Meet the Staff

Dr. Janet Cummings

Executive Director

 Dr. Janet (“Barbara”) Cummings was born and raised in San Francisco, where she attended Lutheran and Catholic schools.  She became an Orthodox Christian in 2006.  She and her children currently attend St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Reno, Nevada.  However, Janet considers Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Scottsdale, Arizona to be her “home away from home,” as she learned of the Orthodox faith and was Chrismated there.

Janet has spent considerable time in academia.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Pre-med (with a minor in Genetics/Molecular Biology) and Linguistics (with a Classical Languages minor).  She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Linguistics, with a Psycholinguistics emphasis, before deciding to earn a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, which she completed in 1992.  During her Bachelor and Master’s studies, Janet taught English as a Second Language.

While at Wright State University, Janet was awarded the university president’s annual President’s Commendation, the first to be earned by a graduate student in psychology.  In 2007, she was named Wright State University’s Alumna of the Year.

Janet has supervised over 60 mental health practitioners, many of whom were involved in faith-based counseling.  Under her direction, the faith-based counseling center where she functioned as a supervisor earned a national reputation for excellence.

For two years, Janet served as the Clinical Director for a Christian substance abuse treatment program for children and adolescents.

In 2010, Janet and her two children moved from Scottsdale, Arizona to Reno, Nevada in order to be close to her parents and the headquarters of The Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Foundation, for which she has served as President since its inception in 1995.  Under Janet’s direction, The Nicholas & Dorothy Cummings Foundation has flourished and has funded a number of worthy projects in integrated healthcare.

Janet is the author of over two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and she has co-authored or co-edited ten books.  She served as adjunct professor for both the University of Nevada, Reno and The Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, MO.  She was Co-founding Associate Director of the Doctor of Behavioral Health Program at Arizona State University, and served as a Professor and Co-founding Sponsor until 2014 when she decided to move the DBH Program to a different venue.  She then formed The Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies, an independent online college, where she teaches Pathophysiology, Psychopharmacology, Neuropathophysiology, and Behavioral Interventions for Medical Settings.

Janet has started and successfully run a number of businesses, including a sewing business, two non-profit behavioral health foundations, an online college, and a psychological practice.  She sees these endeavors as preparation for eventually starting St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Academy, where she works as the unsalaried Executive Director.

Janet no longer has hobbies, because, as she says, “There aren’t enough hours in a day.”  Of the many jobs that she has held, she considers motherhood to be the most important and the most rewarding.

Father Paul Zúñiga

Attached Priest and Head Teacher

Father Paul is a priest affiliated with the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Father Paul was born in 1968 in Los Angeles, California, where he frequented St Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral throughout the seventies and eighties.  He was brought into the Orthodox Faith by Rev. Father John Hondros at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle.

His academic education includes a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from University of San Diego and subsequent coursework in computer science at EHU-UPV University in the Basque Country (Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain).  He completed his theological studies under the mentorship of Stavrophore-Archpriest Joan Garcia at Institució de Teologia Ortodoxa Sant Gregori Palamàs (Barcelona), in partnership with Institut St.-Serge (Paris).

Father Paul has returned to the United States after fifteen years of pastoral service in the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of France, as priest of missionary parishes: in Bilbao (2012-2017); in Irun (2008-2016); in Errenteria (2002-2008).   He is the past director of Doxología Byzantine Music Association of Gipuzkoa (Spain; 2002-2017), overseeing its icon painting instructional programs in two locations.  He most recently held a position teaching church history at Fundació Ortodoxia (Barcelona), where he led the implementation of an interactive, web-based, distance learning platform employed by the Serbian Diocese of France for theological training of clergy candidates and on-going clergy formation in Spanish, Catalonian and Portuguese.

Father Paul’s professional endeavors in secular education include experience as: head of studies for two campuses of W.S.I. San Sebastian, S.L. (Spain); teacher of English and Writing and Composition since 2002; and consulting editor of scholarly works for publication in English by faculty of the EHU-UPV philosophy and mechanical engineering departments.

Father Paul is able to serve the Divine Liturgy in six languages:  English, Spanish, Basque, Greek, Romanian, and Church Slavonic. He enjoys teaching these liturgical languages to our students.

 Father Paul and his wife, Amaya, were married in 1995 and have three children.  He currently serves as the attached priest and head teacher at St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy, under the omophorion of Bishop Ilia of Philomelion.  Father Paul and his family attend St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in Reno, Nevada, where he assists the proistamenos, Father Stephen Karcher, during Divine Liturgies.

Mary Denny

Music Teacher and Administrator

St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy is blessed to have Mary Denny as our music teacher and one of our classroom aides. Mary has an extensive musical background. She has taught piano for several years. She received voice training from Richard Lee (formerly of the San Francisco Opera) for several years and currently is receiving voice training from Dr. Paul Torkelson at the University of Nevada, Reno where she is a student.  She has a beautiful opera-trained voice.

Mary works with our students and staff, both in groups and one-on-one, preparing for Winter and Spring musical events, which always prove to be wonderful times that you will not want to miss. Our students and staff perform instrumental and vocal numbers, including traditional Orthodox hymns (in both Byzantine and Slavonic styles), along with some modern pieces.

