RFOLC Instructors

Our expert instructors offer deeper and richer educational opportunities and have the confidence and flexibility to allow children to flourish as individuals rather than insisting on the primacy of the course material.

Black, Robert

Robert Black, author of the Mathematical Nights books, has degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics from Vanderbilt University. The son of two math teachers, he has a twenty-five-year career as an engineer and quality assurance manager.

Brewer-LaPorta, Margaret

Dr. Brewer-LaPorta has a long tenure in science education at a number of different levels. She started teaching college science courses while a graduate student and continued teaching face-to-face and online science classes at Purchase College of the State University of New York and at Pace University. In addition to her college experience, Dr. Brewer-LaPorta is dually certified by New York State to teach Inclusive Adolescent Science, which requires highly qualified science teachers to be able to instruct gifted, general, and special education students. In addition to teaching geology and astronomy at Pace University, Dr. Brewer-LaPorta is currently teaching earth science and integrated chemistry/physics in the New York State public school system.

Champion, Barbara

Barbara Champion is the author and creator of the book series Hand Talk, published by Royal Fireworks Press. She has a degree in sign language interpreting and more than seventeen years of experience working with the deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) communities. She has worked as a certified interpreter and has been involved hands-on with D/HH and special-needs students. She has also taught in community education and homeschooling classes.

DeLambo, Nicole

Nicole DeLambo grew up knowing that she wanted to do something in the field of art and education. She received a B.A. in Interior Design and Art from Ursuline College in Cleveland, Ohio, and then worked at a residential interior design firm. She went on to obtain an M.A. in Education at Ursuline College and later an M.Ed from DePaul University in Educational Leadership. During the past eighteen years, she has found many opportunities to help students gain a deep appreciation of the importance of art and design.

Kaye, Sharon

Dr. Sharon Kaye is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, she was a Killam postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She runs a Philosophy for Kids internship program in which undergraduate students teach philosophy to middle school honors students. She has published numerous articles and books, which have been translated into Japanese, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, and Slovak. She and her husband have two young children.

Kemnitz, Myrna

Myrna Kemnitz taught writing for decades in the New York public schools, and she also trained teachers in the instruction of creative writing. She is the author of the enormously popular four-volume series Suppose the Wolf about using children’s literature to develop higher-level thinking skills. Among her other publications are My Friend the Mastodon and What Valley View Has Meant to Orange County. She served as editor of many of the Royal Fireworks novels.

Klass, Ingrid

Ingrid Klass holds a Master's in History of Religion from the University of Chicago, with a focus in South Asian philosophy and languages (Sanskrit and Pali). Her B.A. is in religion from Carleton College, with a concentration in South Asian studies. She has studied Sanskrit at Harvard, and while a student, she lived in Sri Lanka for one semester, studying Buddhism. She has taught courses in Asian philosophy, world religions, Buddhism, Fundamentalism, and Asian humanities at the college level.

LaPorta, Philip C.

Dr. Philip LaPorta has a long history in science education. Throughout his research career, he has taught the geological sciences to undergraduates at Queens, Queensborough, Hunter, and Lehman colleges of the City University of New York system, as well as at Rutgers-Newark, Montclair State University, Purchase College of the SUNY system, and Pace University. His teaching style and ready command of the content material were the primary reasons for increasing recruitment of geology majors in the CUNY system; enrollment increased from six to more than fifty students over the course of four years. His geology program at CUNY went on to produce doctoral degrees in the geological sciences at schools such as Columbia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. Philip’s expertise expanded to adolescent education with the mentoring of high school students in scientific research projects sponsored through his own New York State education charter, The Center for the Investigation of Native and Ancient Quarries. His research collections, library, and knowledge have been used through the charter to support student research in the STEM fields and continue to prompt students to follow careers in the sciences.

Lively, Aubrey

Aubrey Lively does not like to write about herself in the third person, but when she does, she likes to imagine herself in a story, opening secret doors and having tea with dragons. Then she gets distracted by the smoky smell of the dragon’s lair and finding a key or a clue, but if you follow her down the rabbit hole, don’t worry—she’s credentialed in the real world, too, with a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Dallas and a Master of Education in teaching from the University of Texas at Arlington. Aubrey has taught everything from preschool (Montessori) to post-graduate courses in business English, as well as high school English, college math, and Spanish. She homeschools her six children, who are between the ages of three and fifteen.

