Faculty and Staff

Summa InstituteAmber Kara
Director of Summa Academy
Amber is both an observer and practitioner of interconnectedness. She sees how small things are connected to bigger things, how no action or interaction happens without reaction. As a marine biologist in a small Zodiac floating among a pod of Pilot whales, she realized you cannot study something and not influence it in some way. As a quilter, she can focus intensely on a single piece of fabric for hours—all the while knowing how it affects the larger design.

Talk with Amber and she looks you in the eye in a way that makes you feel like she hears and feels every word. When you’re done, she’ll connect what you just said to something that magnifies the power of your own words and feelings in an enlightening way. She guides by connecting people, things, events, action and reaction.

During her 19 years working with the organization, Amber has taught Natural Learning Relationships to hundreds of parents, led dozens of school groups in ropes course experiences, brought children from the inner city to the outdoors, and planned and executed programs for families, teachers, and children. Amber now serves children, families and professionals as both President of Summa Institute and Director of Summa Academy.

Ba LuvmourBa Luvmour, MA
Founder, Headmaster
Ask Ba how he became the fortunate man he is today, surrounded by an amazing family, partnered with a loving and inspiring woman, in active pursuit of his dream, and he’ll tell the truth: Self-reflection, spiritual inquiry, voracious reading, and a fair bit of luck.

When you hear the whole story. it is clear that he is on a journey. Today Ba is 3,000 miles from his New York up-bringing, but like every active and engaged life-traveler, he remains connected to each place, experience, and friend made along the way. Ba stays on his journey because he is an observer and reflective man, but to the benefit to everyone around him, he’s become a skilled guide for others on their journeys.

Ba has both huge vision, and the tenacity to build towards that vision one step at a time. Co-founder of Summa Institute and co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships, Ba has published five books, taught hundreds of parents and children, and led countless programs for families since 1985. Ba is also adjunct faculty at The Self Design Graduate Institute.

Summa Institute
Mrs. Janelle Hunziker
Lead Educator - Explorer Class (ages 4-6)

In the past 7 years Janelle has taught Kindergarten, 4th -6th graders and Pre-K.  She is excited to be teaching her favorite grade here at Summa Institute, Kindergarten.  Janelle grew up in Martinez, California. She relocated to Portland, Oregon with her husband in November of 2015 due to a new job opportunity.  Janelle received her B.S. in Child Development from Sacramento State University. She is overjoyed to be a part of the Summa community and share her passion and creativity. Some of her favorite activities include hiking/backpacking, kayaking, cooking, and traveling.

Mr. David Ley, MEd
Lead Educator - Emerald Class (ages 8-11)

Summa InstituteGrowing up in the hills surrounding Santa Cruz, California, fostered David’s curiosity of all things math and science. He earned his BA in Psychology from the University of Puget Sound and moved to Portland in 2006. He has since completed the Graduate Teacher Education Program at Portland State University, an ECE/ELE licensure, Teachers of Middle School Mathematics Certificate, as well as an MEd. He is thrilled to have found a place at Summa where he has the opportunity to combine his experience with children, his curiosity and the extensive training he has, to create a real and lasting relationship with his students and their families.

Ms. Natalie Pepper, MAT
Lead Educator - Onyx Class (ages 11-14)

Natalie is a driven and passionate human being. When she was a child, Natalie was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. With the guidance of wonderful teachers and the help of supportive parents, Natalie was able to overcome many challenges. Summa InstituteThe help she received ignited a flame in her to do anything she could to help take care of those around her. Volunteering in classrooms has given Natalie perspective on the world and her place in it. Natalie is driven by a strong desire to help other struggling students find their way. Natalie believes that all students deserve the opportunity to succeed. A week after completing her undergrad, Natalie started graduate school at Lewis and Clark College and received her Masters of Arts in Teaching the following June. For the past year she has been substitute teaching in two public school districts, gaining experience with all grades and subjects. She is drawn to Summa by the promise of a personalized curriculum for students, small classroom sizes, and the ability to build a lasting rapport with each family. The tools she has learned through her own struggles, combined with her education, have made Fall Natalie’s favorite season, not only for the changing leaves but the start of a brand new school year.

Mr. Ian Peters
Lead Educator - Sapphire Class (ages 6-8)

Summa InstituteSince he was a young child helping to organize the library books in his mother’s classroom, Ian has felt a calling to education. The oldest of three kids growing up in rural Albany, Oregon, Ian had lots of space and freedom to explore his favorite books and dive into his imagination, creating new and exciting worlds in his backyard. After enrolling in Western Oregon University, he started to feel a calling to work with at-risk and emotionally abused children in group homes. It was in these group homes that Ian discovered the awesome power that children hold within themselves and when given a safe outlet and a caring ear, how that inner power can reach out helping to transform a community. After being introduced to Natural Learning Relationships three years ago, that awareness of the power that children hold has evolved into something deeper. Acknowledging, mapping, and nurturing the consciousness of children is his greatest passion. Now, Ian is thrilled and feels privileged to join an amazing and committed team at Summa Institute.

