Summa Academy Faculty & Staff | Independent School in Portland

Amber Kara
Head of School
Amber Kara

I love nature. I have found it a refuge, a beautiful example of interconnectedness, a classroom, and an inspiration. I am educated as a marine biologist and an outdoor educator. My first job post college was as a whale biologist with a Cascadia Research, based in Washington. Through that experience, I realized I was really searching for a way to change the way people treat one another, Earth, and the other creatures living on it. People hold that power, not whales. My past 20 years have been focused on people, specifically on education and human development. In order to change the world, we must first change ourselves.

Supporting well-being in children is key to bringing forth that change. Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults, and healthy adults make socially and environmentally reasonable decisions. With Natural Learning Relationships as the base, Summa fosters confidence, compassion, care, and inspiration in each student, parent, staff member, and educator.

My work at Summa brings me ever closer to that change I want to see in myself and in the world around me. I do many things at Summa as both Executive Director of Summa Institute,(open link in new tab) and Director of Summa Academy. I have daily contact with students and many opportunities for meaningful communication with parents and educators. I teach art, in which I see greatness shining through creativity. I mentor the Emerald students, helping them navigate relationships, which foster their (and my) Emotional Intelligence. I also run the business side of Summa Institute managing the Board of Directors, budgets, enrollment, and marketing. At Summa, the practice of cultivating well-being extends to all its constituents. Though there are daily challenges, many surprises, and a busy task list, Summa is a constant joy.

Ba Luvmour, MA
Headmaster, Board Member
Ba Luvmour Headmaster

Co-creating Summa (and Natural Learning Relationships) has been a labor of love. I am inspired that Summa makes explicit the crucial understandings about how children view the world and the relationships that allow the optimization of capacities in children. Summa, therefore, is the home for optimal well-being, for Academic Excellence and Emotional Intelligence. I know this is the leverage point by which we can change the world, and it makes Summa a source of gratitude and inspiration.

My work, as headmaster, is to oversee curriculum and support the educators in their teaching practice. My style of leadership is frequent meetings involving the exchange of ideas, rather than top down directives. My strengths lie in making certain that education is developmentally appropriate and includes experiential components. Occasionally, I mentor in the classroom environment and, once a week, I spend time with the Sapphire students facilitating relationships. I am involved with families from the beginning, participating in tours, answering questions about Academic Excellence, Emotional Intelligence, and life in the classroom. I am also a member of the Board of Directors and have the specific mandate of fund development.

Along with my wife, Josette, I have created a teacher training program. All Summa educators go through this program in addition to the skill sets and degrees they come with. Emphasis is placed on parent/educator relationships, communication with families, Natural Learning Relationships, whole-child development, emergent curriculum, collegial communication, brain research, and educational psychology, philosophy, and pedagogy. Working with teachers over the last 45 years, I have seen the transformative power that our training program has. It is my fondest wish that it will influence all teacher training graduate programs in the 21st century.

Josette Luvmour, PhD
Director of Family Development and Research
Dr. J

At Summa, as Director of the BRIDGE program, Professional Development, and Research Core, I have the privilege and delight to share the wisdom I have with the parents at Summa Academy, and with many professionals in the Portland community, and with other institutions across the nation.

When I was designing and facilitating many family camps, seminars, and co-founding a learning center, I realized that my calling was to work with adults and parents. Over the many years that followed, I continually witnessed qualitative changes in adults who took the time to nurture their children’s development. During these years I have had the honor to present at many education conferences. Despite my extensive experience and my professionalism, as a woman without an advanced degree, I was often challenged and discounted. So, at the age of 54 I decided to enter a doctoral program at Fielding Graduate Institute.

After completing many preparatory courses I was inspired to bring forward my insights from seeing mutual development occur between adult and child during the process of Natural Learning Relationships parenting. I had seen growth in parents at every Natural Learning Relationship program I facilitated, and I wanted to know how participating in the programs had contributed to that growth.

In my dissertation I used both quantitative and qualitative methods with past program participants whom I had not had contact with for at least 10 years. The data revealed that parents had not only grown cognitively and emotionally, but wisdom emerged in some participants as a result of conscientious applications of Natural Learning Relationships. I received my doctorate in Human Development in 2008.

It’s hard to believe that over 35 years ago, Ba and I developed Natural Learning Relationships. There is no doubt that I have been enriched in the process and have found Natural Learning Relationships invaluable in helping, parents, schools, social service agencies, Rites of Passage organizations and even psychologists, doctors, and lawyers to build relationships that are grounded in well-being. This work and experience has contributed to my writing which has been published widely, including in academic journals, magazines, and as co-author of six books including, Adult development: Emergent wisdom in the family context and Natural Learning Rhythms: How and when children learn. You can view Josette and Ba’s books here.

