Staff

We're a motley crew, we admit, and we're spread out across the country, but we're dedicated to classical Christian education and work hard to see it flourish. Don't hesitate to let us know if there's any way we can help you do the same. 


  • Andrew Kern

    President & CEO

    Bio and Contact

    At the moment of writing, Andrew Kern has seven grand-children. More trivially, having founded the CiRCE Institute after co-authoring Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America (with Dr. Gene Edward Veith), he has been compelled to serve as its president. Andrew also bears primary culpability for The Lost Tools of Writing, a classical rhetoric and writing resource.  Since establishing CiRCE to serve classical educators through research and consulting while developing and providing integrated resources, Andrew has trained and apprenticed innumerable home and school teachers, heads of school, and school boards. He has also defined, defended, practiced, and supported classical education at many conferences, conventions, and book retreats. Andrew helped start Providence Academy in Green Bay, WI in 1993, Foundations Academy (now Ambrose School) in Boise, ID in 1996, The Great Ideas Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2001, and Regents School of the Carolinas in 2006, and the CiRCE Apprenticeship around the same time. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina, and their five more or less classically educated and more or less home educated children and ever more grandchildren live in various places, ranging from Uganda to Georgia, depending on when you ask.

    Contact Andrew Kern at akern@circeinstitute.org.


  • Matthew Bianco

    COO

    Bio and Contact

    Matthew Bianco is the Chief Operations Officer for the CiRCE Institute, where he also serves as a head mentor in the CiRCE apprenticeship program. A homeschooling father of three, he has graduated all three of his children, the eldest of whom graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD. His second graduated from Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, NC, where his youngest still attends their great books honors college. He is married to his altogether lovely high school sweetheart, Patricia. He is the author of Letters to My Sons: A Humane Vision for Human Relationships.

    Contact Matthew Bianco at mattbianco@circeinstitute.com.


  • Andrea Lipinski

    Vice President of Training and Consulting

    Bio and Contact

    Andrea Lipinski is the Vice President of Training and Consulting for the CiRCE Institute, where she also serves as a Head Mentor in their teacher training program, the Rocky Mountain Apprenticeship. A homeschooling mother of two sons, she has graduated her oldest son who attends the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Her younger son has one more year at home. She and her family live in the Pacific Northwest where they grow fruit, ski Mt. Baker, and paddle the lakes. She is a co-author of A CiRCE Guide to Reading.

    Contact Andrea Lipinski at andrea@circeinstitute.com.


  • Brandon LeBlanc

    Interim VP of Integrated Resources, Director of Business Development

    Bio and Contact

    Brandon is the Director of Business Development, a title both specific enough and vague enough to cover a wide range of business activities. He handles sales with schools, co-ops, and vendors. He oversees our fundraising efforts. And he works with our partners in Christian Classical Education that help to make the podcasts, FORMA Journal, and our conferences possible. Brandon is a two-time graduate of the University of Texas with a BA in History and a Masters of Business Administration. He is currently entering his final year of the CIRCE Apprenticeship, and teaches high school humanities and rhetoric at their local co-op. Brandon’s better half is Kobi LeBlanc and they are homeschool parents to three teenagers. They made the move from Austin, TX to Concord, NC in 2018 to join CIRCE. They are still adjusting to the change in BBQ.

    Contact Brandon LeBlanc at brandon@circeinstitute.com.


  • Graeme Pitman

    Creative Director

    Bio and Contact

    Graeme is always thinking about the look and feel of our advertising and products. He's our Captain of Aesthetics, if you will. A photographer by training (Rocky Mountain School of Photography), Graeme loves the books of CS Lewis, Dostoevsky, and Wallace Stegner; would swim eight hours a day if he could; and pulls for his woebegone Toronto Maple Leafs. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three children.

    Contact Graeme Pitman at graeme@circeinstitute.com.


  • Patty Bianco

    Asst. Headmaster and Online Training Manager

    Bio and Contact

    Patty Bianco is the Online Training Manager for the CiRCE Institute. She is a homeschooling mother of three, well, was as all three of her children have graduated and gone off to college. She now helps others educate their children and students. She graduated from Buck Holler's Master Teacher Apprenticeship group through CiRCE. She is married to Matt Bianco. Her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice and she prefers the BBC production of it, even though her husband prefers the Keira Knightley version (she forgives him for that). She prefers tea to coffee (though she enjoys a good latte). 

    Contact Patty Bianco at patty@circeinstitute.com.


  • Matthew Kern

    Director of Events; Customer Service and Sales Coordinator

    Bio and Contact

    Matthew Kern is the Director of events and the customer service and sales coordinator.  If you are wondering why he is not, or ever was, a CiRCE Apprentice (like most of us at CiRCE) it is because he also works as a mental health therapist and runs his own private practice in his spare time. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BA in History and MA in Clinical Mental Health.  He lives in Concord, NC with his wife, Renee, and two daughters, Selah and Zuriah.

