We are growing

Meet the Teams

Academic Team

Lydia Kang

English Teacher

Ms. Kang comes from Howard County Public Schools in Maryland, where she taught 9th and 11th grade English for four years. She attained her Master’s in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UMBC. Outside the classroom, Ms. Kang has been an assistant coach for her previous school’s Girls Varsity Soccer program as well as a Student Council advisor. Having been an IB Diploma student herself, Ms. Kang has unwavering faith in the distinctive IB approach when it comes to raising the whole child. Her objective in teaching is to help students become confident articulators through speech and writing as they navigate through a competitive professional and academic world.

Nadia McCrimmon

Athletic Director & Physical Education Teacher

Ms. Jefferies, a native of Garner, N.C., joins the Girls Global Academy founding staff after serving as the Head Softball Coach at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC. Prior to working at Shaw University, she taught high school physical education and health while serving as the head softball and volleyball coach.

Ms. Jefferies, a former collegiate athlete, started working in the school setting after graduating from North Carolina Central University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science concentrating in Physical Education K-12. Her objective in teaching is to curate a safe environment for girls to have a voice, be informed, and empower them to make mental, social, emotional, and physical decisions that will produce a healthy lifestyle. In her free time, you can find Ms. Jefferies on the tennis court or conducting softball lessons!

Danika Robison

Social Studies & World History Teacher

Ms. Robison, originally from South Burlington, Vermont, joins Girls Global Academy as the founding Social Studies/World History teacher. She recently served as the lead teacher for The Traveling School, an all-girls semester high school, where she taught history and global studies in 8 different countries throughout South America and Southern Africa. She earned her Master of Public Administration with a specialization in conflict resolution and social justice from Middlebury Institute of International Studies and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in international affairs and government from Skidmore College. Ms. Robison’s goal as an educator is to support learners in gaining a deeper understanding of themselves, humanity and society today. In her free time, you can find her seeking trails for running, biking or skiing.

Shaday Edwards

Math Teacher

Shaday Edwards worked as a Math Teacher for the City of New York before joining Girls Global Academy. She has experience teaching 9th, 11th, and 12th grade in the areas of Algebra I, Algebra II, Statistics and Probability, and Financial Literacy. Ms. Edwards earned her B.S in Chemistry with a minor in Math from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory on the fabrication of nano radiation sensors under the supervision of Engineering Physicists. Also, Ms. Edwards previously worked in the Finance Dept at NYU Medical Center before pursuing her Master of Art in Teaching at Relay Graduate School of Education. In her previous school, Ms. Edwards served as the Advisor for the Student Government and co-chair for the Student Life Committee. She is a dedicated Educator whose goal is to inspire young people to love and excel in mathematics so that they can have access to the STEM field.

Ashley Olt

Business Teacher

Ashley Olt calls Washington, DC home, having moved to the District fourteen years ago for undergraduate studies at The George Washington University. After graduating from GWU with a major in American Studies and secondary focus in Business Administration, Ms. Olt began her career in education at KIPP DC: LEAP Academy. Ms. Olt earned her Master of Art in Teaching with a focus on curriculum design and instruction from American University in 2013, and has since worked in out of school time programming operations and school consulting. Ms. Olt’s goal as an educator and teacher of Wealth Management is to empower young women with the financial literacy skills needed for life, as well as to empower her students with the goal-setting and decision making skills that will serve as a foundation in their academic and professional careers.

Judy Potter

Science Teacher

Girls Global Academy is the place I want to be and the community I want to be a part of. My name is Judy Potter. Massachusetts is my home state and where my family lives. I grew up in Massachusetts in a family of 13. Each and every family member is a part of me.

Once deciding upon helping others find their learning confidence, I have done so around the world. Being part of learning communities in Cyprus, Jordan, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Madagascar, Singapore as well as the US has taught me just how similar we all are!

The focus has always been on the learners I work with and how I can help them develop. I strongly believe that the learning environment should blend well with the home environment. Modelling the little things such as what to do when the struggle to express or develop understanding is just a bit too much, how to utilize tools to assist in maintaining focus, integrating concepts, and how to build executive functioning skills in order to reach goals are a few of the priorities in my work.

Students soon see and experience our environment as a true work room in which people are welcome to come join, ask questions, make suggestions and more. We work as a team in most if not all respects.

