Meet Our Teachers

Team Up with Experienced, Highly Qualified Teachers

Teachers at the Virginia Virtual Academy are among the best in the state for online education. They are your partners in your children's education, and are available every school day to help you and your children through any challenges you may face. Here are a few of the regular education and special education teachers you'll get to know at the Virginia Virtual Academy.

K-1 Team

Whitney Elkins joined the VAVA team in August 2010 to work primarily with K—1 students. She graduated from the University of Virginia at Wise in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a concentration in Literature and Language and taught for four and a half years in brick and mortar schools in both Virginia and North Carolina. Whitney is most passionate about reading education, and in 2007 she earned a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in Reading and Language. While she values each of her experiences in education, she is particularly proud to be meeting the needs of 21st century learners as a member the VAVA faculty!

Deanna Swortzel joined the VAVA team in July 2014. She comes with a variety of background experience including teaching 1st and 4th grades, community organizing and most recently working as a gifted specialist teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master's of Education in Educational Leadership from Radford University. She also holds a gifted endorsement and has a passion for working with high ability students. Deanna lives in Southwest Virginia with her husband and three sons, Kaiden, Rylan and Gavin. She enjoys being outside and watching her boys play sports.

Jennifer Trotter joined the VAVA team in August 2011 as a K—4 teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master of Science in Reading from Radford University. Jennifer is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Childhood Education (Pre K — 3). She has 11 years of teaching experience and currently teaches Kindergarten and 1st grade at VAVA. She lives in Riner with her husband and two children, Tatum and Tyson. She thoroughly enjoys working with VAVA students and families and helping them along their educational journey.

2-3 Team

Penni Harrison joined the VAVA team in September 2009, the inaugural year! She earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Virginia and a Master of Education in Educational Technology from City University in Renton, Washington. Penni has had the opportunity to teach in several different states and in Department of Defense Schools in Germany. Penni comes to VAVA with over 18 years of classroom experience (PreK-4th) and 2 years of virtual teaching experience with the K12 Educators Group. Currently, Penni is a K—8 Teacher and is working with 5th grade Math students. She is pleased to be a part of the VAVA family and looks forward to helping each child have a successful and enjoyable learning experience.

Jenny Kleffman joined the VAVA team in August 2012. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning from The Ohio State University. Before joining VAVA, Jenny spent four years teaching Math and Reading at Ohio Virtual Academy. She feels honored to help families use the K12 curriculum to individualize their child's education. Outside of school, Jenny leads her church's outreach program which mentors and tutors children in impoverished neighborhoods. She loves to be outdoors, hiking, canoeing and exploring in nature. She lives in Chesapeake with her husband and five children.

Beth Yopp joined the VAVA team in 2014 to work with the 2nd and 3rd grade team. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Motor Development in young children. She then went on to pursue her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University to live out her dream of teaching. She has taught in the traditional school setting for 14 years, having taught Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 5th grade. She is excited to now take her knowledge and passion for teaching to another level with the VAVA staff, students, and learning coaches.

4-6 Team

Elizabeth Clark began working with the Virginia Virtual Academy as a math teacher in 2010. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, where she majored in mathematics. She also holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration. Since beginning her teaching career, Mrs. Clark has taught a variety of math courses to 4th through 12th graders in both public and private traditional school settings. When she is not working with students in her virtual classroom, Mrs. Clark enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and spending lots of time outdoors. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida with her husband and their three boys McLean, Grey and Blair. Mrs. Clark loves sharing her enthusiasm for math with her students.

Katie Poindexter has been with VAVA since July 2011. Previously, Katie was an English teacher in Prince William County for 6 years. Katie graduated from George Mason University in 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in English. In 2006 she received a Master's of Science in Education from Old Dominion University. Katie lives in Warrenton, VA with her husband and two boys, Tyler and Zachary. Katie loves working with students and learning coaches and is honored to be part of the VAVA teaching team.

Katie Reynolds first became part of the VAVA community in 2010 as a parent with multiple enrolled children. She soon joined VAVA as our Middle School Science teacher. Mrs. Reynolds has taught middle and high school science in the brick and mortar setting as well as in other virtual education venues. She is thrilled to return to VAVA full-time for the 2014-2015 school year. Katie graduated from Washington and Lee University with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and from the University of Virginia with a Master's of Education in Educational Technology from the University of Virginia. She has continued to study education and administration in the post-graduate setting in her work towards an advanced degree. Mrs. Reynolds has a lively home with her wonderful husband, Pete, four children (ages 8 to 16), and a dog and a cat. Mrs. Reynolds loves to work with homeschooling families to help learning coaches stay motivated, maximize opportunities, and achieve success in the education of their children.

Special Education

Christine Taylor joined the VAVA team in August 2014. Before joining K12, Inc., Christine spent the last ten years as a Fairfax County Public School teacher. She spent most of that time teaching English and reading, but also gained experience in science and all elementary content. Christine earned a Bachelor's of Arts from Virginia Tech and holds a Master's in Special Education from George Mason University. She currently resides in Fairfax with her husband Dylan and two children, Charlie and Mary Alice. In her time away from work, Christine enjoys activities with her family and friends, including snowboarding at Wintergreen, jogging, and volunteering for Lab Rescue. As a VAVA teacher, Christine is excited to work with students and their families to ensure a positive educational experience.