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The Capitol School

Alabama's International School

2828 6th Street
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
Phone: 205-758-2828

Faculty & Staff


Dr. Barbara Rountree

Faculty - Office

School Director
Dr. Barbara Starnes Rountree is a native Alabamaian from Guntersville, Alabama. She has been a certified teacher in Alabama and Tennessee since 1969 and has taught grades K-8 in public schools. She earned her doctorate from Vanderbilt University/Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Rountree taught in the College of Education at The University of Alabama for 22 years where she served as co-chair of the Multiple Ability Program. She worked with children in Tuscaloosa County to help found CHOM, the Children's Hands-On Museum and served as the first Director for 2 years. Dr. Rountree worked as a Consultant with many international schools in Europe, Central and South America. She received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award in 1992 from the University of Alabama Alumni. In 1993, she founded The Capitol School with Margaret Brown Hill and other outstanding faculty who were former public school teachers. It was the culmination of a dream to create a world-class PK- 12 school based on educational research and best practices.

Raye Blumthal

Staff - Office

Mrs. Raye Blumthal with her 4 grandsons who attend The Capitol School.

Johnnie Pearson

Staff - Office

Ms. Pearson's son is a 2014 graduate of The Capitol School. Her son currently attends the University of Alabama.

Carolyn Ritchie

Staff - Office

Mrs. Carolyn Ritchie with her grandson who attends The Capitol School.

Nursery Cluster (1 - 3 year-olds)

Taryn Hoggle

Faculty - Nursery Cluster

Infant Teacher
Ms. Taryn Hoggle is a Tuscaloosa native. She graduated from the University of Phoenix in March, 2014 with an Associate Degree in Human Services. Taryn started her Capitol School journey in May, 2014 when she became the Lead Infant Teacher when the new Nursery opened its door. She loves the environment and teaching strategies of the Capitol School and she is currently enrolled through North American Montessori to earn her Montessori Certification with infants and toddlers. Ms. Hoggle's daughter is enrolled at the Capitol School.

Pre-School Cluster (2.5 - 5 year-olds)

Kathy McGuire

Faculty - Pre-School Cluster

Montessori Preschool Director and Preschool Lead Teacher
Mrs. Kathy McGuire serves as Lead Teacher for our Montessori Preschool since 2007. She holds a Montessori certificate through American Montessori Society and studied at the New Orleans Montessori Teacher Education Center and the North Carolina Montessori Teacher Education Center. Mrs. McGuire has 23 years of experience as a preschool teacher. She previously taught at private and public Montessori schools in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and served as Director of a private Montessori School.

Margee Freeman

Faculty - Pre-School Cluster

Montessori Preschool Lead Teacher, Preschool German
Mrs. Margee Freeman graduated from The University of Alabama in 2001 with a degree in German. While pursuing her bachelor's degree, she spent over a year attending the Paedigoesche Hochschule in Weingarten, Germany. This university specializes in education and"Frau" Freeman planned, taught, and was observed daily while attending the PH.This experience taught her how to effectively teach foreign languages to children and develop her lesson planning. She has more than ten years of Montessori experience and attained her master's degree in 2004-- also in German. She enjoys wearing two hats at The Capitol School; Frau Freeman is both a Lead teacher and a German teacher in our Montessori Preschool.

Cailin Kerch

Faculty - Pre-School Cluster

Montessori Preschool Co-teacher - Currently on maternity leave
Mrs. Cailin Kerch is a Preschool Co-teacher and Curriculum Coordinator at The Capitol School. She earned her master's degree in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania and is pursuing her doctorate degree in Early Childhood Education at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Mrs. Kerch holds an Alabama Level A and Pennsylvania certificates in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. With 9 years of teaching experience, Mrs. Kerch has taught preschool, kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. She served as the Dean of Students at an inner city early childhood center with over 300 students. Mrs. Kerch is trained in many forms of instruction to support children's learning such as Whole Brain Teaching, Learning Focused Schools, Power Teaching and Universal Design Learning.

Nicole LaMoreaux

Faculty - Pre-School Cluster

Montessori Preschool Coteacher
Mrs. Nicole LaMoreaux is a Co-teacher in one of our Montessori Preschools. She has 18 years of Montessori experience teaching in both a public Montessori magnet school and in private Montessori schools. Mrs. LaMoreaux has co-taught with Mrs. McGuire since 2008. A world traveler, she has visited many countries. She also teaches in Summer Explorations as the creator of the popular preschool class, "Dinosaurs".

