Donate Now
Calendar
Find us on Facebook
Our School
Faculty & Staff

Michael Maruca, Head of School

MarucaM@ajces.org

Mike graduated from Bates College in 1980 with a degree in Comparative Religions. He was a member of the Society of Jesus from 1980-1996, and earned a Master’s in Philosophy from St. Louis University and a Master’s of Divinity from Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, MA.   He was the founding director of Sacred Heart Center in Richmond and, for ten years, the Middle School Head of The Steward School, also in Richmond.

Yolanda Gilliam, Principal

GilliamY@ajces.org

Yolanda was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She graduated from Virginia State University in 2004 with a degree in Physical Education (K-12). For five years she taught math and PE to 6th through 9th graders with the Petersburg Public School System. She has been helping AJC students stay on track to succeed since 2010.

Katye Snipes, School Administrator

SnipesK@ajces.org

Katye graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002 with a degree in Spanish and Religious Studies.  She worked with children at Pine Street Baptist and SynerGeo for a few years, then went on to graduate school at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, GA.  She earned her M.Div. with a concentration in Urban Ministry in 2007.  She moved back to Richmond with her husband in 2008 and worked at another local non-profit before joining us at AJCES in December 2009. At home, she enjoys spending time with her two boys.

Qasarah Spencer, Lower School Administrator

SpencerQ@ajces.org

A native Richmonder, Qasarah worked in accounting and marketing prior to pursuing a career that combines social work and ministry. She has served in organizations focused on asset-based community development, faith formation, and social justice education. She holds an MDiv from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University and an MSW and EdD in Educational Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. Qasarah has served and taught in PK-12 and higher education environments. She is the proud mother of 3 children, a four-legged fur baby and YaYa to 2 grandchildren.

Linton “Coach” Wade, Athletics Director & Dean of Students

WadeL@ajces.org

Linton was born in Kinston, NC. He was an army medic for five years, serving in Baumholder, Germany.  He went to Cameron University in Lawton, OK then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University.  Here in Richmond, he has worked with Peter Paul Development Center and has substitute taught and tutored around the city.  He joined us at AJCES in the summer of 2011.

Ingrid Addison, Director of Admissions

AddisonI@ajces.org

Ingrid has called Richmond home for the last 16 years. Originally from Holland, Michigan, she landed in RVA to teach for Richmond Public Schools after graduating from Gordon College with a degree in Communication Arts in 2003. Having taught for three years at Oak Grove Elementary, Ingrid transitioned to the Peter Paul Development Center where she taught and served as an education director for five years. In 2014, she went on to become Site Coordinator with Communities In Schools at George Mason Elementary. Ingrid is grateful to have been a part of the work of AJC from its inception. Many of her former students are graduates of the school. She is now excited to serve in the role of Director of Admissions. Ingrid lives in Richmond with her family and enjoys cooking, antiquing and experiencing our beautiful world.

Jayme Alexander, Title I Reading Teacher

Jayme.Leonard@catapultlearning.com

Title I is a federal program that provides additional reading and math instruction to our students.  Student progress and achievement are measured throughout the year. Efforts are directed at coordinating what is taught in the student’s regular classroom with the learning occurring in the Title I classroom but in even smaller groups and with direct one on one instruction. By fostering the partnerships between home, school, and the classrooms, Ms. Alexander helps students reach their academic goals.

Carol Allen, Librarian

AllenC@ajces.org

Carol is passionate about reading and is convinced that if she caters her approach to each student, the student will love reading. After graduating from college with a degree in History, she earned her Masters in Library Science at Columbia University. Because of her professional experience and interest in law libraries she completed law school at the University of Virginia. After graduation she moved with her husband to Richmond where she opened a public library at the Richmond Circuit Court. Carol enjoys working with children and teachers and is grateful for the amazing group of students and colleagues at AJC.

Susan Barstow, Director of Curriculum & Instruction

BarstowS@ajces.org

Susan has a B.A. from Amherst College and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia. She has worked at several schools in the Richmond area, most recently as Head of the Lower School at Sabot at Stony Point.  She especially enjoys supporting teachers so that they can do their best work with students. Susan has three boys, a husband who teaches at VCU, and a boisterous dog who adores children. She is grateful to have been welcomed into the AJC family.

Kelvin Belton, Head of Maintenance

BeltonK@ajces.org

Kelvin began volunteering at AJC in 2019 by providing writing workshops for the 8th grade class that year. He later became a full-time staff member in the summer of 2021. Kelvin coordinates all maintenance and custodial efforts around the AJC campus.