Albee Kara
Finance & IT Manager
Albee Kara

All meaning in life flows from asking the right questions. As a younger man I was filled with the notion that things could be neat, sums could be figured, the order of things stacked together, answers revealed. This led me to study physics in college: quantum mechanics, relativity, and duality. But then I realized that, depending on how you thought about it, everything is either a particle or a wave. An epiphany, perhaps—but not compared to what came next. I examined my original questions and discovered that I cared more about the meaning of existence, than about figuring out its mechanics.

And so, with a new question, renewed focus, but fewer expectations about outcomes, I began to study, and self-reflect. That lead me to Natural Learning Relationships, and a brand-new journey began. I know have many answers about myself. I know how important the questions are, and this is where we start together, with questions.

I have worked with Natural Learning Relationships for 18 years as a program co-designer and facilitator, leading groups of families, children, and professionals through experiential learning programming. Administratively, I handle all of the IT and I do all of the bookkeeping.

John Warton
Admissions Officer
John Warton

Can a symphony trombone player find any job as satisfying as playing music? I never thought it possible. But then I found my way to Summa Academy. As a parent of a special needs child, I had all the fear and apprehension that comes with experiences in many other schools that my daughter attended. And while I have watched my daughter flourish, the most surprising and gratifying learning has been our family growth through the BRIDGE program. Having a daughter Summa Academy, I understand why the educators do what they do in the classroom, and know that I can support and further the learning in our home. Trombone playing is inspirational, and so is working at Summa.

I am the Admissions Officer at Summa Academy. I have a strong professional history of working with parents and alumni of educational institutions. At Summa I respect the opportunities and challenges that Portland families have when choosing an independent, progressive school. Success in education means there must be a good “fit” with home and school. For this reason I encourage tours, for we are dedicated to taking the time necessary to answer all questions and ensure the best decision can be reached.

Karen Warton
Resource Room and Records
Mrs. Warton

I have worked in many schools, including the admissions office at Catlin Gabel. Summa Academy is by far the most engaging and inspiring community I have had the pleasure to be a part of. I manage the teacher resources and do all the student record keeping at Summa. I am also trained to tutor students in the Barton method and love the opportunity to work with so many talented and interesting young people. It has been a joy to be part of this team.

Jasper Kosakoff
Administrative Assistant
Jasper K

As the person behind the front desk, I am the logistical glue that holds much of Summa together. I deeply enjoy getting to know every student, parent and friend of Summa. I come to Summa from farming in the Pacific Northwest. Before that I spent many years running an art tent at the Willowbrook summer camp for the arts. I organize the administrative details, research and plan the logistics for field trips, obtain the materials educators need, organize parent conferences, route emails and phone calls, greet visitors, create newsletters, clean, administer Band-Aids to students, and do all the odds and ends that need covering in a busy school environment. I am deeply appreciative of a community of people who come together in service of children. Jasper also provides our Afterschool care.

Ms. Taylor Crevola
Support Specialist

Growing up as the oldest child of three, I naturally lived to guide. To prepare myself to become an excellent educator, I honed the skill sets of teaching, psychology, guitar, piano, Spanish, and French. On the way I attained a Lewis and Clark degree and spent a year studying in France. I accepted various types of teaching positions, but none utilized my skill sets or challenged me creatively.

Being at Summa inspires me. Life is very different here. The whole child is seen and related to in new, dynamic ways. From the open communication with the parents and the Personal Learning Plan, to the profound insights into the consciousness of the child provided by Natural Learning Relationships, to the emphasis on the student’s greatness, I am challenged to apply all my skill sets creatively to meet the strengths of the students within their developmental capacities.

Of great importance to me, are the interpersonal relationships among students. Care and respect for relationships includes all of us, educators as well as students and staff. This interconnectedness in the Summa culture validates the skills I have attained and provides the medium in which new skills and applications emerge.

Mrs. Corbett, MEd
Lead Educator—Diamond Class (K-1)
For my bio, go to my classroom page.

Mr. Ian Peters
Lead Educator—Sapphire Class (grades 2-3)
For my bio, go to my classroom page.

Ms. Dana Gray, MA
Lead Educator—Emerald Class (grades 4-5)
For my bio, go to my classroom page.

Ms. Frensley
Ms. Alexandria Frensley, MA
Lead Educator—Topaz Class (grade 6)
For my bio, go to my classroom page.

Mr. Ley
Mr. David Ley, MEd
Lead Educator—Onyx Class
For my bio, go to my classroom page.