Katelin Redborg

Faculty - Pre-School Cluster

5-7 Year Old Cluster (5 - 7 year-olds)

Margaret Hill

Faculty - 5-7 Year Old Cluster

5-7 year-old Lead Teacher
Mrs. Margaret L. Hill is the Lead Teacher of the five-seven year old cluster at The Capitol School. She was one of the founding teachers of the school in 1993. She has taught preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade age children as well as college courses since beginning her teaching career in 1982. Mrs. Hill has also been the director of a preschool at The University of Alabama and a kindergarten teacher at Brookwood Elementary School in the Tuscaloosa County School System. She was Tuscaloosa County Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year, Phi Delta Kappa Elementary Teacher of the Year, and an AFLA Teacher of the Month. Mrs. Hill served as a mentor in Science Education working with graduate education students at The University of Alabama. She studied at Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln, England and High Wych JMI School in Sawbridgeworth, England. She strives to provide the best possible educational environment while addressing each child's individual needs. Mrs. Hill earned a M.S. and Educational Specialist degree in Early Childhood Education and holds a AA level Alabama teaching certificate.

Jane Fain

Faculty - 5-7 Year Old Cluster

5-7 year-old teacher

Mrs. Jane Wright Fain is one of the teachers in the Hill-Fain Cluster. She has worked with the five to seven year olds at the Capitol School since 2015, but she has enjoyed teaching elementary age students since her career began in 1977. Mrs. Fain has taught regular and special education classes, gifted students and students who are English language learners. For more than twenty years she was a continuous progress teacher, integrating visual and performing arts with sixth graders in Alabama's premier fine arts magnet school. Mrs. Fain has supervised interns for Athens State University.

She is a lifelong learner and holds a Master's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama and a Class A level Alabama teaching certificate. Mrs. Fain enjoys bringing children's literature to life with puppets, poetry, dramatic play, choral reading and other creative arts activities.

7-9 Year Old Cluster (7 - 9 year-olds)

Lauren Amundson

Faculty - 7-9 Year Old Cluster

7-9 year-old Lead Teacher
Lauren is a Tuscaloosa, Alabama native. She graduated from the University of Alabama in May of 2013 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Lauren started her Capitol School journey in January of 2014 in the preschool working as an Montessori preschool aide. She is currently the Lead Teacher of the 7-9 year old cluster. She has served as the coteacher for both the 5-7 and 7-9 year olds. Lauren fell in love with the teaching strategies, environment, and manipulatives in that Montessori classroom. This influenced her decision to take the next step of getting Montessori certified to add to her Alabama Elementary Education certification.

Missy Richey

Faculty - 7-9 Year Old Cluster

7-9 year-olds and Technology Teacher
Mrs. Missy Richey is one of the teachers of the 7-9 year old cluster and the Technology teacher at The Capitol School. She has 25+ years of teaching experience in preschool, kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade in Alabama and Tennessee school systems. She also has worked as a teacher and coordinator with Florence City Schools' Homebound k-12 student program for several years. She has created and directed science and social studies children's workshops throughout North Alabama for over twenty five years. As a graduate teaching assistant for The University of Alabama, she worked with The Child Development Center and taught classes in children's literature, methods of teaching science, social studies and human development. Mrs. Richey studied at Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincoln, England and High Wych JMI School in Sawbridgeworth, England. Mrs. Richey earned a M.S. and Educational Specialist degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Alabama and holds a AA level teaching certificate in Alabama and Tennessee.

9-11 Year Olds Cluster (9 - 12 year-olds)

Shelli Lavender

Faculty - 9-11 Year Olds Cluster

9-11 year-old Lead Teacher
Mrs. Shelli Lavender is an Ohio native who moved to Tuscaloosa with her family and native-born Alabamian husband in 2012. Mrs. Lavender earned teacher certification in Ohio and Alabama for Elementary Education and as a Reading Specialist for grades K - 12. With a Master of Education degree from Kent State University, Mrs. Lavender utilizes her training in reading instructions for many levels at the Capitol School. This year, Mrs. Lavender has come to the 9 -12 year-old cluster as the Lead Teacher and is guiding students to be well-prepared for our Upper School programs. Mrs. Lavender's family also runs an educational farm at the Lucas Learning Farm in Greene County and plans trips to the Farm for school programming.

Upper School (12 - 18 year-olds)

Dr. Monica Rodgers

Faculty - Upper School

High School History, High School English, Volleyball Sponsor
Dr. Monica Rodgers teaches Advanced History, English and Spanish to the Upper School Students. In addition, she directs the Capitol School Players, the school's drama club. Dr. Rodgers earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Alabama where she graduated magna cum laude. She taught History, Law and Society, and Spanish at Tuscaloosa County High; Spanish at Riverside Middle School and Northport Junior High; and History and Spanish at Northside High School. She also coached the cheerleaders and the dance line at both Tuscaloosa County High and Northside High School. Graduating with her Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1999, Dr. Rodgers worked at the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. There, she served as lead attorney for the Crimes against Children Unit, chairman of the Montgomery County Child Death Review Team, and chairman of Child Protect, an investigative child abuse unit. After returning home to Tuscaloosa, Dr. Rodgers began teaching History at Shelton State Community College. In 2006 joined the Capitol School faculty. She holds an Alabama AA level teaching certificate.
Watch a video of Dr. Rodgers when she was interviewed after receiving the Classroom Hero award in 2009.

