When you join us at H.K. Lee Tae Kwon Do, you are joining a student body that is a wonderful community, a close family of positive, caring people that enjoy helping each other grow. Grandmaster Lee and I also feel very much that you are part of our own family. You will probably soon notice that everyone in both of our immediate families has worked at the school at one time or another. This page is designed to help us get to know each other better right away.
Yes, I do know Tae Kwon Do!
This is one of the first things I often get asked, hence the picture at left. I love TKD very much. I practiced and taught many years until a severe roller-blading accident left me with a back injury that makes certain kicks very painful. These days I study Tai Chi, swim and walk with my dogs to stay in shape, but I still hope to get back to TKD class. There’s nothing else like it!
Who is this lady I'm trusting with my kids and where did she come from?
I was born in Morgantown, West Virginia and grew up in Rochester, NY. My first loves were books and music. As a result, I was an inspired student throughout HS and college, and a National Merit Semi-Finalist.
I always hope to communicate my enthusiasm about reading, school and learning to our After-School Martial Arts Program kids. All children are naturally curious so teaching and learning should stimulate, not stifle, this!
My first career goal was to be a classical musician. Therefore, much of my youthful energy was spent in practicing clarinet, singing, piano and, later, classical guitar. After HS, I worked in public relations at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra while continuing my music studies at the Eastman and Hochstein schools of music. This was also a great time of spiritual growth in my life, when I first truly committed my life to Christ. To this day, He remains the source of my strength and the reason for my life.
During this time, I also discovered Tae Kwon Do. Joe Burress, the pastor of my church in NY and a 2nd degree black belt, taught a TKD class at the Y and convinced me to try it with the promise it would improve my breath control for singing solos. Not only did my breath control improve, but for the first time in my life I learned to integrate my mind and body. I discovered there was a hidden athlete inside of me! I became more fit and confident than I could have imagined. More than this, I found authentic Tae Kwon Do to be a true classical art form. I loved the power and beauty of the kicks, and the balletic grace of the forms. I was hooked!
In 1978, my parents and sisters moved here to Northern Virginia. I decided to join them since I was in a transitional phase. I was finally realizing that music was better as a passion than as a profession for me. I took a much better-paying PR job for a major corporation here, but after a year opted for a more honest, interesting and creative job as a graphic artist at a publishing company.
Anyway, six days after moving here, I found the ultimate TKD school (H.K. Lee’s, of course!), walked in and unknowingly signed my life away. Grandmaster Lee and I were married in May of 1980 and had three kids in our first four years of marriage. (more on them below).
Diversions and Directions
Besides Tae Kwon Do, I’m sure you and I will find something in common because I’m interested in just about everything! When it comes to books, my favorite subject is history because, to me, history IS the study of everything—music, art, literature, religion, philosophy, science, sociology, international relations, etc. For the same reason, I’m also obsessed with newspapers and current events.
I really love animals, especially horses and dogs (we have three). I don’t have a horse (yet) but I have taken riding lessons and once worked as a groom and trainer at a breeding farm for harness racing horses. My first choice would be a Lipizzan—the beautiful martial arts horse that performs to classical music.
For fun, I still love singing best—choral groups, karaoke, driving in my car—whatever. Beethoven and Schubert are favorites, but try me, you might be surprised at what other music I can’t resist! I enjoy watching Washington Redskins football, science fiction (Star Wars, Star Trek TNG) and BBC-type movies (like Pride and Prejudice, or anything Shakespeare). But, I’m still just as likely to be reading …something like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings again (over 20 times in 30 years!).
When I can work a little less, I hope to go back to school, travel more, and learn how to make stained glass. What do you like to do now, and what would you do if you had more time?
Gail Wright Lee
This is our oldest daughter April Myung-Hee Lee (4/22/81) You will most often see April working with kids in the after school program. She graduated from Wheaton College, IL (’04) with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a HNGR (Human Needs and Global Resources) Certificate for her six months of water quality work in Ghana, West Africa. In HS, April attended Flint Hill School in Oakton, where she played varsity Tennis and Basketball. She also played flute and sang (and was a soloist) in the choral arts program and was active in Model UN’s. Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing poetry, cooking, knitting and watching Division III Basketball. She plans to continue her environmental education work here or in a developing country.
This is our son Nathaniel Jung-Chul Lee (11/22/82), You will most often see Nathaniel as an instructor in our summer camps. He graduated from Wheaton College, IL (‘04) with a double major in Christian Formation & Ministry/Bible & Theology. He is now back at Wheaton working on his Masters with a plan to go on for a Ph.D. and enter the ministry. Nathaniel attended The Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology where he was the starting Quarterback, Defensive End and Co-Captain of the football team. He was also on the TJ Varsity District Champion Baseball team, President of the TJ Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter and played trumpet in the top band. In college, he again started at DE for the undefeated Conference Champion Wheaton Thunder Football team.
This is our youngest daughter Janelle Sung-Hee Lee (7/15/84). You will most often see Janelle managing the front desk. Janelle attended Herndon HS where her main claim to fame was as a soloist all four years in the Broadway shows. Currently, she uses her musical abilities to help lead worship at Reston Bible Church, where our family has attended since before she was born. Upon graduating from high school, Janelle was accepted to her college of choice, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. However, being the family girl she is, she decided to stay home to help us with the TKD School. Although Janelle did not go away to school, she is currently taking classes to make sure she does not fall behind in her educational aspirations. Her intended major is International Relations. Last semester she got some valuable experience by doing an internship on Capitol Hill in Rep. Tom Davis' office. Janelle has been a competitive figure skater and ice dancer since she was eight years old. She has placed at many different competitions. Although being a skating coach is always an option, her real passion is working with children and someday having a family of her own. Janelle also enjoys political debates, designing, sewing, and, cooking for her friends and family.
This is a picture of me with my original nuclear family. I’m sure you will see them around here. My parents and youngest sister Linda (in middle) live at our house in an in-law suite. Bert Wright graduated from WVU with a degree in engineering but eventually became a financial analyst and head of financial training for Xerox at the Leesburg training center. He has since retired and often drives one of our vans for us. Elsa Carman Wright was a fashion design artist who attended NYC's famous HS of Music and Art (now LaGuardia Arts) and Traphagen School of Fashion. Linda teaches English as a Second Language at the university level and is a graduate student in linguistics at George Mason University. Linda was our very first homework room supervisor. Our middle sister Diane Cobb (bottom left) is a professional art teacher in Colorado Springs. Many of you know her from the popular art lessons she has taught in our summer camp. Diane also drew the kicking figure in our TKD school logo.
This is a picture of my husband’s huge family at a reunion at our house in 1994. There are eight children in the Lee Family, seven sons and one daughter. They are from South Korea where they were once wealthy landowners with tenant farmers. Their father In Kyu Lee was also a state congressman and postmaster who is remembered in their hometown for building the middle and high schools. Their mother Yo Soon Sung is a homemaker and very good mother and grandmother. The oldest son, Hyeon Kwan Lee still lives in Korea to care for the graves of their ancestors.
Grandmaster H.K. Lee is the oldest of the six brothers in the U.S. who are all TKD masters. At one time, they all lived in our house and taught at H.K. Lee TKD in Herndon, VA. Now the five younger brothers all have schools in North Carolina: Grandmaster K.S. Lee in Cary, Grandmaster Jun Lee in Raleigh, Senior Master Sang Ho Lee in Burlington, Senior Master Byung Lee in Greenville and Master Jung Ho Lee in Raleigh. Their sister Jung Soon Kim lives in Manassas and works with her husband in their watch repair and jewelry business.
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