We collaborate. Players. Teachers. Coaches.
I appreciate how the Academy’s learning environment draws from a variety of educational models and approaches… “The school has been tailored to provide a path to healthy learning habits...” I also enjoy the intimate setting and opportunity to work closely with my students.
YSC Faculty Member
The dedicated faculty, staff, and administration at YSC Academy take pride in providing a personalized and customized educational experience for every student-athlete. Students are continually nurtured in the skills and habits of mind that are characteristic of self-directed learners. We use a variety of platforms, including email, discussion boards on Canvas (our online learning management platform), scheduled Workshops, and face-to-face meetings to maintain an ongoing dialogue with their students.
Parents are always welcome to request an update on their child’s academic progress by reaching out to their teachers or to a member of the administration. In addition, teachers and administrators are vigilant about monitoring student progress and are proactive about reaching out to students and parents if they see a troublesome pattern in academic work developing.
Doctorate in Education, Leadership in Professional Education – University of Pennsylvania
St. Joseph’s University – Adjunct Professor, Cognitive Processes: Research-based Brain Studies for the Educator
M.S., Educational Leadership and Administration – City University of New York
B.S., Education – University of Washington
Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee currently leads YSC Academy as the founding Head of School. She continues developing an innovative and student-centered, research-based, progressive program for student-athletes. She has worked in education for over 35 years, serving as the Head of Lower School at William Penn Charter School and Head of Lower and Middle School at The Shipley School. Before that, she was a teacher at several independent schools and a High School Summer Programs Director.
As a leader in three very different independent schools at elementary, middle, and high school, together with her experience as a university professor, she is an innovative and entrepreneurial leader in independent school reform. She is a well-known and respected visionary, a collaborative and strategic educator, and a passionate and progressive school leader. She consistently places students at the center. She sets a tone of caring and excellence and believes in everyone. Her experience in virtual and blended learning led her to create YSC Advantage, a YSC Academy virtual online program emphasizing “humanizing” online learning. She has served on the Board of Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS) and FC Delco Soccer Club. She currently serves on the Board of PAIS (Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools).
In addition to her role as Head of School, Dr. Ahmed-Lee is an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s University, where she teaches a graduate course in learning and the brain. Nooha is passionate about helping individuals understand how their brain learns so they can become advocates for themselves and continue as lifelong learners. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, reading, fashion, soccer, and spending time with family.
“Four Words that Can Change Everything: I Believe in You!”
Jared Micklos has over 20 years of professional experience spanning a diverse set of roles including international travel operations, coaching elite student-athletes, directing major sports organizations and events, and consulting with global organizations. He arrived at YSC with a passion to combine these skill sets to create an integrated pathway of education, sport, and business as YSC continues to evolve and support the next generation of student-athletes.
The foundation of his career started in coaching and refereeing youth soccer while growing up as a player. Coaching at the College level ultimately led to a career in sport leadership as a Division I Associate Athletic Director. In 2014, he joined the U.S. Soccer Federation as the Director of the Development Academy, with the goal of developing player development standards and creating a clear pathway for boys and girls. Beginning in 2018, he also served as the Director of Youth National Teams for United States Youth Men’s and Women’s teams. Jared has international experience working for DoublePass (Belgium) in conjunction with FIFA to conduct a global analysis in more than two hundred countries of the talent development ecosystem of professional clubs.
At YSC, his senior leadership responsibilities include: strategy planning, financial leadership, development, alumni relations, communications and human resources. He is also leading the expansion of the YSC Advantage education program to other professional and amatuer clubs and individuals. He creates and helps guide optimal learning environments for student-athletes to maximize their potential. Utilizing experiences as a director of elite youth development programs and a higher education administration background, he has made a transition to the school environment to help with alignment between the education, performance, and athletic components to support young people in holistic development.
Jared enjoys being active, traveling the world, exploring the outdoors, and spending time trying and cooking new foods.
