Online Campus - Instructors & Staff

James Bondarchuk, Ph.D.

James began his teaching career as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the math department at Columbia University, where he taught single and multivariable calculus. He later completed a Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he taught a wide range of undergraduate philosophy courses and acted as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies for his department. He is a three-time recipient of Harvard’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching and a two-time recipient of Harvard's Richard M. Martin Prize Fellowship. His dissertation, titled "Self-Consciousness in Kant's Moral Philosophy," won the George Plimpton Adams Award for best doctoral dissertation in philosophy. James teaches math and philosophy at Davidson Academy Online and is constantly thinking of ways to expand the curriculum in both. His dedication to teaching is sustained by his conviction that the pursuit of knowledge is not just a means to something else but rather valuable for its own sake. What drew him to the Academy in particular is the school’s foundational commitment to the full intellectual development of its students, regardless of age.

Ben Brown

Ben Brown graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, followed by a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Nevada, Reno. As a grad student he focused on educational technologies, working on two interdisciplinary teams with the university’s college of education, and completed his master’s thesis focusing on Human Computer Interaction in Educational Gaming Software. He joined the Davidson Academy in 2017 and is currently the Online Technology Manager. Outside of work Ben performs in two local musical ensembles, playing cello and handbells.

Marianne Finnoff

I was born in Boulder Colorado where I grew up alongside my two big brothers and sister playing in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. I went to CU Boulder for my first two years of college, and then transferred to UNR, here in Reno Nevada, to cross country ski race for the university. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I always loved science! Throughout my college career I studied all types of subjects but science stood out above the rest. I heard my name called by microbiology and medicine (both my brothers are physicians), as well as the rocks and geology of this gorgeous planet we call home (love collecting rocks and rock climbing), but I finally found the perfect combination in becoming a science teacher. I absolutely love working with curious young people who ask lots of questions and are awe struck by the complexities of our universe as much as I am!
When I am not playing and learning with you all, I am living my best life with my kids Finn (10) and Mia (8), riding bikes, climbing trees, looking for spectacular sunsets and sparkly rivers, gardening, making art, laughing as much as possible, and snuggling with as many animals as we can fit on the couch!

Carly Ghantous

Carly has worked in education for ten years as a teacher and educational technology trainer. Before making the switch to online education, she spent the first eight years of her career teaching high school language arts at a brick-and-mortar school in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio. Carly has a B.S. in Secondary Education – Language Arts from the University of Cincinnati and is a Google Certified Educator (Levels 1 & 2). Currently, Carly teaches language arts and history courses at the Davidson Academy Online and YS Online for the Davidson Institute’s Young Scholar program. She also develops online courses and content. Carly has very little free time (her three children keep her pretty busy), but when she finds a moment to herself she enjoys reading young adult fiction, listening to podcasts, and taking her dog for extra long walks.

Stacy Hawthorne, Ed.D.

Read Director Hawthorne's Bio

John Knight, Ph.D

John has always been interested in learning about other cultures and considering opposing viewpoints. After getting a BA in History and Comparative Politics from Oberlin College, John spent several years teaching English in China, where he developed an insatiable curiosity for East Asian culture, as well as a passion for teaching. He later received a MA in Asian Studies from Seton Hall University, and a PhD in Modern Chinese History from The Ohio State University. John’s dissertation, “Chinese Imaginations of the Soviet Union” won the 2019 Ohio Academy of History award. He has taught Asian, World, and Gender history at various colleges, including the Rhode Island School of Design, UC Irvine, and Williams College. John believes that the role of an instructor is not to teach students what is “right,” but to help them develop the skills to think critically for themselves. He’s looking forward to many stimulating discussions at the Davidson Academy!

Albert T. Lee

Mr. Lee graduated from Caltech in 1996 and has a M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley. Both degrees were in mechanical engineering, but he found his passion for teaching while a graduate student. He's taught for over 20 years in a variety of environments including university, junior college, high school, and one-on-one tutoring. His teaching philosophy focuses on teaching math and science in a way that requires understanding of the underlying concepts, not just memorization. Mr. Lee is the faculty adviser for the Math Club and Chess Club, and has a keen interest in academic competitions.

