Julie Liddle, Program Director
Julie brings twenty-five years of experience working with children and developing early childhood programming to her role as Program Director at ERS. She worked as an art therapist in special education for almost a decade, and then specialized in early childhood art. For the next 16 years, Julie focused on creating and facilitating a parent/child art program and curriculum for toddlers and preschoolers, which she delivered in various preschool settings. This is what brought Julie to ERS at its inception, to serve as the school’s Atelierista (Art Director). She held this position for five years before taking on the broader role of Program Director. Julie believes that even in this role, creativity and connection are the driving forces that guide her. She uses materials from art and nature to facilitate group cohesion among children, parents, and staff. Her always open office “door” is a key ingredient in her belief that being present, sharing experiences, and listening well are the best ways to support, nurture, and grow the community as a whole. Julie received a Master’s degree in Art Therapy from George Washington University and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Cornell University. She lives with her husband and two teenage sons, and enjoys year-round campfires and cookouts in their backyard fire-ring, and harvesting and cooking the fruits of her husband’s vegetable gardening obsession. Like her grandmother, Julie swears by the healing power of fresh air, and she finds rejuvenation in daily walks with her only girl, a beagle-mix named Chessie.
Krissy Sheets, Bookkeeper/Office Administrator
Krissy grew up on Kent Island, MD on the Chesapeake Bay. She holds a Business degree from Salisbury University. After graduating college, she relocated to Northern Virginia to be near her husband, a Vernon Drive native! They now live in Ashburn, with their two teen boys, two cats and a dog. Krissy has worked in various accounting roles, primarily in the healthcare and senior living industry. She is excited to now work among children and their families and learn all things ERS. When not shuttling kids and cheering on her boys at their sporting events, she enjoys traveling, gardening, reading and taking long walks with her four-legged child.
Christina Blocksom, Lead Teacher
Christina joins The Eastern Ridge School with nearly ten years of experience teaching in a play-based, nature-inspired, cooperative preschool in Vienna. After graduating from Cornell University, she explored human resource management for several years while working toward a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Johns Hopkins University in the evening. Christina most recently received her Forest Kindergarten Teacher Certification through The Cedarsong Nature School in Vashon Island, WA in August of 2018. Having grown up in a small New York dairy farming town near the southern tip of Lake Champlain surrounded by fields, wilderness, animals and machines, she and her brother spent their days exploring. It is from this early exposure to freedom and outdoor play that she discovered her love of teaching young children and sharing with them the wonder of nature. Christina lives in Reston with her husband, two teenage boys, a cat, a dog, and a gerbil. Her favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien, Ivan Doig, Leo Buscaglia, and Fred Rogers. Her favorite pastime is to walk in the woods.
Maritza Rodriguez, Lead Teacher
Maritza was born in Mexico, where she studied architecture. She worked for 22 years in that field and then worked for two years as a math teacher in a public high school. She later taught art and design at a private Catholic school. She and her husband (of more than 30 years!) have lived in the U.S. since 2005. She started at Discovery Woods in 2008 and joined Eastern Ridge when it was founded in 2014. Maritza truly loves working with our youngest students, and is particularly inspired to collect forest artifacts like leaves, twigs, and rocks with the children to inspire painting and art. She also enjoys teaching them songs and stories in Spanish. She especially loves how her children explore and discover new things, and watching their faces when they finish a project that they’ve worked on for a long time. Maritza and her husband, Jorge, have two children and live in Sterling.
Sue Stone, Lead Teacher
Sue has been with ERS and its predecessor for more than 10 years. Prior to this, she spent six years as a team teacher in the three-year old classroom at the Beverly Hills Church Preschool (BHCP), a Reggio-inspired school in Alexandria, and one year at Frog Pond, a nature-inspired program also in Alexandria. Prior to that, she was a co-op parent at BHCP for nine years, where she was on the board and served as its president for last two years her children attended. She also taught at Emmanuel Lutheran as a kindergarten teacher. Sue holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from College of the Potomac and also studied at Lesley University in their early childhood program. Most of Sue’s interests are nature focused; she loves gardening, being outside, kayaking and trail walking. She also volunteers with Animal Allies, feeding, rescuing and setting up shelters for feral cats. Teaching runs in her family: her oldest daughter is an environmental science teacher at the relatively new middle and high school, Howard Gardner School in Alexandria. Sue has three children and one granddaughter.