“Any man can learn anything he will, but no man can teach except to those who want to learn.”
– Henry Ford
M.Ed., School Leadership – High Tech High Graduate School of Education
M.S., Instructional Design and Technology – Concordia University Chicago
B.S., Industrial Engineering – University of Oklahoma
Kelly Wilson has a lifelong passion for learning. After earning a degree in engineering, she began her career at Accenture as a business consultant. Consultancy and business acumen inform her corporate and educational roles as she continually strives to help others define, create, and implement meaningful solutions. After working for several Fortune 500 clients, she decided to return to a family tradition centered on education.
Kelly began as a calculus teacher but her business skills were quickly tapped as she took on the inaugural role as Director of Academic Programs at Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, California. In addition to defining the curricular programs and policies, her focus on professional development led her to seek out more relevant and applicable educational pedagogy. She was awarded a Fellowship by the Walton Foundation to pursue a Master’s of Education degree at a renowned Deeper Learning institution. Kelly chose a program that focused on innovative, project-based learning with an emphasis on the study of equitable school learning environments.
After earning her degree, she served as the inaugural Director of Innovative and Entrepreneurial Programs at the Severn School in Maryland. There Kelly created programs to introduce students and faculty to an “Engineer by Design” approach supercharging technology and design thinking strategies to solve problems. Kelly eventually returned to her passion for curriculum and professional development as the school’s Director of Studies, including leading Severn’s Summer Institute which involved overseeing a wide variety of sessions designed for and taught by educational leaders on topics including DEI, Sustainability, and best practices in teaching and learning. Kelly has presented at multiple conferences and continues to seek out educational opportunities.
Kelly hopes to apply her corporate and educational experience to help optimize YSC Academy’s continued growth and excellence in the areas of technology, operations, and alignment with soccer programs to create the best possible experience for its student-athletes and faculty.
“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”
– B.B. King
M.A. Counseling Psychology – Rosemont College
B.A. Child & Family Studies – Albright College
Certified K-12 School Counselor, Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Gretchen D’Angelo joined the YSC Academy community in June 2022 after serving as School Counselor and College Counselor for Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science in Princeton, New Jersey for 7 years. Gretchen specializes in college admissions for niche populations (e.g., elite athletes and academic superstars) and working with students who require unique guidance and attention to meet their goals. Prior to her career in education, Gretchen worked in government, start-up, and corporate environments. She believes her various experiences working within different industries and populations positively contribute to her professional philosophy, the institution she serves, and her ability to connect and work with colleagues, students, and families. A former athlete herself, Gretchen understands the student-athlete experience, and how the collaborative efforts between the student, family, teachers, coaches and other support personnel work together to create the best support system for overall wellness and success.
When not at YSC Academy, Gretchen is a mother to two young daughters and enjoys art and podcasts.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lauren Ruhl, a former collegiate athlete herself, found her career path in helping student-athletes, after suffering a season-ending injury in college. Lauren received her Master’s Degree at the University of Denver in Sport & Performance Psychology. She lived in Vail, Colorado for four years, where she worked at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and also with several athletic teams, (i.e., snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, golfing, basketball, and soccer). Lauren moved back to Pennsylvania in 2020 to work at Greenepsych Clinical & Sport Psychology, a private practice working with athletes, parents, teams, coaches, and individual clients. At Greenepsych, she provides individual and small-group mental training for athletes from elementary to post-college age. Lauren supports student-athletes with issues such as: recovering from injury/returning to sport, academic stress, focus/concentration, performance & generalized anxiety, perfectionism, depression, eating disorders, sport burn-out, and more.
Lauren knows through her work on her own mental game, how much her performance was tied to developing a strong, resilient mindset. She is passionate about understanding athletes holistically and supporting them as they navigate the hardships and hurdles of life and sport.
At YSC, Lauren will provide support to all student-athletes, both individually and in small groups, to teach and provide them with the mental skills and tools that are needed to succeed in life, in the classroom, and on the pitch.
