Faculty & Staff

Tommy Vander Woude, B.A.

Mr. Vander Woude graduated from Christendom College, where he earned a B.A. in  Philosophy with a minor in Theology.

Felix Hernandez, B.S., M.S.


Mr. Hernandez is a former naval officer, a retired diplomat, and a former member of Chelsea Academy’s Board of Directors. He grew up in Whittier, California, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and earned his M.S. degree in International Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He has taught at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. Mr. Hernandez has lived in the axis countries of Germany, Austria, Italy, and Japan and dreams of living in the allied countries of the United Kingdom and France. He and his wife, Chryss, who is also a retired Foreign Service Officer, live in Marshall and have two sons.

Ted Watkins, B.A.

Assistant Headmaster

Mr. Watkins graduated Cum Laude from Wheaton College (IL) with a B.A. in Philosophy. While there, he played four years of varsity football and served twice as a team captain. Most recently, he was a Regional Development Officer for the Augustine Institute. Prior to this, he spent four years in supply-chain management, while simultaneously serving as a Logistics Officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He is working toward an M.A. in Theology, with an anticipated graduation of Fall 2019 from the Augustine Institute. Mr. Watkins lives with his wife, Emma, and their two children in Centreville, VA.

Bernardine Clark, B.A, M.F.A.

Academic Dean, English Teacher

With a B.A. from Yale and an M.F.A. from the University of Virginia, Mrs. Clark has worked as a writer, editor, teacher, and administrator at a variety of educational institutions for nearly three decades. Her work at independent schools has included stints at St. Albans School, Portsmouth Abbey School, Oakcrest School, and BASIS Independent McLean. She and her husband have four children.

Sam Adamson, B.A., M.S.

History and P.E. Teacher, Administrative Assistant, and Coach

Mr. Adamson studied philosophy and English literature at Hillsdale College, earning his B.A. in 2018.  The following year, he studied marketing and business management at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, earning an M.S.. His passion for the life of the mind and for leading young people has drawn him to teaching.  To coaching tennis, he brings years of experience in competition and as an instructor.

Robert Farris, B.A.

Middle School Dean, French and Religion Teacher, and Coach

Mr. Farris holds a degree in Philosophy from the Ateneo Pontifico Regina Apostolorum in Rome. A native of Connecticut, Mr. Farris studied French in Quebec and Paris during his high school years, and he later worked at an all-boys’ boarding school outside of Paris. Most recently, he has taught middle school at Summit Academy in Idaho. He and his family live in Front Royal.

Christopher Foeckler, B.A.

Mathematics and Religion Teacher, Associate Dean of Students, Drama Director, and Coach

Mr. Foeckler graduated summa cum laude from Christendom College, majoring in Theology with a minor in Math and Science. Growing up in Manassas with five brothers, Mr. Foeckler developed a wide range of interests that he pursued in college. He played on the varsity soccer team for four years. He acted in several college plays, and he participated in Christendom’s choir and debate society. Mr. Foeckler joined the Chelsea faculty after teaching for a year at Holy Family Academy in Manassas. He and his wife have two children.

Jacob Guttierrez, B.A.

Religion, Latin, and Science Teacher and Dean of Students

A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Mr. Guttierrez teaches Latin I & II, 10th & 11th grade theology, and 6th grade science. He is also the Dean of Students. He has been teaching at Chelsea for 8 years. Before that, Mr. Guttierrez taught at Villanova Prep in Ojai, CA, and served in the admissions office at Thomas Aquinas College. Mr. Guttierrez and his wife, Annie, have five children. The oldest is now attending Chelsea as a 4th grader.

Alex Klassen, B.A.

Development Coordinator

Alex grew up in Ottawa, Canada and was a competitive Irish dancer until she graduated from high school at the age of 16. She graduated from Christendom College in 2004 with a degree in History while tutoring Latin on the side. Alex’s love for both Irish dance and teaching led her to instruct recreational Irish dance from 2002 until 2015. Alex then branched out to social functions after ‘retiring’ from dance and now plays a lead role in multiple events and fundraisers, including the annual Chelsea Gala. She and her husband, Ron, have six children.

Steve Lee, B.S.

Director of Development

Mr. Lee graduated from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, with a Bachelors in Business Management.  He worked for KPMG before starting own his company and migrated to the United States in 1993.  Mr. Lee served as chairman of the board of Epiphany Catholic School in Culpeper, VA, for eight years, co-founded Chelsea Academy in 2008, and served as Chelsea’s chairman of the board for six years.  He also co-founded Virginia International Academy in 2013.

Holly McShurley, B.A.

