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Staff Bios

Diane Naff

I graduated from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake Virginia.  Go Bruins! 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 works as a financial officer at VTTI and supports innovation at the SMART road and on the Virginia Tech campus. I enjoy reading, clogging, 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 Gifted Specialist for the four high schools.  I challenge all MCPS students to be good citizens, enjoy communicating and collaborating with one another, and to develop their critical and creative thinking skills to become great problem solvers.

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, where I spent 17 years teaching 1st and 2nd grade. In December 2015, I completed my gifted endorsement through the University of Virginia and began my career as a gifted resource teacher in 2016. I live in the Shiloh community of Pulaski County with my husband, Shawn, and two children, Noah and Erin.  I enjoy participating in activities with my church family, where my husband is the pastor; walking, reading, listening to music, traveling, spending time with my family, and watching my son play golf and my daughter dance.

Helen Fotinos

I grew up in Granville, Ohio but I consider myself a Virginian now! I earned by B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Washington and Lee University and my master's degree in teaching from Mary Baldwin College. I began teaching in 2006 and I have taught students from preschool to graduate students!  I completed my gifted endorsement through Radford University last year. 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. Outside of school I love to read, listen to music, travel, teach spinning and go to yoga.



Lisa Green

I am a transplant from Athens, Georgia. I have a husband and a very spoiled black lab. We enjoy all outdoor activities including hiking, biking, gardening, and boating. Living in the mountains has been a dream come true for us! I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs! I also hold a M.A. in Elementary Education along with Gifted, Mathematics, and ESOL endorsements. I taught 1st and 2nd grade for eight years. As a general education teacher, STEM challenges were always my favorite activities to facilitate. I loved seeing my students working collaboratively, critically, and creatively to solve real world problems. At the end of each project period my students would groan and beg for more time to work! I look forward to working with gifted learners this year and incorporating as many meaningful and engaging activities as possible.



Amy Guerin

I grew up in northern Colorado and followed my passion for Marine Science to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida where I graduated with a B.S. degree in Marine Science with a Geology concentration. After working briefly at Tropicana (Products, Inc.), I quickly realized that I was meant to be in the classroom sharing my passion and knowledge with young people.  After loving my first year of teaching and wanting to provide the best for my students, I returned to college to earn a M.S. degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University.

During my 15 years in the classroom, I have worked as a Marine Science Curriculum Coordinator, IMAST (gifted science) teacher, STEM teacher, and STEM Coordinator/Teacher. I have taught students from kindergarten through college, and received my gifted endorsement (Pinellas County Schools-Florida) while teaching in the IMAST program.

Highlights of my career in the classroom include being named Marine Science Educator of the Year in Florida (2003) and representing the State of Louisiana at the National Geographic Oceans Academy (2010).  I have held teaching certificates in four states (Florida, Nevada, Louisiana, Virginia) and taught in both public, magnet and charter school settings.

While not in the classroom I enjoy traveling with my family, watching my three children participate in sports/activities, exploring our new home state, reading and going to the beach.

I am looking forward to a great first year as a Gifted Resource Teacher with MCPS and working with great students and teachers throughout our district.


Marti Hale

I graduated from Radford High School and then earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing and education from Virginia Tech. I have completed 35 hours toward my Masters in Education Leadership at Radford University, and I received my Gifted Endorsement from the University of Virginia. My work experience is varied. I currently serve as the Gifted Resource Teacher at Christiansburg Middle School and as the Faculty Adviser for the National Junior Honor Society. I have 22 years experience in secondary education and have been a Gifted Resource Teacher for 17 years. I was the Director of the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts for six years and the Director of Licensing and Trademark Administration at Virginia Tech for nine years.  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!

Misty Lester

I am local to the New River Valley having grown up in Shawsville, Virginia.  I received my Bachelor of Science degree at Radford University and endorsement in Gifted Education from the University of Virginia.  I have taught high school and middle school English in Montgomery County for 15 years and am now serving as one of the Gifted Resource teachers for Blacksburg Middle School.  I have two lovely daughters, Annah and Abi. Annah graduated from Virginia Tech and recently married Luke, a West Point graduate. They will be living in Newport News. My youngest daughter is a junior at James Madison University studying Biology and Dietetics.  I couldn’t mention my family without adding my two canine companions! Coco is a 15 year old Shih-tzu and Wilson is a 3 year old rescue mix. My family and I love traveling, hiking, and Hokie football. We spend as much time as possible finding new ways to have adventures!

I am passionate about guiding and encouraging my student’s personal academic growth as well as building their confidence to become active, aware citizens who will make positive impacts in our world.



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!



Tamra Oliver

I have taught students in grades K - 7th as well as worked as an assistant principal. My Bachelor and Master’s 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 perfect day.”



Cynthia Rumburg

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 18 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 and Auburn Middle.  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, exercise, 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 Price’s Fork Elementary School. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn something new every day!