When not at YSC Academy, Lauren stays very active by going to the gym, cycling, and getting outdoors. She additionally enjoys watching sports, creating artwork, spending time with her family and friends, and playing with her adorable cat, Gritty.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston S. Churchill
Adam Barney has spent the last 2 decades in education. His career in education and outreach began as a health educator and grant writer for the York City Bureau of Health, before earning his Master’s of Science Education degree, and establishing himself as a science teacher in the private school sector. His first teaching position placed him in the middle and high school science classrooms at his alma mater, York Catholic High School. While at YCHS, he served many roles, including high school boys’ soccer coach and 9th grade girls’ basketball coach.
Adam’s next step in education placed him for 3 years as the middle school science department coordinator at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, MD. As the science department coordinator, he helped develop a robust project-based curriculum that incorporated emerging technology and innovative strategies to address the educational needs of the middle school student body
At YSC Academy, Adam has brought his passion and research into the implementation of project-based learning for his students. As the educational landscape in our nation continues to evolve, so will the need for an effective curriculum and approach to teaching that embodies real world issues and the use of innovative strategies and technologies..
“Your mind is a treasure house that you should stock well and it’s the one part of you the world can’t interfere with.”
– Frank McCourt
Darren Burris grew up in the cornfields of Indiana. Darren pursued degrees in the sciences and philosophy, and continued graduate work in philosophy, anthropology, and religion at Oxford University as well as Princeton Theological Seminary. He started teaching in Philadelphia and eventually pursued graduate work in mathematics at Harvard while teaching in Boston.
Darren had a rich, meaningful, and formative start in teaching at the Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia Public Schools. He continued teaching mathematics in Boston, and eventually transitioned into administration at Boston Collegiate Charter School. In addition, he is a long-term advocate in the education reform movement in the United States and believes all students can learn at high levels. He is driven to offer students the highest quality education anywhere and to help them uncover the skills and abilities required to meet the highest standards.
Darren loves technology and thinking about systems-wide improvement. He is engaged both personally and professionally in education and education-related for-profits and nonprofits to leverage technology to enable learning anywhere, anytime, and for anyone.
Darren has an amazing wife and is the father of three wonderful humans. You will often find his family on a sideline or in the stands on weekdays and weeknights!
“The assumption was that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
– Wendell Berry
Wilian Hernandez has been teaching Spanish for over 18 years. Prior to becoming a Spanish teacher for YSC Academy in 2016, Wilian worked for several business language schools in Philadelphia, and as a Spanish teacher for homeschooled students. Wilian loves teaching. In fact, while attending high school, Wilian taught literacy classes to adults in his hometown in El Salvador.
Wilian was born in a village in El Salvador, but because of civil unrest in the area, he spent his childhood in a refugee camp in Honduras. There, he did not have access to education. Fortunately, despite the ongoing civil war, in 1988, after 7 years in the camp, he and his family were able to return to El Salvador, where he was finally able to attend school, becoming the first person in his extended family to reach the high school level.
At that time, his dream to attend a university was not realistic, and the possibility of attending a university in the United States was inconceivable. But with assistance from his community, in 2004 he came to the United States, settling in Philadelphia, where he started taking ESL classes at Temple University and working as a Spanish teacher for professional language schools. The learning process was daunting but at the same time challenging and rewarding, and Wllian graduated from Temple in 2012 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies.
Because of these experiences, Wilian understands the challenge of learning a foreign language. Having been a non-English-speaking student himself, he is able to draw on his background to develop pedagogic strategies to help students achieve high levels of proficiency in Spanish. He also draws on his degree in Latin American Studies in his teaching in order to incorporate cultural and literary readings unique to Latin American cultures. Wilian is passionate about teaching Spanish and about helping students achieve an appreciation for the language and the culture.
Outside of the classroom, in his free time, Wilian enjoys interacting with his students, playing teqball and board games. He shares his passion and love for the game with his students.
