At Fuse, we’re really picky about who gets to teach our classes. We generally pull people for signature mat class teacher training from existing students – people who have already taken upwards of a hundred or more classes, so they understand our class structure and appropriate level of intensity. Apparatus teachers come to us from a background in more traditional Pilates, and then transition through our bridge program until they’re fully capable of answering your class requests – from stretching out your tight back to tightening up whatever you feel needs tightening.
Fuse Pilates® Founder, Creative Director
In 1999, Mariska took her first Pilates class. After a 2002 diagnosis of MS, she became a devoted yoga and Pilates practitioner and taught her first class a year later.
Today, Mariska is the lead instructor for Fuse Pilates, a contemporary Pilates method based in Washington, D.C., for which she developed all of the group classes and training programs.
As part of Mariska’s comprehensive Pilates certification through Body Arts and Science, International (BASI Pilates), she completed a research project on Pilates for multiple sclerosis patients, which she expanded into an in-depth multi-day Pilates for Neurological Conditions advanced teacher training, incorporating the latest research in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation into a Pilates program design neurological conditions. A student of medical neuroscience, Mariska has also designed additional workshops focusing on how to integrate brain science into exercise programs to enhance performance and improve neurological function. Her workshops and classes have been featured on the popular online website, Pilates Anytime. She is also the author of the upcoming book, MS: A Memoir.
In addition to experience directly working with students with MS, spinal cord injury, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral scelrosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease), and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Mariska regularly consults with Pilates teachers around the world as well as neurologists, physical therapists, and physiatrists for their clients with MS. Mariska’ has taught over 250 teachers around the world techniques to successfully work with clients using brain-body techniques. Her Pilates for MS course is also generously grant-assisted by the UK MS Society.
Mariska’s education in the movement arts is vast, including mat certification through Power Pilates, additional apparatus, mat, and anatomy training through Balanced Body Pilates, Peak Pilates, and a certification in PureBarre.
From 2010 until his death in 2013, Mariska studied in a one-on-one mentorship with renowned Pilates Master Julian Littleford, founding member of the Physical Mind Institute and one of the world’s most innovative and creative Pilates instructors. She also studies regularly with Jennifer Kries, 2nd Generation Master Instructor, who is credited with bringing Pilates to the masses, as well as other 2nd Generation classical teachers Lesa McLaughlin, Chris Robinson, and Andrea Maida.
Mariska is a PMA® (Pilates Method Alliance) Certified Pilates Teacher and Continuing Education Provider. The PMA is the only third party professional certification in the Pilates field. In terms of advanced trainings, she is a Pre and Postnatal Pilates Specialist, trained through the Center for Women’s Fitness directly with its founder, Carolyne Anthony, who invited her to join the organization as faculty. She is also a Post Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist, trained through the Pink Ribbon Program. In 2013, she completed Pilates Studio Techniques in support of Heroes in Motion, overviewing skills to work with amputees and persons with traumatic brain injury. Additionally, she has advanced certificate training in Pilates for Injuries and Pathologies, the Pathokinesiology of Neurodegenerative Diseases, and specialized training in Pilates for athletes and for men. Still, Mariska’s heart (and most of her time) remains in the group fitness setting, inspiring the masses to learn to love to work out, and work out hard.
Outside of fitness, Mariska received a 2006 holistic health coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (at that time – part of Columbia University’s continuing education curriculum) where she studied with Drs. Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, Barry Sears, and dozens of other leaders in the alternative health field. A former award-winning writer, video producer, and creative director, Mariska puts those skills to good use as a frequent guest on fitness and lifestyle blogs, as well as the occasional television appearance. She also creative directs Fuse Pilates’s website, marketing materials, and photos.
Managing Partner, Co-Owner
Roxanna (Rox) grew up in Europe but managed to come to the U.S. without an accent. She graduated from University in London with degree in Hotel Management and soon after moved to Los Angeles to work for Four Seasons Hotels in wedding and party planning. Ultimately, she burned out thanks to some of the more memorable brides and their mothers.
Rox left party planning for the world of luxury goods, where she worked for LVMH as Human Resources Manager for Hard Candy and Urban Decay cosmetics. She loved it, but sadly never learned how to apply makeup. Luckily, she has a young daughter who will one day benefit from her treasure chest of cosmetics (but not until she’s 16).
