Principal — Mrs. Christina Blankenstein
Mrs. Christina (Bournelis) Blankenstein is a native Oregonian who grew up in the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church community. Mrs. Blankenstein attended Catholic elementary and high school in the Portland Metro area. After high school, she earned a BA degree in Politics and minor in History from Whitman College. After spending a short time teaching English in China, Mrs. Blankenstein decided to return to school to earn her Master’s degree in Teaching at University of Portland. After graduation, she spent 2 1/2 years working for Project Mexico of the Orthodox Church in San Diego and Rosarito, Mexico where she met her husband. In 2001, they moved from San Diego (Project Mexico’s headquarters) to Portland where they are active members of the St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church community.
She loves working with children and for the Church in this very important ministry of educating our children. Mrs. Blankenstein has been part of the Agia Sophia Academy community for almost 13 years- as a mom, a Kindergarten/1st Grade classroom teacher, and the Development Director. She is very excited to have the opportunity to move into the Principal role at ASA and working with the greater pan-Orthdox community of Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Blankenstein and her husband, Paul, have two children; both are graduates of Agia Sophia Academy. They all love the outdoors, travelling together, and are very active in Boy Scouts as a family.
School Secretary — Ms. Euphrosyne McKenzie
Ms. Euphrosyne McKenzie was born and raised in Seward, Alaska. Shortly after converting to the faith in 1999, she moved with her family to beautiful Oregon. Struggling through a homeschooling program for her kindergarten age son, she was super excited to hear talk of an Orthodox school opening and jumped at the opportunity to enroll him that first year. Ms. McKenzie volunteered to administer ASA’s website and helped publish the school newsletters, later taking on more and more secretarial duties as the school grew. Agia Sophia Academy was a true blessing; her son soared academically. As her daughters reached enrollment age, they too loved attending ASA, and this fueled Ms. McKenzie’s desire to be continuously involved in this wonderful ministry. In 2008, she officially became a member of ASA’s staff and cherishes every minute of it. While her 3 children have all since graduated from ASA, her zeal for this fabulous educational program remains strong, and she looks forward to many more years of watching students as they too discover the building blocks to create a solid foundation for their futures.
Montessori Teacher — Ms. Padma Peri
Ms. Padma Peri was born and brought up in India, living mostly in Calcutta with her parents. She studied in Madras as well, when her dad was posted there, eventually receiving her Bachelors in Economics. She got married in 1987 and joined her husband in early 1989 in Phoenix, AZ. She has two girls and taught in their Montessori school in Phoenix from 1993 to 2006.
Ms. Padma received her Montessori Primary certification from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) in Phoenix Arizona 1997-1999, under Dr. Nimal Vaz. She then completed the AMI Infant-Toddler training in San Diego. Ms. Padma also received training under the renowned D. Montanaro, during a visit to the U.S. from Italy.
In January 2010, Padma joined our classroom as lead teacher and greatly enjoys it. She especially loves teaching cursive handwriting, further developing the language portion of our curriculum and reading poetry with the children. Her goal is to expose the children, by their third year in Montessori, to higher academic areas backed with the essential executive skills and strong love for learning.
Ms. Padma shares the following about her years at ASA: I have been with the school since 2010 and will treasure the warmth, support and care I experience daily from the school front as well as the parish. I am welcomed and have never felt I am not part of the community even though I come from a different religious background. I like the concept of thanking and remembering the Lord in all we do with the children.
Hobbies include: reading, music, sewing, Yoga, learning Sanskrit, Geometry and gardening!
Montessori Teacher — Ms. Rusudan Miminoshvili
Ms. Rusudan Miminoshvili was born in Poti, Republic of Georgia, which is situated on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. She is fluent in Georgian and Russian. Rusudan received a college degree from Poti Musical College in 1976 in choir conducting and then pursued further education by graduating from Kharkov University of Arts and Culture in 1985 with a degree in Academic Choir Conducting. Her previous experience includes: teaching children ages five and up through college level, working as a choir conductor (St. Nicholas church in Georgia) and directing children’s musical plays.
Ms. Rusudan has worked with Montessori programs since 2004, in both Toddler and Primary Classrooms. In 2008, she joined ASA, excited to be working in a school where the child’s development is addressed through mind, body and spirit in an Orthodox way. To further her training, Ms.Rusudan received a Montessori Diploma from North American Montessori International Association in 2013. She is delighted to begin her 10th year in ASA’s Montessori classroom and loves watching the children learn at their own pace and guiding them through their discoveries. She takes pleasure in building relationships with students and their families, as they learn and grow together over the years.
Ms. Rusudan loves Oregon and spending time with her daughter and granddaughter. She enjoys walking, reading, arts, nature and cooking with her family.
Lower Elementary Teacher — Mrs. Tamara Schwartz
Mrs. Tamara Schwartz was originally a native Californian but has lived in Oregon for 28 years. She attended the University of California, San Diego, where she received her B.A. in Communication with minors in Sociology and German Literature. She received her M.Ed. from Concordia University in Portland, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction.
Mrs. Schwartz has taught in public and private schools for 20 years, with her last 7 years teaching general studies at an Orthodox Jewish school. Mrs. Schwartz also spent 15 years homeschooling her children, 14 years coordinating a Shakespearean drama program for teens, and many years heavily involved in scouting (BSA and American Heritage Girls).
