Profes

Brandon Norris
¡Saludos! My name is Brandon Norris. I’m a Spanish teacher at Short Pump Middle School in Richmond, Virginia. I’m thrilled to be returning for my seventh year working at the Spanish academy. I am fascinated by all languages and developed my passion for them when I attended the academy myself back in 2011; it is truly an unforgettable experience. As director, I hope to impart this same level of excitement for language to each of the students. In my free time, I enjoy sipping coffee while chatting with friends or reading in a foreign language. I also love doing adventurous activities like rock climbing, white water rafting, and kayaking.
Meghan Depue
Hi! I’m Meghan Depue, the Lead Teacher of the academy this year, and I will be teaching a class on the history of the Spanish Civil War. This year will be my seventh year working at the Spanish Academy, and I also attended as a student in 2014. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and a Master’s in Elementary Education. For the past three years, I have worked as a middle school Spanish teacher in Henrico County. In my free time, you can find me singing, reading, dancing, and most importantly, drinking coffee. I cannot wait to enjoy this year’s Academy with all of you!
Aída Abarca
¡Hola! My name is Aida Abarca. I am originally from El Salvador but have lived in Northern Virginia since I was 10 years old. I’m a Spanish teacher at South County Middle School, and I am very excited to be returning for my fourth year working at the Spanish academy. I enjoy traveling and learning about new cultures, tasting new foods, and I am also very passionate about all things outdoors.
Janey Guillén
I teach high school Spanish in Henrico County. My own Spanish teacher in high school was in a Spanish and Portuguese-language band, and was able to help me connect to the language as she showed us how to use music to learn. She also encouraged me to apply for the Academia many years ago, and it was an invaluable experience. I am certified as a medical and legal interpreter, and I still am still active on the local hospital’s backup interpreter roster. Music, in general, is a big part of my life, and I teach Cuban dance classes both to my high school students and in the Richmond community.
Daniela Quiroz
I am Daniela Quiroz, and I am from Córdoba, Argentina. I have studied English since I was 11, and in the past couple years, I have also begun studying Italian. I received my degree in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language from the National University of Córdoba, and I have worked in Argentina with students from 7 to 17 years old. For the past two years, I have been the Spanish World Language Teaching Assistant at W&L, and I am thrilled to be part of the 2022 VGWLA here as well! Outside of academics, I enjoy traveling, drinking mate, and exploring beautiful Lexington, Virginia!
Manuel Yánez
¡Hola a todos! My name is Manuel Yanez. I am a Spanish teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools. I’m the father of three wonderful children, Camila (26), Sebastian (21), and Esteban (16). I was raised and educated in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and in Fairfax, Virginia. I teach Spanish at Justice High School. I have taught all levels of Spanish to second language learners and Heritage Speakers. I love to teach Spanish, and I enjoy sharing this passion for my native language and culture. I also love to read, watch international soccer games, travel around the world, and attend concerts. Additionally, I have worked in the Foreign Languages Governor School Immersion Summer Program for seven years at VCU, Sweet Briar College, and Washington and Lee University. I am happy to be part of the 2022 Governor’s Summer Residential Spanish Academy at W&L University. ¡Hasta pronto!

Mentors

Arianna Barkhordari
Hi everyone! My name is Arianna Barkhordari. I am so excited to be the lead mentor for the Spanish Academy this year! This is my fourth year working at the academy, and I attended back in 2015. I graduated from the University of Virginia with majors in Spanish and Foreign Affairs in 2020, and now I teach second grade Spanish immersion at an elementary school in Charlottesville. I love learning languages, cooking and baking, hiking, and singing. In my free time, I’m usually trying new food at every single restaurant in Charlottesville and hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. I am looking forward to getting to know you all and hope to make this summer unforgettable!
Pierce Corson
My name is Pierce Corson, and I’m a first-year student at the University of Virginia, studying Spanish, Mandarin, and Foreign Affairs. I’ve moved eight times throughout my life, but currently live in Virginia Beach, where I’ve been since middle school. My experience with foreign languages ranges from self-study to study abroad; in 2018, I attended the Spanish Residential Governor’s School as a student, and after graduating high school in 2020, I spent a gap year studying Mandarin at a foreign language institute in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I’m incredibly excited to return to the Academy this year as a mentor, and look forward to connecting with this year’s students over a shared interest in Spanish. In addition to foreign languages and language exchange, my hobbies include playing soccer and volleyball, lifting, cooking foreign dishes, singing, playing guitar, and trying (and failing) to improve my espresso brewing technique. Although I’m not certain what I will pursue following college, I see both consulting and foreign service as potential avenues, especially insofar as they will allow me to travel and employ my skills in foreign languages.
Josh Farris
I grew up in a small farming community outside of Roanoke. I had the privilege to attend the Spanish Academy in 2014, which prepared me for when I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain while in college. I attended the University of Virginia on a Questbridge scholarship and majored in Youth & Social Innovation. My scholarship focused on the challenges that first-generation and low-income students face within higher education as well as the workforce. I have experience in various aspects of education, including teaching Writing & Drama with Breakthrough Collaborative, advising and mentoring with TRIO programs, Education & Social Policy as an intern on Capitol Hill, and research with the Pell Institute. Currently, I just completed some research to be published and am focused on my independent public speaking and consulting career within education. I am excited to return to the Spanish Academy to provide such a transformative experience to youth and love working with youth whenever possible! Please feel free to reach out to me if you need any help or have any questions!
Cecilia Juárez
My name is Cecilia Juarez and I am a second-year at the University of Virginia. At UVA, I plan to concentrate in Marketing and IT at the McIntire School of Commerce. When I am not studying for economics and accounting exams, you can usually find me writing and editing for the university newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. As an editor for the Life section, I love highlighting the Charlottesville community and exploring student life through journalism. Another one of my passions is yoga — I’m always bending over backwards for yoga sessions! If you’d like to talk about books for hours, I’m your gal. I’m always open to talking about all kinds of books and I’d love to hear any more recommendations. I cannot wait to meet you all this summer!
Sarah Kiscaden
I’m an elementary school teacher at Mountain View Elementary in Albemarle, Virginia. I grew up learning Spanish outside of Chicago, Illinois, and then moved to Richmond to continue studying Spanish in high school. I attended the University of Virginia and graduated with a degree in Youth and Social Innovation as well as Spanish, and then continued my education to get a Master’s in Elementary Education. I am very excited to join the Academy team!
Rheannon Loth
Hi! My name is Rheannon, and I’m from Afton, Virginia. I am majoring in chemistry at Washington and Lee, where I also work with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and our Spanish lit mag Pluma. When I am not in lab or translating documents, you can find me on Outing Club trips, baking cookies, or walking back roads in Rockbridge County. I am excited for my first year working at VGWLA, and I can’t wait to meet you!