Rox left L.A. to follow her husband to the east coast, and someday she will forgive him for that. Soon after arriving in D.C., Roxanna got to work raising a set of Irish twins, then ventured out to start her own business. She has always been interested in fitness (Pilates, marathons, running after her kids). When she took her first Fuse Pilates class, she knew she wanted to help the brand grow. She and Mariska formed Fuse 360 LLC and opened the first Fuse Pilates studio in 20011.
You can find Rox at the studio most days, handling the nuances of our online scheduling system, managing the work study team, helping with PR, marketing, housekeeping, welcoming students, and adding her fabulous sense of humor to the mix.
Senior Instructor, Teacher Trainer
Want a really upbeat teacher? Meet Addie Johnson, who found yoga and Pilates after a decade of running began to wreck her knees. A lover of dance parties, but not a “formal” dancer, she found that yoga was a wonderful way to fully express her emotions and thoughts through her body. She has been a yoga student since 2004 and was then introduced to Pilates and barre classes in Washington, DC when she moved here in 2006 for graduate school.
In addition to her Master’s in Museums Studies, she has two Pilates trainings under her belt: a traditional training from Quantum Pilates and a Fuse Pilates certification. She also holds advanced certificates in Pilates for Injuries and Pathologies through BASI Pilates, Pre and Postnatal training through the Center for Women’s Fitness, and Pilates for MS and neurological conditions. Addie taught barre classes from 2008-2011 and received her 200-hour yoga certification in 2009. After some serious life changes in 2009, she took her part-time teaching career full-time and has not looked back since.
Addie’s teaching style tends to be on the vigorous side with a strong emphasis on humor. She believes that while everyone should try to work towards their personal goals and strive to find harmony and balance within their body, laughter is essential.
In addition to teaching group classes and privates, Addie assists in Fuse Pilates teacher trainings, as well as developing exercises for the Fuse Pilates repertoire. Addie is fully certified by the Pilates Method Alliance.
Abe is a crisis intervention advocate and a long-time devotee of Fuse Pilates and the Fuse method, which gives him a way to both practice good self-care and to dig deep and challenge his strength and focus. He came to Fuse looking for a way to complement his cycling habit with muscle toning, but soon discovered that Pilates can work every zone on your body at any level of fitness. As one of the regular Fuse “guys,” it didn’t take long to learn that Pilates is anything but a breeze, but always a blast.
Abe is part of the original population targeted by Joseph Pilates’ fitness method: veterans. After an injury ended his running regimen and left him spending four years without a pain-free workout, a somewhat softer Abe discovered the power of Fuse’s 360 fitness with a focus on core stability. The hard work in Gillian’s mat classes transformed his body and his pain, leaving him healthier and fitter than he’s ever been. In the Fuse method, Abe also found a lot of exercises familiar from the Army’s Physical Training program, but with a focus and burn that rivals what any drill sergeant could inflict (plus the music is way better).
Abe’s a former Army fitness instructor himself, where he always thought misery was the point of exercise; but at Fuse, he’s learned that strength and endurance are not remotely incompatible with having an amazingly fun time.
Abe can think of literally dozens of ways to modify your push-ups, and loves to keep his mixes full of classic funk and electric beats. He will really, really do his best not to dance while you are sweating. It’s not that he enjoys your pain – it’s just impossible not to enjoy seeing himself, friends, colleagues, and students transform their bodies and feel stronger and healthier than they ever did before.
And yes – his manicure is better than yours.
Ayelet spends her life in studios either at Fuse or at school where she is obtaining her MFA in Interior Design at George Washington University. She came to DC after graduating with a BA in Communication and Media Studies from Goucher College in Baltimore. While at Goucher she became a fan of traditional Pilates method so much so that she had to receive special permission to take a third semester of the course. While at Goucher, she also had the opportunity to continue her interest in sports medicine, rock climbing, softball, photography and event planning.
