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

 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. 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.  She is a member of Trinity PCA church in Charlottesville. She has been teaching at ACTS since 2003 & CHESSIE since 2006. 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. 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  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. Jacque Spruill

Supervising Mom and Morning Coordinator


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.

Heidi Marshall

Cleaning job 4:00-5:00

Heidi has 5 kids and has been homeschooling for 13 years. She enjoys walking her dog Clover, watching period dramas and reading - especially history. She’s recently come to find more of a love for organizing, a good talent to have when she is organizing the CHESSIE closet each week!

Mrs. Emily Fernandez

Supervising mom, 12:15-1:15

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.

Mrs. Karis White

Sports Leader for group #2B

Karis and her husband Robert, with sons Rob and James, live in Palmyra, where they raise pigs and chickens and vegetables. Karis is a second-generation homeschooler, and is very grateful to be a part of the CHESSIE community. Karis attends All Saints Anglican Church.

Mrs. Karen Miller

Sports leader for group #1

is a wife to Brian and a mother to four kiddos (Sierra, Chyler, Ariella, and Mason). They have been a part of the Charlottesville Homeschooling community since 2014. Karen has a bachelor’s degree from Regent University and holds a Virginia State teaching certificate (pre-K through 6th grade). Karen is also an online ESL teacher and teaches English to foreign students. In her free time, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, field trips, and camping. Karen also serves on the Children’s Ministry Leadership Team at her church, Calvary Chapel Fluvanna, and enjoys volunteering in many roles.

Mrs. Lisa Saucerman

Presidential Physical Fitness Leader

Groups 3&4A

Lisa has 4 children and has been homeschooling since 2010. She grew up in PA and attended Penn State University before moving to California for law school. Lisa enjoys traveling, theatre, movies, soccer, hiking, kayaking, food, playing with her pets, and teaching PPF at CHESSIE!

Mrs. Tahira Elliott

Presidential Physical Fitness Leader

Groups 4B & Life Science

Mrs. Tahirah Elliott graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Master’s of City and Regional Planning. She worked in both fields before being promoted to a homeschool mother. While in college she ran track and was the first architecture major to play a varsity level sport. She was on the school record breaking 4x400 team but now only runs if being chased. Tahirah and her family attend the North Charlottesville church of Christ.

Ava Saucerman

Pres. Physical Fitness Assistant

Groups 4A & 4B

Ava has been going to CHESSIE since 2014 and has been homeschooling since kindergarten. She enjoys Skate boarding, gaming, writing and youtube. She has worked at CHESSIE summer camp and Girl Scout camp and is excited to help out at CHESSIE this year.

Bella Saucerman

Pres. Physical Fitness Assistant

Groups 3& Life science

Bella has been taking classes at CHESSIE since 2014. Bella is very athletic, and plays on a travel soccer team. Her favorite positions are right wing and striker. She also enjoys petting her cat (the Budz), swimming, baking, and sleeping.

Brenna Ruddell

Pres. Physical Fitness


Groups 4A & 4B

Aylenne Spruill

Class assistant, group 2A

Aylenne is a seventh grader and has been at CHESSIE for seven years. She enjoys reading, writing, baking, sewing, and making herbal remedies. She loves taking care of her pet rabbit. She has three younger brothers and enjoys working with younger kids.

Theadora Godbold "Thea"

Group 2B sports assistant (200-3:00)

Thea is a 10th grader this year and in Physics. 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 again this year!

Noah Fountain

Sports assistant for group one 11:00-1:00

Hello there, I'm Noah and I will be assisting Mrs. Miller with group one sports this year. I am in 12th grade and will be taking Human Anatomy & Physiology 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 9th grade and taking Biology 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. Cothran's Kindergarten class this year.

Emerson Holmes

Group #1 class assistant

Emerson is excited for her 8th year at CHESSIE! She is a social butterfly, likes reading, writing, sewing and biking. Emerson enjoys mushroom hunting and selling her finds to local restaurants.

Mollie Cothran

K/1 class assistant 12:00-1:00

Mollie has been a part of CHESSIE as a student since she was six years old. This year will be her first as a teen helper, and she will be working with the K/1 science class. Mollie enjoys biking, being outside, and seeing her friends. She is looking forward to helping the younger students this year.


Evie Porter

Sports assistant for group #2A

Evie is in 10th grade and is taking biology. In her free time she loves sewing, playing tennis, and researching personality types. Evie has lived in Charlottesville for 4 years, and has been homeschooled for 6 years. She is very excited to be working with CHESSIE kids for the first time this year!.

Mrs. Sharon Shelton

Classes Taught:

Apologia Physical Science, Biology, & Chemistry

Member of Administrative Team

Sharon homeschooled her children from 1996-2020. 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 after college 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 has been teaching high school science classes at ACTS homeschool co-op since 2015. The Shelton’s attend Christ Community Church.

