giving thanks

Bill and Cynthia Tessien, Owners and Executive Directors

Meet the Executive Directors

Tessien familyBill Tessien is an engineer and certified K-6 teacher with experience teaching exceptional children. Cynthia Tessien is a Professor of Practice at Wake Forest University’s School of Business. As parents themselves, they understand the challenges of navigating children through their education and the importance of working together to enhance that experience. “Our unique approach is to bring together experienced and dedicated educators with families and students who value a one-on-one, student-centered approach to learning. We believe the A Step Ahead learning community is a treasure and are thrilled to work with the faculty and families to help these children learn and grow.”

Meet the Faculty

Connie Adams-Jones
Connie Adams-JonesConnie's specialty: K-8 reading

Certified, Wilson Reading Program
Trained, Orton-Gillingham Approach

M.A., K-12 Reading, Appalachian State University
B.A., Psychology, Learning Disabled, Salem College

What do you enjoy when you're not tutoring students at A Step Ahead?
"I love to read! And I also love to exercise and to cook, which is great because the more you enjoy one, the more you can enjoy the other too."

    Angela Anderson
    Angela AndersonB.S. Computer Science and Marketing

    Specialization: Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus I and II, SAT Preparation, and Writing

    What was your favorite subject in school?

    “That’s a tough one. I love learning, so I enjoyed most of my classes. I especially loved literature and math.”

      Debbie Crater
      Debbie CraterB.A. Education

      Specialization: K-8 Language Arts and Elementary Math

      What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

      “I always wanted to be a teacher because I had difficulty learning in the beginning of my school career, and unfortunately I did not have encouraging teachers. This gave me a desire to teach and lead children to believe in their ability to improve academically.”

        Jeannie Evans
        Jeannie EvansSpecialty: K-2 Reading and Language Arts

        B.A., Elementary Education and English

        What is something people might not know about you?

        “I can think of two things people might not know about me. 1) I am a descendant of Pocahontas 14 generations back. 2) I graduated from high school and college at the same place – Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University.”

          Maria Elliott
          Maria ElliottB.S. Family and Child Services & M.S. Family and Child Development

          Specialization: K-12 Reading, Elementary Math and Handwriting using multi-sensory educational therapy. K-8 Language Arts. Experience working with children with autism, auditory processing disorder, and ADHD.

          What is your favorite song and why?

          “My favorite song is ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’ from The Sound of Music. Two of my brothers and their friends did a rendition of it at my wedding reception! It is a memory I will always cherish.”

            Mary Kushner
            Mary KushnerB.S. Middle Grades Education

            Specialization: K-8 Language Arts & Science and Elementary Math

            What is something people might not know about you?

            “Two things people may not know about me are:
            1) I homeschooled our twin daughters from kindergarten through eighth grade.
            2) I trained and studied martial arts for 6 years and would like to begin training again in the next couple of years”

              Martha Mendenhall
              Martha MendenhallSpecialties: English, Writing, History, Literacy

              M.F.A. with honors, Professional Screenwriting
              B.A., English

              What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

              “The first thing I remember wanting to be when I was young, was a jockey. I used to pretend, on long car trips with my family that I was riding a horse weaving in and out of "traffic" on a race track, rather than looking out the window watching cars go past. In my teen years, I had a horse, rode in horse shows, and even taught horseback riding to kids. Still, today, I am a big horse racing fan and look forward with great delight to the Triple Crown races every spring.”

                Katie Price
                Katie PriceSpecialty: K-3 Language Arts

                B.A., Early Childhood Education, Appalachian State University

                What happens each year on May 5?

                "We have a party! This date falls between birthdays for my husband and me, so in addition to celebrating Cinco de Mayo, we celebrate our birthdays. Our family joins in for the fun!"

                  Kelly Sassin
                  Kelly SassinM.A. Physics & B.S. Physics

                  Specialization: Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Algebra I and II, College Algebra, Geometry, SAT Preparation

                  What was your favorite subject in school and why?

                  My favorite subject in school (and still is my favorite subject) was science. I always wanted to know how the world worked. I never stopped asking the question "Why," and I always felt rewarded when I finally figured out the answers. There are still so many questions out there, and "just because" should never be able to answer them.