GGA Staff: Dr. Aileen Chun, 陈博士

Dr. Aileen Chun, 陈博士

World Languages Teacher

After nearly 32 years in education and education administration, Dr. Chun was born and partially raised in Honolulu but spent much of summers in China, and is one of the first overseas Chinese to travel and study in China in 1979-1980. She subsequently was a Presidential, Mira Baciu Simian, Fulbright and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Angers and Paris, Berlin, and Neuchâtel and Bern, Switzerland, and earned her Ph.D. in Classical Theatre and Musicology from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Currently she uses and/or teaches 10 languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Shiqi dialect, Shanghainese, French, High and Middle High, Swiss German, Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Russian, Modern Standard Arabic and Japanese. She also works in Comparative, Applied and Computational Linguistics, and is currently learning Xhosa, Swahili, Dari, Hindustani and Pashtu. She is currently a board member of the Linguistics Society of America, a bona fide member of the National Language Service Corps, the Minority Corporation Counsel of America and the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages and the Maryland Foreign Language Association. Dr. Chun also frequently publishes for the Chinese Language Teachers’ Association, MFLA, ACTFL, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America. She will be earning her JD in International Criminal Law (China, Japan and Iran) in December 2022 from the University of Maryland, Carey School of Law.

In her free time Dr. Chun aspires to be a Wagnerian or Shostakovich/dramatic soprano, and since age 9, a multilingual classical thespian. She majored in Chinese, Comparative French, Italian, German and Spanish Theatre and Musicology as an undergraduate and graduate student, performing plays, operas and musicals in languages OTHER than English.

Shamira O'Neal

Director of Academics

Born and raised in south Florida, Shamira O’Neal moved to Philadelphia in 2012 to start her leading and teaching career. She has since taught algebra, geometry, social justice, creative writing, lit and poetry and a wide range of other classes and subjects. She is a certified 7-12 math instructor and has also received her principal’s certification. Shamira’s research over the past 10 years, at the University of Pennsylvania, has focused on the impact teachers and leaders of color can have on students of color in public and urban school settings. She is currently enrolled in Vanderbilt’s Leading and Learning in Organizations doctoral program. Having served as the Dean of Students and Assistant Principal the past 4 years in Philadelphia, Shamira is excited to have made the move to Washington DC to lead and learn at Girls Global Academy.

Natanael Antonio Colón-Emeric

Social Studies Teacher

Hello! My name is Natanael Antonio Colón-Emeric and I am from Durham North Carolina. I am half Puerto-Rican and grew up in a bilingual household before attending college at Appalachian State University. While there I received a bachelor’s in History Education and a minor in Spanish before returning to my old High School to teach World History, and eventually coming here to GGA. I am also a foodie, so when I am not at work I am exploring DC on foot looking for the best places to eat and new hot sauces to make me cry.

Maggie King Johns

Art Teacher

Maggie King Johns is an artist and educator originally from Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to working at Girls Global Academy, she teaches Drawing and Painting at University of Maryland Global Campus, College Park. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Boston University. She is a color enthusiast and makes her own paint at her art studio in a renovated barn in Maryland.

James Lewis Huss

English Teacher

James Lewis Huss began his English career at the University of South Carolina, where he earned a BA in Literature, Writing Intensive. He then earned his MA in English and graduate certificate in TESOL at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. James has taught English in the USA, China, Bolivia, and most recently in Taiwan, where he oversaw the publication of his school’s first literary journal. James is also a published poet, novelist, and playwright and has been published over two dozen times in literary magazines and journals. In 2016, his YA novel Book of Pilgrimage was published by Elephantine Publishing Company. In 2021, he founded the Post Pandemic Theatre Company in Taipei, Taiwan, and currently acts as the troupe’s playwright in residence.

In addition to teaching and writing, James is also a seasoned martial artist with more than 30 years of experience and black belt rankings in both karate and aikido. He has also spent over 10 years studying Tai Chi Chuan, and has practiced and/or taught martial arts in the US, China, Taiwan, Bolivia, the Philippines, and Japan.

Angel Strong-Archer

Music Teacher

Angel Strong-Archer has experience teaching 9th through 12th grade Music in DCPCS for five years. She attained her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Arts Degree in Music at Morgan State University. Outside of the classroom, Ms. Strong-Archer serves as a mentor in music with the Urban Choral Arts Society, where scholarship and professional experience is offered. Her passion, in and out of the classroom, is to connect with young people on a creative level and to provide an outlet of musical expression where their voices are heard in the classroom as well as the community.


