Teachers’ Biographies

English Instructors

Ms. Murphy

SAT/PSAT/English, link to Congratulations”

Ms. Murphy has over 35 years of experience as an AP English teacher in both public and private schools. She was honored to be on the NEW SAT revision committee (model curriculum design team), where she reviewed and participated in the redesign of the new SAT format and contents.

Ms. Murphy served as Department Chairperson of English in High Schools.  Most recently, she was the Instructional Leadership Specialist in English and content literacy. She was appointed to represent school district on the Model Curriculum Writing Project and was recognized as a top author of standards-based English curriculum, winning note from achieve.org, a nationally well-known Education Think Tank.

Ms. Murphy has used the newest version of Barron’s New SAT, Princeton Review for New SAT, and College Board New SAT in her lecturing and teaching.  For details, please click link: SAT Prep.

With her 35 years’ AP English teaching, and her in-depth New PSAT and New SAT knowledge in format, contents, and requirements, Ms. Murphy is highly respected and recognized by local parents and students. Her students gained solid knowledge on grammar, reading comprehension, and essay writing from her teaching and lecturing. Students come from local high schools: TJ, Oakton, Madison, McLean, Langley, Chantilly, as well as students from further areas of Fredericksburg, Leesburg, Loudoun county, and Maryland counties. For students’ testimonies, please review the links: “New SAT”; “Congratulations”. 

Ms. Ivy

Advanced Reading, Creative Writing, Essay Writing Instructor

Ms. Ivy graduated with greatest honor of summa cum laude from the English and Political Science Department. Ms. Ivy has a JD Degree, as well as a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing. In addition to her J.D. from the University of Alabama, she was also an Associate Editor of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review, as well as a “Truman Capote Fellowship” recipient.  Back in high school, Ivy was the recipient of an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, as well as a National Merit Semifinalist Award.

Ms. Ivy taught  “Creative Writing” and “English Composition and other college level courses at English Department, George Mason University. She also taught at Washington DC, a local private school English and Writing.  Her experience teaching college and high school writing has helped many students with college applications and essays. She reviewed students’ essays, and most recently advised a student who was accepted in transferring from George Mason to Purdue University.  Ms. Ivy brings her impressive writing talents and publication accomplishments to Oakton Academy. She has also published many poems and essays, and in 2008, Ms. Ivy won Academy of American University & College Poetry Prize, awarded and judged by the poet Scrikanth Reedy, who is a graduate from Harvard English Literature department.

Ms. Holly 

TJ, AOS Test Prep, 5-8th Grade Classic and Advanced Reading and Writing, Writing Competitions. 

Ms. Holly brings over 10 years of teaching experience to Oakton Academy. She currently teaches “English Composition”, “Introduction to Literature”, and “Introduction to Creative Writing” at George Mason University. She has also taught at the GMU Writing Center and coached college students and graduates through their applications. In addition Ms. Holly has taught at FCPS Robinson High School, Randolph-Macon Academy, and Nysmith private school. She has served as Director of the Literary Magazine and the Creative Writing Club at Nysmith.  

Currently, she is working with students to prepare for the TJ, AOS, private high school admission essays. Many of her students have been admitted to top high schools, including TJ, AOS, Potomac, Flint Hill, etc. 

Ms. Holly has also been working with students in their submitting writings for contests, publications, and for the Scholastic Writing competition. Ms. Holly’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in various literary journals, such as The Northern Virginia Review, Foothill Poetry Journal, Outlook Springs, Bourgeon, and had a poem selected as a winner of the Bethesda Urban Partnership Prize.

Her teaching experience in both grade school and college puts her in a unique and favorable position to equip her students with the tools they need to succeed. She brings a creative, dynamic, and student-centered teaching approach to the classroom. Many students have commented that Ms. Holly has the perfect combination of English talent, effective teaching, communication, and a powerful delivery. We are so proud of Ms. Holly’s achievements for teaching 5-8th graders.