Ayelet was introduced to Fuse by a good friend in February 2012 and it was love at first pulse, twist and tuck. She found the Fuse method challenging, effective and fun! She loved being able to use various modifications to build the strength she needed to nail the most challenging versions. Never being able to work out without music and always down for a dance party, Fuse brought the elements of a workout Ayelet was searching for together. In her first year at Fuse she took over 200 classes (!!) and partook in the Fall 2012 Fuse Mat Teacher training.
Ayelet emphasizes challenging one’s self in class, teaching exercises that push students to learn about and build their own strength with an emphasis on proper form to best access muscles in new ways. Her classes are set to energetic mixes that double for her living room dance parties.
Tiny but tough, Clare Kelley can hold a perfect form teaser for minutes on end and then rush out of class to climb a up the side of a cliff while suspended from a couple of ropes and her fingertips. (Thanks, Fuse!) Her Pilates and yoga career began in 1999 as a complement to her various athletic activities – running, rowing, rock climbing, surfing, dancing, and even a (somewhat accidental) stint on the Costa Rican national aerobics team’s kickboxing squad!
Clare graduated from the inaugural Fuse Pilates teacher training and has been teaching ever since – first joining Mariska at Flow Yoga Center, and now, as a senior mat teacher at the Playground. Her continuing education and practice are informed by her experience with chronic back pain, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and pelvic instability, a result of breaking her back in a rock climbing accident. And then breaking her back again (we think she should wear a bubblewrap suit). Clare’s fitness education includes Pilates chair and reformer jumpboard training with Fuse Pilates and additional chair training with Peak Pilates and Balanced Body. On top of that, she added specialized coursework in shoulder and lumbopelvic stability with teachers such as Amit Younger, Megan Davis, and Kathy Van Patten. Clare also holds certifications in Step, Aerobics, and Kickboxing Skills and Choreography from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and 200-hour yoga teacher training. After deciding that a 9-5 job was hurting her back more than helping her life, Clare became a full-time teacher. She is completing her masters degrees (yup, two) in global public health and international development, where she focuses on preventing obesity through promoting healthy body image and fitness. She has completed coursework in pathophysiology, kinesiology, nutrition, and structural determinants of health.
As Fuse’s resident mixologist and Music Director, Clare puts her training from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University into practice by finding sweet tunes for classes — we call her the master of the mixtape. Her piano teachers would be so proud! (Clare is also a different kind of mixologist – try one of her amazing cocktails at our next event.) Clare’s classes inspire students of all levels of fitness to challenge themselves in a lighthearted, non-competitive environment. Come to her class ready to work hard and leave satisfied!
Gillian is our resident superhero. By day, she’s a structural engineer. By night (and sometimes morning), she helps students build stronger bodies.
Gillian has always loved the aerobic benefits of running but lifelong asthma limited her ability to get in hard workouts during the colder months. After a few frustrating winters in college, she took a friend’s suggestion and purchased a $5 combination yoga and Pilates DVD. Once she got used to the strange looks from her college roommates while practicing in the living room she quickly began to realize the benefits of mind-body workouts. When she moved to California to pursue a graduate degree in engineering she ramped up her Pilates workout to 3 days a week and balanced them with strength training and aerobic workouts to help counteract stress. She was never happier or STRONGER!
After moving back to the DC area she tried her first Fuse Pilates class and quickly found out she could get the benefits of her various workouts in one class! Realizing she wanted to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of the movements, she participated in Fuse Pilates inaugural Teacher Training program over the winter of 2009-2010. She received her certification in February of 2010 and has enjoyed being able to share this unique Pilates method with her students ever since.
As a “type A” personality, Gillian has always pushed herself and her students to focus on great form. As an optimist, she believes there is always room to be happier and stronger.
Janine is an educator working to improve the nation’s lowest performing schools. She started her education journey as a middle school teacher in Oakland, CA and since then has trained teachers in Central America, worked in the DC school system, and currently helps to create policies to improve the country’s neediest schools.
Janine first realized the importance of self-care during her years in the classroom. Adhering to a regimen that included frequent exercise and eating fresh food enhanced her capacity as a teacher. As a result, she became an avid runner and completed the Maui marathon. Her love for Pilates developed while she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, Central America. While serving, Janine found that Pilates was perfect because it required no equipment, helped to keep her strong and toned, as well as calmed the mind.
