Fairfax Team

Fairfax Campus Team

 Josh Metz, Head of School, Fairfax Campus

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Josh Metz, Head of School, Fairfax Campus

Prior to joining The Auburn School, Josh spent 10 years as a licensed clinical social worker and then as Program Director of Neurodevelopmental Center for Early Intervention at Family Compass in Reston VA, where he provided therapy and early intervention to young children with pervasive developmental and autism spectrum challenges and their families. Josh was also a part of the Family Compass Preschool Alliance, working directly with education professionals on teacher training as well as providing in depth teacher professional development and helping teachers with strategies for the classroom. Before his time at Family Compass he worked for AOL from 1996 to 2005, where he held leadership and administrative roles and was responsible for end-to-end support services. In 2012, he joined the faculty of the National Catholic School of Social Service as a Field Instructor for the Foundation Year Field Education & Integrative Seminar.
Josh holds a masters of social work from the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America, concentrating his studies on infant and early childhood development. Mr. Metz is also a 2008 graduate of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) Fellowship program located at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to earning his MSW degree, he obtained a B.A. from Bowdoin College in European History with a concentration in Asian Religions.

 Amy Pernick, Director of Admissions

Phone: (703) 793-9353

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Amy Pernick, Director of Admissions

Amy Pernick comes to Auburn with over 7 years of educational admissions experience, having worked in both private independent school and university settings. She is passionate about matching students and their families to their best-fit school, with the goal of enabling each student to reach his or her fullest potential. Amy earned her B.A. in English from Virginia Tech, and has completed master's coursework through the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. 

 Beth Kubovcik, Office Manager

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Beth Kubovcik, Office Manager

Beth came to Auburn with a background in Office Administration and Accounts Payable. She serves as the human resources coordinator for staff, handles the accounts, and coordinates the year book, among numerous other duties. Beth has been an Accounts Payable Specialist with The Peterson Company, a property management group, and she worked as a bank and legal office administrator for five years. Her passion is in photography, and she runs a family photography business.  

 Nancy Golsteyn, Curriculum & Instruction Specialist

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Nancy Golsteyn, Curriculum & Instruction Specialist

Nancy returns to Auburn's Fairfax team with a background as a trained educational therapist. Prior to her start at Auburn, she served as a private school administrator, as an educational counselor and project manager for the United States Army Special Operations Command, and as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher in North Carolina. Nancy holds a B.A. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Child Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and an M.A. in Education from American InterContinental University. 

 Amanda Vallellanes, Social Learning Specialist

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Amanda Vallellanes, Social Learning Specialist

Prior to joining The Auburn School, Amanda spent a year working as an art therapist in a Fairfax County Public School Comprehensive Emotional Disabilities program. She also spent a year providing art therapy to children and adolescents in a short term inpatient and outpatient psychiatric hospital. In addition to group therapy, she has provided individual counseling in both home and clinical settings to children with developmental disabilities as well as children recovering from trauma. Amanda received her B.A. in Psychology from Augusta State University, and holds an M.A. in Art Therapy and Counseling from The George Washington University. 

 Ashton Kohler BCBA, Behavior Support Specialist

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Ashton Kohler BCBA, Behavior Support Specialist

Ashton has worked in a variety of settings before coming to The Auburn School, both as a behavior therapist and behavior specialist. She has experience working with individuals with special needs in homes, public and private schools, clinical settings and consumer-driven organizations. She developed a strong interest in the science of behavior as an undergraduate, and received a B.A. in Psychology. She focused her passion by pursuing her dual M.A. in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis.

 Maysoon Abed, Teacher

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Maysoon Abed, Teacher

Maysoon came to Auburn with experience as a preschool teacher at both Head Start and The Goddard School, and as a homeroom kindergarten and 1st grade teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from George Mason University and an M.A. in Childhood Education, specializing in grades pre-k to 3rd. She uses Responsive Classroom methods in her classroom and is happy to teach children.  

 Laura Bland, English & Social Studies Teacher

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Laura Bland, English & Social Studies Teacher

Laura comes to The Auburn School after teaching in Jacksonville, Florida, where she taught a self-contained K-4 classroom in the Communication and Social Skills Department. Previously, she taught in an ABA program at The Ascent School for Individuals with Autism in Long Island, New York. Laura holds a dual B.A. in Child Study and Students with Disabilities, with a concentration in English, from St. Joseph’s College. She also holds an M.A. in Literacy from Long Island University.