Ms. Courtney

English Language: Classic Reading, Creative Writing, Debate

Ms. Courtney brings her excellent English language and literature background, and her years of experience in working with children to Oakton Academy. She loves Shakespeare’s work, and directs plays for the children as they learn Shakespeare’s work. She majored in English Creative Writing, and has had extensive experience working with advanced and gifted middle and high school students in George Mason University’s Early Identification program (EIP), a program designed to promote promising college-bound students. She also has years of experience working with the Girl Scouts of America, helping prepare young students for a successful future academically and professionally. She won the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She has also won a variety of academic awards, including the AP Scholar Award presented by the College Board. Ms. C. brings her talent and passion for Literature, Language, and Education to the students at Oakton Academy.

Ms. Courtney has been mentoring, tutoring and teaching to students from K – 12. Her master’s major is on Curriculum and Instruction. She is bringing her creative and unique teaching style to our classic reading and writing program.

Ms. Sanda

Classic Reading/Writing/History 

Ms. Sanda received Master degree of “Educational Instruction and Curriculum”. Her focus is on curriculum design, writing and teaching for K – 8 th graders. Ms. Sanda has taught in Arlington and Fairfax counties, and she is currently teaching AAP at FCPS.  Ms. Sanda has successfully taught 4th – 8 th Graders “Advanced Reading & Writing, ” “Science and Writing.” Ms. Sanda’s creative, and effective teaching style has received overwhelming praise from parents and students. One parent commented: “It was the best camp the kids ever had.” Ms. Sanda provided the most unique and creative way to teach students reading, writing and science.

Ms. Sanda graduated from UVA with honors. Her strength and skills of of WRITING, SCIENCE, and EDUCATION add to this vibrant and creative learning environment. Students love her “bingo and jeopardy games”, which are used to test students’ knowledge on vocabulary, contents of reading materials, characters from the books, and authors’ figurative language. It is amazing to see how each student enjoys her efficient and enriched, and fun teaching style.

Ms. Fair

Pre-Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra 2, Calculus

Ms. Fair has been teaching Mathematics to students in Northern Virginia since 1992. Her teaching experience ranges between all subject areas in mathematics from Pre-algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra 2, and Calculus; through undergraduate college Mathematics (Multi-variable Calculus; Linear Algebra, etc). In addition to these subject areas, she has developed differentiated instruction for standardized tests including AP Calculus, AP Statistics, SAT Math Reasoning, SAT Math Subject Tests, and GRE Mathematics section.

In addition to teaching, she is also involved in research on the professional development of mathematics teachers funded by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). She is very well recognized and respected by local students and parents.

Professor Nefissi

SAT,PSAT,AP Calculus AB/BC, PreCalculus

Professor Nefissi has taught Math for over 20 years at all levels, from middle and high school through advanced college level. He helped establish the advanced mathematics program at the new Governor’s School at Innovation Park, serving as the Mathematics Chairperson and liaison between the School, and the George Mason University Math Department. He taught AP Calculus AB/BC, Multivariable Calculus, SAT Math, as well as supervised student STEM projects and served as student adviser.

Professor Nefissi is a dedicated Math teacher and delivers his Math teaching with enthusiasm: engaging students, sparking curiosity, and jump-starting motivation. He taught SAT Math at our summer camp, and received overwhelming praise from the students and parents. He is also teaching AP Calculus, PreCalculus, Algebra 2, Geometry at our center. We are very proud of having him bring his 22 years’ Mathematics teaching experience to Oakton Academy.

Ms. Jenny

SAT, PSAT, AP Calculus, Statistics

Ms. Jenny graduated from Georgetown University with Magna CumLaude. She successfully majored in three key areas: Mathematics, Accounting, and Finance. She worked as senior adviser for Georgetown’s Business Strategy Challenge Case Competition. At Georgetown University, she has been teaching and tutoring SAT, PSAT, AP Calculus, Statistics, Finance and Accounting courses. Ms. Jenny has also been reviewing college essays for high school students. She coaches, advises students in college admission and application.

Ms. Jenny worked for Wall Street J.P. Morgan in New York at the risk management department. She also worked at DC law firms and PCAOB accounting firm. Ms. J. serves as the Associate at PwC Financial Service Assurance, and she plans to pursue Ph.D in Mathematics. 