Erica Wyman, Lead Teacher
Erica brings 35 years of teaching experience to ERS. She has worked in early childhood special education, Kindergarten, second grade, and high school special education. She attended University of Maryland and has a B.S. with a major in elementary and special education. She attended George Mason University and has a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Exceptional Needs, Early Childhood. Erica grew up in Montgomery County, MD and has always loved nature, animals, and working with children. She spent time on her grandparent’s nursery helping with trees, flowers and exploring the world of plants and insects. Erica’s grandmother was also a teacher, and Erica helped her tutor children. This is when she knew she wanted to be a teacher. A fun fact about Erica is that she has an identical twin sister. She also loves animals of all kinds; her family always had a house full of animals, including horses, dogs, cats, chinchilla, rabbits, snakes, seahorses, fish, mice, gerbils, hamsters, turtles, frogs, and a bearded dragon. Erica’s interests include travel, beading, hiking, kayaking, yoga, swimming, working out, spoiling her dogs, reading, and going to the beach. Erica is excited to share her love of teaching, nature, and children with The Eastern Ridge School.
Pariche Kahn, Assistant Teacher/Aftercare Co-Teacher
Pariché grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. With a degree and previous work experience in the field of advertising, teaching is something relatively new to her, but she is excited about her transition into the field of early childhood education. She moved to the US two years ago to be with her husband. Her love for children and fun and friendly nature are what led her to this job. Pariché works as an Art Instructor for Young Rembrandts, where she teaches drawing to elementary school children. Prior to joining us at ERS, she worked as a substitute teacher/assistant in early childhood and kindergarten classes for FCPS. She enjoys arts and crafts, travelling, food – precisely, the idea of exploring new things, cultures, ideas, etcetera; and prides herself in always trying her best in everything that she does. She loves appreciating, and people who appreciate, the little things in life!
Kelly Rene, Outdoor Resource Specialist/Aftercare Co-Teacher
Kelly was born in New London, CT, but was raised in a military family and had the opportunity to move around a lot while she was growing up. She was able to live in many interesting and exciting locations—including Alaska, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. She even holds Irish citizenship! She landed in Northern Virginia to attend George Mason University, where she graduated in 2016 with a degree in English Culture Studies and Sustainability. Since graduation Kelly has lived in Ohio working as an Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a National Wildlife Refuge. Her previous workplace allowed her to work in environmental education with learners of all ages, and she is excited to bring her knowledge and passion for the outdoors to the ERS community. Kelly is a dedicated outdoor enthusiast and loves to get outside whenever possible. Her favorite hobbies include both indoor and outdoor rock climbing, hiking, and camping.
Oksana Howard, Atelierista
Oksana was born in Ukraine and graduated with a Bachelors and Masters degree in education. She is currently working towards a Graduate certificate in the Reggio Emilia approach. Before moving to Northern Virginia, she lived in San Diego, Dhaka, Gaborone, and Bangkok, where she worked in the US Embassy and taught art in international schools. While living in Thailand she was introduced to the Reggio Emilia philosophy and worked as an Atelierista in one of five Reggio Emilia-inspired international schools. The focus on process over product was engaging and intriguing to her. Teaching in an environment where children collaborate on complex projects forever changed her perspective on education and elevated her teaching. Oksana is a practicing artist and some of her recent endeavors include felting and copper wire sculpture. She lives in Reston with her two daughters and a cat. She is looking forward to exploring, creating, and collaborating with children and teachers, and feels blessed to be a part of The Eastern Ridge School.
Rosie Troutman, Kitchen Operations and Teachers’ Aide
Rosie is pursuing to further her education in early childhood development. She loves interacting with children, being outside and sharing her enthusiasm for nature with others. She has relatives that live throughout the United States and enjoys visiting them and helping to cook big family dinners. Rosie has the travel bug and especially like visiting European cities and experiencing their different cultures and cuisines.