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The Staff

Jane de Winter, Executive Director

Jane de Winter holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington and an A.B. in International Relations and Economics from Brown University. She has taught at the University of Washington and The American University and worked as an economic consultant. Jane served on the board of directors of Big Learning/MCCPTA-EPI from 2006-2013 before becoming Interim Executive Director. Jane was involved in Montgomery County PTAs for 19 years, serving as PTA president at two local schools and as president of MCCPTA, the county wide PTA. She has extensive experience with non-profit governance and financial management and has led workshops in these areas for MCCPTA for almost a decade. She served two terms as chair of the Montgomery County Commission for Children and Youth and served on numerous MCPS workgroups and committees. Jane is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery (2010).  Jane was a regular guest on Montgomery Community Television’s Montgomery Week in Review for 12 years where she commented on educational and economic matters. All four of her children participated in HOS, KID, and/or FLES programs at Garrett Park ES.

Kirsten Nasrin Rhodes, FLES Program Director

Kirsten came to the FLES program as a foreign language teacher in 1996 and quickly joined the administrative team. Fluent in French, with volunteer PTA experience and a strong background in special events management, Kirsten served as the office manager for four years. Kirsten is an advocate for foreign language learning for both children and adults and she believes that learning another language creates unique opportunities for a lifetime of discoveries and connections.

Cassandra Valcourt, S&E Materials Specialist and Lead MS Instructor

Pam Loebach, Executive Assistant

Karla Lovato, FLES Materials Specialist and Spanish Instructor

Debbie Shelley, S&E Trainer and Lead PreK Instructor

Debbie Shelley trains the kindergarten and first grade teachers by demonstrating and walking through the 8-week projects and experiments that the children will perform each session. Debbie attended the University of MD, College Park and studied Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development. Debbie became involved with Big Learning Science & Engineering at Epworth Preschool and Kindergarten, where she was a substitute teacher. BL S&E was initially offered to 4 year-olds and kindergarteners. Debbie introduced it to the 3 year-olds and they loved it. EPK now offers science to them each spring.

Debbie is an assistant teacher in the 2 year-old class at EPK. BL S&E also has a preschool program called “All About Me.” During this 2-week program, students make a model of the body from the inside out, while learning names and functions of different parts of the body. Debbie taught this program, with 2 other teachers, at Four Corner Nursery School and was so excited about it that she introduced it to EPK. It was very successful and is part of EPK’s enrichment program. In addition, Debbie teaches science enrichment to K-1 students in several Montgomery County elementary schools. Debbie has many years of experience teaching children. She teaches Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and Bible Adventures, an after school enrichment program, at Epworth. Her passion for children and teaching shine in the classroom.

Debbie Franklin, S&E Trainer and Curriculum Assistant, Lead Robotics Instructor