastern, and South and East Asian History. Within a somewhat narrow range he reads widely, with interests tending to history, travel writing, biography, current affairs, and non-fiction in general. With wife Stephanie, whom he met while backpacking in Australia light years ago, he enjoys traveling, gardening (mostly as an armchair hobby—it is her passion), reading, hiking, and birdwatching. In addition, he speaks Russian and French—though only passingly—and has a smattering of Spanish and Latin. Extensive travel in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia—where he also lived for almost five years—has only deepened an abiding conviction that the study of History is not only essential, it is also—dare it be said—fun.

Louise Trudel

Louise Trudel

Business Manager
Registrar

Louise Trudel joined the Renaissance School in 2011 as Business and Marketing Manager. She was previously Business Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum and has worked in other nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Louise was raised in New Jersey, and lived in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Singapore before settling in Charlottesville in 1996. She has two grown children and five grandchildren. Louise is a graduate of Brown University and has a M.A. in Educational Psychology.

Amanda Watson

Amanda Watson

Performing Arts

Amanda Watson is a Charlottesville native and a graduate of Renaissance School, Class of 2005. Ms. Watson received an A.B. in theater from Dartmouth College in 2009. Before returning to Charlottesville, she fine-tuned her skills interning with New York Theater Workshop and working for Berkshire Theater Group. Her studies in acting are heavily influenced by Sanford Meisner’s techniques and Uta Hagen’s writings.

As well as teaching Performing Arts at Renaissance School, Ms. Watson teaches Drama at Village School. She has taught theater classes and workshops at The University of Chicago Lab School, at Aim True Arts, and at Live Arts. She participates, both on and off the stage, at Live Arts and Four County Players. Amanda loves all aspects of the theater from set construction to script analysis. Sharing that passion with students is what brings her the greatest joy.

Becky Wilbur

Becky Wilbur

Dean of Academics
Mathmatics

Dr. Rebecca Wilbur grew up in the Midwest (Minnesota), went to college on the west coast (Stanford University, B.S. Biology), spent some time north of the border (Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School Assistant Instructor), and went to graduate school on the east coast (Duke University, Ph.D. Botany).  Her main interests in biology are forest ecology, ecosystem function, and biodiversity of the Southern Appalachians. She has been a mentor, teacher, and researcher at UVA’s Mountain Lake Biological Station. Before coming to Renaissance School in 2006, she worked with the Environmental Education Center and Ivy Creek Foundation, helped teach science at the elementary school level, taught a non-majors biology class at UVA, tutored math and science at the Learning Center of Charlottesville, and coached many Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination teams. She has taught both biology and mathematics at Renaissance School. In mathematics, she enjoys encouraging students to think logically and symbolically and to search for and identify patterns. In her spare time, she likes canoeing, swimming, music, cooking, hiking, and visiting her grandchildren.