Mary is a very bright and outgoing young woman who loves children and is very skilled in working with them. She is currently studying music education at the University of Nevada, Reno and she looks forward to a career teaching music to various age groups and ability levels.

 

Amaya Arzallus

Classroom Aide

A native of the Basque Country, located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, Presbytera Amaya Arzallus was born in the coastal resort town of Donostia-San Sebastián.   She is a graduate of Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming (1993).   For fifteen years, she and her husband, Father Paul Zúñiga, engaged in pastoral ministry in three Orthodox mission parishes of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of France before returning to the United States in order to work at St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy.  Amaya is a classroom aide at the Academy.

Eneko Zúñiga

Classroom Aide and P.E. Teacher

Born in Seattle, Washington, Eneko Zúñiga is a second-year student at Western Nevada College in Carson City, pursuing a science degree.  Growing up in the Basque Country, he most recently attended the EHU-UPV University (Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain).  His interests include soccer, rowing and fencing.  He is a classroom aide at the Academy.  He also engages the students in soccer and other athletic activities during recesses, and he will offer a fencing class as a P.E. elective during the 2018-2019 school year.

Becky Wrucke

Iconographer and Art Teacher

Becky (“Kassiani”) Wrucke brings to the St. Theodora Iconography Studio a toolbelt filled with background in illustration, sculpture, printmaking and more recently, iconography.

Becky grew up in Portland and Lake Oswego, Oregon, where she self-learned all about hiking, skiing, writing, and the visual arts. Her first real hobby, though, was as a scientist, a collector of rocks and pond water with her very own microscope and rock polisher. This fed her curiosities about this amazing world, and she journaled all of her discoveries.

Through the years, Becky has collected college courses in much the same manner that she collected rocks and pond water. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Oregon in Journalism and Biology, as well as training as a Medical Lab Tech from a technical college in Wisconsin. She did a 2 ½ year stint as an illustration student at the San Francisco Academy of Art, and also has earned a certification as a Paralegal.

In the 1980s, Becky worked in San Francisco in Advertising, Public Relations, and as an Editor of an arts and culture log for Bay City News Service, while attending illustration coursework at the San Francisco Academy of Art.

After meeting and marrying her best friend and better half, Chester (“Chet”) Wrucke, the two started a family right away. Becky and Chester’s two children are adults now, and Becky is very proud of them and who they have become. Becky and Chester also have two rescue dogs, Mucha (for artist Alphonse Mucha) and Watson, who are both great hikers.

Becky worked for Mayfield Publishing in Menlo Park, California for three years, as a watercolorist and also completed a sociology textbook and other projects, while working at the only table in the family’s tiny home. In Rohnert Park, California, Becky learned Adobe Photoshop, and was hired at a business in Santa Rosa, California to restore tin types and old photos that were torn, mildewed, or discolored for a large customer base.

Becky also became a full-time art teacher for her children’s school for a year while the contract teacher recovered from emergency surgery. This was a great experience for her, as she became close to the other families in the school. She created lesson plans for all of the school’s art classes, and the artwork was showcased and exhibited at the Rohnert Park Community Hall each quarter. Becky considers this to be quite an honor.

The Wrucke family moved and stayed 11 years in Wisconsin, where Becky worked for an historic museum as an exhibit photo tech and as an archives digital photo restorer. As graphic designer for the museum, she was blessed with an opportunity to put a book about the history of wooden boats together, editing and proofing copy, uploading and restoring old photos, and designing the layout.

Becky also worked for the local District Attorney as a paralegal intern, and then worked for a powerful attorney in Milwaukee as a paralegal/legal assistant, and later as a Paralegal for a Child Support Modification Grant handling the entire case load of modifications for the county during our economic downturn years.

Since moving back to the western U.S. in 2012, Becky has worked as a CASA for two cases and as a Victim Witness Coordinator for Alpine County, CA, until October of 2017. After much prayer and consulting with her “better half,” she decided it would be a blessing to her family if she would enter into and dedicate herself to the world of sacred arts. Last May, Chet and Becky attended a week-long workshop held by Diakonia Orthodox Retreat, where she spent a week learning new skills from a premier icon-writer, Father Anthony Salzman of Athens, Georgia.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy is blessed to have Becky in our new St. Theodora + Triumph of Orthodoxy Iconography Studio. She is busy creating beautiful icons for the school, but takes time out to teach art to our students.

Gordi

Rodent Control Officer

Gordi was feral at one time, and she is an excellent hunter.   She makes it possible for us to enjoy our 14-acre campus, much of which is wilderness, without having pesky rodents in our buildings.  Gordi loves people, and enthusiastically greets our staff and students as we arrive each morning.  She hunts rodents at night, so that she can spend her days near the people she loves.

Perlix

Rodent Control Apprentice

Our music teacher, Mary Denny, made a trip to the humane society and fell in love with this adorable kitten.  There was no way that Mary was going to leave without Perlix, so St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy gained a second mouser to work under Gordi’s direction.  Perlix loves people and enjoys being around our children during the day.  When students and staff go home for the evening, Perlix receives rodent-hunting instructions for Gordi.

Photos from the Academy

St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy
16255 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89521
775-544-5565

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St. Nicholas Orthodox Academy is operated as an exempt school under the provision of NRS 394.211 and as such is exempt from the provisions of the Private Elementary and Secondary Authorization Act.

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