Fourth Grade Teacher

A Christendom College graduate with a degree in Philosophy, Mrs. McShurley is a mother of ten children, all of whom were homeschooled until 2013, when she began forging the newly instituted 4th and 5th grade classes, bringing several of her children with her to the halls of Chelsea.  Holly brought with her a love of math, Latin, and science, which she had tutored for several years locally, and religion, having taught CCD for some years. She also brought a passion for Shakespeare, having directed youth Shakespeare plays for over a decade. At Chelsea, she directs the Spring Lower/Middle school plays. Mrs. McShurley resides with her family in Linden.

Nora Mulhern, B.A.

Director of Admissions, Biology and Natural History Teacher, and Coach

Miss Mulhern, a native of Virginia, graduated from Ave Maria University earning her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Family, Gender, and Society as well as in Adolescent Therapy. Miss Mulhern served in Colorado as a backpacking instructor for Camp Wojtyla for two summers. In addition, she was an inaugural member of the Archdiocese of Denver’s ALTUM Institute Missionary Program. Within that organization she instructed with JPII Outdoor Labs leading middle school, faith and science programs.

Joan Philbin, B.A.

French Teacher and Administrative Assistant

Mrs. Philbin graduated from Christendom College with a major in French, and has completed graduate work in linguistics at George Mason University. She served as a Marine Corps intelligence officer for twenty years, including four years as a defense attache for arms control in Russia. She and her husband have two sons at Chelsea.

Shari Schäffer, B.A., M.A.

English Teacher

With degrees in English from Wake Forest University and The College of William and Mary, Mrs. Schäffer has considerable teaching experience, including two years at a private school near Richmond, Virginia and twelve years as a homeschool educator. She has been part of Chelsea as a teacher since 2011. Two of her children are Chelsea alumnae.

Joseph Selner, B.A., J.D.

History and Science Teacher, College Counselor, and Coach

Holding degrees from The College of William and Mary and The Catholic University of America, Mr. Selner worked in law and finance before deciding to become an educator. For four years he homeschooled his son and daughter (Chelsea Class of 2017 and Class of 2021, respectively). Mr. Selner also taught religion to seventh and eighth graders at St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Woodstock, VA. Since joining Chelsea Academy in 2013, Mr. Selner has taught American History, U.S. Government and Politics, Modern European History, Earth Science, physics, and pre-algebra. Mr. Selner has served as Chelsea Academy’s college counselor since 2016. Outside the classroom his interests include hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter camping. Mr. Selner and his family live in Strasburg.

Alka Shanahan, Ph.D.

Chemistry and Physical Science Teacher

Dr. Shanahan earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Garhwal University, India, doing her Organic Chemistry Ph.D. work at the Indian Institute of Petroleum. Afterwards, she did two years postdoctoral  work at the USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL, during which time she met her husband.  Upon her return to India, she served as a Pool Officer at the National Institute of Nutrition, and then at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.  After moving to the U.S., she worked as Director of Research at International Lubricants in Seattle, WA, and then took a break for some years to raise and homeschool her five children. Starting in the 2015 Fall semester, Dr. Shanahan taught at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, and online for Mother of Divine Grace School. She is currently an Advanced Placement Chemistry Reader for Educational Testing Services. She joined Chelsea in Fall 2019.

Shelly Stockton, B.M.E.

Music Teacher

With a B.M.E from Emporia State University, Mrs. Stockton has worked as a composer, worship leader, choir director, and classical educator in a variety of settings for the past two decades. While in college, she was awarded the Walter Mays Resident Composer commission where she wrote numerous works for university events and student recitals. Mrs. Stockton has taught in the classical education arena for the past fifteen years and currently serves as International Academic Director for Classical Conversations. She and her husband have five daughters.

Catherine Waters, B.A., M.A.

ESL Teacher and ESL Curriculum Coordinator

Mrs. Waters earned her undergraduate degree from St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York before going on to receive a Master of Curriculum and Instruction at Hood College. For ten years she taught English at St. John’s College Preparatory High School, where she also served as English Department Chair and directed an annual Shakespeare festival. Mrs. Waters and her family live in Winchester.

Henry Wingate, B.A.

Art Teacher

After graduating from the Naval Academy and serving as a pilot for six years in the Navy, Mr. Wingate studied traditional representational painting in ateliers in Boston, Massachusetts, and Florence, Italy. An accomplished painter of portraits, landscapes, still-lifes, and larger figurative works, he has won several prestigious awards and commissions, and his work has been featured in Portrait Highlights and American Artist. In addition, Mr. Wingate’s portrait of St. Edmund Campion is hung in the Chapel at Marquette University Law School. He and his wife have five children.

Therese Zepeda, B.A.

5th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Zepeda graduated from Christendom College as valedictorian with a degree in Political Science. During her nearly ten-year career in education, she has served as an academic counselor for Seton Home Study, creating curricula, tests, and course manuals in addition to mentoring students and grading assignments. She has also served as an English counselor and taught ESL classes at VIA for the past two years. She and her husband, Tom, have five children, three of whom attend Chelsea.

Welcome Wednesdays – visit us between 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays in October