Our Teachers

Excelsior! is fortunate to have so many talented and devoted teachers! Here you will read a brief snapshot of these extraordinary individuals who work so hard to make Excelsior! a success. All of our teachers are required to pass a SLED background check.

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ASHLEY ASCHLEMAN –  Ashley is a Michigan native and moved to Blythewood in 2013.  She and her husband, Brennan, have three beautiful children.  She earned Bachelors of Science from Grand Valley State University where she studied Elementary Education and Integrated Science.  Ashley teaches sunday school at Calvary Chapel Northeast Columbia, where her husband is the assistant pastor.

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Excelsior LogoCHRIS BLACKWELL – Chris Blackwell and his wife Jessica live in Cayce where they home school their 5 children. Chris earned his Bachelors of Arts from Taylor University where he studied Bible and Philosophy. He also has a Masters of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Upon completing seminary Chris and Jessica worked for two years with Keswick Congregational Church in Keswick, England.  Upon returning from England, Chris taught Bible and served on the administrative staff at Chamberlain-Hunt Military Academy in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Chris also taught Bible and served on the administrative staff at Chamberlain-Hunt where he was awarded the Crusader Tab for his involvement in the Crusader Challenge.

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IMG_0336 copy 224 x 300MARY BLYTHE – Mary Blythe has her teaching degree from UNCC and has taught various ages. She retired from Rosewood Elementary after 25 years of teaching. She is married to Rolly Blythe and they have four grown children and 11 grandchildren. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church. She loves reading and relaxing on the lake.

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TRICIA HEEN: Tricia Heen and her husband Andy live in Lexington, SC and have four children.  Tricia earned a BA in English from USC.  She has been homeschooling her children for the past 15 years.  An avid reader, Tricia desires to develop a love of reading in each of her students.

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IMG_0085 copy 224 x 300RACHEL HUDSON: Rachel is married to Ryan Hudson and lives in Columbia where she home schools her three children. She was accepted to AMDA: College and Conservatory for Performing Arts in New York, NY, but decided to stick close to home and studied drama at Francis Marion University.  She was a member of Alpha Si Omega honors fraternity for theatre, and participated in four major productions, two student directed plays, and assisted backstage in both costume and set design.  She has also written and directed an annual Thanksgiving play for a local home school co-op group. Rachel enjoys using her love of the theatre in homeschooling her three children, and likes reading, DIY projects, crafting, and baking.

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IMG_0080 copy 224 x 300SONIA NEALE – Mrs. Neale has had the pleasure of teaching children art for about 10 years. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture and ceramics from Winthrop University and is currently working on her Masters of Art in Teaching from the University of South Carolina.

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IMG_0043 copy 224 x 300JENNIFER PENDLETON – Mrs. Pendleton was raised in Connecticut and came south to attend Columbia International University. She graduated in 1993 with a BS in Elementary Education and Bible. She taught 3rd grade at Ben Lippen until she and her husband started their own family. Mrs. Pendleton has been teaching children of a large age range in many different volunteer capacities (camp counselor, children’s church leader, homeschool co-op teaching) for about 30 years. The Pendletons have three children and have been homeschooling for 13 years. Mrs. Pendleton and her family have been part of Excelsior! Academy for 12 years, and she  has been teaching at Excelsior for 5 years.

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IMG_0589 copy 224 x 300KATHY POYNOR –  Kathy grew up in New Hampshire, and her family enjoys regular visits to New England to see their relatives.  She has a BA in Elementary Education, with a concentration in literature, from Wheaton College (Illinois) and taught her first two years at Covenant Christian School. Kathy has taught at Excelsior! Academy since 2001 and loves it!  Kathy is married to David, who is also a teacher, and they have two super sons Will and Nathaniel.

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IMG_0708 copy 224 x 300MEGAN TULS – Megan grew up in Bradenton, FL.  She attended the Florida State University and graduated Sum a Cum Laude with a Bachelors in Music Education.  She taught Music for 2 years at Sarasota Christian School before moving to SC 10 years ago.  Megan is the Music Coordinator at Grace Church of Columbia and enjoys leading choir and worship team each week.  Megan and her husband Jason have been married 14 years.  This is their 4th year homeschooling their daughters, Anna Joy and Hollyn.  This is also Megan’s 4th year sharing her love and knowledge of music at Excelsior Academy.  She is blessed to encourage her students to praise the Lord through music.