Zac Cook

Faculty - Upper School

Zac Cook is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He recently attended the University of Alabama where he graduated with a B.S. in Education with a major in Exercise Science. Coach Cook began coaching Cross Country at The Capitol School in 2012. He now teaches middle school science and robotics, serves as the athletic director, and continues to coach Cross Country. He enjoys working with the athletes on maintaining an academic/athletic balance. In addition, he is actively pursuing a Masters Degree in Education from UWA. In his free time, Coach Cook enjoys playing disc golf, boating on the Black Warrior River, and spending time with his wife Katy.

Lucas Johnson

Faculty - Upper School

High School Science - Astronomy

Dr. Padmal Mahawanniarachchi

Faculty - Upper School

Dr. Padmal Mahawanniarachchi is the middle and high school/early college math teacher at The Capitol School. Before he joined The Capitol School, he was a mathematics instructor at Shelton State Community College for five years. He earned a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Colombo (Sri Lanka) and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Alabama. He has 15 years of teaching experience.

Tonya Price

Faculty - Upper School

Middle School Teacher and Guidance Counselor

Kaye Ridgway

Faculty - Upper School

Mrs. Kaye Ridgway served as the Lead Teacher of the 11-13 year old cluster at The Capitol School during the 2016-17 school year. This year, she will return to work with the cluster on "The Battle of the Books" which they won under her leadership last year. She has 35+ years of educational experience in elementary, middle school, and college in Tuscaloosa County School System and The University of Alabama. She was selected as a Clinical Master Teacher for The University of Alabama College of Education, and was selected as Teacher in Residence at The University of Alabama Education Department where she supervised practicum students and interns and taught practicum, classroom management, children's literature, reading, and social studies classes. Mrs. Ridgway earned B.S., M.A. and Educational Specialist degrees from The University of Alabama as well as AA administrative certification.

Expert Teachers 

Jana Coffman

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Upper School Spanish
Jana Coffman is happy to be relocating to Tuscaloosa from the Kansas City, Missouri, area to pursue her doctorate in Spanish from the University of Alabama and teach elementary and high school Spanish as an expert teacher at the Capitol School. Mrs. Coffman attended Missouri State University, where she completed a Masters degree in Spanish Education and a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She loves to travel and has lived in Puebla, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador to study Spanish and Angouleme, France as an English teacher. She has taught Spanish and English at the high school and collegiate level since 2006, also leading a swing dance club, the Silver Sensations dance team, the World Cultures Club, and taking two groups of students to Costa Rica and Europe. She has presented at academic conferences both domestically and abroad, including lead presentations in Athens, Greece, Paris, France, and most she recently received the award for Best Presentation at a conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Her daughter, Kaylie, attends the Capitol School preschool. When she is not teaching and studying in Tuscaloosa, Mrs. Coffman enjoys singing, reading, ballet and tap dancing.

Kacey Davenport

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Mrs. Kacey Davenport moved to Tuscaloosa from the coast of North Carolina in 2012 and has been The Capitol School's librarian since January 2013. She is a former 4th and 5th grade teacher and has taught children for over 15 years, including experience at a Montessori school in Durham, North Carolina. Mrs. Davenport studied French language and culture in Angers, France. She also spent a semester in Oulu, Finland and traveled to over 10 European countries including Russia and Estonia. She graduated with a Master of Library Science degree from North Carolina Central University, a Master of Teaching degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from UNCGreensboro. She is also a practicing postpartum doula, supporting new mothers and their newborns. Mrs. Davenport is married and has a son who is a student at The Capitol School, and she feels privileged to have the opportunity to work with the entire student and teacher population in her role.

Katie Dewees Evans-Young

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Computer Programming (C++) and Robotics
Mrs. Katie Dewees Evans-Young has been helping around The Capitol School since her daughter started coming to the school in the 6th grade. You might speak to her via e-mail about lunch orders or items to be placed on our school website. She has been teaching at the school since 2015, when she started teaching Computer Programming in C++ to middle and high school students. Mrs. Evans-Young earned her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from New College at The University of Alabama, and has owned a web development business since 1999. She is excited to pass on her passion for computing to the next generation; after all, we are living in the future! Currently Ms. Evans-Young is teaching Robotics, C++ Programming, is the Advisor for the school newspaper, and the scorekeeper for the girl's volleyball team.