Science Instructors

Dr. Frank Lu

AP Physics, SAT Physics, Physics Fundamental

Dr. Frank Lu is an experienced teacher with PhD in Physics & Artificial Intelligence (AI) . He received degrees from Fudan University, University of Maryland, and Duke University. Dr. Lu taught college students at UMBC (MD), and American University (DC). He has also tutored and taught students from TJ, Oakton, McLean, Langley, Madison, Centreville, Westfield,  as well as other private schools.

Dr. Lu’s unique instructional method and interactive teaching style includes problem solving sessions, individualized teaching of key concepts in the small group setting, enabling students to apply Physics concepts to solve problems in real life, and building a solid foundation for the rigorous AP Physics exam required by College Board.

Many students received excellent scores in SAT Physics (700 – 800) and AP Physics (5). Most recently, a student reported to us that he received 770 for SAT Physics after taking Dr. Lu’s Physics class, and another student received 800 for SAT Physics (May 2017). Many students received solid A’s in their base schools for the AP Physics course. In June 2018, his AP Physics students reported 100% achievement of A’s in their base school AP Physics class.  And since 2014, Dr. Lu’s AP and SAT Physics students got admitted to the following top schools, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Duke, NYU, UC Berkeley, Georgetown,  Upenn Wharton, Columbia University,  etc. 

Ms. Lindsay

Chemistry, Biology, Science Olympiad Competition

Ms. Lindsay currently teaches Biology and Chemistry at FCPS.  She is certified in Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics.  Ms. Lindsay has taught Biology, Genetics, and Microbiology to college students at Illinois Wesleyan University, where she graduated cum laude.  She also holds a Master of Science degree from College of Agricultural and Life Science, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her thesis was on “Aminoglycoside Antibiotics Resistance in Wisconsin Apple Orchard Soil.” (2009)

Ms. Lindsay’s teaching philosophy and goals are to provide a positive and safe learning environment for all enrolled in the class; to utilize her broad biology training in the natural science teaching; to expose modern techniques of science to increase students’ academic achievement. Her teaching includes many different experimental labs such as a bubble lab (looking at properties of a membrane), and an enzyme lab (using yeast and hydrogen peroxide). She adds a focus on graphing a data interpretation to strengthen many students’ science skills and to perform well in the science test. Furthermore, she has also worked with students on the genetics unit, including classical and Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, protein synthesis, and an introduction to molecular research techniques, including DNA sequencing, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and cloning.

We are very excited to have Ms. Lindsay lead the summer science, reading, writing, and debate program for 5/6/7th graders.  

Public Speaking 

Coach Edmond mentors, coaches, and teaches Public Speaking skills to a wide range of students, from elementary aged to adults. His teaching style enables all students to overcome stage fright, refine their speech message, allow the inner voice to be heard. The coach is currently teaching at local Hope Chinese School, Chantilly Campus.

Coach Edmond is the 2009 District 27 Toastmasters Humorous Speech Champion which included over 4,500 Toastmasters in the Northern Virginia, Southern Washington DC and Southern Maryland. He earned the Toastmaster International Highest Honor, the Distinguished Toastmaster Award in 2012.  He holds a Master’s degree and PMP certificate. He has been a Program and Project Manager for major companies, including AT&T and the Patent Office.

Coach Alice graduated from Georgetown University with Magna Cum Laude, and majored in International Finance & Business. She was the Director of Business Strategy Case Competition, and Partner of Innovo Solutions. Alice worked at Georgetown Career Center, coached students for college admissions,  mock interviews and job applications. As a local TJ graduate student, Alice received a leadership award from TJ. She organized Children’s Reading Clubs, and taught Public Speaking to high school students at Oakton Academy. Alice has also delivered more than 10 seminars and speeches to the local community on College Application, Admission and Interviewing. She has helped recruit college students to the well-known management consulting firm Price Waterhouse. We are excited to have Alice bring her public speaking talent and college admission knowledge to Oakton Academy.