 Julie Carper, Occupational Therapist

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Julie Carper, Occupational Therapist

Julie came to Auburn with over 18 years of practice in Occupational Therapy. She has worked in the Fairfax County Public School System and at a clinic-based private practice. Her experience in the public schools included working with children presenting with autism, learning disabilities, and moderate to severe physical disabilities.  In addition, Julie gained valuable experience working with children with autism spectrum and sensory integration disorders in a clinical setting. She has completed a wide variety of continuing education courses, relating to the  areas of autism, sensory modulation, learning disabilities, ADHD and vestibular processing deficits. She is also trained in the Handwriting Without Tears and First Strokes Handwriting Programs. Julie received her B.A. in Education from Virginia Tech and her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University. 

 Marianne Estornell, Arts Intergration Teacher and Camp Aristotle Fairfax Director

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Marianne Estornell, Arts Intergration Teacher and Camp Aristotle Fairfax Director

Marianne joined Auburn with over 15 years of experience in teaching art in public schools, private schools, art centers and museums. She has taught students in Maryland, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. Marianne has been trained in the EmPOWER Writing curriculum and Visual Thinking Skills. She also was trained as a special education parent educator and assisted parents of students with disabilities with 504 Plans and IEPs, in addition to training families how to read and understand educational test scores and evaluations. She holds a B.A. in Illustration from Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) and a M.A. in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University. 

 Brianna Fridy, Instructional Assistant

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Brianna Fridy, Instructional Assistant

Brianna joins the Auburn School- Fairfax Campus with experience in, and an appreciation for working with exceptional students in a variety of settings, including as a peer mentor for college students with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the Mason LIFE Program while pursuing her B.A. in Special Education at George Mason University, as well as an Instructional Assistant at Camp Aristotle during the 2018 summer.  Currently, Brianna is working towards her Master’s degree in Special Education at George Mason University.

 Jerry Golsteyn, Instructional Assistant

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Jerry Golsteyn, Instructional Assistant

Jerry’s diverse and storied career brings a wealth of experience and skill to the Auburn School, Fairfax Campus.  His resume includes professional sports (9 years in the NFL and USFL), banking and management, and education (teacher and athletic director at different private schools and academies).  Prior to joining the Auburn School faculty in early spring 2018, Jerry was an active volunteer on campus, particularly in PE classes.  Jerry has a passion for working with children of all ages, ranges and abilities, and we look forward to his bringing this passion to the classrooms and hallways of The Auburn School Fairfax.

 James Kurilla, Teacher

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James Kurilla, Teacher

James joined the Auburn community after teaching in a Florida public school for the 2015 school year. He earned his B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Bloomsburg University and plans to pursue his master's degree in Mid-Level Education. He hopes to then earn his doctorate and teach at the collegiate level. James enjoys playing sports and spending time with his fiancé and dog, Thorin.

 Laurenzee Landicho, Instructional Assistant

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Laurenzee Landicho, Instructional Assistant

Laurenzee “Mr. Z” first joined The Auburn School team in 2013 as the Extended Day teacher.  After a brief hiatus away from the school, he rejoined the Auburn faculty as an Instructional Assistant in 2017.  Laurenzee earned his B.A. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he took particular interest in coursework relating to child psychology.  In his free time, Laurenzee is a talented artist and video game aficionado. 

 Dan Miller, Adapted Physical Education Teacher

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Dan Miller, Adapted Physical Education Teacher

Dan came to Auburn after teaching at a K-8 private school. His work experience includes that of numerous companies that embrace the arts, education, self discovery and connecting with the world around us. Since receiving his BFA in Theater for Youth from Shenandoah University, Dan has brought to life his vision of using creativity and exploration in his teaching.

 Karen McGirk, Instructional Assistant

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Karen McGirk, Instructional Assistant

Prior to joining The Auburn School, Karen spent three years working as a Therapeutic Day Treatment Specialist within the Prince William County (Virginia) School System . She has also spent six years working with children in foster care. In addition, she has earned 24 credits towards her Masters in Social Work and has provided counseling services to families and children over the last sixteen years. Karen holds a B.A. in Sociology from Mary Baldwin College, and an M.A. in Human Services from Capella University.

