Meet Our Teachers

hConnect works with families who provide home-based instruction to support them in the education of their children.  Parents remain the primary teacher in their child's education, but hConnect is here to be supportive with resources, strategies, and classes that are more difficult to provide at home.

Sam Bingaman  English & Social Studies 6-12th grades & MSA

I grew up as a military kid, moving around every two years, and finally ended up inS Bingaman Washington during my Sophomore year of High School. I fell in love with the PNW as I attended Olympia High School and can not imagine living in a better location! After graduating from OHS, I earned my BA in History from UW, earned a Master’s in Teaching from Saint Martin’s University, and married my High School Sweetheart.

I completed my student teaching at River Ridge High School and finished my teaching certificate while I was still finishing up my Masters. My first job as a full time teacher was at an Alternative High School called PACE Academy, later called James A. Taylor High School, in Belfair, WA. I taught Social Studies through the Edgenuity online curriculum as well as some offline courses that filled gaps in the program for three years. My son, Thor, was born during my time there.

After trying to get a position in the Olympia area for 2 years, I increased my certifications by adding a Math and ELA endorsement and got a position at Timberline High School teaching Algebra I and COE Math. I had the fantastic opportunity while I was there to coach the Boy’s Swim team.

I am now excited to be here at ORLA as the Humanities teacher and English 10 teacher! Go Orcas! Joined ORLA in 2019.   [email protected]


Karina Champion   Multi-Grade Math & Science / MSA

Karina Champion

Ms. Champion grew up in the Olympia School District attending Roosevelt Elementary, Reeves Middle School, Olympia High School and SPSCC. After teaching at Sky Valley Education Center in the Environmental Science School and Parent Partnership Program (like hConnect at ORLA) she returned to Olympia to raise her family and teach at ORLA.

She has a child in Montessori, a cat, and a dog. Someday she hopes to get backyard ducks to complete her small aquaponics system, plus they are adorable!

Ms. Champion is the advisor of the Three Circle Support Club (a student run gender and sexuality support and social club), Pizza Klatch (a sexuality and gender support group for LGBTQA+ students and allies), and the ECHO club (Extension work Collaboration and Help Organization) a student run academic peer support club.

You will find Ms. Champion outside with students in most types of weather. She has only had to cancel field trips due to weather twice. Once for an electrical storm and once for an ice storm.

Loves: lava, crystals and fossils, animals, plants (especially edible and medicinal), finding animal bones for our naturalist case, cultural and natural history, health, being in or near bodies of water, sewing and fiber arts. Joined ORLA in 2014. [email protected]


Annie Hankins   Multi-Grade Math & Science / MSA

Anne Hankins

I was born and raised in Seattle and attended college in Minnesota. Upon graduation, I completed an internship in environmental education and worked as a seasonal naturalist at Olympic Park Institute and in Florida. During this period, I decided on teaching as my path and completed my Masters in Teaching at The Evergreen State College in 1993.

I enjoyed five years on the sunny side of our state in Yakima teaching 7th grade Life Science and Math before the birth of my daughter and moving back to Olympia. I changed course and taught Pre-K at the Eastside Cooperative Preschool for five years, and more recently grades 3-5 for the OSD in their PATS program before joining the hConnect staff at ORLA in 2015.

My summers are spent in the great outdoors with my family, beloved chickens and bunny. Hiking and camping is a favorite pursuit, and this year we fulfilled our dream of climbing Mt St Helens together. I love all kinds of sports (my latest favorite is floor hockey in the ORLA gym) and ride my bike whenever I can.

