Our Staff


Rosanne ManusRosanne Manus, M.A.
Owner and Program Developer

Rosanne has worked in the field of special education since 1979. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in special education from Columbia University in New York City. After four years of teaching students with emotional and behavioral difficulties in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, she began a private tutoring practice, which grew into a tutoring center and, eventually, a school and tutoring center for students with academic barriers. 

Rosanne has developed, tested and published teacher-training programs and student curricula for almost every subject and skill from kindergarten through grade twelve. She has trained numerous teachers and home-school parents in how to effectively teach students with learning barriers.
For fun, Rosanne enjoys gardening, cycling, reading and making up work for other people to do.

Lesley TaylorLesley Taylor, M.Ed.
Head of School

Lesley received her bachelor’s degree from Furman University and her master’s degree in special education from Converse College. She served as a resource teacher for three years in the public schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina then began teaching our high school students at Manus Academy in 2001. From 2005 to 2012, she served as our lead teacher and now oversees all operations in the school.

Lesley enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking and socializing with family and friends. She is an avid animal lover and has an unusually strong need to complete tasks. If something is left undone at the end of the school day, she nervously applies more Chapstick® and starts eating cheese.

Allison OsbornAllison Osborn, M.S.
Head of Instruction

Allison received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, a master’s degree in applied educational psychology and a certificate of advanced graduate study in school psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Allison worked as a school psychologist in an elementary and middle school in Fayetteville, New York before relocating to Charlotte in 2005. She also received her school administration certificate and license and completed a principal internship in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Allison began working at Manus Academy in 2011 as a teacher and now serves as our Head of Instruction.

Allison has a passion for working with students of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, running, hiking, playing soccer and eating Mexican food. She used to sing lullabies to her children; however, as soon as they could talk, they suggested she talk instead. Apparently, her singing off-key was affecting their brain development.

Crystal ChangCrystal Chang, B.S.
Administrative Assistant

Crystal received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland in 1999 and a graduate certificate in instructional systems development from the University of Maryland in 2014. Crystal taught first grade for two years and high school English for seven years in Baltimore before starting a family, then worked part-time as an assistant program coordinator at the Downtown Baltimore JCC Parenting Center.

Crystal and her family left city life in 2014 to settle in Charlotte and she is now working with us at Manus Academy. In her spare time, she plays and coaches volleyball, fondly remembers the days of reading quietly and enjoys the chaos of life with three kids, three hermit crabs and a Great Dane. She and her husband hope to pass their mutual love of adventure to their children as soon as they are old enough to travel without diapers and a crib. Crystal has spent the last six years learning how to cook and is close to being successful.

Head of Canine Development

Oakley, our school dog, is a fun-loving German shepherd and is pleased to be a member of the Manus Academy staff. Oakley loves to play catch with tennis balls and eat sardines with peanut butter.

As Head of Canine Development at Manus Academy, Oakley’s duties include following the teachers’ and students’ directions, such as “sit,” “stay” and “no barking during class.” Her duties also include spending personal time with individual students and listening to them with unconditional love and acceptance. One day, she hopes to develop a dog sensitivity program for the staff and catch Frisbees®.


Robb AitchisonRobb Aitchison, M.S.

Robb grew up on Otisco Lake, just southwest of Syracuse, New York and is a big fan of all Syracuse Orange athletic teams. Robb got his bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, where he was a team captain and most valuable player for their Division I lacrosse team. Go Seawolves! (Seawolves are ancient mythical creatures that are one-half wolf and one-half fish.)

Robb earned his master's degree in inclusive special education at Syracuse University. While still living in Syracuse, Robb worked with people with disabilities for Exceptional Family Resources and discovered his passion. After living in upstate New York, Australia and Washington, D.C., Robb and his family moved to Charlotte.

Robb has teaching certifications in physical education, social studies and students with disabilities. He taught in the public schools of New York and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before joining Manus Academy. He is married and has three wonderful young daughters. Robb enjoys spending time with his family, outdoor activities, sports, reading and watching movies. He also loves to travel; however, no matter how wonderful a new place is, he doesn’t want to return there. There are other places to see and he doesn’t have time for repeats. This drives his wife nuts.

Carolyn AlexanderCarolyn Alexander, M.A.T.

Carolyn grew up in Hazard, Kentucky where she was recognized early on for her talent in basketball. She was offered a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky, which she attended for two years before she transferred to the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. While playing basketball there, she helped her team win a conference tournament and won an MVP award (most valuable player).

After graduation, Carolyn taught first graders in a private school then went to Mercer University where she earned a master’s degree in teaching. She also coached a girls’ basketball team and led them to victory in a NCAA tournament.  

Carolyn is an avid sports fan and enjoys working out, reading, listening to music, cooking and traveling. At the top of her bucket list is a wish to visit all seven continents and view a great white shark up close (hmm…). Carolyn’s unusual claim to fame is her ability to recite the entire script from the movie “Remember the Titans” . . . “In Virginia, football is a way of life. My daddy coached so hard . . .” For the full script, please talk to Carolyn directly.

