Leslie Albert's children began attending Cross Schools in 2006. In 2009, as a volunteer, she spearheaded the building of the Cross Schools Library then served as librarian for two years. She joined Cross Schools as a part of the Faith Formation program in 2016 as an assistant. Today, she is a teacher of children from Preschool through High School and the coordinator of ministry and outreach events.
Mrs. Albert holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance Degree from the University of Florida. She held positions in event planning for the Savannah Economic Development Authority, recruiting and corporate development for the Career Management Center at Vanderbilt University MBA School, and Membership Services Director at Belfair Plantation. These roles, combined with her desire to inspire others to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, have prepared her for this new position
Mrs. Albert and her husband, Gerrit, have three children. Contact Mrs. Albert at l.albert@CrossSchools.org.
Bailee Adkins graduated from Georgia Southern University with dual degrees in International Studies and Spanish. She has extensive Spanish immersion experience through multiple mission trips to the Dominican Republic and spending a summer studying abroad in Spain.
Ms. Adkins grew up vacationing on Hilton Head and relocated upon graduating in 2018. Prior to pursuing a degree in education, she worked in various roles in Events and Sales at the Westin Hilton Head Island & Spa. She has always had a love for children and is excited to join the Cross community to share her passion for the Spanish language and culture. She is also involved in community student ministries and is a Bluffton/Hilton Head Young Life Leader. Contact Ms. Adkins at b.adkins@CrossSchools.org.
Lindsay Bowerman graduated magna cum laude from Houghton College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with an Environmental Emphasis accompanied by Spanish and Missions minors. She continued her education at the University of Connecticut and graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Biodiversity and Conservation. Her area of research included population density and distribution of mammals in the tropical lowland rainforests of Costa Rica. She also had an internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration working on a conservation plan for Stenotomus chyrsops, a heavily harvested fish species found in the Atlantic Ocean and worked on Caretta caretta sea turtle conservation on Hilton Head Island.
Ms. Bowerman has been teaching Middle School science and math at Cross Schools for 10.5 years. Her goal is to instill a love of science, math, and life-long learning into all the students that pass through her science lab. She thinks there is no better way to learn about God than to study Him through his miraculous creation, which she strives to share with her students daily. Contact Ms. Bowerman at l.bowerman@CrossSchools.org.
Heather Brougham-Cook has enjoyed more than fifteen years in the classroom. A career journalist turned professional educator, she takes pleasure in sharing her passion for reading and writing with young students in the classroom. Heather has an established reputation for encouraging the most reluctant readers and writers to flourish and grow. A confirmed history nerd who nabbed the annual history prize each year of high school, she brings history alive by prompting her students to question how the past impacts the present and encourages young historians to predict how the past will shape the future. She is a certified Montessori teacher (MEPI) and also holds a MEd (Early Childhood Education). She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Mrs. Brougham-Cook has a proven track record in developing curriculum in upper elementary and middle grade learning programs and finds that her technical writing skills transfer easily and usefully into the classroom.
A Rotary Teacher of the Year (2013/14), she also interned at Nancie Atwell's Center for Teaching and Learning (2011) and is a National Writing Project teacher consultant. She has participated in several NEH Landmarks of American History Workshops (2012- 2019) and in the UN Peace Camp for Teachers, South Korea (2018). She works hard to develop empathy muscles in the hearts of those she teaches through service-learning programs, and has received grants from the UNICEF Trick or Treat - Kids Helping Kids Movement and the Anne Frank Partnership program as a Seldin K Smith Foundation grant recipient. She has received a number of Palmetto Electric Bright Ideas grant awards and the DAR’s Helen Pouch Memorial Classroom Fund to improve her teaching environments. She served as an advisory board member on the following boards: Scholastic Storyworks, eTextPrep - Middle School Challenge and Georgia Aquarium's Educational Advisory Board. Contact Mrs. Brougham-Cook at h.brougham-cook@CrossSchools.org.
Tracey Cannon began her teaching career in 2000 and taught for fourteen of those years in Beaufort County. She and her husband moved here from Columbia, South Carolina. She has three amazing children: Madeline, Calem, and Emerson. After five years at Hilton Head Middle School, she taught 4th and 5th grade at Okatie Elementary. She is certified in middle school language arts and has a Gifted and Talented Endorsement.
Mrs. Cannon's philosophy in education is that many children have different strengths and intelligences. As an educator, her goal is to help students discover their talents so they can apply them to their everyday learning experiences. She wants students to learn that with a champion attitude and effort, they can accomplish their goals and be successful in life. Contact Mrs. Cannon at t.cannon@CrossSchools.org.
