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Staff Bios

Diane Naff
I graduated from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake Virginia.  Go Bruins!  I have been teaching for 35 years and have been part of the gifted staff in MCPS for the past 20. I have a B.S. from James Madison University in Early Childhood Education, a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech and a M.A. in Educational Leadership from Radford University. I also have a Gifted Endorsement from the University of VA and a Virginia Technology Certificate from UVA. I have attended college all across Virginia and I continue to love learning!  I have two grown children: Jessica and Ryan. Jessica is a lieutenant in the Navy and is currently assigned to Walter Reed Medical Hospital. Ryan graduated with a business degree from James Madison University and received his MBA at Radford University. He is working as a financial officer at VTTI and supports innovation at the SMART road and on the Virginia Tech campus. I enjoy reading, clogging, swimming, riding my bike, going to the movies, and cheering for the Hokies!  I currently serve MCPS as the Administrator of the Gifted Program and as resource teacher for the four high schools.  I look forward to challenging all MCPS students as we Engage, Encourage, and Empower them to be great thinkers.

Sonya Burchett
I graduated from Pulaski County High School in Dublin, Virginia.  I was the first in my family to graduate from college, when I received a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from Radford University. Two years later, I headed back to Radford University to begin graduate work in Education. I graduated with a Masters of Science degree in Curriculum & Instruction in 1998.  Upon graduation, I began teaching in Montgomery County. I have spent the last 17 years teaching 1st and 2nd grade at Kipps Elementary in Blacksburg.  Last December, I completed my gifted endorsement through the University of Virginia.  I live in the Shiloh community of Pulaski County with my husband, Shawn, and two children, Noah and Erin.  I enjoy traveling, participating in activities with my church family, walking, reading, listening to music, spending time with my family, and watching my son play basketball and my daughter dance.  I am excited about being a part of the gifted education staff in Montgomery County!

Helen Fotinos
I am from Granville, Ohio and earned by B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Washington and Lee University and master's degree in teaching from Mary Baldwin College. I began teaching in 2006.  My educational philosophy is to encourage as much inquiry and project-based learning as possible. If students are asking questions or making something, then they are engaged and learning!  I am married and have two boys. And we have a Beta fish named "Fish".  Outside of school I love to read, listen to music, ride my bike and go to yoga.

Marti Hale
I graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and education. I have earned 35 hours toward my Masters in Education Leadership at Radford University, and I will graduate in the Spring of 2017.  My Gifted Endorsement is from the University of Virginia. My work experience is varied; I currently serve as the Gifted Resource Teacher for English at Blacksburg Middle School and Christiansburg Middle School, and I am a blogger and content writer for an online company. I have 21 years experience in secondary education and have been a Gifted Resource Teacher for 16 years.  I served as the Director of the Summer Residential Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts for six years, and was the Director of Licensing and Trademark Administration at Virginia Tech from 1989 until 1998. Prior to that, I worked for President Ronald Reagan’s administration for six years.   I believe a good education provides one with exciting choices and unlimited opportunities in life. My goals this year are to ensure that all of my students are challenged through relevant and engaging coursework, to build strong positive relationships with them, and to make sure they don’t lose their excitement for learning!
Amy Lunsford
I graduated from Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been teaching in Montgomery County for over 18 years. I received my teaching license through Radford University’s graduate program, my Master's degree in School Administration and Educational Leadership and received my gifted endorsement through UVA. I serve the two schools of Harding Avenue Elementary and Kipps Elementary, as well as the community, parents, faculty and students in my position as a gifted resource teacher. Please let me know if you have any questions about how I may help you.

Matt McDaniel
I graduated from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia.  I graduated again from Radford University in 2006 with a degree in Education. I then graduated a third time in 2009 with a Master’s in School Administration from RU. I believe it is important to always learn new things! I started teaching at Kipps Elementary in third grade but have taught fourth grade too. I also have been a Technology Resource Teacher in Montgomery County.  I am married to my best friend, Katie McDaniel, who teaches fifth grade at Auburn Elementary.  We have a son named Alex, a daughter named Emerson, and a boxer dog named Ozzie.  I love baseball, kayaking, and fishing.