Jenni Jensen

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Elementary P.E. and High School Sports Advisor
Ms. Jenni Jensen moved from Kentucky in 2008 to attend the University of Alabama where she completed two B.S. Degrees in Physical Education and Exercise and Sport Science. Jenni then continued her education at UA as a master's degree student and graduate assistant in Sport Pedagogy. She currently holds a Class A Alabama Teaching Certificate in Physical Education K-12. In her spare time, Jenni is a personal trainer. She hopes to teach students and adults how to live healthy and active lifestyles through healthy eating, exercise, sports and play.

Sarah Riches

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Elementary German Teacher
Mrs. Sarah Riches teaches German as a Foreign Language for students in each of the clusters, architecture-related Summer Exploration courses, and collaborates on an architecture class, Conservation Connections. She holds a Master's degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and B.A. from the University of Chicago. Immediately after graduate school she lived for one year in Berlin, Germany, working in an architecture office with a focus on green design. Sarah has had the good fortune to have several international experiences: in addition to her year in Berlin, she has returned over two different summers to Berlin, has spent six months in Stockholm, and her youngest years in Central America.

Dan Rountree

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Mr. Dan Rountree is one of the founding teachers of The Capitol School where he has taught Art since 1993. He teaches art to every student in grades K-12 for two small group lessons each week. As a professional artist, he works in watercolor, oil, graphite and pastel. His art studio is a 110 year old historic building located on the new town square in downtown Tuscaloosa. Also a plein air artist, Dan has traveled widely and visited the major art galleries of the world. Dan studied art and antiquities as he earned his bachelor and master's degrees. He lived in Rome, Italy where he researched and wrote his master's thesis. Mr. Rountree's art continuing education includes classes with Joan Potter, Michael Lynch, Ken Baccus, Doug Dawson, Daniel Greene, David Laffel, Tom Browning, Michael Del Priore, Albert Handel, Gregg Kreutz, Jim Gray, Ned Bittinger, Scott Burdick, Archie Campbell and Anthony Ryder.Mr. Rountree was named Artist in Residence for the Cunard Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises.

Heike Schad

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Mrs. Heike Schad is a native of Hamburg, Germany who moved to Tuscaloosa in 1999. She graduated in 1992 from a university in Hanover and moved to Bonn where she worked for 7 years. As a full-time Mom, she volunteered in Tuscaloosa schools and at the Arboretum teaching environmental programs. Mrs. Schad has tutored German adults and students and worked at the German Supplemental School before coming to teach German for grades K-12 at The Capitol School.

Dr. Nisha Warbington

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Dr. Nisha Warbington is a parent volunteer who collaborates with The University of West Alabama and places counseling interns with The Capitol School. Dr. Warbington holds a Ph. D. in Counselor Education and a M.H.S. in Human Development from the University of Alabama. Most of her professional career has been spent in the area of public education in Alabama. Prior to joining the faculty of UWA, she served as a school counselor at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She also served as the Director of the Hoover Coalition, a branch of the Hoover City School System that is designed to bring the school and community together to combat drug and alcohol abuse by teenagers in the Hoover area. Dr. Warbington is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and a Nationally Certified School Counselor (NCSC). Dr. Warbington also has experience in the community counseling area. She has maintained a private practice in the Tuscaloosa area since 2002. She is an LPC-S (Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor) in Alabama. She is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, and served as President of the Rho Chapter at the University of Alabama. She is also a member of Alabama Counseling Association where she has previously served as Secretary for Chapter I. Additionally, she is a member of the Alabama School Counseling Association where she has served as Ads Chairperson, and holds membership in the American School Counselor Association.

Deric Whatley

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Mr. Deric Whatley is the music teacher for grades K through 12. He earned his masters degree in Music Composition from The University of Alabama and also has extensive training in multiple instruments and recording engineering. Mr. Whatley has been teaching music and music lessons for over 15 years. He joined the faculty of The Capitol School in the fall of 2012. In addition to the general music classes and group piano lessons, Mr. Whatley also offers private piano, guitar, percussion, and voice lessons for an additional fee.

Yang Zhao

Faculty - Expert Teachers

Suzuki Violin, Chinese
Mrs. Yang Zhao has taught violin classes to grades 2-12 at the Capitol School since 2007. She uses the Suzuki method in small groups of 3 or 4 students. Mrs. Zhao received her B.A. specializing in viola from Jilin College of Arts, Changchun, China in 1985. She came to the United States in 1989, and moved to Tuscaloosa in 1994. Since then, she has been teaching Suzuki violin at the Community Music School, University of Alabama. Mrs. Zhao is the co-founder of the Chinese program at The Capitol School that draws Chinese speaking interns from Hung Kuang University in Taiwan.

NOTE: Some teachers at The Capitol School prefer not to post their photos and bios on the website. Please schedule an appointment to review their resumes and meet these outstanding faculty members by calling 758-2828.