I am thrilled to be a part of the ORLA community where there are so many things to like: multi-age classrooms, interdisciplinary studies, engaged students and supportive parents and staff to name a few. I'm looking forward to returning to ORLA this fall and working with both hConnect and MSA programs! Joined ORLA in 2015.
  [email protected]


Cristy Havens     Multi-Grade hConnect, ASB Advisor, Activities Coordinator 

Cristy HavensOlympia has always been my hometown, although after attending 3rd through 12th grades, I did spend a little time away.  In 1987, I went away for college to warm and sunny Tucson, Arizona, and received my Bachelors in Fine Arts with an endorsement in Music Performance.  I spent the next couple of years traveling and singing in a band and when I decided that was not the life for me, I realized that where I really wanted to be sharing my love of music was in the classroom! 

I attended Seattle University and received my Masters in Teaching and was also lucky enough to have met my husband, Michael.  We have shared the wonders of teaching and education for 15 years together.  We have 2 amazing daughters who keep us on our toes and laughing through life. I have always loved teaching, but I love teaching at ORLA most of all. Joined ORLA in 2009.   [email protected]


Laura Herman   Multi-Grade Language Arts & Social Studies & MSA

Laura HermanI was born in Longview, Washington and resided in our state until the age of 10. When I was in 5th grade my family moved to Mississippi, and I lived in the "deep South" until I was 20 years old. I then moved back to Washington to be closer to my family and finished my studies at Washington State University.

Working in education for the past 27 years has given me the opportunity to teach all grades 4th-12th. I specialize in teaching language arts, social studies, and various writing classes and have been at ORLA since 2010. I currently teach in hConnect, the MSA program, and work as the Dean of Students at ORLA.

I am married and have a 16-year-old daughter named Ava and nine-year-old twin girls named Zoe and Maya. My hobbies include gardening, reading, volunteer work, spending time with my family, and cooking. Joined ORLA in 2010.   
[email protected]

Lea Mitchell    Multi-Grade/ Visual Arts 

Lea Mitchell

I grew up on an island in Maine where my family ran an Inn, a restaurant, and a small marina. I learned how to paint, organize things, welcome customers, and count change. I consider this my first homeschool experience. We lived in the Inn and it was drafty and freezing cold in the winter. Instead of all going our separate ways after dinner, we would often gather in the living room by the fireplace. My dad would carve birds and my mother and grandmothers would sew, knit, and do needlepoint. I think this is where I learned to love art and to believe that everybody, in their own way, is an artist.

Most of my life I taught and created art but it was always as a volunteer and often at the end of the day after I had completed my "real" work. I had a successful career working on environmental protection and related public policies but something was missing. I realized that my "real work" was teaching and creating art. I returned to school and received my teaching certification from Pacific Lutheran University.

My husband Jim and I have lived in Olympia for over twenty-five years and we both share a love of nature, hiking, and our local community. I am honored to be part of the ORLA community and to have the opportunity to help build ORLA's Visual Arts program. Joined ORLA in 2010. [email protected]

Rebecca Stoddard   Multi-Grade k-7 / MSA

Rebecca StoddardTeaching k-7th grade classes Joined ORLA in September 2018.  [email protected]

Steve Youngs  Multi-Grade Robotics & Science

Steve Youngs

I was born in Seattle and grew up in the suburb of Burien.  I always loved the out of doors, music, and theater, so it was difficult to decide upon a career path.  My first major in college was theatrical stage lighting and audio engineering at Eastern Washington University.  After two years of study and somewhat discouraged by the unpredictability of employment, I changed my major to environmental science and transferred to The Evergreen State College.  I loved this area of study.  It allowed me to work in a variety of ecosystems, from the open ocean to the inland forests. 

I worked in the dangerous and exciting Bering Sea on crab boats and fishing trawlers, hiked across the open tundra of the North Slope of Alaska, spent time in the subtropical waters around Hawaii, and worked in the forests of the west coast.  Lots of adventuring, but then I decided it was time to put down roots.  I had always had summer jobs in high school working with children at the YMCA, so it seemed logical that teaching would be my next career choice.  So, back to school, I went.  After teaching in a private school as well as a public alternative school for struggling youth, I am very happy to have found a home here at ORLA. Joined ORLA in 2009.  [email protected]u