Valley Leadership Academy Huntsville Alabama Our Team

Meet Our Team

Laura and Alex Cazier

VLA Co-Founders

Laura loves learning, and she loves kids! Trained as a medical doctor with board certification in Emergency Medicine, she currently works part-time as an emergency physician in the pediatric emergency department. After completing 20+ years of schooling and training, she just could not get enough school, so she decided to homeschool her (now 4) children. From that background of homeschooling sprang a desire to create a school that would integrate the best parts of traditional school with the individualized, flexible nature of homeschool. Before medical school, Laura earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and she has a fascination with the field of positive psychology. She finds tremendous joy and satisfaction in her volunteer position as administrator at VLA, and feels honored to be a part of such a special and unique school. 

Alexandra (Alex), now in 12th grade, left traditional school after kindergarten and has not looked back. She has thoroughly enjoyed being able to follow a customized course of study and pursue a variety of passion projects, including helping launch Valley Leadership Academy. Helping to create a school where being kind is rule #1 has been her most meaningful accomplishment (so far!). She can be found doing a variety of leadership tasks at school--leading Chinese club, conducting Student Council meetings, mentoring younger students, or helping run carpool. Above all, she loves helping other kids see how amazing they are and develop their own leadership skills.

Jeanette Baumgartner

Head of School

Jeanette loves teaching and believes it is much more than credentials, experience, and intelligence. She wholeheartedly feels what lies in the heart of good teaching is being kind and creating an atmosphere that is positive and encouraging. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for, and loved. Her goal is to always model positive characteristics to students with her actions and encourage students to believe in themselves and their ability to learn. Jeanette received her bachelor’s degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama and majored in Psychology with a minor in Art. Jeanette has a master’s degree with honors in Counseling Psychology from the University of Arkansas and worked in the Behavioral Health field for over ten years. She also worked in the medical field as an administrator for a nationally recognized wound care company. She has two children: Max (13) and Jenny (10). When Jeanette is not at VLA she is teaching dance, taking kids to swim practice, and spending time with her family. She is thrilled to be part of VLA and feels honored to be part of such a special school and remarkable team.

Amber Stifflemire

Assistant Head of School

Amber is a question asker, intentional listener and a lover of history. She believes that everyone has a story to tell, and wants to be the first in line to hear it! Amber received her Bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She majored in Social Psychology with a minor in History. Amber started down the path of receiving a Master's degree in History, but found her life being pulled in a different direction. Homeschooling her 3 children (ages 12, 9 and 6) is something she never planned to do, but she has found no greater joy than helping develop her own mini question askers! 

Amber also has a fierce love of travel (what better way to learn history than to be there in person!) and interior design. Amber loves Valley Leadership Academy and the positive environment that the school offers. She is excited to help develop the next generation of question askers in your children!

Rachel Lawrence

Head of Lower School

Rachel heartily endorses the pledge of Valley Leadership Academy: “We are people of purpose, power and potential. We speak life, love and light to everyone we meet.” She believes that children learn what they live and enjoys watching them thrive in a healthy, safe, fun environment. She has been a homeschool mom for 13 years, since her oldest daughter started Kindergarten. She has three children: Katie (18), who attends Auburn University, Isaiah (14), who is an 9th grader, and Ethan (11), who is in 6th grade. Her degree is in early childhood education from Auburn University, where she had the opportunity to learn the constructive theory of education. She taught preschool and kindergarten for four years in Michigan before staying home to raise her own children. She is passionate about helping the students at VLA learn and grow each day!​


Megan Christley

Head of Upper School

Megan believes wholeheartedly that each of us has a unique purpose, and has a passion for helping others discover and pursue theirs. With a degree in English and Spanish from the University of Memphis, Megan has spent the past several years working with various schools and educational programs, exploring non-traditional educational strategies to help students achieve their distinct potential. She believes that every student is unique, and that, for that reason, they should all have an individualized path for learning. When she's not at VLA, Megan enjoys baking, exploring the outdoors, and curling up with a good book. At school, you'll find her telling a corny joke, hanging out with our middle and high schoolers, and facilitating our media and journalism electives. 

Brandy Worthy

Biography coming soon!

Silvana Taylor


Silvana is a passionate learner that loves children and never ceases to be amazed at their potential, capacity and resilience. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay she emigrated to the United States for love... the things you do for love! She loves math, soccer, cats, traveling and road trips with her family which consists of her husband and 2 daughters (12 and 4). From the land of the Tango, Silvana loves dancing, singing, and is eager to teach her culture and language to all those that show interest. Besides teaching Spanish at VLA Silvana works as a Medical Interpreter at the local hospital. Lo que mas le gusta a Silvana de VLA es el amor y respeto que los niños se tienen y las ganas que tienen de aprender! Ella ama divertirse tanto con los niños en el salón de clase.

Rachel Grice

Music Appreciation/Choir

Rachel enjoys teaching children. She is a wife and a mother to five children. She has been homeschooling for the last seven years and loves it! It is a joy to watch her children grow and flourish learning new things. That is one reason why she loves VLA. It is such a positive, encouraging environment that fosters a love of learning! It is a joy to watch her own children and so many others grow in confidence and happiness. 


Rachel has a Bachelors degree from Brigham Young University in Family and Consumer Science. She taught high school in Montgomery, AL before starting her family. Rachel also has a love of music and it has been a huge part of her life.  She has a classically trained voice and has been a private voice instructor for 17 years. She is also a member of the Huntsville Community Chorus and enjoys singing in many concerts throughout the year.  Rachel has experience conducting choirs and looks forward to teaching your children to sing and enjoy music! 

Natasha Nashadka

Art Instructor

Natasha has had a love affair with art since basically dinosaurs roamed the earth (or at least since the first Jurassic Park movie was released). She believes that anything that we can do to make our environment just a little more beautiful is well worth doing, and believes that art, like life, should be a little messy. She earned her degree in visual communications, exploring a wide array of mediums (or media? - her degree wasn’t in English). She has spent the last seven years teaching budding artists in all stages of their lives, and she has developed a passion for helping to shape the next generation of creators.


She has four children, two of which are dogs. Of the two human children, Tatjana is graduating from college this year and Sonja is graduating high school. The two four-legged children (Gypsy and Rocket) spend much of their days creating collages by arranging, or possibly spilling, their food into various abstract arts. Also, there is a husband in there somewhere.

Take a look at what our art class is doing!