Ms. Taylor Townsend
Assistant Educator - Sapphire Class (ages 6-8)

Summa InstituteGrowing up as the oldest child of three, Taylor naturally lived to guide and care for children.  She realized while counseling at a summer camp that being with children was her passion in life and where she feels most truly herself.  To deepen her understanding of her intuitive sense of working with children she attended Lewis & Clark College, where she also pursued her interest in foreign languages and psychology.  Along the way she met Ba and witnessed firsthand how Natural Learning Relationships can transform a family, their relationships with themselves and one another.  Taylor has been drawn to working with children with special needs, being in relationship with them as whole children. She is amazed at what comes forward in a child when strengths are celebrated and the child is embraced for who they are not what they can produce or do.  She has cultivated an ability to recognize a child’s inherent nature and meet them there.  Taylor is fluent in french and plays guitar and piano.  She is thrilled to be part the team at Summa where everyone puts the child first and celebrates the joy of relationship with one another.

Ms. Kathleen Redmond, MAT
Aftercare provider and Substitute Teacher

Summa InstituteKathleen is a life-long learner. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2006 with a BA in Environmental Studies, plus minors in Geology and French. Her backgrounds of gardening and environmental education were honed while starting an edible gardening business, Heart Beet Gardening, in LA. During her time in Los Angeles she was also an afterschool instructor and TA at a progressive Children’s Community School. A love of rain and gardening brought her up to Portland to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching at Lewis and Clark College.  During her student-teaching at Willamette Primary School in West Linn, she honed her pedagogical skills leading a classroom of individual learners to academic success.  She is drawn to Summa by Learning about Natural Learning Relationships (NLR) which she finds revelatory, deeply affecting the way she designs curriculum and sets up a classroom community.  A summer job teaching 1st grade at the Marysville Summer SUN program gave Kathleen the chance to integrate her knowledge of pedagogy with the principles of NLR. She is thrilled to be working in a school that recognizes and honors the importance of each child’s well-being.

Josette LuvmourJosette Luvmour, PhD
Founder, Director of Family Development
Josette will walk in your shoes. She’ll do this without question or reservation, because she is a person who believes that your perspective is not only unique but uniquely valuable. There is a story in the book Optimal Parenting where Josette describes climbing a tree to talk with a child. She did this for many reasons but here’s the big one: The world looks different from up in a tree. It looks different to the child in that tree. She climbed that tree because she believes in seeing through the eyes and feeling through the hearts of others. Now, imagine how comfortable that makes people feel—how much more open it might make them feel— and then consider the positive effect that Josette is able to have on people’s lives.

Co-founder of Summa Institute and co-creator of Natural Learning Relationships, Josette has published five books, and developed hundreds of experiential learning programs for families and children since 1985. Josette teaches undergraduate and continuing education courses as an adjunct faculty member at The Self Design Graduate Institute.

Albee KaraAlbee Kara
NLR Program Facilitator
Finance & IT Manager

Albee is a seeker. As a younger man he’d been filled with the notion that there were specific answers, and specific outcomes, to specific questions and problems: Things could be neat, sums could be figured, the order of things stacked together, answers revealed. He dove into physics in college and worked through the material: quantum mechanics, relativity, duality.

At the end of his sophomore year, he realized that in physics, depending on how you thought about it, everything is either a particle or a wave. An epiphany, perhaps—but not the real one for Albee. Like all true seekers, Albee examined the original questions he’s been asking himself – and discovered that he cared more about the meaning of existence, then he did about figuring out its mechanics.

And so, with a new question, renewed focus, but fewer expectations about outcomes, Albee began to study, self-reflect, and to seek again. And then he discovered NLR, and a brand-new journey began. Ironically, Albee’s studies and self-reflection have made him a trove of potential answers. But he knows how important the questions are. Work with him, and he will help you to start there.

Albee has worked with the organization for 17 years as a program co-designer and facilitator, leading groups of families, children, and professionals through experiential learning programming.

Summa InstituteJohn Warton
Admissions Officer
A few moments with John reminds you of the power of music, the driving force in his life.  Whether teaching or performing, music is the loving bond that ties his actions together.  John received a degree in music performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has been a free-lance trombonist for over 25 years. John also studied music therapy and maintains a studio where he teaches trombone and euphonium students, specializing in students who need a more sensitive, tailored and flexible teaching style.

Summa Institute
Karen Warton
Administrative Assistant

John and his wife Karen watched eagerly as Summa Academy came together, and have been tremendously happy to have their daughter Katie attending its inaugural year.  When Karen was offered an opportunity to serve the school, the family was delighted to have an even stronger relationship with the Academy and its families.  She has been involved in non-profits from universities to independent schools to social services for the past 18 years, so Karen brings a wealth of experience with her to the job.


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