Principal & Lower Elementary Teacher— Ms. Elisha Lubliner
Ms. Elisha Lubliner was born in Atlanta, GA. Moving to Oregon with her family at the age of nine, Elisha managed to avoid the tell-tale southern accent and quickly grew to love the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She holds a Masters in Education Administration from George Fox University along with an Oregon Administrative license for PreK-12, a B.A. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Northwest Christian University, a K-8 Oregon Teaching License, ESOL endorsement (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and American Montessori Society certification for the primary level. She will finish a literacy specialist endorsement, through George Fox University in Spring 2016.
Elisha is excited to be in her tenth year at Agia Sophia Academy. In her time here, she has taught everything from Montessori preschool through fourth grade, and has served as the Principal of ASA since 2008. She loves spending time in the classroom with the children and enjoys a dual teaching role in the K/1 classroom for the past serveral years. Ms. Lubliner loves to partner with the students, families and staff of Agia Sophia Academy to build a strong Christian educational environment in which the child is able to grow and thrive spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Development Director & Lower Elementary Teacher — Mrs. Molly Shaw
Presbytera Molly Shaw has been at Agia Sophia Academy for two years now as the Development Director, working closely with the school board, principal, staff and friends of ASA. Presbytera has worked in schools all of her adult life, as a teacher and an administrator. She has 10 years of teaching elementary grades in public, private, charter and online public school with an additional seven years working in school administration. Mrs. Shaw holds a BAE degree in Elementary Education, a Masters in Education for Instructional Design with an additional Administration School Leadership license for Prek-12 Grades. Molly and Fr. Athanasius are active members of the Annunciation Orthodox Church in Milwaukie. The Shaws have two grown daughters and a grandson, all residing in the Pacific NW. Molly and Fr. Athanasius love living close to their church, friends and family and participate in the beauties of Pacific NW as much as they are able. They also love being part of Portland’s Orthodox clergy and educational work.
School Secretary — Mrs. Euphrosyne McKenzie
Mrs. Euphrosyne McKenzie was born and raised in Seward, Alaska. While attending college, she met her husband who introduced her to the Orthodox Church. She became a stay-at-home mom and in 1999 converted to the faith. In 2002, she moved with her family to beautiful Oregon. After beginning a homeschooling program for her son, she was excited to hear talk of an Orthodox school opening and jumped at the opportunity to enroll him that first year. Agia Sophia Academy was a true blessing; her son soared academically. Mrs. McKenzie began administrating ASA’s website and helped publish the school newsletters, later taking on more and more secretarial duties as the school grew. As her daughters reached enrollment age, they too loved attending ASA, and this fueled Mrs. McKenzie’s desire to be continuously involved in this wonderful ministry. In 2008, she officially became a member of ASA’s staff and loves every minute of it. While her two older children have since graduated from ASA, her youngest daughter is currently a 5th grader in ASA’s Upper Elementary Program.
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 8th 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.
Montessori Teacher — Mrs. Padma Aisola
Mrs. Padma Aisola 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.
Mrs. 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 for 5 years 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!
Upper Elementary Teacher — Fr. Edward Hillhouse
Fr. Edward Hillhouse, was born in Wisconsin, then soon traveled to Virginia and ended up in 13 different schools from San Diego to Alaska, as a Navy brat. These enriching experiences helped make him a better teacher, which he had had a vision of doing by the age of 14. He pursued his goal of becoming a school teacher through the education department at California Baptist University. After seven years teaching third grade in Riverside, California, Fr. Ed moved to the Santa Cruz area where he worked in the cleaning, landscaping, and hardwood floors businesses before helping to start an Orthodox school. He taught grades five through eight in his parish school for 16 years before moving to the Portland area. He has been a teacher at Agia Sophia Academy since 2006, a position he feels privileged to fulfill. He also serves as an assistant priest at St George Orthodox Church in Portland.
Fr. Ed and his Khouria Judy have been blessed with 3 sons and 4 grandsons. The latter dwell in Anchorage, Alaska with their parents. Fr. Vasili is the priest of the parish there. Ryan and Jeremy enjoy life in their sunny hometown of Santa Cruz, California.
Just as key people in Fr. Ed’s life have left profound imprints on him, his vision for being a teacher is to empower children early on to become strong individuals who are able to course through life making informed choices that lead to success on all levels. He strives to teach every lesson and manage his classroom with the awareness that how he relates to every child in every circumstance contributes to academic, personal and spiritual growth. His ultimate goal is that children read, write, think and speak well in the context of a loving relationship with God. He has endeavored to accomplish this since 2006 at ASA, having taught grades 1 through 7.
Mid Elementary Teacher — Mrs. Ranae Rice
Ranae Rice is enthusiastic to be a part of the educational team at Agia Sophia Academy, as the mid-elementary classroom teacher. In her second year (2015-16) as a teacher at ASA , she is eager to make new growth with her students from last year, as well as build relationships with families and children who are new to her classroom this year. Ranae grew up just north of Seattle, and received a B.A. in Integrated Studies, as well as a K-8 Residency Teacher Certificate from Seattle Pacific University. Ranae has invested additional time in the study of Mathematics and Psychology, obtaining minor degrees in each of these areas, and applying this knowledge in her teaching and care of children.