“The secret of education lies in respecting the student.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
B.S.E., Chemical Engineering (minors in chemistry and mathematics) – University of Pennsylvania
J.D. coursework – Temple University Beasley School of Law
Susan Kroll has been a part of the YSC community since 2016. Currently she has the privilege of teaching on YSC Academy’s virtual platform, YSC Advantage. Through this novel program, she communicates with students all over the country and internationally. To keep her students engaged during class, Susan personalizes curriculum by applying real-world examples geared toward each student’s interests. Before working at YSC, Susan tutored, taught, and created a curriculum for homeschooled students pursuing their unique passions. She was also an upper school chemistry, math, and physics teacher at William Penn Charter School, a Quaker School in nearby East Falls for 5 years.
Susan’s teaching philosophy focuses on personalization and relationships. By building connections with her students, she taps into their curiosities and gives them individualized opportunities to ask questions, investigate, and take risks so she can help them excel. Susan believes each student requires customized instructions and challenges. She is proud to help YSC students become successful academically while balancing their soccer commitments and, most importantly, to be part of a community that cares for its students. When she is away from the classroom, Susan spends most of her time with family, running, traveling to warm locations, and reading nonfiction.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Nick Kueny grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia in Warrington Township and has been a resident of this area ever since. Nick graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School before pursuing degrees in History and Education at the University of Scranton. Prior to joining YSC Academy, Nick began his teaching career as an English Literature teacher at Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter. There he served as both the department head to a team of 5 upper school English teachers, as well as an instructional coach for incoming teachers.
At YSC Academy, Nick has created a robust humanities curriculum that provides students an opportunity for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of history and literature. Nick hopes to continue to push students to develop the requisite skills and to spark the passion to continue a life of learning.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kelly Shank Rakus is a Chester County local, graduating from West Chester East High School before earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Kelly joined the YSC Academy family in 2014, after teaching at the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School where she provided students throughout the state with a cyber education. Kelly enjoys incorporating her skills in online learning into YSC Academy’s blended learning environment. Kelly believes wholeheartedly that math proficiency lies within each individual’s ability to unlock how he or she learns and then applying that knowledge. Her energetic approach in the classroom keeps her students engaged and fosters a positive attitude towards math.
Kelly has an extensive background in athletics, dedicating 10 years of her soccer career to the West Chester Predators, playing 3 sports in high school, and eventually deciding to pursue soccer at the Division I level. She also coached girls’ soccer locally for Bishop Shanahan High School. Kelly is so thankful to have the opportunity to teach at YSC Academy where she is an integral part of providing quality education to young athletes.
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”
– Albert Einstein
Brendan Sullivan has been an educator for 25 years, and this is his fifth at YSC Academy. He was born and raised in the city of Philadelphia, where he graduated from St. Joseph’s Preparatory School and the University of Pennsylvania. He is dual-certified by the state of Pennsylvania to teach social studies and language arts. Prior to joining YSC Academy, he fulfilled roles as a teacher, department head, and varsity soccer coach at numerous Philadelphia area high schools.
Brendan’s teaching style is rooted in traditional elements of critical analysis, the Socratic method, and robust debate. He believes YSC Academy is at the forefront of a new learning paradigm that will require students and instructors to agilely perform combinations of in-person, remote, and virtual classes. Brendan has embraced the future and has enrolled all four of his sons in the YSC Academy program.
He enjoys teaching interdisciplinarily with his colleague Nick Kueny. His favorite time of year is when his students participate in formal debates in Town Hall, performing in front of their teammates, coaches, and families alike. He cites the first-ever school formal dance, which took place at Subaru Park, as one of the most memorable events in his 5 years.
Brendan and his wife Heike both played soccer at the University of Pennsylvania, and all 4 of their boys play academy soccer. Their oldest son, Quinn, turned professional with the Philadelphia Union in 2021 and is a proud alumnus of YSC Academy
“Be who you are, and be that well.”