Mrs. Renee Cothran

Science Teacher: Groups K, K/1, & 1

Renee joined the CHESSIE staff in 2013 after moving to the Charlottesville area from Colorado Springs. Renee has been a classroom assistant and a sports leader for 7 years. For fall 2021, she is looking forward to moving into the role of science teacher with these young students. She has always had an interest in God’s creation; what we can learn from it; and how it points us to a God of beauty, order, and intelligence. She is excited to use her decades of experience working with students to nurture curiosity about the natural world as well as to bring other science-related topics to life in the classroom. Renee holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Central Arkansas. Renee joined the Summit Ministries staff full-time in 1996. Renee loves outdoor activities, is involved in leading the worship ministry at church, and has taught piano to young people since she was in high school. Renee and Todd have four children—David, Jonathan, Maggie, and Mollie. They attend CrossLife Community Church, where Todd is the pastor.

Mrs. Pip Chambers

Sports Area Co-ordinator 

also known as "The Sports Conductor"

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, 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 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

Class assistant Kindergarten class

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 Calvary Chapel, Fluvanna. 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.

Mrs. Rebecca Palmer

Volunteer Adnministrative Assistant

Background check coordinator

Rebecca graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Technology. Rebecca taught several years in the public school system in southeast Virginia before deciding to be a stay at home mother!. Her professional experience and desire to provide her children a Christian education led to home schooling all three of her children. Rebecca has a passion for reading and creating teaching methods to learn through play. She and her husband have a son and two daughters (Drew, Ellie and Kinley). Rebecca attends The Point Church.

Miss Lena Travis

Sports Leader for K & K/1

Class assistant for 2B/3 & 4B groups

Lena is a homeschooled high-school graduate. She was homeschooled K-12th and has been at CHESSIE for her 5 high-school classes.  She has been on the teen staff of CHESSIE for the last 4 years and is so excited to be asked to lead kindergarten sports and assist in Mrs Pierson's classes. Lena loves working with the kids at CHESSIE, helping them to listen and learn about God's creation, and being able to engage even the quietest of kids in activities and discussions.

Lena is creative, kind, and a fast learner. She is always looking for an opportunity to help someone. Always joyful, Lena is easily amused and is known to spread joy to all nearby via her naturally bubbly personality.

Maya Saucerman

Science class assistant


Maya is a high school Junior, and is taking Physics at CHESSIE this school year. She is a dual enrollment student at Bluefield College, and has ambitious goals for her future. Maya loves helping out, whether it be at Girl Scout Camp, CHESSIE, or anything in between.

Nate Chambers

Teen leader on the field  (1:15-3:00)

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

Elizabeth is in 11th grade this year and will be taking Physics 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 2B  (100-2:00)

Isaiah is in 10th grade and is taking chemistry this year at CHESSIE. He loves being outdoors doing activities like swimming, running, hiking. He is a first class ranking boy scout. Isaiah is excited to help with younger students again.

Hallie Cassaday

Sports assistant for group #1


Hallie started homeschool because of the Pandemic, and enjoys it very much. She is in 11th grade and will be taking Human Anatomy and Physiology this year. She loves all kinds of art and poetry, and despises spelling. She’s excited to meet you!

Isaac Hice

Sports assistant for group #2A


My favorite crafts/hobbies are making 3D paper projects, wood working, and recently, metalworking. My favorite book series Is the wingfeather saga, written by song artist Andrew Peterson. I take care of all of our animals on our mini farm each morning. The animals we have include chickens (layer and meat), rabbits, goats, cats, and our dog. On a daily basis I work in our garden with my mom and dad, and enjoy walking my goats. I am 15, have been in CHESSIE for 7 years and will be taking chemistry this year. I love kids, and am looking forward to helping with their sports activities this year. 

Josiah Flynn

Sports assistant for Kindergarten groups


Josiah is in the 9th grade and is taking biology at CHESSIE. He is the oldest in his family of 4 children. He likes all sports including soccer, basketball, football, capture-the-flag, jiu-jitsu, gaga ball, and track. Josiah plays violin and piano, enjoys math and reading, and likes taking care of his goats, chickens, and rabbits. He is passionate about God and evangelism. Josiah is looking forward to this year at CHESSIE!

Constance Flynn

Sports assistant for Kindergarten groups


Constance started homeschooling and attending CHESSIE in Kindergarten and is now a Physical Science student in the 8th Grade. She loves sharing with others about Jesus. Constance’s favorite activities include sports, babysitting, reading, playing music, and playing board games. She attends Christ Community Church, where she helps in the nursery. She enjoys all kids, but especially CHESSIE kids!

Lucy Hutchins

K/1 class assistant 12:00-1:00

Hello! My name is Lucy Hutchins and I’m a senior in high school. I have been homeschooled my whole life, and this will be my 10th year at CHESSIE. I love love LOVE helping people and most of all when it involves young children . I attend CrossLife Community Church where I sing with the worship team. A few of my other passions include playing soccer, hanging with friends and family, making people happy, singing/performing onstage and playing with my dogs.

Evelyn Hutchins

Presidential Physical Fitness assistant

Group 3

My name is Evelyn Hutchins, and I am 13 years old & will be taking physical science at CHESSIE. I am super excited to help out with PE! I love reading, singing, playing piano, and spending time outside with friends.