Andrea Linardi de Minten

Ms. Linardi is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she graduated with a law degree from Universidad del Museo Social Argentino. When she moved to Reno, Ms. Linardi discovered her passion for languages and received an M.A. in Foreign Languages and Literature from University of Nevada, Reno where she worked as the Outreach Coordinator for the Latino Research Center. Ms. Linardi has taught Spanish, and tutored students of all ages. She was part of the Online Partner Conversation Program at Truckee Meadows Community College and every summer she teaches Spanish at the Intensive Summer Institute in South Lake Tahoe Community College. Ms. Linardi is currently teaching at the Davidson Academy’s Reno and Online Campuses. She is also excited to be the Spanish Club adviser. Ms. Linardi is passionate about teaching Spanish as well as the importance of creating cultural awareness and is very happy to be working with such talented students. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, swimming in Lake Tahoe, spending time with her husband, and with family and friends in Argentina and Reno.

James Marshall

James has a Bachelor’s of science in Mathematics from UNR, as well as an MAT in Secondary Education from Sierra Nevada College. His math career started in college when he changed majors from Engineering to Mathematics, and his teaching career started in high school as a guitar instructor. He decided to get his masters degree to combine his love for both and has been enjoying the mix ever since! James started teaching at Davidson Academy’s Reno campus in 2011 and has loved being surrounded by such a wonderful group of staff and students.  When he isn’t teaching, he is probably hanging out with his family or working on a project in the garage.  He loves to play guitar, take pictures, go outside, and build pretty much anything.

Erin McKenna

Erin McKenna has been a school counselor since 2007, and prior to that a special education paraeducator assisting students in the classroom since 2000. She is a compassionate educator who appreciates working with students to help them understand themselves to find their potential. Erin holds her MS in school counseling from McDaniel College. She also earned her BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University with a concentration in early childhood, youth and adolescent development. Beyond formal college training, Erin has been involved in Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation curriculum and training for schools and has participated with the Maryland Commission on Conflict Resolution. She has also enjoyed exploring coursework in Mindfulness Meditation in the school environment. Recently moving from the East Coast to Nevada, Erin has enjoyed the peacefulness of the mountains and the many adventures that hiking, boating, and other travels provide.

Arthur Pascual

Arthur is excited to be teaching at the Davidson Academy! Arthur Pascual graduated with the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011 with a bachelor in Mathematics and Education with a minor in Japanese and Music. He continued his education further to receive his M.S. in Equity and Diversity Education with his emphasis of getting girls into STEM fields. With all this educational experience, Arthur has been teaching for 6 years in various places, including abroad in South Korea for three years and Reno for the other three. Arthur has taught various ages from 3rd grade to high school, and various levels of math from Elementary mathematics to Calculus. Besides mathematics, he has also received an endorsement to teach gifted students, teaching in gifted programs in Reno for the past three years. Besides teaching, Arthur is also a musician with various groups including Reno Pops Orchestra playing percussion and Tintabulations Handbell Ensemble. On his spare time, Arthur loves to bake and cook food he has seen on the Food Network, he loves to run races and daily CrossFit routine, and even avidly still play video games (he was a former professional gamer during college) and board games.

Krysta Pascual

Krysta graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, regularly tutoring in different math and science subjects. She then worked as a freelance/contract developer and designer for an incubator and several startup companies for several years before packing up and going to South Korea to teach English. There, she was able to do two things she loved, help people and travel, but it also sparked her new found interest in teaching. She currently works for both DITD and DAO in records, outreach and communications, teaches the Art electives part time, and plans the summer retreat. In her free time, Krysta enjoys making educational videos about art and programming, making costumes, creating art, and playing video games.

Jessica Potts, Ph.D.

Jessica Potts holds a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in Secondary Education, with an emphasis on gifted education and online learning. Her MA is in English Literature, with an emphasis on the English Renaissance. She has spent most of her teaching career at the Davidson Academy of Nevada, both at the Reno and online campuses. Currently, she teaches online courses for the Davidson Academy, develops online content, and previously taught graduate courses on gifted education at UNR. Her research is focused mainly on furthering the burgeoning field of online learning for gifted students. She has been published in Gifted Child Today, Gifted Child Quarterly, Education Week, and has contributed chapters to books on gifted students. Jessica and her husband live in the Czech Republic with their three sons.

Tracy Sangster

After 15 years teaching composition, rhetoric, and literature in the college classroom, Tracy Sangster made the move to online learning in 2016 when she joined the faculty at Davidson Academy Online as a Humanities instructor and course designer. Tracy received her BA and MA in English Literature at California State University, Long Beach, and after 17 years living in Reno, Nevada, she recently moved to Tucson, Arizona. When not at her computer, Tracy enjoys playing strategy board games, taking road trips to National Parks, Geocaching, and watching baseball.

