KidsCollege Instructor Bios

Instructional Partners

Black Rocket logo

Black Rocket's STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics) Academies are powered by the student’s innate imagination and are designed to bring their ideas to life in a fun, hands-on, learning environment.

CHEC Logo The Community Homeschool Enrichment Center (CHEC) supports homeschool families by offering a variety of enrichment courses for children age 5 to 18. Courses were solely enrichment when CHEC formed in 2005, but over time we have started to offer a variety of academic options as well. We strive to offer classes that are fun, educational, and social.


KidsCollege Instructor Bios

Megan Bailey

Megan Bailey is a classically trained musician and music teacher with a degree in biochemistry. She has worked in research and development in the health fields and she has taught children of all ages in music, math and the sciences.

  • Carnival Chaos
  • Engineering Feats: Bridges & Tunnels
  • Somewhere Below the Sea
  • Engineering Disasters 
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • Zip, Zoom, Float & Fly
  • Forensics Fun
  • Gadgets & Gizmos
  • The Toy Store
  • Spies R Us
  • Spooky, Groovy Science
  • The Night Sky

Joyce Carter


Joyce Carter is a Fluvanna County Public Schools teacher and has been teaching for 10 years.
  • Fairy Gardens
  • Jewelry Making
  • CSI Detectives
  • STEM Toy Making
John Haverkamp

John Haverkamp is skilled in a wide range of artisanal crafts and in various
educational computer software programs, including 3D software and 3D modeling and animation. His artistic mediums include steel, bronze and clay. He has taught youth and adults in community, school and university settings.

  • Makerspace
  • Cosplay Creations
  • Printmaking
  • Fantastical Drawings & Design
  • Perspective Drawing
Louis Torkornoo

Louis Torkornoo is originally from Ghana, Africa but has lived in the U.S. for 23 years. He is an alumnus of the University of Virginia where he began in engineering but graduated with a masters in math education.  He has taught middle school students in Algebra 1 and pre-algebra. He has also served as a math tutor, karate instructor, guitar and piano teacher, soccer coach, Sunday school teacher, christmas pageant coordinator, computer coach, SAT math and college prep instructor, summer camp counselor and talent show coach.

  • The Science of Flying
  • The Musical and Poetic Experience
Gwen Sherwood

Gwen Sherwood


Gwen has taught high school English for almost 40 years. Photography has always been her passion. She has taught Kids College photography classes for several years and is passionate about animals and loves photographing them. She also loves to travel and hike.

  • Fun with Photography
  • Photography: Eyes on Your World

Sheila Cervelloni

  • Morning Pastries
  • Italian Cuisine
  • Everything Pie
  • French Desserts
  • Top Chef, Jr.
Janet Beals

Janet Beals

Janet Beals Orejudos is a Charlottesville process artist, teacher and facilitator. For the past four years, she has taught art and sculpture for ages 3 through 15 for the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department and for CHEC (Community Homeschool Enrichment Center).

Janet’s background includes work with the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut and Chicago’s Open Studio Project, which serves hundreds of children each year while training adults world-wide in the Open Studio Process. She has also been a nonprofit manager and fundraiser for most of her life.

In process art, there is no “bad art.”  Every piece tells a story and has its own message.  Although each class has a theme and each child will learn technical and artistic skills, students are free to express the topic and use the medium in their own way.  By doing this, we respect each child’s creativity as well as helping them learn.

  • Giant Sculptures
  • Mask Making
  • Giant Insects
  • Surrealistic Art
Monica Farrell

Monica Farrell

Monica Farrell taught Literature and Writing at the American University in Cairo for several years before shifting careers to teach yoga and contemplative sciences. She is a graduate of UVA and UCLA with degrees in Comparative Literature. She has traveled all over the world and lived between Egypt and India for more than 20 years. Monica is currently homeschooling her daughter and teaching daily meditative yoga classes in Charlottesville. 

  • The Writing Workshop for Book Lovers
Julie M. Merchant

Julie Merchant

Julie M. Merchant is a retired engineer who also loves to bake and cook. In addition to her primary career as an engineer, she ran the area’s largest recreational field hockey program for 1-12 grades through Albemarle County Parks and Rec and won a Virginia High School State Championship in field hockey coaching at Western Albemarle High School.

Self-taught in the kitchens of her mom and Nana, as well as her friends’ moms’ kitchens, Julie has been toiling over the stove for more than five decades. Her cooking career began at the age of 13 as the assistant cook at an overnight 4-H camp in upstate New York. She continued her love for the kitchen by working in her college’s dining hall to earn money for school. More recently, she has served as one of Charlottesville’s Soup Kitchen Chefs/Team Leads. Having grown up in a predominantly Italian northern city, having a French mother in-law, as well as having traveled all over the world for her primary career, Julie loves a wide variety of cuisine and loves to buy spices and local items to bring back and experiment with in her kitchen. She is presently on a Greek food kick and hopes to travel to Greece when the pandemic lifts.

  • Morning Pastries
  • Italian Cuisine
  • Everything Pie
  • French Desserts
  • Top Chef, Jr.