Looking for a way to deepen her practice and knowledge of Pilates, Janine found Fuse and was instantly hooked by the balance of fun and rigor as well as the unpredictability of the classes. As a former classroom teacher and teacher coach, Janine also is an advocate for educator wellness and intends to use Pilates to empower teachers to enhance their physical and emotional health.
Her mother claims that Jocelyn started running before she started walking, and that energy stuck with her!
Jocelyn (known affectionately as the “Arms of Fuse”) has been practicing Yoga and Pilates for nearly 20 years. She began teaching Pilates in 2010 after completing her Fuse Pilates training with Mariska Breland. Jocelyn is also a graduate of Body, Arts and Sciences (BASI) Comprehensive Pilates Program. She has continued her education with courses in pre- and post-natal Pilates, Pilates for MS and Neurological Disorders, scoliosis, and advanced trainings in tower on the reformer and chair. In 2013 she completed the Pilates for Pathologies and Injuries course with Samantha Wood and in 2015 she completed the Kathy Grant Heritage Training.
In addition to group classes, Jocelyn also enjoys working with private clients to help them achieve their individual goals. She works with many types of clients including: pre- and post-natal clients, professional athletes, injury rehab, mature clients, and any one looking for a great workout.
Jocelyn is also an avid practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga. In 2008 she had the honor of going to Mysore India 2008 to study at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Center with Sharath Jois.
When not on a Yoga mat, Pilates mat, Pilates machine or Standup Paddle Board; she can be found at her LYS (Local Yarn Shop) knitting leg-warmers, hippos, hats and sweaters, socks. . .
Jocelyn is fully certified by the Pilates Method Alliance.
Laci is from Southern Indiana, the state where basketball rules. Being a tomboy whose favorite color was pink, she quickly devoted her free time to perfecting her basketball and softball game (and always had perfectly curled hair while playing). Since she was the first to dive on the floor after a ball – or for fun – she began noticing chronic back pain that oftentimes required bed rest. After seeing neurologists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and orthopedic surgeons; she accepted that her life was going to be restricted by back pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Not the case!
Laci was introduced to Pilates in 2007 when offered a complimentary session at a studio. It was love at first roll down! While far from being considered “flexible,” her improvement in posture and ease of movement was easily observed. After training with Suzanne Pride, Power Pilates Master Trainer, privately and in groups, she decided to pursue her comprehensive Pilates certification through Stott Pilates in order to share with others the transformation that had occurred on her own body.
When she relocated to DC, she stumbled upon Fuse, and she realized Pilates could be wonderfully fun AND effective! Who wouldn’t love doing spine stretch forward to Pitbull beats? The “up an inch, down an inch” method has decreased quite a few inches around her waist, but most importantly has vastly improved her quality of life. She attended classes six days per week for several months, joined Fuse’s apparatus training, and is beyond thrilled to be teaching a method she is so passionate about.
Laura studied Pilates as a dance student ten years ago and became a Fuse enthusiast after taking a class in 2010. After years of practicing teasers and planks on the mat and reformer, Laura completed the Fuse Pilates Teacher Training in spring 2014. She enjoys teaching classes that are challenging, balanced, and fun and believes that every single body can enjoy the benefits of Pilates, on and off the mat!
A Massachusetts native, Laura moved to DC to study International Relations at American University. When she’s not teaching or taking classes at the studio, you can find Laura working on Capitol Hill, traveling with family and friends, and enjoying all that the District has to offer.
Lisa is a health policy lawyer by day, but her outlet has always been fitness. In fact, her passion for fitness began before she could even think about it. Her parents put her in dance class at the age of 2, and Lisa danced seriously through college. When she was an undergraduate at Princeton, she was the artistic director of eXpressions dance company. People would often find her on the elliptical machine or in a coffee shop choreographing dances in her head (yes, people stared…)
Lisa also started incorporating non-traditional music not only into her choreography, but also into dance rehearsals she led. Demi pliés to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity?” Why not? After college, she continued to dance and resurrected a defunct dance group while she was at law school.
When Lisa became a lawyer in NYC, she needed a new outlet and discovered willpower & grace®. After moving back to DC in 2009, she couldn’t find the class anywhere, so she became certified to teach it. Lisa has been teaching willPower & grace® for almost 4 years, and she is extremely excited to bring it to Fuse.