Casey Shepherd

Casey was born and raised in Houston, Texas. After finishing high school, she headed to the University of Texas at Austin where she received her BA in Government. She is still a proud Longhorn! After moving to Ohio, Casey attended Baldwin-Wallace University where she received her MA in Education. She began her teaching career shortly thereafter. She has close to thirty years of experience in education, teaching a variety of history and language arts courses. She is excited to be starting a new chapter here at Davidson Academy Online!
As you may have guessed, Casey is a history fanatic. She is fascinated by the key players in both past and present U.S. and world events. Her chosen super power would be the ability to time travel in order to sit down with some of her favorite historical figures to discuss their views, motivations, goals, and enduring effects on the world.
Outside of teaching, Casey is an avid reader, a passionate baseball fan, an amateur photographer, and a nature lover (minus the bugs). She currently resides in rural Ohio with her husband, son, two Australian Shepherds, and quite a few ducks.

Erica Shumaker

Erica Shumaker has worked as a counselor and teacher for over a decade at the secondary and college level. Before moving to Reno in 2017 she earned her MAEd in School Counseling and English Teaching Credential from Azusa Pacific University and a Masters in English Literature from Northern Arizona University. Her main goal is to help students engage with the world around them in meaningful ways that will extend past their time at the DAO. She is a big fan of the slow road trip, spending time with her husband Scott and cavapoo Penny, yoga, and bildungsroman novels.

Christina Taylor

Christina Taylor is from Reno, Nevada but moved to Beaverton, Oregon with her family (husband and 3 year old) in 2017. This is her 12th year in teaching. She joined Davidson Academy Online in 2017 and teaches Biology and Physical Science courses Before coming to Davidson Academy, she spent five years teaching Earth Science, Physical Science and Biology in a middle school Gifted and Talented Magnet program, as well as coached Science Olympiads and First Lego League, and before that taught and coached swimming in a comprehensive high school. In her free time she enjoys cooking, exercising, and gardening.

Beth Verano

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Beth decided to teach for just a few years, until she figured out what she wanted to do. She never expected to fall in love with teaching and now have over twelve years of experience and a Master of Arts in Teaching. She spent most of her career in Las Vegas, where she taught science and math courses at both the high school and college levels. Her family moved to Reno last summer so that her daughter could attend the Davidson Academy. It has been incredible to see her daughter’s transformation and her enthusiasm for school, now that she attends the DA. She is beyond grateful to have the opportunity to help facilitate the experience to our students living all over the country.

Tina Wilkinson

Tina Wilkinson lives in Flower Mound, TX. She holds a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in English. She worked in the field of mental health before beginning her teaching career. She then taught in the traditional setting for five years and made the transition three years ago to online education. She has presented at the Digital Learning Annual Conference and enjoys researching the fiield of career development within the gifted community. This year, she will be teaching several courses with Davidson Academy Online as well as providing some student support services as well.
She has two children (Colin- 6 years old and Elizabeth- 4 years old) that keep her quite busy. When she's not on the other side of the computer, she is most likely spending time reading and swimming with her children, camping or traveling, or training for a half marathon and trying new cuisines.

Ashley Zahn

Ashley Zahn received her BA in Classics from the University of Virginia and MAT in Latin and Classical Humanities from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before joining the Davidson Academy, she taught Latin in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Nevada. She is now a humanities instructor and the Assessment and Advising Manager for Davidson's online campus. She runs admissions assessments and oversees course planning and scheduling, independent studies, and prospective learning plans. During her time at Davidson, she has focused on adapting advising and admissions processes to the online learning model.

Yunxin Zhang

Yunxin received her B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a second language from East China Normal University in Shanghai. She attended The Ohio State University where she earned a M.A. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and continued into the Ph.D. program in the same field. Her areas of interest include Chinese language pedagogy, Chinese film studies, Chinese ethnicity, traditional performance and performance-connected literature of China. She taught at OSU for 8 years and at UNR for 3 years, in subjects of Chinese language, culture, literature, and teaching Chinese as a second language. In addition to teaching at the Online Campus, she has developed all of the Davidson Academy Online Chinese courses and teaches Chinese III/IV and Chinese Literature in Translation at the Reno Campus.