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 Shana Ramirez, Teacher

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Shana Ramirez, Teacher

Shana is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Elementary Education from George Mason University.  She joins the Auburn School with a broad range of experience working with students across all ages, abilities and settings, including coaching youth sports, as an early childhood educator, and in structured school settings in China and Peru.  Shana holds a Bachelor's degree in Science, and loves to engage the student's natural curiosity into learning about the world around them. 

 Shannon Sanders, Science and Math Teacher

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Shannon Sanders, Science and Math Teacher

Shannon joined The Auburn School after graduating with an M.S. in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research examined how social stress affects behavioral changes and neuroplasticity. Shannon also received a B.S. in Neuroscience from Washington and Lee University, and is currently pursuing a second M.Ed in Secondary Education, Biology at George Mason University.

 Larissa Vlassich, Teacher

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Larissa Vlassich, Teacher

Larissa joined The Auburn School’s Fairfax Campus in the spring of 2018.  Following her receipt of a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Special Education from West Virginia University, Larissa taught at a small private school that served elementary school age children with behavior, social and emotional challenges.    

 Richi Yadav, Teacher

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Richi Yadav, Teacher

Dr. Richi Yadav received her B.Sc. in Botany from the University of Delhi, India, her M.Sc. in Environmental Management from the Forest Research Institute University, Dehradun, India, and a Ph.D. in Ecology & Environment from the Forest Research Institute University, Dehradun, India.   In 2016, she served the faculty of Rasmussen College-Bloomington Campus as an adjunct professor and currently is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at Northern Virginia Community College. Dr. Yadav has published two books on environmental science and comes to us with 5 years of teaching and more than 7 years in the field of science and research.  She joined The Auburn School, Fairfax Campus in the spring of 2018 and now teaches math classes for grades 7-9.

Advisory Board

  • Bill Brownley, Brownley Law Group, is a successful attorney with extensive experience in all forms of negotiation and trial work. He has served as general counsel to a number of public and private corporations, including Telos, The Financial News Network (now CNBC), United Press International, and The Learning Channel. Mr. Brownley has been working in Special Education law for over 10 years. Over those years he has successfully handled numerous special education matters, from eligibility issues to due process cases and discipline matters. He has lectured and written extensively on Special Education law and advocacy. Mr. Brownley believes in a cooperative and results oriented relationship with school districts and encourages school districts to work with the child's needs as the primary focus; this approach has served to bring many matters to successful and economic conclusions for children and parents with special needs. 

    Cathi Cohen, IN Step Director, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Group Psychotherapist, has worked with children, adolescents, and adults in a clinical setting since 1984. Early in her career as a social worker, Ms. Cohen recognized the power of treating relationship problems through group therapy. It was this interest and expertise that led her to create the Stepping Stones Social Skills Group Therapy Program in 1990. The success of this program led to the formation in 1995 of In Step, a comprehensive mental health practice. Ms. Cohen is the author of three books, including Raise Your Child's Social IQ: Stepping Stones to People Skills for Kids, and has become a leading expert in the field of social skills training with children. In addition to her books, articles and egular workshops for parents, educators, and mental health professionals, Ms. Cohen has appeared on radio and television programs about the mental health needs of children and their families. Ms. Cohen graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University before receiving her M.S. degree from Columbia University School of Social Work.

    Kristi Guadagnoli, MindWell, co-founded MindWell in 2004 and serves as the Director of Therapy Services. It was her professional goal to develop a clinic where diagnostics and therapy services were delivered in a warm and family friendly environment. Dr. Guadagnoli received her doctoral degree from Antioch New England Graduate School where she trained at Antioch’s health center. Her training has been varied and includes developmental and child psychology as well as family therapy. Her primary training and interest has been with adolescent and adult women, her dissertation was in the area of the impact of home and community violence on females. Currently, her clinical interests include developmental issues in women throughout the lifespan. She is also interested in the impact of depressive disorders in women and the impact of depression on marriage, parenting and the family system. Her work has been greatly influenced by the DBT model and the mind-body connection. She uses Mindfulness Training and believes that Yoga and Exercise have a great influence on an individual sense of well being, self-esteem and body confidence.