– Francis DeSales
Upon graduating from Rutgers, Kayla worked in healthcare as an office manager for a family-owned dental practice while earning her teaching certification in high school biology. After earning her certificate, Kayla relocated to Shanghai, China to teach high school chemistry, biology, and physical science in an international STEM school. During her time in China, Kayla found her passion for language learning. She began to study Mandarin Chinese and traveled extensively throughout eastern China. Within 6 months, Kayla passed HSK levels 1, 2, and 3. Kayla returned to the United States and was awarded a Congressional Commendation for her efforts in U.S.-China Friendship by the Confucius Institute U.S. Center. She later traveled to China to visit Chengdu and Beijing as a chosen delegate for the International Confucius Institute Conference. Kayla has spent the last several years teaching science courses both in China and in the United States.
Kayla’s teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in creative thinking and self-directed learning. Kayla enjoys guiding students through long-term project-based learning activities that suit their interests and academic goals. She also brings art lessons into the classroom to help students further understand abstract concepts and to express themselves. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys yoga, reading, and painting.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Jessica Griffith came to YSC Academy after teaching middle school students at Greene Street Friends School in Philadelphia. There she taught Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 to 7th and 8th grade students and challenged them to expand their critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the language of algebra. Jessica also tutored middle and high school learners in reading and writing and is excited to share her love for reading with students through thematic units around identity and justice. Given her background in Special Education, Jessica is committed to meeting all learners where they are, and giving them the unique tools and resources they need to be successful. Jessica also believes it is crucial to build meaningful relationships with students and to create a safe and welcoming environment, whether the classroom is in person or virtual.
As she deeply values lifelong and flexible education, Jessica plans to consistently look for opportunities to learn and grow professionally. She is very excited for this unique opportunity to teach YSC Academy students in a way that allows them to pursue their passion for soccer while achieving a well-rounded education.
“The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in the door and take your seat at the table—all of that starts with education.”
– Michelle Obama
Isaac Blum has spent the last 10 years as an educator, first as a college writing instructor, then as a middle and high school English and math teacher. He taught writing and literature at Camden County College and Penn State Abington, and served as the Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. Prior to arriving at YSC Academy, he taught English and math at both independent and public schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
At YSC Academy, Isaac teaches a variety of subjects, always with a student-centered approach. He engages students with higher-order thinking, and helps them find their own educational agency. He wants his subject matter to be hands-on, and his curriculum to feel relevant to students’ lives. Isaac often organizes author visits and leads literature circles based on his students’ interests, which help students become passionate about their own reading and writing.
Isaac is also a writer. His debut young adult novel, The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, was published by Penguin in September 2022.
“Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
– Kofi Annan
Mark Franek’s professional journey, like a play, appears to have unfolded in 3 acts—first teaching, then law, and now back to teaching with a renewed vigor. Right out of college, and for 15 years, Mark taught high school English classes and coached varsity boys’ soccer at the Montgomery Academy (Alabama) and William Penn Charter School (Quaker school in Philadelphia), where he also served as the dean of students. During that time, he also taught undergraduates at Cabrini University and Thomas Jefferson University, and mid-career teachers and administrators at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
On the cusp of his 40th birthday, Mark entered law school, served on Temple’s Law Review and moot court honor society, clerked for a judge, then litigated civil cases for 8 years in the trenches of two of Philadelphia’s midsized firms.
For his third act, Mark returns to the classroom and to his first professional love—teaching. He also enjoys writing and pursuing all kinds of soccer endeavors. For many years, Mark wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer and other media outlets. Mark also played varsity soccer for Duke University, club soccer in Iceland, and captained the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals. Most of Mark’s English classes are based on the portfolio-chapbook model where students do a lot of writing and self-publishing.
Mark lives in Chesterbrook, PA, with his wife, May Mon, and son, River, and an American Bulldog named Messi.
“Words are deeds.”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein