Christian Home Educator's Science & Sports Institute (CHESSIE)


Mrs. Kathy Pierson

CHESSIE Administrator and Science Teacher

Classes Taught:

Groups 2A, 2B ,3,4A, 4B & grade 7/8 Life Science

Kathy started CHESSIE in her home in 2006. When it out-grew her home, CHESSIE moved to our current location. Kathy loves teaching science topics to children.

She finds it exciting to take the words off the page in a science book and bring them alive for students through fun "hands on" experiments and science activities. Science is tied closely to God’s creation and all that He has given us to enjoy. She homeschooled her three sons from 1994-2014. She finished when the last son graduated from highschool. Kathy has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in chemistry from Geneva College. Post college, she went to The Fairfax Hospital School of Cardiovascular Technology where she earned her certification and registry in the field. She worked for ten years in a cardiac catheterization lab and open-heart surgery unit in Northern Virginia prior to having children. She also has had experience teaching Sunday School at various churches and was the nursery director for five years at her church. She is a member of Trinity PCA church in Charlottesville. She has been teaching at ACTS since 2003 & CHESSIE since 2006. She taught at the Regents School in 2014-2015. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys hiking with her family and her Australian Shepherd, Penny. Kathy is married to Tom and has three sons (Joshua, Zachary, and Nathaniel).

Mrs. Leslie Lepage

Classes taught: Grade K & 1

Leslie is a graduate from the University of Maine and has lived in the Charlottesville area for 20 years. For 13 of those years she has homeschooled her 6 boys. Leslie ​has always enjoyed learning about God's creation through the study of science.

She taught her sons their early years of science and she also has loved teaching children's church since her boys were little. Her children have been attending CHESSIE for 9 years and this will be Leslie's 4th year teaching the Kindergarten and first grade science classes. CHESSIE holds a special place in her heart. It has been a place where her children have gained friendship and​ science​ knowledge and where she has found support and encouragement. Watching little ones make discoveries about the world around them ​has been one of her biggest joys as a teacher. She and her family attend Hope Presbyterian Church of Crozet, a young church plant. She enjoys running, reading Jane Austin and watching historical BBC dramas with her husband, David. David & Leslie have 6 sons: Sam, Frank, Charlie, Teddy, Henri, & George.

Mrs. Amber Basener

Class taught: Apologia Physics

Amber and her husband, Bill, have five children;

Abigail, Wesley, Lila, J.T., and Margo. Amber graduated from Alfred University, in Alfred NY with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, and a concentration in Physics.

After graduating she taught middle school science at a small private school for a year, and then taught high school Chemistry and Physics at Carver High School,just outside of Plymouth Massachusetts for three years. She has always enjoyed the physical sciences. In studying and teaching them her favorite topics were analytical and physical chemistry and in Physics, she really enjoys mechanics. Amber and her family attend Blue Ridge Community Church.

Mrs. Crystal Crippen

Sports leader 12-2

(Group K & 2A)

Crystal & her family are new transplants to the Charlottesville area, having moved here from Germany in the spring 2020.

Homeschooling in Europe allowed for much traveling which they thoroughly enjoyed. But now, they are excited to experience all that Charlottesville has to offer. She and her husband have 3 children, Nathaniel, Graceylyn, and Adele. Recently, they added a dog, chickens, and bees to the mix. She is looking forward to meeting and growing in friendships through CHESSIE.

Mrs. Renee Cothran

Sports leader 1-3 (Group # 1 & 2B)

Renee joined the Chessie staff in 2013 after moving to the area from Colorado Springs. Being new to town, CHESSIE was an answer to prayer and Renee is happy to be the sports leader for these younger groups.

Upon earning a degree in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas, Renee joined the Summer Staff of Summit Ministries where she met her husband Todd. They were asked to come on full-time staff in 1996 where Renee served as Asst. to the President. After coming into contact with many strong homeschooling families, both Todd and Renee became intrigued by this form of education.While their oldest was still a baby, Todd produced a research documentary on homeschooling and they were convinced that’s how they would educate their children. She loves outside activities and has always enjoyed worship ministry with her church. Renee & Todd have 4 children: David , Jonathan, Maggie, & Mollie. Renee and her family attend CrossLife Community Church, where Todd is the pastor.

Mrs. Jacque Spruill

Supervising Mom (12:00-1:15) Jacque and her husband, Asher, have five children. She has been homeschooling since 2012, and has been involved with CHESSIE since 2013. She and her family attend All Saints Anglican church. 

Allison Bird

Volunteer service scheduler

Allison and her husband Randy have two children, Rachel and Joel. They have been homeschooling and attending Chessie since 2015. They live in Crozet and attend Portico Church. Allison graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Child Development, but worked mostly in graphic design before becoming a mom. She coaches soccer and enjoys painting and sewing.

Emily Fernandez

Class assistant for K & 1 groups

Emily moved to VA from Texas 5 years ago and has loved her time here. She and her husband have 3 children, Elijah, Silas and Lena as well as 3 dogs and a cat.

She enjoys hiking, traveling, reading and game nights with her family. She has a degree in child development and social work from Texas State University. Emily and her family attend Calvary Chapel Fluvanna.

Maggie Cothran,class assistant 4A (1:30-2:30)

Maggie is in 12th grade and taking physics at

CHESSIE this year. She enjoys helping with the

younger students during their classtime. Maggie enjoys singing and acting with a local drama troupe, babysitting, and being with friends. She attends CrossLife Community Church where she serves in the children ministry. 

Gideon Abbott

Teen sports leader: 1:15-3:00 Gideon is in 11th grade & will be taking physics this year. He enjoys playing all sports, especially basketball and football, and running cross country. Gideon attends First Baptist Church and loves being a part of the Park Street Youth Ministry. 

Maya Saucerman

Group 2B/3 class assistant (12:00-1:30)

Maya is in 10th grade and taking Chemistry & Human anatomy this year. She loves singing, and acting in plays. She loves working with younger kids.

Theadora Godbold "Thea"

Group 1/2B sports assistant (1:00-3:00)

Thea is a 9th grader this year and in Chemistry. When she’s not doing school or practicing soccer, she can be found hanging out with her friends or many brothers, biking, singing (or thinking about singing), and playing piano like Beethoven—(loud).

She also loves creative writing, including poetry and short stories. She’s very happy to be working with the CHESSIE kids this year!

Noah Fountain

Presidential Physical Fitness teen assistant 1:45-3:00

Hello there, I'm Noah and I will be assisting Mrs. Soko in the physical fitness group this year. I am in 11th grade and will be taking physics this year. I really enjoy taking Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and I am a First Class boy scout.

Pierce Arnold

Kindergarten class assistant 11:00-12:00

Pierce is in the 8th grade and taking Physical Science at CHESSIE this year. This will be his 9th year at CHESSIE and it’s one of his favorite things about homeschooling. Pierce enjoys building with Legos, listening to audiobooks and playing soccer. He has served at Awana and VBS for the past couple of years and is looking forward to working with Mrs. Lepage’s Kindergarten class this year.

Mrs. Sharon Shelton

Classes Taught:

Apologia Physical Science, Biology, & Chemistry

Member of Administrative Team

Sharon has been home schooling since 1996. She and her husband, Brian have four children; Mary, Abigail, Robert , and John .

Sharon has B.S. and M.S. degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology from Mississippi State University and came to Charlottesville in 1989 for a job in the Diagnostic DNA lab at UVA Hospital. She worked there for 7 years, carrying out tests for cystic fibrosis, paternity, hepatitis C and other DNA related issues. Over the years, she has enjoyed using her background to teach science in group settings with children of various ages. Sharon especially enjoys teaching high school level science classes using the Apologia Curriculum. She believes scientific study enables the wonder and mystery of our Creator to be revealed and also provides insights, answers, and avenues to serve and bless people through what is discovered. She has taught highschool science classes at CHESSIE since 2009. She taught at the Regents School from 2014-2015. She has been teaching high school science classes at ACTS homeschool co-op since 2015. The Shelton’s attend Christ Community Church.

Mrs. Pip Chambers

Sports Area Co-ordinator

Member of the Administrative Team

Pip has been homeschooling in Charlottesville for the last 11 years with her husband, Dan. She graduated from UVA many moons ago & became a believer several years later, right about the same time she and Dan got engaged. 

She asked the Lord two things: please don't make me homeschool and please, PLEASE don't let my husband become a pastor. Homeschooling and helping Dan as he serves the church are now two of her most favorite things in life. In addition, she has always had a heart for encouraging and connecting other homeschool moms, including starting a homeschooling group at her church. Pip and Dan have 4 children: Gillian, Jesse, Nate & Rowan. Pip and her family attend FBC Park Street where Dan is on staff.

Mrs. Mandy Newberry graduated from the University of Virginia with a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and spent several years working as the Exercise Coordinator at UVA’s Kidney Center. 

