About The Academy

Located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, The Alexandria Academy of Fine Arts and Science was created by co-founders Anne Craner and Amy High in 2001. Both women shared an extensive background in education and a vision to bring together young teachers with the knowledge and ability to inspire children with a true love of learning.

Judging by our continued growth, the Academy has filled a need in the Old Town community. We have quickly built an excellent reputation among parents wanting to give their young children an appreciation for science and the arts.

The Academy's faculty has been an integral part of its success because they all bring an overflowing, infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter to their classes. Even the most reserved children can't help but get involved!

Academy Co-Founders

Anne Craner: Head of School
Anne earned her BA and MA in art history at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. She is fluent in English, French, and Spanish. From 1983 to 1996, she was a research associate in the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was a curator at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. She has taught Spanish and French at Old Town Montessori and CHAW in D.C.

Amy High 
Amy received her BA degree from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia and her MA from the University of Virginia. A member of the American Classical League and the Classical Association of Northern Virginia, Amy regularly studied Latin in Rome. She taught Latin at Paul VI and W.T. Woodson high schools and in Fairfax County elementary schools, and she tutored countless area students. Amy died suddenly in September 2003 at age 39. The Amy High Latin Scholarship has been set up by her husband, Tim Gale, to enable Latin students to continue their studies in Rome with Pope's Latinist, Father Reginald.


Becka Chavers Vactor: Director, Lead teacher of Little One Academy

Becka embraces a social constructivist approach to teaching and strongly believes that children learn by doing. Becka loves using creative ways to help students discover the world around them in the social context of the classroom. She teaches through creative arts, sensory-motor, and play-based activities, helping students explore and express their unfolding thought processes.

During her time at The World Bank Children’s Center, a Reggio Emilia School in Washington, DC, Becka worked as a Pre-K teacher. She went on to become the school’s studio art teacher, managed the visual arts program, developed curriculum, and provided professional development to other teachers at the Center.

Her most recent classroom teaching experience includes becoming a founding teacher of Creative Minds Public Charter School in Washington, DC. Creative Minds focuses on the multiple intelligences approach to learning through the arts and science. There she developed curriculum for the school’s Kindergarten program.

Becka attended James Madison University and received a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education, specializing in Pre-K through 3rd grade instruction. She is from the Washington DC metro area where she enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with her family. 

Sammi Hance:  Chinese Immersion Instructor

Sammi Hance is from Taiwan; she is fluent in Mandarin Taiwanese and English. She entered the field of education nearly twenty years ago in Taipei starting out as an English teacher for children aged three to twelve and as a piano teacher for students in high school. In 2008 she moved to the DC Metro area and continued her career in education as a lead Pre-K teacher at the World Bank Children’s Center during the week and as a private tutor teaching both Chinese language and piano on the weekends.

Dr. Yufen Chou: Music Instructor

Dr. Yufen Chou has 20 years of experience teaching piano and violin to students of all ages and levels. She believes that learning music is a great way for young children to fully develop their potentials and music lesson should be fun and exciting!

Dr. Chou holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree in Accompanying from The Catholic University and Master of Music in Piano Performance Degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. She also had 14 years of training in violin. Currently, she runs a private music studio and teach in Prince George’s Community College and Trinity Washington University as Adjunct Piano Professor. 


"Thank you for everything you and everyone at LOA has done for our son over the past year and a half. We've been thrilled with the school, and are so sad to see it ending. As he walked out the door this morning to go to school, he said 'I'm going to school to see all my friends.' I asked him who his friends were, and he replied 'everyone!' He has loved it there so much, and it's been such a good place for him. Thanks again for everything."

"Little One Academy has been a source of enormous growth and development for our daughter. The environment at Little One Academy is both nurturing and stimulating - the teachers have an amazing ability to teach and guide toddlers and young preschoolers. Ms. Lauren and Ms. Terri provide a nurturing learning environment at Little One Academy where every child has the opportunity to learn and develop at his or her own pace while fostering a climate of friendship and cooperation."

"Just wanted to let you know how much our daughter enjoyed Little One Academy. She thinks the world of Miss Rachel and Miss Terri! Just this morning she was singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider in Chinese!!! Bravo Miss Terri! Thank you both for making preschool fun for the little ones and a relaxing transition for the parents as well. I never worried about her in your care."

"Our daughter thrived at Little One Academy and we are so happy that she had the opportunity to be a student of both Miss Rachel and Miss Terri."