    Contact Matthew Kern at matthew@circeinstitute.org.


  • Kirstie Ruffatto

    Marketing and Promotions Specialist; Teacher

    Bio and Contact

    Kirstie Ruffatto is an artist, illustrator, and classical educator. She obtained a BA in Studio Art from the Queens University of Charlotte with a focus in intaglio printmaking. Her most recent illustrations include CiRCE's 30 Poems to Memorize (Before Its Too Late). She moves back and forth between her art class at Covenant Classical School and her desk at the CiRCE office, where she can be seen posting to CiRCE's social media and discussing her love of Homer and all things lovely and beautiful.

    Contact Kirstie Ruffatto at kirstie@circeinstitute.com.


  • Alex Kern

    Financial Coordinator

    Bio and Contact

    Though she hails from Australia, Alex Kern now lives in Concord NC with her cousin and her two nieces. She obtained a B.A. in Theology from Belmont Abbey College, has been working for the CiRCE Institute since 2014, and is now a CIRCE apprentice. You will often find her rock climbing, knitting, or discussing the carnivore diet and conspiracy theories with other Concord locals.

    Contact Alex Kern at alex@circeinstitute.org.


  • Camille Hunt

    Program Specialist for Training and Curriculum Development

    Bio and Contact

    Camille Hunt is a mother of six and grandmother of six, all educated at home. She works for the CiRCE Institute and loves The Lost Tools of Writing, teaching all four levels of LTW to students and teachers in online classes, intensives, webinars, and YouTube videos in addition to her work in curriculum development. Camille's also taught history (ancient to modern), classical literature, logic, geography, economics, and government.  She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and enjoys spending time on her children, travel, reading, music, conversations that deepen understanding, and writing notes to herself on little pieces of paper. 

    Contact Camille Hunt at camille@circeinstitute.com


  • Karen Kern

    Program Specialist for Training and Resource Development

    Bio and Contact

    With years of experience as a third-grade teacher, Head of Grammar School, homeschooling mother of five, and school board member, Karen Kern has much to offer as a speaker and CiRCE consultant.  Mrs. Kern has particular expertise in classroom practice, grammar school faculty development, and the moral imagination.  She lives in Concord, North Carolina with her husband, Andrew, surrounded as often as possible by their children and grandchildren. 

    Contact Karen Kern at karen@circeinstitute.com.


  • Katerina Kern

    Research Specialist

    Bio and Contact

    Katerina Kern has sought to make Classical Education accessible globally through teaching, consulting, writing, and speaking. She studied Fine Art, Art History, and Classics at UNC-Charlotte and the Liberal Arts at Oxford University, where she earned a Masters in Literature and the Arts. After teaching for five years in Uganda, she recently returned to the US and is an Adjunct Professor at Belmont Abbey Honors College and a Consultant and Researcher for the Circe Institute. She particularly enjoys researching Medieval notions of Beauty and Memory, the 7 Liberal Arts, Cosmology, and Mariology.

    Contact Katerina Kern at katerina@circeinstitute.com.

Board of Directors

  • Tyson Rallens - Board Chair

    Tyson lives in Oxford, England where he is Director of the C.S. Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns, Lewis's historic home, and a DPhil (PhD) candidate in Strategy at the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School. His prior education includes an Executive MBA from Oxford University, an MSt in Literature and Arts, also from Oxford, a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Idaho, and a BA in Liberal Arts and Culture from New Saint Andrews College. Before starting his DPhil, Tyson worked at Hewlett-Packard for fifteen years writing software for embedded systems and managing global engineering teams. He joined the CiRCE board in 2018 and became Chair in May, 2019.

  • Joe Calkins

    Joe received his bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech where he focused his research on robotics and measurement uncertainty. He is one of the founders of New River Kinematics, now part of Hexagon AB, where he serves as a Chief Technology Officer for the Metrology Software Product Line.  Joe lives in Williamsburg, VA with his wife and three children. Joe served ten years on the Providence Classical School (PCS) board where he worked to develop the Rhetoric school for PCS. Joe became acquainted with CiRCE when Andrew came for teacher/board training many years ago. Joe currently serves on the board at CiRCE and is trying to keep up with all the talk of classical literature from which engineers are typically sheltered.

  • Greg Roe - Treasurer

    Greg lives with his wife Julann in Tampa, where they home schooled their three children, Sydney, Luke, and Rebecca; and attend Epiphany of our Lord Catholic Church. Greg grew up in Tampa, graduated from the University of South Florida with Accounting and Finance degrees, and has worked in the insurance industry for the past forty years. Greg believes that the public and private education system in our country are broken and that we need to return to our theological roots, remembering that God is the creator of all things and that through the study of the historical (classical) writers we can come to know God and how best to serve Him.

