One of the most powerful elements of a Parkmont education is the nurturing relationships that grow between students and our team of committed, very experienced adults. These relationships last throughout a student’s stay at Parkmont — and often extend beyond graduation. Because these relationships and conversations span years, there is an increased likelihood that the sincere encouragement, earned trust and honest conversations will produce profound positive change. Strong relationships help us bring a level of personal knowledge and connection beyond standard Individual Education Programs (IEPs). We’ve found that it evokes the students’ best work, and gets them the most engaged — what they really need to succeed.
Parkmont's Director, Ron McClain, has over 40 years of teaching and administrative experience in Washington's independent schools. A 1971 graduate of Harvard University, he has led more than 100 outdoor adventures with students at Parkmont, Somerset, and Edmund Burke and enjoys teaching history and math. He spent 16 years coaching travel and recreational youth soccer teams and he is the President of the Takoma Soccer Club. He is a founding member of the Washington Small Schools Association and has served as a trustee of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, the Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School, the Edmund Burke School, the Evergreen Montessori School, and the Dance Exchange. He also served as PTSA vice-president at Montgomery Blair and President of their Athletic Booster Club. For the past decade he's served on the Executive committee of the Northfield Conference, a family spiritual retreat gathering in Massachusetts.
Karen Ballotta joined Parkmont School as Director of Development in the fall of 2015. After spending eight years in Wilmington, Delaware, she and her family were thrilled to return home to DC. Karen studied political science and religion at Bucknell University and received her law degree and masters in theological studies from Emory University. Karen began her DC career as a litigation attorney, later moving into student services work at Georgetown University. She has spent much of her private time working to support a number of independent schools and is happy to now be putting those skills to work for Parkmont.
Troy Burki began at Parkmont in 2015-2016. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Troy attended New Mexico State University where he was also a member of the baseball team. Prior to Parkmont, Troy taught math and science in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Outside of teaching, he enjoys spending time with his dog named Oskar, photography, and going to concerts.
Nijole Gedutis has been with Parkmont since 1999. She is from Texas, studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain, and graduated as an English major from Pomona College in Southern California in 1998. She recently completed her Master's degree in Social Work at Catholic University of America. She likes to spend time with her friends, eat good food, read good books, see good movies, and travel the world.
Now in his 11th year teaching at Parkmont School, Sam Graul was born and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2006, where he majored in Computer Science and obtained a minor in Philosophy, and is more recently pursuing his own education in the field of Engineering. He loves all sports, especially soccer (go DC United and Arsenal!). Over the summer, after years of working up to it, he was able to run his first marathon. He also enjoys raising his cat Smokey and dog Sammy, who are both super-awesome.
Alex Jennison is a DC resident born and raised. He attended the Field School. He was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the University of Wisconsin where he earned a B.S. in zoology and political science. It was there that he was able to pursue further passions of his by being a member of the Varsity sailing team, Ceramics society, and Nationally ranked Ultimate Frisbee team. He loves travel and exploring new places and culture. One of his biggest passions is taking students and campers out climbing and watching them push through their comfort zones, as well as teaching them outdoor living skills. When not on the rocks, or on the water, he can be found out on the Ultimate Frisbee fields of DC. He is so happy to be back for another year at Parkmont and for all of the adventures to come.
Matt McClain return this fall for his third year working full-time at Parkmont. Matt spent the majority of his summer working with his favorite students in summer school. He was lucky enough to get a few weeks off, which he spent hiking through the Pacific Northwest with fellow Parkmont employee Alex Jennison. Matt graduated from Rollins college in the spring of 2012 with a degree in Sociology.
Bridget Mullins is returning for her second year at Parkmont. Originally from New Orleans, LA, she spent much of her childhood traveling the country with her military family who eventually settled in the suburbs of Maryland. After graduating from Towson University with a B.A. in Psychology and Theatre and a minor in Spanish, she spent two years teaching at a non-public school for special needs students in Baltimore County. She later continued her studies at the Community College of Baltimore County and the University of Malaga in Spain. Bridget has a passion for outdoor fitness and athletics, the performing arts, traveling internationally, making new friends, and pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.
Willa Reinhard is a graduate of New York University, where she received a B.A. in English Literature, at the University of Miami, where she received an M.F.A in fiction. She has been teaching humanities classes for ten years, with six of those years spent at Parkmont. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling (to warm climates), dance, music, theater, good books, and, on occasion, finding time to write short stories.
Christy Halvorson Ross has been doing Institutional Advancement work with Parkmont since 1994. She grew up in D.C. and attended Potomac and NCS, graduating from Connecticut College. She also studied at Oxford University and in Rome, Italy. Christy formerly taught art at Parkmont and still enjoys doing ceramics, block printing, and sewing; she also loves gardening, cooking, yoga, and hiking in the Adirondacks, and runs a nutrition business called Little Green. Christy and her husband Garth have 2 kids: Si (15) & Eva (14), plus a red lab and other various pets.
Kim Schraf is a long-time part-time teacher in Parkmont’s Upper School. She navigated the transition from Somerset School to Parkmont, and has a deep attachment to this big house on 16th Street where we all work. Since 2008, she has coordinated the Parkmont Poetry Festival and has helped with two successful Accreditations of the school. Kim balances her teaching with a theatre career on various DC stages, adult actor training, book narration for the Library of Congress, public speaking and interview coaching, and a passion for reading, cooking, travel, and yoga (in her copious free time).
Mike Shoup grew up in Charlotte, NC where he had a passion for mathematics from a young age. He attended and graduated from North Carolina State University in 2009, and promptly moved to Colorado for a year to enjoy the mountains. Mike then left for Peace Corps and the west African country of Ghana, where he lived teaching in a small village for two years. He was delighted to learn that people everywhere are similar despite cultural differences, and developed a more world-minded view. When not planning his next destination adventure, Mike enjoys running absurdly long distances, spicy food, and coffee.