Lauren French earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with an emphasis in Education from Saint Joseph’s College in Patchogue, New York. She attended college on a full academic scholarship, was a member of the History Honor Society, and graduated with honors. She has worked in literacy tutoring for ten years, and after staying home with her children for over five years, she has felt led to bring her passion for education to the classroom.
Mrs. French believes strongly that all students have a natural love for learning that can be explored through varied and challenging activities in the classroom. She has a passion for helping students to learn how their lives and the world they live in has been shaped by the events of the past. It is her goal to be an encouraging and guiding hand for her students, as they grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Mrs. French and her family relocated to Bluffton from Long Island, New York in the Spring of 2019. She and her husband Rob have been married for almost ten years, and have been blessed with two sons, Nathaniel and Theodore, who are part of the Cross School family as well. Contact Mrs. French at l.french@CrossSchools.org.
Josh Hicks teaches in Maker Space, LEGO Lab, LEGO Robotics and Honors Geometry. A graduate of Francis Marion University with a degree in Elementary Education, he has more than seventeen years of teaching experience in independent schools in South Carolina. He had the distinct honor of being chosen as the South Carolina Independent School Association's 2010 Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Hicks has two primary focuses in the classroom. First, learning is not in the problem or in the solution, but in the process between the two; this may differ from student to student as God has made us all unique. It is critical that we share these processes with each other so that we can enhance our understanding. Second, asking questions to help students develop a pattern of discovery. Even if it has been learned millions of times in the past, each time a student discovers a truth, it is a beautiful moment. Contact Mr. Hicks at j.hicks@CrossSchools.org.
Lisa Hill graduated with Honors from the College of Charleston. She continued her studies with graduate degrees from Brenau University and the University of Georgia. Lisa has taught school for over fifteen years, both public and private. She has also taught teacher preparatory courses at the university level. While she started in Elementary, her passion is working with the older students in Middle and High School. Her focus in teaching is primarily math, but she also enjoys teaching various science courses. Lisa is certified in Gifted and Talented education.
Lisa and her husband, Buzzy, have one son, Yancey, attending 1st grade at Cross. They are members of the Church of the Cross and are excited to be members of the Cross Schools Community. Contact Mrs. Hill at l.hill@CrossSchools.org.
Suzie Hollings holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Phoenix, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education, and a Gifted and Talented Certification both from the University of South Carolina.
Mrs. Hollings was born in Anderson, Indiana. She graduated high school and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a Military Police Officer. While serving, she developed a passion for teaching when she was selected to teach D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). As a D.A.R.E. Officer, she had the awesome responsibility of teaching elementary and middle school students drug awareness. Additionally, she served a three-year tour of duty as a recruiter. Upon completion of recruiting duty, she reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island where she attended Drill Instructor School. While at Parris Island, she fulfilled the duties of a Drill Instructor, Senior Drill Instructor, Series Gunnery Sergeant, and a Company First Sergeant at the Fourth Recruit Training Battalion.
She retired from the Marine Corps to pursue a career as an Educator. She began her teaching career in 2014 and has served as a student teacher, a first-grade teacher, and a third-grade teacher at several Beaufort County schools.
Mrs. Hollings and her husband, Robert, have been married for almost fourteen years, and have been blessed with four wonderful daughters, Alaysia, Sydney, Savannah, and Ryan, all who attend Cross Schools.
Mrs. Hollings's goal as an educator is to impact the lives of our youth in a positive and productive way. It is her belief that all children can learn and have a rewarding experience as students. With appropriate leadership and dedication, she hopes to impart the wisdom and knowledge she has obtained through years of her own experiences and education. Contact Mrs. Hollings at s.hollings@CrossSchools.org.
Amanda Kropiewnicki graduated from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Multidisciplinary Learning. She holds a South Carolina Professional Teaching License for grades Kindergarten through sixth, with a Gifted Endorsement. She began her teaching career more than 15 years ago and has it has taken her from California to South Carolina, teaching in both public and private schools across the country. Her love for teaching inspired her to continue her education and get her MEd in Technology in Education.
Mrs. Kropiewnicki was vacationing in Hilton Head and met her husband while dining in a restaurant. After they were married, they relocated to the area. She and her husband left for a few years and moved to the Orlando area. They welcomed their first child while living there. They moved back to Bluffton and welcomed twin boys to their family. She is very happy about being back in the Lowcountry and working at a school that mirrors her beliefs.