Christa Benton, Director of Counseling & Student Life

BentonC@ajces.org

Christa, “Dr. C,”  is passionate about advocating and supporting youth and their families to transform their unique challenges into successful outcomes. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia.  She graduated from Clemson University in 2004 with a Dual BA in Architecture and Philosophy, South University in 2012 with a MA in Clinical Mental Health Professional Counseling, and Capella University with a PhD in General Psychology in 2019. She has an extensive resume in the mental health profession and presently expanding her expertise in holistic wellness practices.  She has recently become certified to teach hatha yoga. When she is off duty from being the “shock absorber” and keeping all calm inside AJC, she enjoys coaching, mentoring, enjoying nature and anything that challenges her creatively and artistically.

Micheal Crane, Science Teacher

CraneM@ajces.org

Micheal is known by kids in the East End as “Mr. Mike.”  Over the past four years, he has worked tirelessly to provide for his students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Armstrong High School, and multiple locations of the Boys and Girls Club.  Micheal serves out of the classroom as a mentor for East End children throughout the year. He is a native of Atlanta, GA, but happy to call Richmond home. He is a graduate of Bethune Cookman University (BS in Educational Studies) and the University of Richmond (Masters of Education). He also is a very proud member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Mary Desch, Director of Graduate Support

DeschM@ajces.org

Mary graduated from Longwood University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work. She joined the AJCES family her senior year of college as an intern, and after a few years of soul-searching, she returned back home to N. 29th Street to work with AJC graduates in February of 2015. Mary is humbled to be surrounded by her family every day at work (seriously- she and her husband, Toby, share an office) and is a proud mother to a bubbling baby boy.

Jenesse Evertson, 2nd Grade Teacher

EvertsonJ@ajces.org

Jenesse graduated with a BA in Elementary Education and an MA in Children’s Literature from The Ohio State University and then spent several years teaching in K-2 classrooms in Columbus, OH, Richmond and Chapel Hill, NC. After going back to earn her PhD in Literacy Instruction from the University of Virginia, she taught Writing at UVA, JMU and VCU, plunking herself back down in the Fan for a bit. She then ended up moving with her very young family to the Netherlands and then to London, UK. She returned to Richmond six years later to co-found bbgb tales for kids, for which she served as buyer for seven years. She then survived three (brutal) Montreal winters before moving back to Richmond and becoming a part of AJC’s inaugural second grade. She is thrilled to be with these students and this staff (and also to stay put.)

Noel Fauntleroy, Food Services Staff

FauntleroyN@ajces.org

Bio coming soon!

Christy Gore, 4th Grade Teacher

GoreC@ajces.org

Christy is returning to AJC after a brief break. She graduated from East Carolina University in 1989 with a B.S. in Elementary Education K-8 and a Reading Certification in K-12. She has 17 years of experience in the classroom teaching in North Carolina and in Virginia, with four of those spent at Anna Julia Cooper as our Reading Specialist.  When she is not in the classroom, Christy enjoys reading, volunteering in the community, eating pasta, and most importantly spending time with her five children and husband.

Abby Harsh, Math Teacher

HarshA@ajces.org

Abby graduated from Gordon College in 2015 with a degree in Mathematics and Middle School Education. She left the cold state of Massachusetts to teach middle school math for three years in Richmond Public Schools before joining the AJC family. Abby enjoys playing lacrosse, baking yummy treats, and spending time with her family in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Richmond.

Mereal Hughes

HughesM@ajces.org

Mereal graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 with a degree in Health and Physical Education (K-12). She taught middle school for 11 years in Henrico County. Prior to joining the team at Anna Julia Cooper in 2013, Mereal taught science, health and physical education for three years at All Saints Catholic School in Richmond.

Lorin Johnson, Graduate Support Coordinator

JohnsonL@ajces.org

Lorin Johnson may look familiar to some of you. She was a member of the first class to graduate from AJC back in 2012. She then went on to complete her high school years at Trinity Episcopal School. Lorin graduated from Randolph-Macon College this past May. Her impressive list of study areas consisted of Sociology, Communications Studies, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, and Classics. Through her role here, Lorin works alongside Mary Desch and supports AJC graduates who are now in high school. Rumor has it that one of Lorin’s favorite pastimes is annoying Toby Desch, Executive Director of UpRVA. Lucky for her, they share office space in our building. We are excited to have our first AJC graduate as a full-time staff member!

Brian Keiper

KeiperB@ajces.org

Brian graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2001 with a B.S. in Marketing and completed his M.ED with honors from the University of Richmond in 2010.  He spent seven years teaching Social Studies and History in Henrico County, concentrating mostly in Civics at Quioccasin Middle School. When he is not in the classroom, Brian enjoys coaching the AJCES soccer team, training for triathlons, hanging out with his rockstar daughters and wife, cheering on his beloved (2018 Super Bowl Champions) Philadelphia Eagles, and spoiling his two dogs. He joined the AJC team in 2013.

DeAndre Louis-Jean, Food Services Staff

Louis-jeanD@ajces.org

Bio coming soon!