Mack, Daniel

Daniel Mack is one of America’s leading experts on rustic furniture and building, subjects about which he has authored seven books. His Making Rustic Furniture has sold more than 100,000 copies. He is also an artist who has been teaching for many years in both formal and non-traditional settings—such as a hurricane-devastated jungle in the Yucatan. He organizes yearly "Woodlander Gatherings" where nature-loving people come and learn, share, and visit. This spring, he is meeting a group of people on the shores of the Hudson River for a day of building with driftwood. He has a long history of work in the field of visual communications.

Minchak, Scott

Scott Minchak is a New York-based archaeologist with experience in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. His interest in archaeology began as a young child reading books, watching movies, and finding artifacts buried in his backyard. In keeping with that interest, he studied archaeology and focused on stone tools. He welcomes students into the exciting world of archaeology.

Spielhagen, Frances R.

Frances R. Spielhagen, Ph.D., is Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Development at Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY. She was Chair of the NAGC Education Committee (2009-2011) and was a Latin teacher for more than 30 years. She has presented her work in Latin at the American Classical League, the Classical Association of New England, the New Jersey Classical League, the Association for Teachers of Foreign Language, and the National Association for Gifted Children. She wrote a review book for the College Board Achievement Test in Latin, and she is the author of the Fabulae Caeciliae series of Latin texts, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

Thompson, Michael Clay

During a period of thirty years, Michael Clay Thompson was a classroom teacher, middle school head, and academic. Now Michael is a full-time author and consultant. An acclaimed speaker and workshop presenter, he has inspired thousands of students and educators through his teaching, books, and presentations with a new love of language and literature. Michael received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University, studied for gifted education accreditation at Mars Hill College, and obtained his M.A. from Western Carolina University. During his teaching career he taught in schools in Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Michael has written more than 100 books, all with Royal Fireworks Press.

Thompson, Myriam Borges

A native Spanish-speaker from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dr. Myriam Borges Thompson received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Spanish literature from the University of Puerto Rico. She has taught Spanish in elementary through high school and college, is a co-author of the Caesar’s English texts, and is the translator/author of With the Eyes of a Woman and Ideal Love. She also contributed articles to Our Gifted Children magazine, including “Identification of Gifted Hispanic Students” and “One Gifted Child, Three Environments.” She is co-author of the chapter “Reflections on Foreign Language Study for Highly Able Learners” in Developing Verbal Talent, published by the College of William and Mary (1996). Fascinated by the Spanish classics of the Golden Age, she likes to reread Cervantes’s Don Quixote every few years. She has spent the last decade researching the work of nineteenth-century Latin American women writers.

Turner, Brandie

Brandie Turner earned her B.A. in Education from Bluffton College (University) and has since earned Special Education certifications in both the Academically Gifted area and Intervention Specialist area. She has served in various leadership roles within the education and nonprofit charity sectors. Her passion for serving others led her to direct a summer camp for children with autism and to become Operations Manager for two years at a local nonprofit that serves children with life-altering illnesses. Brandie is currently working as a State Early Literacy Specialist at Marshall University and pursuing her MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise from Louisiana State University, Shreveport. She is excited to take her 11 years of teaching experience and the lessons she’s learned from her nonprofit work and apply them to assist in developing young minds into the individuals they will become.

Turner, Jeremy

Jeremy Turner is the founder and Managing Director of EPIC Mission, which provides coaching and consulting services to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses primarily throughout the mid-Atlantic United States. Since earning his B.A. in Psychology from Marshall University, Jeremy has served in leadership roles for industry giants and grassroots startup ventures within the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. As a lifelong learner, he is completing his MBA with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise from Louisiana State University, Shreveport. He is a DISC-Certified Behavioral Consultant, a Certified Coach with Ministry Ventures, and has been working with a friend and colleague to open CoWorks, Huntington’s first coworking space and community development hub. Jeremy is proud to have worked with the West Virginia Governor’s School of Entrepreneurship since its inception in 2016, and he is excited to see how these young entrepreneurs will develop their skills and change the world for the better in the decades to come.

Wickham, Francis C.

Francis C. Wickham, AIA, practiced architecture for three and half decades as a partner with Prentice & Chan, Ohlhuasen Architects (New York City). His training began at Carnegie and included Sommerakademie fur Bildende Kunst, Salzburg, Austria. He spent five years with I.M. Pei and Partners and many years as a solo practitioner. He designed and contributed to the designs of many buildings around the world. He has taught at Columbia University and Vassar College.