Mrs. Kropiewnicki loves working with kids and helping develop young minds in a place that is centered on Christian values. She believes that each child needs a solid foundation that can be built upon each year as concepts develop. By using technology in the classroom, students are able to build basic career readiness and have fun at the same time. Contact Mrs. Kropiewnicki at a.kropiewnicki@CrossSchools.org.
Karen Penale was born in Mexico City; Mexico. Her mother was Mexican, and her father was Irish American. At age five her family moved to Lockport, New York (Western New York) where she was raised along with her four brothers and sisters. Shortly after marrying her husband Joe, her career as a Social Worker in New York was put on hold for her to stay home to care for her daughters. After seven years, the Penale family moved to South Carolina where Mrs. Penale received her Master’s in Teaching Degree and was hired to teach at Hilton Head Island Elementary school. Her experience is extensive: two years teaching ESOL and Spanish, ten years teaching first grade, five years teaching Spanish Immersion (Science and Math) in first grade, and the last five years teaching fourth grade Spanish Immersion (Science and Math). Mrs. Penale completed the Master Naturalist Program offered through the Lowcountry Institute in conjunction with Clemson Extension in 2019.
Mrs. Penale heartfully loves nature and everything connected to teaching children to become stewards of our environment and our world. She loves to spread the love of all things natural to the curious, amazing young people. “These children are our future and they need to understand that they are able to make changes to protect all that God has created.” Connecting with nature is very easy and natural for children of every age. Contact Mrs. Penale at k.penale@CrossSchools.org.
Marisa Rivera graduated from SUNY Fredonia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre this past May. She has always been drawn to the stage and has performed in community, regional, and collegiate theatre in New York State. Most recently she portrayed Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. She also led SUNY Fredonia’s only competing a cappella group, Premium Blend, to place third in the ICCA competition. After college, Ms. Rivera moved to Bluffton, South Carolina to join her family. She is a member of The Church of the Cross and sings in both the Chapel and Crosspoint services every Sunday.
Ms. Rivera believes that music and drama are essential to creating well rounded, inspired students. Her desire is to share her love of God and worship with her new cross family. She is excited to see where the Lord leads her in this ministry! Contact Ms. Rivera at m.rivera@CrossSchools.org.
Nancy Ungvarsky graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Biology and then went on to complete a doctorate in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Pittsburgh. She continued her research career as a postdoctoral associate at Georgia Tech working with Dr. Mark Hay. While working at Georgia Tech she conducted research on oyster reef ecosystems at The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, where she fell in love with the salt marshes of the Lowcountry. During her time at Georgia Tech, Dr. Ungvarsky taught both graduate and undergraduate courses, including an Ecology course for their Pacific Study Abroad Program in Australia.
After dividing her time between Atlanta and Savannah for three years, Dr. Ungvarsky decided to move to Beaufort County full time in 2009 and dedicate herself to secondary science education. She taught Biology I and AP Biology at Beaufort High for the next eleven years. She earned her South Carolina Teaching certificate through the PACE program and went on to earn a Masters of Education in Secondary Science from the University of South Carolina in 2013. Dr. Ungvarsky was selected as the Beaufort County District Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018. The core of Dr. Ungvarsky’s teaching philosophy is that students need to go beyond just learning facts, to using facts to develop an integrated understanding of the world we live in. Memorized facts do not lead to understanding until students learn how to look for connections and use them to construct logical arguments for how things work. This is Dr. Ungvarsky’s first year teaching at Cross Schools and she can’t wait to share her passion for Biology and all of God’s creation with her students. Contact her at n.ungvarsky@CrossSchools.org.
Kira Winders holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education from Appalachian State University and a Masters of Elementary Education from Liberty University. She loves being active and healthy and is extremely passionate in providing her students with the knowledge to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Mrs. Winders and her husband have four children. Her daughter and sons are thrilled to be a part of Cross Schools, and her youngest will join the Stingray family next year. It is her goal to combine her range of experience with the other teachers at Cross Schools and to present Health and Physical Education as an important, fun, and life-changing class.
Mrs. Winders has been involved in sports since she was young. She has years of experience coaching both basketball and softball. As a Physical Education teacher, she is passionate, devoted, and excited about the Cross Schools Athletic Program.
Mrs. Winders taught in North Carolina and Virginia before moving to South Carolina in 2013. She has enjoyed working at Cross since 2014. Mrs. Winders is very excited to be a part of Cross Schools faculty. Contact Mrs. Winders at k.winders@CrossSchools.org.