    Polly Panitz, FAACP, Capital Area Pediatrics, is a board certified, fellowship-trained Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician who has practiced at the Herndon office of Capital Area Pediatrics since 2008. Her training consists of two fellowships, one with the National Committee on Clinical Infancy Programs and another from Childrens Memorial Hospital of the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, a pediatric residency (also at Childrens Memorial Hospital), and medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. Her background includes ten years of general pediatric practice with special interests in the behavioral challenges of young children. Her work focuses on supporting families and promoting healthy parenting styles that allow for optimal outcomes for children both at risk and typically developing. She has specialized in feeding problems and the management of Autistic Spectrum Disorders in young children. Dr. Panitz works to create a new model of pediatric practice within Capital Area Pediatrics, working alongside the general pediatricians to promote the early identification and management of developmental and behavioral issues. Furthermore, she provides support to families as they navigate the challenges and treatment paths appropriate for their children. 

    Cari Syron, Skill Builders LLC, has extensive experience working with children on the autism spectrum as well as children with apraxia, down syndrome, oral motor dysfunction, auditory processing disorders, and general language and speech delay. Her experience working in the public schools as well as a private school for children with learning disabilities and emotional disturbance, has proved invaluable in helping the parents of her patients navigate the special education maze and obtain the most appropriate services available for their child. Mrs. Syron has participated in many specific training programs including PROMPT, Beckman Oral Motor, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson’s oral motor system, Social Thinking, Verbal Behavior, Wilson Reading Program, Hanen, and Lindamood Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing program. As a graduate student in speech pathology, she also acted as an ABA therapist for a 3-year-old boy with severe autism. In addition to providing the above therapy types, Mrs. Syron is also a Fast Forward provider, a member of the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSPA) and the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), and is licensed to practice speech therapy in the state of Virginia.Mrs. Syron received her Bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from State University of New York at Geneseo, and received her Master’s degree at George Washington University.

    John Thomas, Flint Hill School, has been Headmaster of Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA since 2005. Flint Hill, founded in 1956, is a co-ed college preparatory school of 1,100 students on two campuses and is focused on providing excellence in four key areas: Academics, Arts, Athletics and Character/Leadership. Mr. Thomas is a graduate of the McDonogh School in Baltimore, Maryland, and received his undergraduate degree from Randolph Macon College, his graduate degree from Towson University and certification in School Psychology from the State of Maryland. He returned to his prep school and served as a teacher, coach, counselor, and houseparent for 16 years at McDonogh School and was eventually appointed the Dean of Students for the entire school. Mr. Thomas has worked as Middle School Principal at the Kincaid School in Houston, TX, Headmaster of Graland Country Day School in Denver, CO and Headmaster of Saint Mary’s Hall, a co-ed boarding and day school in San Antonio, TX. He has initiated a number of programs, taught at three colleges, and has served on numerous Boards throughout his career in education. He is Co-Author of the book Psychodiagnostic Evaluation of Children: A Casebook Approach and has had two articles published in the book Parenting Teens: Collected Essays by Independent School Educators published by the Secondary School Admission Test Board. 

    Rachna Varia, Mindwell, co-founded MindWell in 2004 and serves as the Director of Testing and Diagnostics.  After becoming a mother, Dr. Varia saw a need to create a professional clinic in a warm, family friendly setting that understood the needs of parents and children.  Dr. Varia graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors and distinction with a B.A. in psychology; she also holds a M.Ed. in Education and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia.  Dr. Varia’s expertise lies with comprehensive assessment that teases out subtle and complex diagnostic questions. She works hard at understanding and explaining in plain language the interaction between behavioral, educational, and emotional findings to best inform both home and school recommendations. Dr. Varia enjoys conducting learning disability (psychoeducational) testing and has a special interest in early detection of reading disorders, particularly the different subtypes of dyslexia. Dr. Varia also enjoys testing for and explaining Asperger’s Syndrome to families, so that they understand that there are many different ways this disorder can affect an individual and family emotionally, cognitively, and socially.