  • Doug Reynolds

    Doug Reynolds lives in Chicago with his wife Julie where they attend a PCA church in the northern suburbs.  He graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA and Northwestern's Kellogg School with an MBA. Doug has spent his business career in finance and consulting--living and working in New York, London, and now Chicago. He has been involved in classical education since 2005 when he helped start a school in the Chicago suburbs. Doug joined the CiRCE board in 2013.

  • Martin Cothran

    Martin Cothran, the author of Memoria Press’ Traditional Logic, Material Logic and Classical Rhetoric programs, is an instructor of Latin, Logic, Rhetoric, and Classical Studies at Highlands Latin School. Martin holds a B.A. in philosophy and economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from the Simon Greenleaf School (now a part of Trinity University). He currently serves as senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. His articles has have appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and various other newspapers, as well as on radio and television. He has also served as a registered agent (or “lobbyist”) at the Kentucky State Capitol for over 12 years and has served on various state committees that oversee education policy, where he continues to be an influential voice on education policy issues. Martin is the managing editor of “The Classical Teacher” magazine, which also serves as Memoria Press’ product catalog. He and his family live in Danville, KY.

  • Amy Liu

    Amy Liu holds a Doctor of Medicine from Beijing Medical University and practiced as a cardiologist for three years in Fuwai Hospital-Cardiovascular Institute of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences before coming to the US as a research scientist. After conducting nine years of research in DNA damage at UTMB and the NIEHS, she started to homeschool her three children and was drawn to Classical Christian Education. Learning alongside her children, she explored the rich heritage of the Judeo-Christian West and came to the conviction that “The purpose of education is …the habituation of the mind and body to will and act in accordance with what one knows.” After the graduation of her children, Amy devoted herself to helping other homeschooling families through co-op and private tutoring while pursuing further study of education in both Western and Eastern classical traditions in order to restore and preserve the rich heritage of both her native and adopted spheres.

  • Andrew Pudewa

    Andrew Pudewa is the founder and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a father of seven. Traveling and speaking around the world, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. His seminars for parents, students, and teachers have helped transform many a reluctant writer and have equipped educators with powerful tools to dramatically improve students’ skills. 

    Although he is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Japan and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his best endorsement is from a young Alaskan boy who called him “the funny man with the wonderful words.” He and his wonderful, heroic wife, Robin, have homeschooled their seven children and are now proud grandparents of fourteen, making their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    He is a longtime friend of Andrew Kern and CiRCE, and he believes in the mission of restoring a classical education based on goodness, truth, and beauty to every child.

  • Silvano Ferazzo

    Silvano lives in Weddington, North Carolina (a Charlotte suburb), and is Business Development Manager for Green Turtle Americas, Ltd., a company focused on providing engineered wastewater solutions for commercial and industrial clients. As a CiRCE board member, Silvano advises the organization on marketing, promotion, and communication issues, and assists in business planning. He says he serves on the CiRCE board because, “As a parent committed to homeschooling our three children, I recognize the need for a clear approach to classical education based on conservative Christian principles. The CiRCE Institute has the vision to provide the philosophy and the tools to regain what has been lost in education, and to regain excellence.” Further, he says, he “would like to help CiRCE to equip our next generations to strive for that excellence, to love learning, and to not settle for the lukewarm education that prevails today.”

  • Peter Vande Brake

    Peter Vande Brake attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (BA 1988) where he was an All-American decathlete and philosophy major. He attended seminary at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia (M.Div. 1992) and then did his doctoral work at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Ph.D. 2000). He taught, coached, and was headmaster at North Hills Classical Academy from 1996-2010. He worked at The Potter’s House in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2010-2019 as a teacher, coach, curriculum director, and high school principal. He is a leadership consultant for the CiRCE Institute and the Director of the Upper School at The Geneva School in Orlando. He is married and has two daughters.

  • Nena Harris

    Nena Harris is full-time educator in the worlds of classical learning and graduate nursing. She has homeschooled her four energetic and inquisitive children since 2011 and was introduced to classical education in 2013. The journey to viewing education as a humanizing pursuit has impacted her growth as a mother, teacher, nurse, and overall human being. She is an Assistant Professor with a PhD in nursing and has taught graduate nursing students since 2006. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse-Midwife and works clinically with homeless women and children in Charlotte, NC. She has been an active contributor to professional nursing publications and organizations up to the national level. Nena completed the CiRCE Apprenticeship program in 2020 and has been active in her local classical homeschool community as a tutor at the elementary and high school levels.