Rosanne 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 more work.
Lesley Taylor, M.Ed., Head of School
Lesley received her bachelor’s degree at Furman University and her master’s degree in special education at 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 applies more Chapstick® and starts eating cheese.
Allison Osborn, M.S., Head of Instruction
Alli 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. Alli 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 School System. Alli began working at Manus Academy in 2011 as a teacher and now serves as our Head of Instruction.
Alli 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.
Oakley, Head of Canine Development and Alfie, Substitute Head
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®.
When Oakley is out, our back-up dog, Alfie, often steps into the role of Head of Canine Development to ensure a consistent presence of canine intelligence. With Oakley’s assistance, Alfie plans to develop a training program that shows students the best way to throw sticks, feed the two dogs delicious treats and persuade teachers to increase recess time for everyone.
Mandy Bell, B.S.
Mandy has spent many years working with students of all ages and in many capacities, such as a teacher, advisor, mentor and tutor. Mandy received her bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Western Governors University and is certified in social studies and English. She served as a high-school teacher and yearbook advisor in the Union County Public Schools before joining us at Manus Academy.
For fun, Mandy loves reading, photography and scrap-booking. She is from Canada and has been told she resembles Jamie Lee Curtis, the mom from Freaky Friday. (You look just fine to us, Mandy.)
Sue 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.
Jillian 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. 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 and her husband were both born and raised in a small town neighboring Clemson, South Carolina and, as a result, are big Clemson Tiger fans. 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 exercise classes where she can dance and trying new restaurants with her husband. Jillian officially begins her day with coffee and ends it with a chocolate treat after dinner.
Joseph 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.
Jennifer Robinson, B.S.
Jennifer, a native of Charlotte, grew up on a horse farm in Union County. She received her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University where she majored in communications. Prior to completing her bachelor’s degree, Jennifer worked in medical administration. She is passionate about helping children and even launched her own company in 2013 to address the unique safety needs of toddlers.
In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her daughter, cooking and managing her small business. She is looking forward to the day when she and her daughter can leave the house without a suitcase full of princesses and the soundtrack from Frozen playing at full volume.
Sarah 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.
Will Stewart, B.A.
Will received his bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the University of Georgia. He realized his love for teaching while serving as a teaching assistant at Cleveland Road Elementary School in Athens, Georgia during his senior year of college.
Pursuing his passion, Will moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he taught English to students and business professionals. Upon returning to the United States, he settled in Charlotte in 2016 and tutored students in all subjects from kindergarten through twelfth grade before becoming a member of Manus Academy.
In his free time, Will is either mountain biking at the National Whitewater Center or listening to stand-up comedy. Enjoying a good scare, Will listens to fearsome podcasts to help him sleep and give him the unsettling dreams he seems to require.
Deb 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.
Tutors (for one-to-one and small-group instruction)
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. In 2013, she joined our staff at Manus Academy as a physical education teacher and 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.)
Anita Flo, M.A.
Anita received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in organizational sociology and German from UC Davis in California. She also holds a master’s degree in applied psychology, which she obtained from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California. Anita has over thirteen years of early childhood development experience, most recently as a teaching assistant for the Ballantyne Preschool of the Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In her free time Anita enjoys reading, traveling, meditating…, which often turns into napping, and daily attempts to master the mindless yet habit-forming game “Candy Crush.” She hopes to reach the last level within this century. (We wish you luck with that.)
Beth Husted, M.A.
Hailing from eastern North Carolina, but having galloped around the state, Beth settled in Charlotte in 2004 and made her way to Manus Academy in 2016. She earned undergraduate degrees in journalism and mass communications and romance languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then earned a master’s degree in teaching at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a certification to teach academically and intellectually gifted students. After graduation, Beth taught social studies and language arts to a wide range of middle school students, including students with specific needs.
When her second child came along, Beth stayed home for a bit. She missed working with children, however, so she joined us at Manus Academy and is happily teaching students again. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, cooking and sitting in carpool – and sitting and sitting and…
Maya Johnson, B.A.
Maya, who joined the Manus family in 2013, provides unique music and movement classes each week. She is also delighted to be on staff as a teaching assistant. Originally from New York, Maya was raised with a love for music. In fact, at just sixteen months of age, she named her first doll “Do-Re.”
Maya studied violin and cello and earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa, where she majored in music education and psychology. She moved to North Carolina and taught orchestra in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, and while raising her three daughters, became licensed as a Kindermusik instructor, joyfully teaching classes for many years.
While homeschooling her three daughters, Maya provided private violin and cello instruction and taught exploratory music classes at several preschool programs. She also began leading the Hand in Hand Orchestra, an afterschool program offered through The Vine UMC. Throughout her career, Maya has sought ways to make musical experiences intergenerational and has involved her students at many senior and memory care facilities. She now works with several senior clients privately and never underestimates the mindful and emotional connections that music generates in people from birth to 100 years young.
As a life-long learner, Maya is always motivated by her family, her students and even her rambunctious trio of “American Hybrid” rescue dogs. She enjoys solving ridiculously challenging sudoku puzzles, reading about nutrition and dog training, learning German, and going on family hiking, camping and kayaking expeditions.
Peter Rekut, Bachelor’s Degree, Shop Class Assistant
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, metalworking, 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.
Lauren Wall, B.S.
Lauren is originally from Lexington, Kentucky. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, Lauren moved to Charlotte to pursue her career and a relationship with her husband, a native Charlottean. Through years of community voluntarism and witnessing her own kids’ diverse learning styles, Lauren has developed a passion for service, for teaching, and for young people, especially those who learn differently.
Lauren and her family are avid Clemson football fans. They love living in Charlotte, where the mountains, the beach, the lake and the Tigers are all within reach. Lauren is an active volunteer, loves music, cooking for (and eating with) family and friends, and spends a great deal of time in her minivan with her yellow Labrador, Ruby, riding shotgun.
Lisa Weyhrich, B.S.
Lisa received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2007, she moved to the Queen City with her then fiancé turned husband. Lisa has always had a passion for working with children and became interested in working with students in a school setting after several years of volunteering at her church. Lisa served as everything from a teaching committee/education board member, to parent volunteer at the church’s weekday preschool, to most recently directing her church’s largest children’s ministry, Vacation Bible School.
Lisa enjoys fashion and interior decorating. She loves spending time with her family, including her two young sons. She and her husband share many interests and spend time together traveling and watching lots of lil’ league sports.
Dori 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.)