Lori ChicanoLori Chicano, M.Ed.

Lori received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She holds a teaching certification in guidance counseling. Lori worked for several years in the mental health field as an individual, group and family therapist and as a program coordinator for a student assistance program in Pennsylvania, where she helped to identify and remove barriers to students’ success.

After marrying in 2011, Lori and her husband relocated to Charlotte. Lori enjoys working with both children and families. She also enjoys time at the beach, do-it-yourself projects, crafts, reading and trying new recipes. She has never been stung by a bee and will not use a pen if it doesn’t have a cap.

Sue Lynn DenouxSue Lynn Denoux, B.A.

Sue Lynn received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida and has been working in the field of education for many years, both as a teaching assistant and teacher in Florida and North Carolina.

Among her many interests, Sue Lynn enjoys reading, baking delicious pies and decorating rooms and other areas for events. She is also a fanatic football fan. Her favorite college team is Louisiana State University, which she attended for two years. Sue Lynn and her husband used to drive sixteen hours from Sarasota, Florida to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to see a ball game then turn around and drive back home.

HinsonRussell Hinson, B.A.

Russell grew up in Cabarrus County and earned his teaching degree from Pfeiffer College and has been working in the field of education for many years.  He has been an elementary classroom teacher, teacher mentor, school math facilitator, and lead elementary math teacher in the Curriculum and Education Department for Charlotte Mecklenburg  Schools.  He has also presented at national conferences in the areas of math and science. 

His primary interests are gardening, reading historical novels and playing with his three rescue dogs.  He loves working with and teaching kids of all ages.  Russell is intrigued with the number 13 because it shows up frequently in his life.

Tina HummelTina Hummel, M.A.

Tina received her bachelor’s degree in history from College Misericordia in Pennsylvania in 1989 and her master’s degree in history from American University in 1991. For fifteen years, she worked as an historical researcher for historians and novelists in Washington, D.C.

Pursuing her dream of teaching, Tina joined us at Manus Academy in 2007. A jack-of-all-trades, she has taught students in our college preparatory, basic high school and middle school program, has tutored students after school in all subjects and skills and has helped Rosanne develop curricula.

Tina enjoys reading, gardening and hiking with her dog. She also makes sure she gets plenty of sleep and caffeine. When she gets insufficient amounts of both, she tends to blurt out the answers to her own questions (which her students find helpful).

McColleyJoseph McColley, M.S.

Joseph joined Manus Academy in December 2014. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Villanova University and his master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University in 2012. He has been teaching students of all ages for nearly twenty years, mainly in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts and in Washington, DC and Japan.

A Boston native, Joseph is a dues-paying member of the Boston Red Sox , or, as he says, the Red Sox Nation. He is an avid traveler and has fond memories of hitchhiking to Mount Everest. Joseph is rather laid back, but when he gets his mind to it, he does things like cycle across the country, or walk 750 miles on an island in Japan.

Joseph lived in Japan for seven years, which is where he met his wife. Now that he is married, he likes to sip green tea, go bird watching, hike and read – and dream of cycling to Chile.

Sarah SmithSarah Smith, B.A.  

After growing up in the small town of Louisville, Ohio, Sarah enrolled in Ohio University and the Reserve Officer Training Corps. As a member of the Corps, she had the opportunity to learn Russian, spend time at RAF Lakenheath England and work with F-15 maintenance crews.

After leaving the Corps, Sarah spent a year abroad in Germany working as an au pair. She later returned to Ohio to finish her undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology and audiology.  She is currently doing part-time graduate work in the field of communication sciences and disorders at the University of South Carolina.

Sarah finds nothing more relaxing than coming home to her three needy pets: her two cats, Madison and Sofia; and her dog, Kadiera. As she enters the house, they are already circling the treat cabinet and whining for food. Sarah enjoys traditional southern vegetarian cuisine and exploring local areas.  If you drive by Carowinds on a clear day, you might see her at the top of the Fury.

Sarah SprinkleSarah Sprinkle, B.A.

Sarah received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After college, she worked full time as a nanny. Sarah has always had a passion for working with children and became interested in working with students in a school setting. She began volunteering at Manus Academy in the fall of 2014 and loved it so much that she stayed. She started as a teaching assistant and is now a teacher.

Sarah enjoys being outside, running, hiking and reading a good book in the sunshine. She loves watching documentaries and spending time with her family. She and her husband share many interests and spend  much time together serving the community and coaching soccer.

Deb SullivanDeb Sullivan, B.S.

Deb has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and, over the years, has taught a wide range of skills to our students, from beginning reading to high school mathematics. Deb loves to cook, particularly Italian food, and enjoys walking, weight lifting, yoga and reading the classics and time travel books. Being from New York, she has what is called a “Bronx accent.” Her students say that, when she gets excited, she really drops her r’s. Deb says that she simply doesn’t have time to pronounce them.