Laura McGowan, Director of Development & Communications

McGowanL@ajces.org

Laura relocated to Richmond in 2011 from Cleveland, Ohio where she was working at St. Ignatius High School as director of a community outreach and service-based learning program. Prior to that she worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in Corporate Communications and Community Affairs.  She did her undergraduate work at Miami University and the London School of Economics and has an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. She joined the AJCES team in 2012.

Steve McNamee, 5th Grade Teacher

McNameeS@ajces.org

Steve is a graduate of The College of William and Mary with a degree in Business Administration. After working several years in the private sector, he went back to school at Mary Baldwin College and earned his Masters of Art in Teaching degree. Prior joining AJC in 2014 to teach the newly added 5th grade class, Steve taught for 15 years in Richmond Public Schools. He loves sports, especially baseball, football and golf.

Krissi Morley, Development & Communications Assistant

MorleyK@ajces.org

Krissi graduated from The University of Dayton in 2000 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She worked in medical device development for 14 years before discovering her passion while volunteering with AJC students through her church.  In 2020, she joined the AJC Development Team, part-time, as a grant writer.  She is a Richmond CASA and loves spending time with her husband, kids, and two goofy goldendoodles.

Jonathan Scott, Food Services Staff

ScottJ@ajces.org

Bio coming soon!

Laurie Shadowen, Math Teacher

ShadowenL@ajces.org

Laurie, one of ten children, was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, but grew up in Mississippi, Iowa and Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Louisville with a BA in Psychology and later earned a law degree and teaching certification from the University of Richmond. She and her husband, Leon, have 3 wonderful daughters. Laurie has been a middle school teacher for 16 years and feels blessed to be part of the AJC family.

Victoria Sutton, 3rd Grade Teacher

SuttonV@ajces.org

Victoria graduated from James Madison University with her B.S. and M.A.T. in Elementary Education, and then she spent 6 years teaching 4th grade in Rockingham County. Victoria has also worked at Camp Alkulana for the past ten summers, and that is where she was first introduced to the students and mission of AJC. She relocated to Richmond when the opportunity to teach at AJC came up, and she couldn’t be any more excited! In her free time Victoria likes reading, camping, travelling, and learning about different cultures. She is one of 8 children, and loves spending time with her 16 nieces and nephews when she gets the chance.

Paige Trivett, Development & Communications Assistant

TrivettP@ajces.org

Paige was born in Colonial Beach, VA, but has called Richmond her home since 2015. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Marine Biology. She was introduced to the East End community through her former employment at Blue Sky Fund. She taught 5th grade in St. Andrew’s School’s Extended Day program before joining the AJC team. She very much enjoys serving as the school’s go-to photographer, even though the middle schoolers scowl every time she pulls out the camera. When she is not at school, you can find her hiking and exploring down by the James River.

James Wake, Custodial Staff

Long-time Church Hill resident and neighbor to the School, “Brother” James helps with the maintenance and daily up-keep of our campus.

Shola Walker, Coordinator of Food Services

WalkerS@ajces.org

Shola Walker, a native of Richmond, started her college education at the University of Hartford as a music theatre student but later transferred to VCU to pursue an English degree. Performing arts was her first career but her heart was always in the kitchen. Having been born into a large family and cooking for cast mates during her professional career, Shola decided to try her hand at cooking professionally in 2010. She worked in bakeries and restaurants around Richmond (WPA Bakery, Julep’s New Southern Cuisine, and Nota Bene) and even her own bakery Mahogany Sweets before settling in with AJC in the spring of 2020. Shola is also an adjunct staff member of Shalom Farms where she teaches cooking classes. Her work in food is primarily focused on bringing culturally relevant dishes and health together.

Ian Weber, Administrative Coordinator

WeberI@ajces.org

Ian grew up among the farms of Northwest Ohio. He graduated in 2012 from Montana State University with a degree in Film & Theater. He moved to Richmond in 2018 where upon arriving he started a weekly Board Game Club and Chess team at AJCES. In 2019 he joined the AJCES family full time. 

Kelly Weber, English Teacher

WeberK@ajces.org

Kelly is a Buckeye from the state of Ohio. She graduated from Miami University in 2006 with a degree in Adolescent Young Adult English Education. Before moving south to Richmond, she taught 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students in Science, Reading, and Math in Brooklyn. Kelly’s experience working for the New York Nativity Schools and the Uncommon Schools led her to seek a similar school when she moved to Richmond in July of 2014. She is humbled and grateful to work and grow with the outstanding staff, students, and families at AJCES.

 
Anna Julia Cooper School
2124 North 29th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23223
(804) 822-6610
(804) 447-5784 (fax)
Facebook icon YouTube icon Instagram icon
Virginia Association of Independent Schools icon