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General Information
First Grade Teachers
Rachel Friedenberg, Jessica Parnell, Gwenn Valentine, Kathleen Lockett, Kristina Apwisch, Kerri Cahill
Rachel Friedenberg

I am thrilled to be your first grade teacher and welcome you to our classroom community, The Forest!  This will be my fourth year as a first grade teacher here at Steuart Weller.  Previously, I worked at Steuart Weller as a resource teacher for two years before moving to Damascus, Syria where I taught Kindergarten at the Damascus Community School.  Upon my return stateside, I was ecstatic to find another opportunity to teach here at Steuart Weller.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in early childhood from Austin Peay State University and a master’s degree in Education from Saint Mary University.  I have previously taught first and fourth grade in Kentucky.

I am married to a member of the military and have been fortunate to be able to travel and live in many different places stateside as well as overseas.  We have four children, one that has graduated from a Loudoun County Public School and three that currently attend Loudoun County Public Schools.  My family enjoys “Friday night movie night”, roasting marshmallows, playing games and participating in outdoor activities (sports, exercise).  I have a passion for learning new things and I am delighted to have the opportunity to inspire that same passion in my students.  I think it is important to meet students where they are and provide opportunities that challenge them to be the best they can be academically as well as personally. After all, they are the future!  Together we can accomplish great things!
Jackie Gutierrez
I feel truly blessed to be teaching the children of Steuart W. Weller Elementary.  It is my honor to empower students to reach and exceed their academic goals while also showing students their importance in our class community, the Garden.   I have recently moved to Virginia with my family, which includes my husband, my three children Shelby 20, Sophia 15, and Jack 12.   My family along with my two dogs are the cornerstone of my life.  We have many journeys and stories to share.  
 In Texas I earned my degree in Education with a specialization in Biology from the University of North Texas.  I  received my certification in both Virginia and Texas in Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language.    I am beginning my 16 year teaching with 13 years in first grade and 2 years teaching preschool aged students at a Reggio preschool.  My greatest accomplishments as a teacher are my students.  I recognize my students for who they are and who they can be.   I convince them with a soft voice and a lot of joy that they can achieve their dreams.  My students have so much to offer the world and l show them the world is waiting for them.  I am so excited to welcome in the newest children to the Garden.
Jessica Parnell
Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year and your child's first grade year!! I am so excited to spend my third year as a Weller wildcat with each one of your children. As the youngest of four children, I have lived and studied in three different countries throughout my childhood and college career. This school year I am ready to take on a group of diverse learners by treating each student as an individual, yet all part of our classroom family. In my free time I love to read, spend time with my family and friends, listen to music, and dance. 

I graduated from the elementary and special education program at the University of Delaware with a minor in disability studies and a certificate in the Spanish language. Right after graduation, I was fortunate enough to immediately begin my teaching career and have never looked back. As a graduate of Broad Run High School, I am looking forward to impacting the new generation of Loudoun learners to achieve their dreams!
Gwenn Valentine
Mrs. Gwenn Valentine is honored to be a member of the charter staff of Steuart Weller Elementary. She brings with her to the first grade experience an enthusiasm for early learning and a love for the developing minds of little children! She feels that it is a great privilege to play a key role in the lives of her students in these first critical years of their educational journey.

Mrs. Valentine holds a BS degree in Business Administration from Fairmont State University and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from George Mason University. Previously, she taught kindergarten at Cool Spring Elementary in Leesburg and Potomack Elementary in Sterling.

Mrs. Valentine prides herself in being a career changer from the fast-paced corporate world of telecommunications where she worked as a quality assurance specialist, receivables management trainer, and later, as a customer service supervisor.

Kristina Apwisch 

Miss Apwisch is so excited to be a part of the first grade team and a member of the Weller Wild Cat family! Teaching is her passion and it is her dream come true to be an educator. She looks forward to creating a positive classroom environment for learning and growth. She grew up here in Loudoun County and graduated from Potomac Falls High School. She attended James Madison University (Go Dukes!) and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education. She is proud to be a Double Duke!  In her free time, she loves to bake (especially cupcakes), read, spend time with friends and family, and travel around the world (she has dual citizenship with Denmark). She is thrilled to begin what is sure to be a wonderful year in first grade! 




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