Brenda Mash
I am a product of the MCPS school system and graduated from Blacksburg High School. Growing up in Blacksburg ignited a desire within me to become a Hokie. I received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Elementary Education and ten years later, I graduated again from Virginia Tech, but this time with a Master of Arts in Education.  I also have two endorsements from the Commonwealth. One endorsement is as a Math Specialist for Elementary and Middle Education. The second endorsement I received from the University of Virginia in Gifted Education.  I have been in gifted education since 1996 and have taught in various settings from self contained gifted centers in Roanoke City to Magnet Schools.  It was very exciting to be able to return to the schools I attended as a child and be able to give back to them as a gifted resource teacher beginning in 2003. My husband, Robert, and I have two grown daughters, Lara and Rachel.  We enjoy doing things as a family such as playing games, traveling and watching the Atlanta Braves play.  Lara is a Virginia Tech graduate sharing her love for mathematics by teaching math in the middle school classroom. Rachel is continuing her passion for soccer at the collegiate level in Georgia while studying kinesiology.  I thrive on working with children at our church and in our community and want every child to know just how important they are!

Shpresa Mykerezi
I graduated from high school in 1972 and received my B.A. degree in 1977 from the University of Tirana, Albania in Physics. I also have a Gifted Endorsement from the University of VA. For nearly 25 years I taught physics and math in high and middle schools in Albania. I came to the United States in 2000. I started as a Gifted Resource Teacher in Montgomery County in 2005. I currently work in Blacksburg Middle School and Christiansburg Middle School. I am married and my husband teaches in Virginia Tech. We have two sons, both graduates of Virginia Tech. We are proud to be a Hokie family. 

Tamra Oliver
I am a product of the MCPS school system and graduated from Blacksburg High School. I have been teaching for over 35 years serving students in grades K -7th, teaching homebound middle school and high school students, serving as the gifted resource teacher as well as working as a principal. My Bachelor and Masters degrees are both from Virginia Tech and I earned my Gifted Endorsement from the University of Virginia. My husband, daughter, and I all are Virginia Tech graduates and my parents were Virginia Tech professors so we have a special bond with this community.Our family lives on a farm in Montgomery County and I enjoy outdoor activities such as gardening. When indoors, I love to learn new things, sew, quilt and read.I am currently serving the students, teachers and parents of gifted students at Christiansburg Elementary school and am excited to be a part of the school family. Each morning when I start out the day, I like to say, “Today is a perfect day for a great day.”

Cynthia Saferight
I graduated from Colonial High School in Orlando, Florida. I have two grown children and four grandchildren. I worked for an Adventist Hospital in Orlando, Florida for eighteen years before moving to Christiansburg, Virginia. I have worked for Montgomery County Public Schools for over 17 years. I enjoy reading, sewing, and spending time with my family.

Angela Smith
I graduated from Fieldale Collinsville High School in Collinsville, Virginia.  I received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Milligan College in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  I hold a Master’s Degree from Radford University in Curriculum and Instruction and a gifted endorsement from the University of Virginia.  I started my teaching career as a third grade teacher in Montgomery County.  I enjoyed working with high level kids so much that I decided to pursue a position with the gifted department where I currently serve as the gifted resource teacher for Auburn Elementary School and Prices Fork Elementary.  I’m a shining Puma STAR!!!  My husband and I are the proud parents of three children who all attend the Auburn strand schools.  Our family enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and cheering for the HOKIES!! When I’m not engaging kids in some great critical thinking or playing taxi driver to my three children, I enjoy reading, camping, excercise, photography and scrapbooking.  I’m ready for a great year with some great kids and parents!

Terri Vangelos
I am a Christiansburg High School graduate.  I am also a graduate of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, where I earned a B.S. degree in Sport Management.  I went to graduate school and received a Master of Teaching degree in Elementary Education from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA,.  And, because I love learning, I have also earned a gifted endorsement through the University of Virginia.  I spent the first few years of my career teaching first graders in Dinwiddie County, before moving to Chesterfield County where I taught various grades at the elementary level. I am very happy to be back in Montgomery County, and especially working as a Gifted Resource Teacher for MCPS.  I serve students, their parents, and teachers at Falling Branch Elementary School.  I tell the kids my job is to help them stretch their brains.  I believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn something new every day!