We are proud to have a dedicated and talented administrative and teaching staff, all with extensive knowledge in French instruction and a passion for our mission! Every day they put their professionalism, creativity and energy in providing our students and community with the best learning experience.

C’est un travail d’équipe!


Teaching staff

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Sally Barstow

Sally’s personal motivation for learning French as her second language has been to communicate with her Belgian family. She studied in Dijon, France and has made multiple trips to visit her ancestral family in Belgium. She has also built personal and lasting relationships with several international students that she has hosted from France and Belgium.

With a degree in French from University of Mary Washington, she has been teaching French to all ages and levels. In Fredericksburg, Virginia, she designed and implemented an elementary French program for the City Public Schools. Currently she is teaching French to high school students through an online academy and meeting with private students, tutoring adults and kids.

Here at the AFC, Sally is delighted to be sharing her love of the French language and culture through the After-school program in the area elementary schools.


Claude Batson


Raphaëlle Denat

Raphaëlle (a.k.a. ´Raffi ´) was born and raised in France. After graduating from the University of Bordeaux in Economics, she moved to Australia where she spent 3 years and started to teach French. She holds a DAEFLE diploma from Alliance Francaise Paris Ile de France.

She is now a teacher at the Alliance Française in the After School programs,  for Le Club and adults. She is also teaching for the International School of Charlottesville. 


Stephanie Hall

Stephanie grew up in Canada where she began learning French at a young age. After receiving a BA Honors degree and a Teaching Degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, she enjoyed teaching art, French, music as well elementary grades in Toronto and then in Atlanta, GA. During the summer she taught ESOL through the University of Toronto. Stephanie is currently a substitute teacher in ACPS and is running a business from home.

She teaches for the AFC French After-School Program and loves working with children of all ages.

Her passions include spending time with her family and friends, languages, tennis, reading and art.


Pascale Hapgood

Born and raised in the southern part of beautiful Brittany, France, Pascale studied English and received both a “Licence” and a “Masters” in English from theUniversité de Nantes.

She moved to Charlottesville in 1988. Pascale received a Masters degree and Ph.D in French Language and Civilization from the University of Virginia, and is currently also an adjunct professor in the UVa French Department. She has been teaching her native language for over 20 years.

Pascale enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, playing tennis, and sharing exciting cultural experiences with all her students.


Marianne SAHLI

Marianne was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon.

She earned a B.A. in Economics and a M.SC. in Financial Risk Management from the Notre Dame University in Lebanon. She moved to Charlottesville in 2018, and has been teaching French at the Alliance Française of Charlottesville and substituting at various schools, including the International School of Charlottesville.

She fluently speaks Arabic, French and English. She loves sharing the cultural background of her francophone country with her students and colleagues. In her free time, she enjoys cooking for family and friends, as well as reading and swimming.


Michelle Katstra

Michelle has a B.A. in French and a Masters in Teaching, both from UVA. She worked at EuroDisney in Paris and taught French 1-5AP at Charlottesville High School. In addition to teaching, Michelle assisted in creating an online French language and culture learning program for Marines who went to Senegal to serve.

Michelle is the School Programs coordinator for the AFC and teaches French to grades 3-8.

When Michelle isn't traveling with her 3 children for college and high school sports, she enjoys paddle boarding, reading, and playing board games with her family.


Lisa Sheffield

Though having had a French mother, Lisa did not actually learn the language until college when she spent her junior year in Paris. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in French and passed on her love of the language and Paris to her husband.

Lisa has homeschooled her 3 children and teaches art to 5-6 graders at a local coop as well as making learning French fun and 'hands on' with the After-school program and camps with the AFC.

If she's not teaching or volunteering around Cville you can find her adventuring outdoors and eating French pastries with her husband.


Murielle de Wekker

A native of France, Murielle has taught French as a Foreign Language in France, Finland, Canada and the United States. She has taught both adult learners and children at universities, language centers, primary schools and even preschools. She holds a " Maîtrise de Français Langue Etrangère" from Bordeaux University and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Virginia. Murielle loves teaching about all things French as well as about the diversity of francophone cultures. A bientôt!

Murielle is a DELF/DALF certified examinator and works at The University of Virginia.

Administrative Staff


Sophie was born in Nimes, France. After graduating from Sciences Po Paris and from the Moscow State Institute of International relations, she started a career in financial audit for major companies in Romania, Russia and France. 

She joined the AFC teaching team in 2017 for adults classes, Le Club and the after school programs. She also taught for several other organizations in town including the International School of Charlottesville. In August 2018, she became our Executive Director.

Having learned 6 languages herself, Sophie is passionate about foreign languages learning methodologies and pedagogy. She is also a firm believer in cross-cultural dialogue and exchanges. 

Sophie Parson is a DELF/DALF certified examinator.



Sonia arrived in Charlottesville in 2016. Born in Serbia, naturalized French, passionate by different languages and cultures, she attended Philology University in Belgrade and obtained Maitrise (M.A) degree in Oriental Languages and Civilization. .In 1989 she moved to Paris where she lived and worked for almost thirty years.

In France, Sonia focused on languages, cultural diversity, and travel. She worked as a free lance French-Serbian translator and language assistant for a Paris based editing company Video Adapt that provides all sorts of language services for French TV (ARTE, Canal+, TF1 ) and independent news agencies. She did her internship in maternelles schools with children with difficulties in learning. Sonia also served for seven years as Event Coordinator for a musical cultural center FGO Barbara in 18th arrondissement, founded by La Mairie de Paris to promote diversity and artistic creation.