Helen Wu | Headmistress
Helen is originally from Beijing, China, but has lived and worked in the United States since 1990. She attended Beijing Normal University, and went on to achieve a Masters in Operations Research at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She taught Statistics at American University, and eventually her passion for education led her to begin the Virginia International Academy. Her aim is to aid international students in their academia and daily life. She and her family live in Front Royal, Virginia.
Joshua Petersen | Dean of Students
Originally from Denver, Colorado, Josh is an investment and operations professional. After receiving a B.A. in philosophy from Christendom College in 2001, he spent the first seven years of his professional career in the financial services industry as a financial consultant, and then as the Chief Trading Officer of a private investment firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Josh spent five years as Director of Special Operations and Athletic Director at Christendom College. Additionally, he coaches volleyball at the high school, club and collegiate level. Josh is excited to be a part of Virginia International Academy to follow his passion of working with youth, helping to form them into great men and women.
Naomi Gao | Guardianship Program Director
Naomi is originally from Henan Province, China. She graduated from the Swiss School of Hotel and Tourist Management, and previously worked for a travel agency in the United States for 13 years. Her background in hospitality led her to develop VIA’s Guardianship Program, in which she manages current and previous students’ daily life.
Joseph Walsh | Director of Placement
Joe Walsh was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Christendom College in 2015 and is currently working on his Master’s Degree. He received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Christendom College and has coached men and women’s basketball at the collegiate level for the last two years. Joe has been on mission trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala to assist young people in those underdeveloped countries. Joe has a passion for helping young men and women form in character, leadership, and athletics.
Catherine Waters | Teacher
Mrs. Waters earned her undergraduate degree from St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York before going on to receive a Master of Curriculum and Instruction at Hood College. For ten years she taught English at St. John’s College Preparatory High School, where she also served as the English Department Chair and directed an annual Shakespeare festival. Mrs. Waters and her family live in Winchester.
Joseph Strickland | Teacher
Mr. Strickland holds a major in Philosophy and a minor in Mathematics from Christendom College. After graduating from college in 2013, he worked in the development department at Human Life International. Mr. Strickland and his wife live in Front Royal.
Virginia Nyce | Teacher
Ms. Nyce double majored in French and Italian at the University of Virginia. She grew up attending international schools in the Middle East and spent two educational tours abroad, one in Italy and another in France. Ms. Nyce interned in college at U.Va.’s International Studies Office and worked with WorldStrides Capstone after graduating. In addition, she has taught English in Italy and worked as a volunteer ESL tutor to middle school students.