JenniferJennifer Trimble, B.S.W.

In 2005, Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte then joined us at Manus Academy. She enjoys teaching students of all ages and grade levels and particularly enjoys “Fun Friday,” when she can challenge her students to a game of soccer or other sport.

For recreation, Jennifer enjoys fashion, reading, karaoke, practicing yoga, vacationing at the beach (her favorite place in the world), cooking out and spending time with her daughter, Ava, and her family and friends. Her safety practices include not wearing shoes with high heels. This reduces the time she spends face-down on the floor.

Tutors (for one-to-one and small-group instruction)

Shannon Ferguson
Shannon Ferguson, M.A.

Shannon received a bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University in California then a master’s degree in multi-cultural education at the same university. After college, Shannon taught third then first graders in San Jose before working as a physical education teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. In 2013, she joined our staff at Manus Academy as a teaching assistant.                          

Shannon loves running, hiking, animals and being with her husband and two children. She also loves to garden but won’t garden in Charlotte because she is afraid of snakes. (She saw a copperhead once.)

Shannon FergusonJillian Guthrie, M.S.W.

Jillian received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Presbyterian College in 2011 and her master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina in 2013.  After graduating, Jillian practiced social work as a Parent Consultant for a non-profit organization in South Carolina, but a marriage proposal brought her to Charlotte in 2014.  Jillian has always had an interest in education as well as working with children and adolescents so she was thrilled to begin working at Manus Academy in the spring of 2016. 
Jillian was born and raised in a small town neighboring Clemson, South Carolina and as a result is a big Clemson Tiger fan.  Jillian’s husband is from the same small town and they love to visit their families and attend Clemson football games any chance they get.  In her free time Jillian enjoys taking long walks with her dog, going to any type of exercise class where she can dance, and trying new restaurants with her husband.  Jillian also cannot go a day without coffee in the morning and a chocolate treat after dinner.

Lyudmyla RekutLyudmyla Rekut, Master’s Degree

In 1992, Lyudmyla graduated from Kremenets Pedagogic College with a major in pre-school education. In 1995, she graduated from Prykarpatskyy University with an advanced degree in pre-school pedagogy and psychology. In 2005, she became certified as a chief consultant of the region’s psychological-medical-pedagogic consulting centers. She earned this certification from the Ukraine Central Institute of Post-Graduate Pedagogic Education. Her duties included working with students with a wide range of learning needs and training teachers.  

At Manus Academy, Lyudmyla has tutored students in a variety of skills and subjects and has taught classes. A skilled cook, she and her students often serve us delicious treats, ranging from freshly baked goods to salads made from the greens in our garden.

Lisa SolisLisa Solis, B.A.

Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After getting married, she and her husband moved to Miami where she worked for a travel marketing company as an office manager and took courses toward her teaching certificate in Florida. Shortly after completing her classes, she started a family and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. While raising her boys, she worked as a part-time preschool teacher.

Lisa is excited to be here at Manus Academy and is glad to have an opportunity to use her organizational skills and work with children. When not working, Lisa likes to spend time with her family and friends, practice yoga, read and cook. Her favorite activity is checking off a finished task on her “To Do” list. Her second favorite activity is writing the list itself because she knows she’ll then get to write more checks.

Peter SyurpitaPeter  Syurpita, Bachelor’s Degree
Shop Teacher

In 1990, Peter attended Buchazky Professional-Technical School where he trained to become an apiarist (beekeeper). In 1999, he received his bachelor’s degree at the Ternopil Government Pedagogic University with a focus on teaching such skills as woodworking, working with metal, drafting and farming technology.

Peter served in the Ukrainian Armed Service before becoming a senior lieutenant and commander in charge of twenty-five police officers. He then became a physical education teacher for students with physical disabilities at the Ternopil Psychology, Medical and Pedagogical Consultation Department.

A man of many talents, Peter serves several roles at Manus Academy. He completes both major and minor repairs of our school building and the many objects in it, maintains the property and teaches students to build things.

Dori WhitmanDori Whitman, M.S.W.

Dori received her bachelor’s degree of science from Drexel University in 1992 and her master’s degree in social work from Temple University in 1997. Dori has had extensive experience serving children and their families in the New York City foster care system and at Green Chimneys Therapeutic Day School in Brewster, New York. As a licensed clinical social worker, Dori provided social skills training, coping strategies and anger management tools to children and adolescents in both individual and group settings. Dori joined us in August of 2011 and is now fulfilling her dream of teaching.

In her free time, Dori enjoys activities with her family, traveling, creating pottery, practicing yoga and training for the triathlon. In Dori’s athletic training group, she is referred to as the “billy goat” because she prefers cycling uphill. This meshes well with her life philosophy: the challenge of the uphill is more exciting than the ease of the downhill. (We’re impressed; we’ll toss you a water bottle on our way down.)


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6203 Carmel Road, Charlotte, NC 28226 • (704) 542-6471