Mrs. Schwartz has been married for 35 years to the same patient man and has 3 adult children (2 sons and a daughter). She also lives with 4 cats and 3 dogs. Mrs. Schwartz loves to teach, read, craft, walk, discuss, and appreciate all the wonder of God’s creation!
Mrs. Schwartz has been a Christian her whole life. She converted to the Orthodox faith with her husband and oldest son 3 years ago, and they attended St. John the Baptist for more than two years before that. She is thrilled with the opportunity to share her love of learning, and her love of the faith, with children!
One of Mrs. Schwartz’s most important goals is to help develop life-long learners who ask deep questions, research thoroughly, read a lot, and love to discover the rich world around them! Even more importantly, Mrs. Schwartz greatly desires to help nurture a life-long commitment to God and His Church.
Upper Elementary Teacher – Ms. Diane Abraham
Diane was raised in the southwest hills of Portland, and was a student in the Beaverton School District throughout her childhood. Diane was raised in the Episcopal church, and made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ at the age of fifteen.
Diane attended undergraduate school at the University of Hawaii, and thereafter, she went to the University of California’s graduate school for an advanced degree in education. Diane’s first three years of teaching were in Christian schools, during which time she became a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in foster care. Inspired by her CASA experience, she became an attorney, as well as a teacher.
In 2006, Diane moved back to Hawaii where she taught elementary school on the island of Molokai for twelve years. Later, she moved briefly to the Big Island of Hawaii, where she continued teaching for two years. Recently, Diane returned to Oregon and enjoys being closer to her siblings and daughters, as well as rediscovering God’s creation in the beauty of Oregon’s natural environment.
Diane has been blessed with many opportunities that satisfy her quest as a lifelong learner, as well as possibilities to continue her love of children, their education and enlightenment. She looks forward to serving the students and families of ASA!
Music & PE Teacher — Ms. Brigid (Kathleen) Mahurin
A Northwest logging towns native, Ms. Brigid grew up surrounded by nature, grounded in a love for God, and steeped in music, dance and athletics. Teaching PE and Music at Agia Sophia Academy since 2006 has been a most natural fit.
She earned her B.Mus with emphases in Conducting, Vocal Pedagogy and Music Education from Western Washington University in beautiful Bellingham. Since then, she has completed both levels of BrainDance Education from Anne Green Gilbert and Orff Level 1. She has special training in Music and Drama for children with ADHD, Dyslexia and Autism, as well as movement for children with vision concerns and people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Ms. Brigid has taught every age from 2 months to 99 years old, in her private studio, in public and private schools, and in secular and Orthodox choirs. From 2003-2006 she served as the Youth Music Specialist for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Church Music Federation. While there, she organized, developed and taught curriculum for Sunday schools, Choir Conductors, Chanters & Choral Singers.
Having lived in many small logging towns as a child, Ms. Brigid dreamed of living in a larger city, riding mass transit and getting paid to sing. In Portland, she does all those things and more. She serves as soprano section leader for the choir Kliros and conductor of Music Makers (Kindergarten) and Nova 1 (grades 1&2) at Pacific Youth Choirs. With her family she enjoys watching and performing in concerts & plays, hiking, and testing frozen yogurt flavors.
Art Teacher — Mrs. Magdalena Perussi
Mrs. Perussi was born in Romania. She has been surrounded by art since her childhood. Her father is an iconographer and he helped develop her artistic inclinations. She has a degree in painting with a minor in teaching art from the University of Fine Arts in Bucharest. Soon after receiving her degree she came to the green and beautiful Oregon. Over the years Mrs. Perussi has painted icons for her church and parishioners and worked on religious murals at the two Romanian Orthodox churches in Portland. Currently she continues to challenge herself with new art projects. She also enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with family. She loves teaching art class at ASA where the education of children is addressed academically and spiritually. She feels privileged to be part of such a wonderful community.
School Librarian — Ms. Lisa Farris
Lisa was born and raised in Southern California. After high school, she moved to Oregon to attend Oregon State University on a Naval R.O.T.C. scholarship. Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree and a commission in the U.S. Navy. She served on active duty as a Naval Officer for 8 years. Since leaving the military, Lisa has earned a master’s degree in business administration and a masters of arts in teaching.
She currently spends her time volunteering at local schools and non-profit organizations in order to support the growth and success of future generations.
Latin Language Teacher — Mrs. Kendall Muzik
Mrs. Kendall Muzik was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She was baptized and grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church, though her family is Serbian. Kendall attended Catholic elementary and high school, where she studied Latin. She earned her BA in Liberal Studies and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at Westmont College, with a year on consortium at Gordon College. Kendall began teaching in California, and later moved to the midwest to teach at both Serbian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox elementary schools. She met her husband and moved back to California to get married and begin raising a family. Looking for an Orthodox church with an established school for their children to attend, Kendall and her husband found St. John the Baptist and Agia Sophia Academy, and decided to move to Oregon in 2010. Her two oldest children attended the Montessori class at ASA, where she had the blessing of experiencing its warm, tight-knit community. She is excited to be a part of and contribute to ASA, where academics are woven with the Christian values of the Orthodox faith. Deo gratias!
Greek Language Teacher — Now Hiring
The pandemic has left us without Greek foreign language teacher. If you are interested in learning more about this position, please visit our employment section to learn more about this job openings for fall 2021.