Lisa also found Fuse Pilates in 2009, and she loved it from the beginning. She became a more regular devotee when she discovered the Fuse Playground. With Fuse, Lisa has never felt stronger – Fuse has even helped her be able to do a real push-up! ☺ Lisa thinks that Fuse is the perfect combination of strength training, flexibility, and creative movement.
Because of Lisa’s dance background, you can expect her classes to have fun and interesting music – she lets the beat move her. She also is a stickler for good form, from head to toes (yes, she cares a lot about what is happening with your feet). Lisa also has the gift of gab – she loves to chat before and after class, so come say hello!
A former dancer, Meredith searched for years for a workout that would neither bore her to tears nor aggravate her pointe shoe damaged feet. Encouraged by a friend, she tried Pilates, and after dropping a dress size and growing half an inch, she became a devotee! Meredith received traditional mat and apparatus training from Quantum Pilates and was thrilled to join the Fuse teacher training program in 2012.
In addition to working closely with Fuse trainers Mariska and Addie, Meredith has taken continuing education workshops with Blossom Leilani Crawford, Mi Valentin, Nora St. John, Lolita San Miguel, and Courtney Miller. She was also lucky enough to be Mariska’s “student” for not one, but two, video shoots at Pilates Anytime. She is a certified Pre- and Postnatal Pilates Specialist through the Center for Women’s Fitness and a Specialist in Pilates-Based Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis, and is fully certified by the Pilates Method Alliance. She’s also a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
In addition to her Pilates training, Meredith has a law degree from Vanderbilt University and spent seven years practicing at a large DC firm before pursuing a lifestyle change to teach Pilates (of course!) and become a law librarian. Meredith understands the frantic place of Washington life – and will often cue you to relax those shoulders! She believes that while a Pilates practice will strengthen and lengthen the body, the benefits are far greater than killer triceps or flexible hamstrings. She encourages her students to leave their worries at the door; you will leave feeling rejuvenated and de-stressed.
After first participating in Pilates 10 years ago, Paulette immediately realized this form of training was essential for her future well being and wanted to share the experience with friends. Pilates gave her body great core strength and balance which is a natural boost to excel in sports she loves as well as everyday activities.
Paulette has been teaching Pilates for six and a half years both in Mat and Equipment environments. She received her comprehensive training certificate from BASI Pilates in March 2011.
Since her certification training, Paulette has completed classes in multiple specialties including low back and shoulder complex, hip, knee and osteoporosis. She most recently graduated from the Heritage Training graduate program, which offered an opportunity for extensive training in the Kathy Grant work in The Pilates Method through the experience of Kathy’s long time student Cara Reeser. These teachings were passed down to “Cara from Kathy and to Kathy from Joseph and Cara Pilates.”
The majority of Paulette’s teaching concentrates on private clients ranging from clients who just want to get stronger to clients with a special focus such as back issues, scoliosis and osteoporosis. She is also a Specialist in Pilates-based exercise for Multiple Sclerosis.
In 2003, Tori accidentally started her Pilates practice when she began studying Tae Kwon Do as a means of staying in shape. While she didn’t know the intense core workouts her instructors gave her traced back to Joseph Pilates, they were included to help the students develop the strong core and discipline it takes to be a black belt.
After 7 years of Martial Arts, Tori moved on to the restorative practice of Yoga, and became more interested in the strength building potential of Pilates. One day, she dropped into one of Mariska’s Fuse Pilates bootcamps and started thinking about core training in a whole new way.
Tori sees yoga and Fuse not just as a means of working out, but a life long practice to better health. Her classes incorporate vibrant music with the intensity of Fuse exercises, and she occasionally mixes in fierce martial arts moves. Though Tori’s classes are always a challenge, they will appeal to the beginner student as well. Since she, too, was a new student once, Tori makes sure to give precise alignment cues, along with options to modify whenever necessary.
