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Meet the Teachers

Annandale, VA campus

"Ms. Steele's activities were creative and engaging. Your first school experience is either good or bad, Ms. Steele was a HUGE part of making ours great!"

–Eamily Basham, parent



Emily Atkinson

For the past 12 years, Emily has taught in several unique educational settings. She has most recently served as a Learning Specialist in a middle school in Dallas. Prior to that, she worked as a special educator in a private school in DC for students with learning differences for over 10 years. Out of God's amazing provision, she also had a lovely and deeply meaningful stint with Amy Imbody as a redemptive educator in Vienna, VA for two years/ Emily serves in two exciting roles (Scent of Water educator/reading specialist and Boots and Roots helper) this upcoming fall. You can find Emily scouring farmers' markets, strolling through vintage/junk/consignment shops, and joyfully and creatively cooking something gourmet-ish with her husband in South Arlington.

Carolyn Balch

Carolyn Balch started her career as a high school physics teacher and taught in NJ and Kenya before entering the field of museum education. She spent ten years at the Smithsonian Institution, where she wrote science education materials and ran teacher workshops. She left the workforce when her children were born. Later, her family helped start a school, and she taught there for five years as the middle school science teacher. Now she writes full-time, as the author of Engaging Science Labs. When not working on some type of science experiment, you can find Carolyn engaged in some type of handwork—her newest hobby is shoemaking,

Janine Buser

Janine Buser is passionate about guiding children to reach their full potential as individuals, students, and in their love of the Lord. She is a graduate of Georgetown University with a first career in government affairs. After homeschooling for 20 years, she found a new calling in early childhood education. Janine also is the DC Metro Volunteer Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.

Maggie Dean

Maggie Dean has a passion for developing things. Whether that's friendships, gardens, dreams, or students, she loves coming alongside people to be curious about discovering God's narrative in the stories He writes with our lives. After graduating from Christopher Newport University (BS Biology/Spanish minor), she has spent 10 years in youth ministry and teaching but has found that she is particularly passionate about middle school aged students. Her dream job to date has been teaching outdoors at Scent of Water the past two years in our middle school. Some of her other delights include unstructured time to rest, pray, write, bike, or cook.

Kristin Pushak

Kristin Pushak has taught history for over a decade in various public and Christian secondary schools. She holds a BA in History and Spanish and a MA in Global Affairs with a concentration in Conflict and Security, as well as an Education Degree.
Kristin is passionate about global missions and international travel and desires to connect students with the wider world and uncover God's story in history. She has served on mission teams to seven countries on four different continents. Kirstin has traveled to over 26 countries to organize teacher training, study, conduct original research, take high school students on educational trips, and to teach at Renmin University in Beijing, China as a guest lecturer. During 2022 she explored the vibrant streets of Cairo and the verdant parks of Munich and served, along with her husband, Joe, and three daughters, as a part of a SALT Ukraine mission team to Warsaw, Poland. Kristin also serves on the board of SALT Ukraine.

Tess Quinn

Tess graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor's in Social Work. She has a passion for building relationships and a desire to see all of God's creation flourish--plants, streams, students. She has worked with refugees from all over the world and most recently has served as the community minister at her church. When not at work, you can find her baking sourdough, knitting, curling up with a good book, or looking for the best spot to watch the sunset with her husband.

Dinah Steele

Dinah Steele has an undergraduate degree both in Art and Music from Covenant College, as well as a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education from Northcentral University. She has taught children ages 2-9 years in many different learning settings and has found her sweet spot teaching K/1 and Boots & Roots with Redemptive Education. Dinah finds delight in watching her students live into the people that God has created them to be. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys watercolor painting, gardening, making home herbal remedies and spending time with her family.

Kristen Tamulonis

Kristen Tamulonis is excited to teach the 2nd and 3rd graders at Scent of Water this year! She loves teaching phonics, reading books with her class, and giving students lots of opportunities to create and imagine. Kristen has taught Kindergarten, first grade, and preschool for the past twelve years and has a Master’s Degree in Integrated Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary/Early Childhood Education. In addition to teaching, she enjoys directing children’s musicals, reading, spending time outside, and volunteering at church and summer camps.

Kendall Twining

Kendall Twining joins the Redemptive Education community for the first time this year. Kendall graduated from the University of Virginia (Go Hoos!) with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and taught elementary school for four years. She left the classroom to help lead a women’s discipleship ministry and become a first time mom! While she wasn’t in the classroom day-to-day, Kendall continued working with many students through individual tutoring. She loves spending time with her husband Michael and their son Samuel (2yo). You can catch them eating donuts, hunting down a good cup of coffee, or playing sports at the park. Kendall is thrilled to get back to teaching in the classroom!

