Meet our staff

Cynthia Alter – Lead Preschool -1 Teacher
My academic background is in Sociology and Psychology.  I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.  I also continue to take classes in early childhood behavior and development and in methods of teaching children of this age.  I began my career as the director of a preschool in Minnesota and have worked with all levels of preschool children.  I have been on staff at Good Beginnings School since August, 1994. I believe each child is unique and I try to work with each one on his or her level to set realistic goals.  This helps your child build good self esteem by experiencing the satisfaction of achieving a goal, mastering a skill or learning something completely new.

I am married, and my husband John and I have lived in Reston since 1973.  We have four grown children, three daughters and one son.  We have three grandchildren – Jacob, and, twins, Zachary and Zoey.  We also have a Shih-Tzu named Pepper, so our nest is not completely empty.  I enjoy reading, listening to music, relaxing in the sun, going to concerts, watching movies, and trying a variety of cuisines, either cooking at home or going to local restaurants.  I try to eat wisely and I walk and exercise frequently.  I love to shop, especially at yard sales, and I love finding the unexpected treasure or bargain!  My greatest passion besides teaching is travel – to explore new places, cultures, tastes, sights and sounds.


Maria Munoz – Assistant Preschool -1 Teacher
My experience working with children dates back to the year 1999. I am certified in CPR, First Aid, Medication Administration, Daily Health Observation and Screening.  I have been with Good Beginnings School since August, 2008.

I was born in Mountain View, California.   We moved to Virginia when my father got a job working for the State Department.  When I was eight we moved to Panama in Central America.  We also lived in El Salvador before moving to the Dominican Republic.  My father retired this year and is now working for the Rand Corporation.  My mother works as a librarian at Herndon Fortnightly Library.  My brother is going to school and my sister is an EMT in New Orleans.  I enjoy swimming, horseback riding, watching “Dancing with the Stars” and just being with my friends.

Lianne Pirnat – Lead Jr. Kindergarten -1 Teacher
I come from a family of teachers. Teaching has been part of my chosen profession throughout my lifetime. Even when I was very young I was known as “Lianne, the pied piper of children.” I would set up my own nature school in the neighborhood; I organized soccer clinics, and mini Olympics. When the adult years started to kick in, all my start up jobs were teaching at preschools and summer camps. Since I have a love for sports I coached youth soccer for girls and boys.

After earning an Associates Degree at NOVA, I went to Western Carolina University. I graduated with a BSEd in Early Childhood with an emphasis in history and reading. I was a substitute teacher, an assistant teacher, and a Kindergarten teacher for a number of years in Fairfax County

I am very pleased to be back to my teaching career. I am looking forward to teaching the many children that come to Good Beginnings.


Amanda Pegues –Lead Junior Kindergarten-2 Teacher
I am excited to join the Good Beginnings team, and began during the last part of summer camp in August of 2013. I have received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters in Elementary Education. I have had experience as a substitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools and as a first grade home school teacher. I recognize the tremendous capacity and desire of young children to discover and explore their world, and will guide their natural curiosity into the learning process. My classroom will establish a warm, caring, and consistent environment where your children can feel safe and secure to develop a feeling of "I can." I will create a caring learning environment with focus to enhance the development of the whole child. This includes physical, communication, emotional, social, creative and intellectual growth. I encourage my classroom to be a place for open communication between family and teacher.

I have been a resident of Reston since 2000. I live here with my 8 year old daughter. We also have three cats at home, although one of them acts more like a dog than a cat. We enjoy attending events and concerts in Reston and we can be found attending one of the many pools during the summer. I enjoy exploring the many paths, trails and lakes around Reston and taking day trips into DC.


Shazia Rauf – Assistant Junior Kindergarten-2 Teacher
I have been with Good Beginnings School since October, 2008. I was born, raised and educated in Pakistan. I received my master’s in Political Science at Lahore University in Pakistan. After getting married, we came to America because an employment opportunity became available for my husband as a chartered accountant and CPA.

Our family has been living in Reston since 2002. I am fond of Reston because of the beautiful trees and lakes. I really enjoy going for walks by the lake in the evenings. Magazines and books are my leisure pastime. I really enjoy Fabric Painting, and cooking; particularly Chinese and Continental dishes. We have two daughters and one son; and, being a mother of three children, has certainly given me much experience in assessing needs of young children.

I have studied early childhood education a NOVA, attended many trainings and workshops focusing on young children. I believe everyday brings new lessons and experiences.

Lead Kindergarten Teacher
I have been with Good Beginnings School since August, 2003.  I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education and have since been recertified in Elementary Education.  I have been teaching since 1989 in both public and private elementary school systems and have stayed with kindergarten since 1995.  I have tutored all grades in language arts, math, penmanship and reading. I am member of professional education organizations, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Elementary Section of the National Council of Teachers of English.  In 2005 I was honored in Who’s Who Among American Teachers.


Michelle Zambrano – Assistant Kindergarten Teacher
I live in Fairfax with my two boys, Nick and Zach; who are three years apart.  Both of my boys went through Kindergarten with Mrs. Ragsdale.  Zach graduated from GBS in 2005 and Nick was with Mrs. Ragsdale’s kindergarten class at Merritt Academy in 2002. We came to GBS so that Zach could experience Kindergarten with Mrs. Ragsdale too.  I have been actively involved at Lees Corner Elementary School since 2002.  I have been a Room Mother for both boys and volunteered for many PTA events.  I have spent many hours in the classroom assisting the students and teachers. 