Tori received her 200 hour Yoga certification from Washington, D.C.’s Flow Yoga Center and her Fuse Pilates Certification in 2010. Tori also completed her Balanced Body Reformer training in 2012 and the Fuse Pilates reformer bridge program in 2013. In terms of specialty training, Tori is a certified Pre-and Postnatal Pilates specialist, studied Pilates for scoliosis with Karen Clippinger, and went back-to-the-basics with Pilates Elder Lolita San Miguel. She has also completed Mariska’s Pilates for MS training.
When Tori is not in a yoga or Fuse class, she can be found running through DC and Virginia training for her latest 10 miler.
Rumer came across Pilates after suffering a debilitating knee injury in high school that led to a reconstructive surgery. Struggling to be able to run again her Doctors and Physical Therapists suggested she check out the workout to help re-strengthen the rest of her body and balance out her strength. After injuring her other knee and having to go yet another surgery all before the age of 20 she re-dedicated herself to her Pilates practice knowing it would not only allow her to run again but to avoid further injury.
After a few years of reformer and mat practice, and while one semester away from gaining her B.A. in International Political Economy, Rumer decided to gain her teaching certification to share her passion for Pilates with as many other people as possible. After graduating college she dedicated herself full-time to obtaining her Balanced Body Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Certification with Karen Sanzo in her hometown of Dallas, Texas.
When she moved to D.C. a in 2015 she settled into a desk job that allowed her a great chance to get acquainted with the city, but she quickly realized how much she missed teaching. She came across Fuse and loved the dedication to Pilates principles that were offered, while adding a modern ever-changing twist to classes through the “three-requests”. She enjoys working with a range of clients, from those who are trying to re-discover their strength after an injury to clients who just want a new and exciting challenge to add to their life.
When she isn’t in the studio you can find her running, spinning and playing with her scruffy little pup, Gus.
As a professional Irish dancer, Joe relies on Pilates to help him keep up the strength and flexibility he needs to conquer stages far and wide. He credits Fuse with helping him take his dancing to the next level, and now, nearly four years since his first class at Fuse, Joe is thrilled to be sharing his passion for the method as a Fuse instructor.
Joe’s illustrious dance career has brought him to tour with the global phenomenon Lord of the Dance, performing in the show’s run on Broadway, and a six-month run in London’s West End prior to that, where he has had the honor of working with and performing alongside dance legend Michael Flatley. Joe trained the cast in Pilates in order to keep up with the high level of fitness demanded for the show!
When he is back in the DC area, Joe brings a wealth of experience to the Fuse classroom, choreographing workouts that are powerful, yet graceful, and deliver a serious kick (pun intended).
Ally is a native Californian, and after a decade of playing water polo (junior high through college), she found that she was not in love with what the sport had done to her body – big bulky muscles in all the wrong places. After that, she went looking for an exercise routine that she found both challenging and well-balanced for her body, and spent many years practicing yoga and signing up for any and every long-distance race.
Ally was introduced to Fuse by the most amazing roommate in the Fall of 2012. She immediately fell in love with the efficient, concentrated exercises, the playlists, and the ability to shout out a request. Most importantly, she loved the way an hour-long Fuse class felt the next day. This is why, when this CPA left her well-paid, high-stress private equity job for the non-profit world in 2013, she began work study at Fuse to fund her Fuse habit. Despite recently bouncing back to the fast-paced world of investment, she finds early morning workouts the perfect way to sneak in essential exercise.
Ally has a love for teaching and learning – from instructing swim lessons in high school and college and studying yoga at the University of Southern California to completing Fuse’s Fall 2013 teacher training and Balanced Body Reformer teacher training in Summer 2015. This pairs well with her love of spontaneously DJing friends’ parties and weddings. You can usually find her teaching early morning classes.
After many years of running (and running injuries), Marisa realized that she needed to diversify her training – a totally sudden, totally genius epiphany! (Totally. Despite everyone telling her this for years.) Deciding to try Pilates, she found Fuse. Drawn to the promise of diverse workouts, good music, and a friendly atmosphere, she was immediately hooked (that, and discovering muscles – very sore and out of shape muscles – after her first class). An attorney and policy analyst for the government by day, she has always looked forward to getting away from the desk to move and challenge herself physically. When a new Fuse teacher training course was announced in 2014, she threw her fears of public speaking to the side and signed up. Marisa enjoys challenging students and encouraging them to push themselves a little bit further each class.