She is passionate about promoting optimal health now for our future quality of life by utilizing the tools and resources God has given to us. Mrs. Newberry has enjoyed coaching middle and high school volleyball in Charlottesville since the early 2000’s and is a firm believer in the positive effects of practicing Growth Mindset: on the court, in the classroom and in life. She and her husband have four sons (Liam, Declan, Baer, & Easton) and have been homeschooling since 2015.

Mrs. Rachel Hice

Class Assistant & Activity Leader, group 2A, 2B,3

Supervising mom 1:15-3

Rachel, her husband Bryan, and their son Isaac, live in Scottsville Va. The love of organic foods and homesteading is what brought them to this area.

Originally from a Missionary family that served in Az, Rachel has always had a love to learn, to explore, and to meet new people. Being homeschooled as a child, the freedom to explore and learn through hands on is why she and her family are so passionate about this lifestyle. Rachel has a BA in Psychology, and has completed massage therapy school (that comes in handy!). Rachel and her family attend CrossLife Community Church.

Helen Travis, CHESSIE service hour Lead Sub & supervising mom from 11:00-12:00 & CHESSIE BOOKKEEPER

Helen and her husband, Sean, have two children (Lena & Eowyn) & have lived in Charlottesville since 1996.

Helen has a BS degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia. Helen worked in construction offices from 1996 until 2003. She learned bookkeeping on the job working for a General Contractor. Helen stopped working in 2003 when her oldest was born. She began homeschooling at that time and has been since. In 2008, she began working part-time as a bookkeeper for various very small businesses. The Travis family has been part of CHESSIE for three years. Helen enjoys being outdoors watching children play. She also has radar for untied shoes! She will stop a game to see to a child's untied shoes. The Travis family attends Providence Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Christylynn Flynn-- Supervising Mom (2-4)

Christylynn and her husband have four children (Josiah, Constance, Parker, & Estelle). She attended UVA, where she got her masters in Elementary Education and her bachelors in Communications.

After a year teaching in China, she came back to the U.S. and started reaching out to international students who attend UVA. She and her family continue to welcome internationals to their home. Folks from other nations find it fascinating to learn about homeschooling! She and her family attend Christ Community Church.

Mrs. Katie Arnold

Supervising mom (3-4) & Volunteer Administrative assistant

Katie and her husband, Shaun, have four children: Pierce), Reid , Delaney and Britton.

She and her family attend church at Effort Baptist Church. Katie graduated with a BA in Sociology from UVA and worked in the social services field before staying home full-time. In her "free" time, she enjoys running, cooking and blogging.

Lena Travis

Class assistant for 2B/3 groups & Fitness assistant 3:00-4:00

Lena Travis is in 12th grade and taking Human Anatomy and Physiology at CHESSIE this year.

She enjoys arts and crafts, music, science, movies, board games, and spending time with friends and family. Lena attends Providence Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and likes helping the moms with their toddlers.

Jesse Chambers

Group K/2A sports assistant (12:00-2:00)

Jesse is in 11th grade this year and taking physics at CHESSIE. He has never met a sport he didn't like. He's looking forward to leading lots and lots of games with the kids.  

He enjoys 3D printing, building stuff, reading and basketball. Jesse is very active with PSYM (Park Street Youth Ministry) at First Baptist where he also works in the nursery and makes breakfast snacks for the entire congregation once a month.  

Brigid Markle

Group K/2A sports assistant (12:00-2:00)

Brigid is a chemistry student. She enjoys fishing, being outdoors and building things. She wants to go to culinary school when she graduates. She attends St Peter and Paul church in Palmyra.

Nate Chambers

Presidential Physical Fitness teen assistant (1:00-1:45)

Nate is in 9th grade and will be taking biology this year at CHESSIE. He loves all sports including Basketball, Football, Golf and Handball. He goes to First Baptist on Park Street and is active in the Park Street Youth Ministry (PSYM).Nate is looking forward to helping in the Presidential Physical Fitness class.

Elizabeth Abbott

Group 1/2B sports assistant (1:00-3:00)

Elizabeth is in 10th grade this year and will be taking Chemistry at CHESSIE. She enjoys running cross country and track, singing, playing the piano, and hanging out with her friends. She is a member of First Baptist Church of Charlottesville and is active in Park Street Youth Ministries. Elizabeth is very excited to be working with the younger students.

Isaiah Fountain

Sports assistant K/2A (12:00-2:00)

Isaiah is in 9th grade and is taking biology this year at CHESSIE. He loves being outdoors doing activities like swimming, running, hiking. He is a first class ranking boy scout & enjoys playing video games. Isaiah is excited to help with younger students this year!