I have been Mrs. Ragsdale’s assistant for four years and have really enjoyed myself. While Zach was here at GBS I organized the Scholastic Book Orders, the Book Fair and Teacher Appreciation Week.  I also assisted with Graduation and all of the Kindergarten field trips.
I work full time for Sunrise Senior Living at their International Headquarters in McLean, Virginia.  I am senior staff accountant and have been with the company since 1993.  My family and I travel to the Outer Banks of North Carolina at least twice a year where we enjoy the quiet beaches and of course mini-golf.


Maysoon Farhoud – Chef / Kindergarten After Care Teacher
I was born in Ramallah in the West Bank and had my first 6 years of schooling there. To complete the rest of my education our family moved to the village of Beitin, also in the central West Bank. After being married two years, I came to America in 1993 with my husband and two sons. When I first arrived, I attended school to learn English. Five years later I became a naturalized citizen. I moved to Virginia from Wisconsin in 2011; what a noteworthy change that has been! In Wisconsin I worked at a private child care facility where I wore many hats; working with infants, driving the after school care bus, taking children on field trips and even dabbling in the kitchen when the cook was not available. This experience has trained me to be ready for just about anything! I have been with Good Beginnings School since February of 2012 and I enjoy very much being here with everyone. I have the benefit of seeing all the children on a daily basis because each day I do the lunch count and deliver the food their classrooms; I see them again when I am releasing the teachers for lunch, and then in the kindergarten class for the afternoon. The children are a delight and it gives me great pleasure to watch them grow in all areas – physically, intellectually and socially! I enjoy cooking, walking and traveling overseas to visit my family in Palestine. We have four beautiful children now. Our oldest son is 21 and our youngest, a daughter is 14.


Maysoon Farhoud

Ashley Yuan – B/A Teacher and Floater
I have been with Good Beginnings since the summer of 2010 when I first started off as a summer camp counselor. I myself attended GBS as a little girl and am excited to be here again! I am currently studying Early Childhood Education at Marymount University. I am the after-school teacher, as well as the floater, so you’ll see me often around school. Baking and cooking are some of my favorite hobbies so I try to create after school activities that involve both things; don’t be surprised if your child goes home with tons of goodies! Of course my love of art means that we also do lots of painting and crafts as well. I love working with children of all ages and hope that I can provide them with a fun and instructive atmosphere.


Ashley Yuan

Cory Hanks – Gym Teacher
Having graduated from James Madison University in 2000, Coach Cory received his degree in Health Science and has been heavily involved in Sport and Nutrition since then. With a National Personal Training Certification, he has worked across the country promoting health and physical education, working specifically with children of all ages. His primary involvement in Athletics has been in the sport of soccer, where he will be in his sixteenth year of coaching and working with children. This past year he received the Volunteer Assistant Coaching position at George Washington University in DC. He has coached travel soccer for 15 years, and currently works with both the SYA travel program and the Arlington Soccer Program where he served as head coach for teams between the ages 8 and 16. He was also the lead trainer at Arlington Soccer Academy Advanced Training for U5-U8 teams, and he runs soccer programs at preschools in the area. His passion for teaching and being involved in the development of youth brings an enthusiasm and appreciation for helping develop children and grow their involvement in health and athletics.


Cory Hanks

Elizabeth McBride – French Teacher
I am the French teacher at GBS. I was born in Paris, France. I grew up speaking French with my French mother and English with my American father – at the same time! I attended the American School in Paris, which is essentially a bilingual school. I have a BS in business from Virginia Tech and spent 20 years plus in the corporate world working in medical marketing for international pharmaceuticals. My work entailed conducting training sessions for sales reps and marketing groups. I was a Project Manager for Parexel International until my second daughter was born. At that point. I became a stay-at-home mom. Both of my daughters attended GBS from early pre-school through Kindergarten. I recently started tutoring French on my own and began teaching early conversational French to GBS J-K and K classes in 2012. I use the immersion method, as children of this age pick up language very quickly. It has been a very positive and rewarding experience for me!


Elizabeth McBride

Carmen McMahon Director at Good Beginnings School, Virginia campus
Hello, my name is Carmen McMahon.  I am director at Good Beginnings School, Virginia campus.  I have been here since 1997.  Though born in New England (Connecticut), I was raised in New Jersey, Connecticut, Northern California, Maryland, Southern California, Southern Florida, with a 4 year stint overseas in Spain, back to Southern Florida and then back to Maryland.  My father was a career military officer enabling us to experience many regions, peoples and cultures.  Our usual mode of transportation of choice (his) was automobile, so, needless to say, our nation wide trek across this continent – back and forth – and our European trek throughout Spain, Portugal, France and Italy was bonding, eventful and educational!  I finally graduated from my third (!) high school in Maryland in 1970 and ran off to college in California to the University of San Diego.  My declared philosophy major ended up with my switching schools to Berean Bible College where I received my degree in Education, Administration and Missions in 1975.

I married in 1976, moved to Missouri and worked at Shepherdsfield School in Fulton from 1979-1984 in the preschool department and substituted regularly in kindergarten.  We moved back to the California desert where I co-directed the preschool program at Wee Wildewood Preschool in Palm Springs from 1986-1990 (and received Montessori certification in 1988). Throughout these years 1986-1992 our entire little family also worked with Native Americans and held summer camp programs with Black Buffalo of North American Indian Missions, Inc.  (I mainly had upper elementary girls where we all camped out in wagon trains!) In 1992 we moved to Virginia where I directed Children’s World Learning Center in Reston from 1993-1997; in 1998 I began mentoring junior high girls in an annual 10 month program every weekend and continue to do so presently. In 1997 I came to GBS and have yet to regret that decision! 

We have 5 grown children with 9 grandchildren…and counting!  I enjoy cooking, gardening, traveling, the ocean, reading, hiking and an occasional movie.

Carmen McMahon




11501 Sunrise Valley Drive  |  Reston, Virginia 20191  |  phone 703.758.8811