Iesha Caisey

Director of Culture

Ms. Iesha Caisey, originally from Boston, Massachusetts joins the Girls Global Academy team as the Director of Culture. Ms. Caisey earned her BS in Neuroscience with a concentration in cognitive psychology from Union College, Schenectady NY. She later attained an MS in School Counseling and was later recognized as a National Board Certified Counselor.

Ms. Caisey is a dedicated and compassionate school counselor by trade; with experience providing social emotional support and guidance to students regarding career exploration and development, academic achievement, social behavior, and mental and physical wellness. Specializing in at-risk youth, English Language Learners and diverse populations; Ms. Caisey strives to cultivate a school culture that is stimulating, supportive and safe to allow students to reach their fullest potential.

Jackie Sylvain, LMSW

Wellness Specialist

Ms. Sylvain is a native of Brooklyn NY with over 12 years of Social Work experience in child welfare, mental health, and, education. Ms. Sylvain will be serving as the Wellness Specialist at GGA. She comes with a wide range of knowledge and understanding about the importance mental health wellness for youth and families, women empowerment for women of color, and Social Emotional Learning as it pertains to Restorative Pedagogy. She is also the creator and founder of Purpose Driven Women Empowerment, (PDW) a women’s empowerment group that provides women a voice to share and collaborate their common experiences as they navigate everyday issues. Ms. Sylvain is also a Labor and Delivery Doula, supporting through prenatal-postpartum births since 2019.

Ms. Sylvain earned a BS in Human Services at Empire State College with a major in Child Welfare. She also attained her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in NYC.

Ms. Sylvain enjoys listening to live jazz music, long road trips, and cooking in her spare time.


Social Worker

Ms. Laguerre has over 6 years of experience working with Children and Families in providing safety and crisis intervention. She has a Masters of Social Work from Salisbury University and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Ms. Laguerre is passionate about providing services that empower youth to utilize their voice in spaces they are not always represented. During her free-time she enjoys spending times with her family, friends, and her new pup Aries.

Operations Team

Dr. Jason Mellen

Director of Finance & Operations

Jason Mellen has experience in the charter school sector and worked as the Chief Operating Officer of Vertus Charter High School. At Vertus he led the operations of the school that tripled in size, relocated to a new state of the art facility, and developed extensive systems and routines. Mr. Mellen also served for five years on the Board of Trustees at Urban Choice Charter School, three years as Board Treasurer. On the Urban Choice board, he had a major role in steering the organization’s focus to student outcomes, strategically spending funds, and hiring a new CEO. Jason also has helped lead a successful turnaround and sale of a family business, consulted with small business owners to expand their business, lead adult education programs, and innovation research projects. Mr. Mellen has a degree in Secondary English Education and a Master’s degree in International Education focusing on education finance and policy. He is a current doctoral candidate in St. John Fisher’s Executive Leadership program.

Cynthia Pope

Operations Associate

My name is Cynthia Pope, Operations Associate with Girls Global Academy. I am a native Washingtonian and a product of DCPS education. I have worked in Operations in DC Charter Schools for 10 years. I found my love of working in the school system when my children began school. I was an avid volunteer, making myself available whenever the school needed me. Through volunteering I rekindled my love for drawing, painting, and anything arts and crafts is my form of meditation. I also feel I was born to be a nurturer and enjoy helping others. I am currently hosting the Art Club at Girls Global allowing our students to find their love for the arts and giving space for them to find freedom of expression.

Julie Shepperson

Admissions Coordination

Julie brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Admissions Coordinator position. Coming from Two Rivers PCS, where she served as the Registrar for 10 years, she was responsible for managing the enrollment process and records for over 900 students, coordinating community outreach and open house events, developing school and community partnerships, and supporting the opening of an additional campus in 2015 as it pertains to student enrollment.

Julie enjoys and has experience with the interview process, training new hires and coordinating events. Her organizational skills, attention to detail, and her ability to develop and maintain good and professional working relationships ensure successful outcomes for everyone involved.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Julie is also a licensed Minister. Serving in Ministry with her husband as Co-Pastor, Julie mentors women, speaks at retreats and seminars and writes articles instructing people on how to live disciplined and authentically true to who they are created to be as they journey through life. She is passionate about helping others learn how to apply positive actions and solutions to negative situations.