Thinking and speaking_edited.jpg

"Even as our thinking shapes our speech, so does our speaking shape our thought. We explicitly model for our children how to make our voices convey respect, how to answer the question, 'Can you say that in a more gracious way?' What we say matters. How we say it matters."

-- Amy Imbody, Founder and President of the Center for Redemptive Education, from her book, Wind from the Sea: Essays in Redemptive Education.


Loving teacher

We have loved [our son's] experience on campus with Ms. Dean and field studies with Mrs. Raggio, and he loves the Welcoming [morning gathering]. I love Mrs. Imbody's heart and vision. No teacher has been more loving and compassionate with [our son] than Ms. Dean. She has a better understanding of Gabe's perspective on our son than sometimes we do!

Jennifer Thornet

Absolutely terrific

The teacher (Ms. Downing) is wonderful, absolutely terrific. I like the variety of work and learning, the encouragement of an excitement to learn. I've already recommended it to many people.

Anne Stewart

New confidence

Mrs. Raggio is amazing! She is such an inspiration to our son. He feels challenged, inspired, and called higher with her--never crashed or discouraged. She helps him identify his needs for growth and a plan to tackle that. Before this year, our son was convinced that he could not write a paragraph, though he had been given tools. She has helped reframe so much of his mentality and confidence. Huge game changer. YESSSSS. I cannot imagine a better set up for our son to be growing in confidence and in academics. He is blossoming under Mrs. Raggio's leadership.

Francie Winslow

Knows my child

Mrs. Twining has a strong handle on my child's strengths and weaknesses and communicates freely and graciously about strengthening her interactions with others.

Scent of Water parent

Great job of communicating

Ms. Steele has done a great job of communicating with us the needs of our student and listening to and responding to our concerns.

Scent of Water parent

Teacher understands stress of deployment

I love that our son's teacher treats him like she treats her own children. She looks out for his well-being and genuinely cares about him. She understands that his dad has been deployed all year and understands the stress and pressure that puts in a family.

Melissa Wacker

I want to be a student in her class

I can't say enough good things about having Ms. Steele as our daughter's K/1 teacher. She is great with the children and her communication with me has been regular and clear. I want to be a student in her class. We are SO thankful for Ms. Steele!

Emily Basham

Providing a safe landing

Mrs. Pushak has been amazing, amazing, amazing. She was compassionate and considerate as I shared my concerns about my daughter. She has been very tender and welcoming as my daughter has needed a safe landing. Mrs. Pushak's knowledge has inspired both of my kids to continue to pursue understanding history in their place in it. Such a strong gifting in allowing kids to thrive in their differences. She has regularly checked on my daughter, which I so appreciate.

K-8 (Scent of Water) parent

Doesn't get better than this teacher

I learn from Ms. Steele every opportunity I get. It doesn’t get better than her. Absolute tops.

Boots and Roots parent

Cheerful and engaging

My son especially enjoys Thursdays with Mrs. Twining. She is cheerful and engaging and has fun ideas like stuffed animal day, as well as the usual curriculum.

Scent of Water parent

Cannot think of a better teacher

I love that each Thursday our son's teacher posts photos and a journal entry detailing the events of the week. It is the highlight of my week to see pictures of my son in his school element and read what did and learned. She is very consistent and very detailed. I could not think of a better teacher for my son. Mrs. Buser has wildly exceeded my expectations and set the bar very high.

Candace Steele

Attuned to my child

The teachers (Ms. Steele, Ms. Tamulonis, and Mrs. Atkinson) are attuned to my child’s strengths and attentive to his needs.

Abigail Westbrook

Loving learning

My kids are loving learning from Mrs Pushak and all the projects/research/etc. that they are doing.

Scent of Water parent

I adore this teacher

I just really adore Ms. Steele.

Boots and Roots parent

My son loves school with his teacher

My son's teacher is amazing in everyday and he loves school with her.

Scent of Water parent

Our son is thriving

Mrs. Buser is fantastic. I like the size of the campus. Our son loves Mrs. Buser and tells stories about her once he gets home. My wife and I enjoy the weekly update and pictures, which our son explains to us thoroughly. We are extremely impressed with Mrs. Buser and her way with the kids. Our son is thriving.

Winston Steele

Thriving academically for the first time

Both our children are inspired by their teachers' hunger to learn and excitement to teach. Strong teachers. Flexible approach. Both of my kids are outside-the-box learners and this year in particular they have really started to thrive academically for the first time thanks to these teachers and the flexible model that allows them to learn in so many different ways.

K-8 (Scent of Water) parent

Intentional and loving

Ms. Buser is a fabulous teacher. Very intentional and loving.

Boots and Roots parent

Helps me understand how my children learn

Appreciate the long, detailed emails so I can understand better what/how my children learn.

Scent of Water parent


Mrs. Olmstead is amazing every day, and my son loves school with her.

Scent of Water parent

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