On a personal note, Ranae recently got married to her sweetheart, Aaron Rice, a man who shares with her a great love for learning, and who inspires her as a teacher. In her work with children, as a tutor, nanny, or teacher, she is always looking for ways to connect with young people and share their interests. The mission of ASA speaks directly to Ranae’s own purpose as a teacher, which is to care for the holistic development of children and provide a welcoming and challenging environment, in order that they grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, and academically. Above all, she hopes that her ministry as a teacher will imprint on her students’ hearts a love for God and faithfulness to Him throughout their lives.
Music & PE Teacher — Mrs. Brigid Powell
As a child, Mrs. Powell grew up in music, dance and athletics. Surprisingly, the logging towns she lived in valued highly both artistic and athletic endeavors for all children at all ages. Her music teachers and coaches inspired her to study education in order to provide to the younger generations an education that educates the whole person. Mrs. Powell’s love for the Orthodox Church, for music and a healthy physical and spiritual self fuels her passion to educate all children in our rich and exquisite tradition.
She earned her B.Mus. with emphases in Conducting, Vocal Pedagogy and Music Education from Western Washington University and has taught music in numerous Private and Public schools ranging from preschool through university level. Frequently sought out as a judge, guest conductor and clinician, Mrs. Powell has worked with many secular and Orthodox Conductors and Choirs in various jurisdictions. She also served as the Youth Music Specialist for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Church Music Federation for whom she organized and developed curriculum for Sunday Schools, Choir Conductors, Chanters & Choral Singers. Mrs. Powell has received training in Kodaly, Orff, and Dalcroze-Eurhythmics philosophies as well as BrainDance by Anne Green Gilbert & Dionne Kamara.
Currently, she is soprano section leader for the choir KLIROS. She lives in Portland with her husband, two daughters, and two cats.
Latin Language Teacher — Mrs. Martine Downs
Mrs. Martine (Mulder) Downs was born in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She was raised in a Dutch Old-Catholic family, which formed a balance for her classical education. After graduating from the Gymnasium, where she specialized in both Latin and Greek, and four other languages, and working a year as a volunteer in a physical rehabilitation facility, she started at the University of Utrecht, where she earned both her Kandidaats and Doctoraal degrees in Andragologie. It translates best as “Educational Philosophy and Psychology” at the PhD. level.
In her church at the time, she was involved with youth work, and traveled to singing conferences with friends in Germany. Her husband she met in church, when he and his seminary classmates were traveling. They married in 1979, and made their home in San Andreas, California. As an immigrant, the now Mrs. Downs learned to be an American and later a mother. Church life kept the family busy, and teaching Sunday school was an early joy. Home has been in two other parishes in California, and one in Washington. Then came the big turn around: a goodbye to the Episcopal Church, and first steps to become Orthodox Christians. Mrs. Downs lived for one year on a Military Base in Biloxi, MS, and then moved to Portland,OR in 1997. She is now a member of the Church of the Annunciation, where her husband is known as Deacon Cuthbert. Her son, Robert, and his family are members of St.John the Baptist Orthodox Church. For Mrs. Downs, it is coming full circle: having the opportunity to be at Agia Sophia Academy and teach Latin in a Christian environment. Giving the students a chance to further their studies with a Latin underpinning will help make their language studies come alive. Photo coming soon.
Greek Language Teacher — Mrs. Mary Christopoulos
Mrs. Mary Christopoulos is a second generation Greek American and is excited to be bringing her heritage, faith, and Greek language skills to Agia Sophia Academy. She brings with her 16 years of teaching experience in grades preschool through fifth in the Michigan Public School System.
Mrs. Christopoulos received her Bachelors Degree at the University of Michigan. After a successful 14 year career in accounting and auditing for the Ford Motor Company, she realized her passion and love for education and children. She received her Masters in Education from Wayne State University and has truly found her lifetime fulfillment in educating children. Mrs. Christopoulos’ recent move to Oregon is sparked by the birth of her granddaughter, Athena Maria, and she is thrilled to be joining the Portland Greek Orthodox Community.
Art Teacher — Mrs. Magdalena Perussi
Mrs. Magdalena Perussi was born in Pitesti, Romania. She has been surrounded by art since her childhood. Her father is an iconographer and painter, and he helped develop her artistic inclinations. In 1998 she finished her degree in painting, with a minor in teaching art, from the University of Fine Arts in Bucharest. Soon after receiving her art degree, she married, and came to Oregon. Over the years Mrs. Perussi has painted icons for her church and parishioners, worked on religious murals at the two Romanian Orthodox churches in Portland, and created her own paintings. Mrs. Perussi has been the art teacher at Agia Sophia Academy since 2008. She is happy, and feels privileged to teach art to the ASA students, including her son who attended the school until he graduated in 2014.