Julie is the business owner of JDawn LLC, a God Inspired Product business and the Founder of Julie Dawn Ministries. When she is not working or serving in ministry, Julie enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, roller skating, playing sports, reading and writing.

Student Support Services Team

Lavada Del Conte

SPED Teacher

Prior to joining GGA, Ms. Del Conte worked for Fairfax County Public Schools in Annandale, VA ( 1997 – 2008) as a Special Education teacher. Ms. Del Conte comes with extensive experience working with children and adults with disabilities. From 1990- 1995 she was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Fairfax County. She comes originally from Western New York where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Master’s Degree in Public Administration specializing in Geriatric Care at the State University of Brockport, NY. In May 2000, Ms. Del Conte received her Master’s Degree in Special Education form George Mason University where she graduated with honors.

Ms. Del Conte has extensive experience in co-teaching models, curriculum development, Educational Testing for Disabilities, Remediation Skills for History and Science and Advocacy for Special Needs Families. Her co-teaching/teacher’s model for Chemistry is utilized by all Fairfax County Science Teachers. In 2004 she was nominated to represent the State of Virginia in the Annenberg Project where she worked with the Standards of Learning Committee incorporating Geography Standards for inclusive teaching in US History.

In 2019 Ms. Del Conte received the Top Educator Award for her dedication, achievements and leadership in special education. In 2020 Ms. Del Conte was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in Special Education. Ms. Del Conte biography can be found in the Marquis Who’s Who Millennium Magazine which honors legacies of professionals around the World.

Ms. Del Conte’s goal is to work with students in developing their learning styles and encouraging them to never give up their dreams.

Molly Green

SPED Teacher

Molly Green is originally from Kansas City, Missouri. Molly earned a BA in Geography with a minor in History from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. During the end of her undergraduate career, Molly began substitute teaching and working in middle school classrooms as an AVID program tutor. During the summer, Molly worked as a Girl Scout resident camp administrator for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. After many years of going back and forth between Missouri and the DMV, Molly moved to DC permanently in 2014.

Molly holds a graduate certificate in Public Administration with an emphasis in Disaster and Emergency Management, as well as a Master of Science in Special Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities. Molly comes to Girls Global Academy after teaching special education mathematics for five years at a nonpublic special education school in Maryland.

In her free time, you can find Molly snuggling with her dog Abe, looking at dogs visiting the farmer’s market, hiking dog-friendly trails, and visiting dogs in local shelters.

Jaymes Shorter

SPED Paraprofessional

Mr. Shorter was born in Durham, North Carolina but has lived in the Washington DC Metro area since the age of three. A Graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale Maryland. Later, he attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and graduated from Stratford University in Falls Church, Virginia majoring in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. In 2010, Mr. Shorter was called into the field of Special Education in Prince George’s County Public Schools where he taught for 6 years and later in Washington DC at various public charter schools. Mr. Shorter sees every opportunity to provide students with guidance, education and an opportunity to achieve. In his free time, Mr. Shorter goes fishing, enjoys time with family and friends, and is a musician in the local DC music scene.

Patricia Samuels


Born in California. Undergrad degrees in Social Studies, Business Adminstration and a master in Special Education. Love outdoor sports and is the number one fan for the USA Olympic team and NFL-NO Saints. I enjoy being a. member of Save2Serve Missionary serving the homeless and battered women in the DMV area including international work in Ghana 🇬🇭.

Mary Holsinger


I was born and raised in Washington DC. Before GGA I works as a behavioral therapist in several facilities in Maryland. I began my career in teaching in 2014, when I started working as a teacher in a childcare facility. I began my college journey at Delaware State and then transferred to UDC where currently am working to finish my last semester in Human Development. My goal as a Para is to empower and build lasting relationships focused on supporting and enriching academic as well as social emotional growth!

Shaquita Tillman

Student Support Service Coordinator

Prior to joining Girls Global Academy Ms. Tillman gained experienced in early childhood education, child mental and behavior health, trauma informed care and intellectual disabilities. Ms. Tillman earned her Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health, from Trinity University and Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Morgan State University.