top of page

Academic Mentors


Ashley Graham
Creative Writing

Ashley Graham is the founder and CEO of Lift Bridge Publishing and Generation Write Now. Lift Bridge Publishing is a publishing house established in 2014 that assists authors in the writing and publishing process. Graham is the host of a podcast and book writing course, "Finish Your Book Already" a writing camp for adults, and she's an author of two poetry books and one children's book. Her passion is witnessing a young person find their voice and use it in a creative way.

Mark Halverstadt

Mark Halverstadt works as an engineer, but he's been playing chess for a long time. In high school, chess was a fun way to make friends and helped him excel at math. In college, chess helped him become the student body president as a freshman. In 1987, he won the Florida Chess Association's amateur champion trophy. "Mr. Mark" loves helping kids learn chess strategies that can also help them excel at school and in life.

Teisha Chaney


Teisha Chaney is a certified middle school science teacher with years of teaching experience in the states of Florida and Georgia. She has always volunteered in numerous community organizations that focused on the development and well-being of children. As a military spouse and a mother of three, she has taken the past few years off to discover life as a stay-at-home mom. With more time to focus on her own children, she has decided to venture into the world of homeschooling. She loves to learn new ways to empower and inspire a love of learning by sparking curiosity and encouraging exploration into the wonders of our world. 

Molly Moore
Nature Studies

Molly Moore is president of Southern Maryland Audubon, a Charles County Master Gardener, Maryland Master Naturalist and beekeeper.

She was a reporter for The Washington Post for nearly three decades covering the Pentagon and serving as a foreign correspondent based in South Asia,  Latin America, the Mideast, and Europe. Molly covered the Gulf War and wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the Middle East. She is author of “A Woman at War: Storming Kuwait with the U.S. Marines.”

She previously was a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Lake Charles American Press in her home state of Louisiana.

In her second career, Molly was  communications strategist for national environmental organizations including National Audubon, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Forest Trends, Restore the Mississippi River Delta and others. She also served as consultant to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History.

Molly graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in American government and lives in Newburg, Maryland, with her husband, John Anderson. Their son is a sculptor.

Heather Halverstadt

Heather Halverstadt is a homeschool mom, science fiction writer, and former GIS analyst.  She's also a casual chess player who is usually beaten by her chess-loving husband and son. She's the one in the family with the best organizing skills, though...just think of her as the Chess Secretary.

Marlene Smith
Nature Studies

Marlene Smith has been a Charles County Master Gardener Master Gardener since 2015, currently serving as their Treasurer and as a member on the Extension Advisory Council for Charles County. Marlene is also a Bay-Wise Master Gardener, a Maryland Tree Steward, a Xerces Ambassador, and a member of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society.

As the Charles County Master Gardener project leader, Marlene collaborated with the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center on NatureFest 2021 and 2022. She is looking forward to another successful event in 2023. Marlene also participated in the NCAC/4H/CCMG pollinator ambassador project, providing a lesson on winter sowing of native plants. She also mentored the Nurture Natives team on selection of trees/shrubs for their free tree/shrub giveaway, as well as providing feedback on their Nurture Natives Guide to Invasive Species.

In her professional career, Marlene was a medical laboratory technologist for 21 years before obtaining her BS and MS degrees from University of Maryland Global Campus in IT project management. She worked in healthcare IT for 15 years before retiring in 2018 to spend time with her husband, Bill, and their fur-baby, Misty.

Nature Studies

Our Nature Studies series will be presented by Brenda Nairn-Davies, Rebecca Turner, and Lynne Wheeler, official members of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society.
bottom of page