Meet Our Staff

Administrative Staff

John Heffernan ()

Executive Director
portrait of John Heffernan

Before John was named Executive Director in 2019, he served as Director of CPSC since 2009. As Director of CPSC, John has lead our child-centered mission driven commitment to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable for our students, staff and families. John lead our initiative to become the first charter school in the southern US to have socio-economic integration as part of their charter policy and admission practice. His justice and equity focus keeps our children at the heart of our work. His role has included educational leadership, solidifying both governance structure for our Board of Trustees, administrative roles and policies for our two campuses, fostering collaboration and developing our Middle School.

John received his BA in Philosophy, Psychology and Studio Arts from Georgetown University and his MA in Education from Bank Street College of Education. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher and hold certificates from programs at Harvard University’s Principal Institute, the National Equity Project, and the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association.

John is the father of three children and numerous pets.

Raenel Duncan-Edmonds ()

Elementary School Director
portrait of Raenel Duncan-Edmonds

Raenel received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, Rutgers University and immediately began her career in administration at the Claridge Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After eight years of employment in the casino industry, Raenel completed education courses at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and earned her K-8 elementary teaching license.

Raenel brings more than 15 years of teaching experiences from inner city public schools, literacy and academic coaching experiences from Durham Public Schools, and management experiences from the casino and hotel industry. Throughout her career in education, she has facilitated trainings and professional development, chaired literacy teams, mentored new teachers and students, hosted student teachers, and participated on various committees and boards. Raenel completed literacy training at Lesley University and earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. In 2013, she completed all required coursework for a doctorate in educational leadership and is working on her dissertation.

Raenel is passionate about education and is committed to students meeting their academic potentials in a safe and fun learning environment. Much of her work and research has been grounded in the belief that all children deserve a quality education. On a personal note, Raenel married her high school sweetheart, Jesse, and they have a daughter who graduated from Mercer University and a son who graduated from NC State University.

Arlie Harris ()

Middle School Director
portrait of Arlie Harris

Arlie has 14 years experience working with all grades K-12. Her initial years were spent at a community centered, project-based, charter high school in Wake County teaching Spanish and developing curriculum. In her final year there, she took a group of students on a 3 week language immersion trip to Mexico. She went on to work as an administrator and educational consultant for other charters while completing a Master’s degree in school administration and K-12 principal's licensure.

In Wake County Public Schools, she taught Spanish, Latin, World Languages, and Graffiti Arts at a Magnet Middle School. She led various teams to develop curriculum for Paideia and Museum education.

In 2006, she and a colleague opened an art studio and began selling art in Durham’s Central Park on weekends. Summer travels took her to Guatemala, China, Spain, and Costa Rica and she completed ESL certification while teaching at a magnet elementary school.

She left the classroom to stay home with her newborn son and began exhibiting artwork at local galleries and festivals. At a Durham Craft Market show, she found CPSC, or maybe it found her, and brought her full circle — to a school with a similar mission as the charter where her journey began. Before becoming the Associate Director for our Middle School, she served as CPSC’s ESL teacher, Testing Coordinator, and Liaison for Spanish-speaking families.

Outside school, you will find her hanging with family, gardening, making art, or teaching painting classes in the art-lab space shared with her scientist husband. She is excited to be both a staff member and parent at CPSC.

Charlie Butchart ()

Director of Culture & Citizenship
portrait of Charlie Butchart

Charlie Butchart returned to CPSC in 2014 after two years teaching abroad at Darling Point Special School in Brisbane, Australia. He brings 15 years of teaching and administrative experience in public and private schools in the Triangle area. Throughout his many years of teaching, Charlie has been particularly interested in mathematics, outdoor education, and an active social curriculum. Charlie is excited about being a part of the CPSC community and helping to grow an amazing middle school.

Christina Teach Fountain ()

Director of Student Services

Christina received her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Mount Olive in Mt. Olive, NC. In 2002, she started her career in education as a pre-kindergarten teacher at a Head Start program in Eastern North Carolina. Christina gained an additional seven years of public school experience working for Durham Public Schools. She also served as a NCWISE and Student Records consultant for CPSC in 2010. Outside of CPSC, Christina is active in her community as a member and volunteer with several non-profit organizations.

Joy Porter ()

Business Manager
Joy graduated from Meredith College with a degree in Business Management. Joy came to CPSC in 2015 with 26 years of accounting experience with a small family owned software company and 6 years as the business manager for another NC charter school. Joy grew up on a small farm in Clinton, NC and now lives in Raleigh with her husband, two children and Leo the Cat. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family, read, watch movies & go to Carolina Hurricanes’ hockey games.

Nadine Blake ()

Director of Nutrition Services

Nadine is a nutrition director with over 30 years of school food service experience. She will maintain our commitment to a triple bottom line: people (our students, staff, farmers, producers), planet (from Durham to the world), and budget (paying our chefs, catering staff, farmers, and producers equitably within the confines of USDA school meal reimbursement — yes, it can be done).

Cheryl Chamblee ()

Development Office Staff

Cheryl is a creator and strategist with more than 20 years of experience in education, arts, and conservation nonprofit leadership. In her strategic work, she has created initiatives and worked with donors to fund projects ranging from $10,000 to $65,000,000. Most recently, she has led the creation and implementation of the Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative and created the Sustainable Staff Model for small- to mid-sized organizations. Cheryl coaches leaders, boards, and creatives in times of transition--working with groups in Durham, the US, and Canada to focus on impact and sustainability. In her creative work, Cheryl teaches theater performance creation at the NC School of Science and Math, and she is currently engaged in The Letters Project--her performance art project in which she's sending original storypoems to 52 people every week for 52 weeks. The common thread through all Cheryl's work is story, and she is proud to help shape and tell the story of the extraordinary learning community at Central Park School for Children.

Kat Benson ()

Development Team & Strawberry Festival Chair

Kat is passionate about helping CPSC reach their dreams as head of fundraising for our school. She also proudly runs our annual Strawberry Festival each spring, benefitting our Monarch fund, which is devoted to our mission of equality for all our children. In addition, Kat is the editor of our school's News and Announcements newsletter. She is a writer, artist, and founder of a popular Durham parents community. Kat is the proud parent of an elementary student and middle schooler at CPSC.

Chanel Carrell ()

After School Director

Chanel Carrell has been at CPSC since its doors first opened as a parent. All four of her children came through the K-5 PBL school. She holds her AIG (Academically and Intellectually Gifted) teaching certification from Duke University. Her MEd (Master in Education with a concentration in math) and her MSA (Master in School Administration) from UNC-Chapel Hill. She believes that the Central Park School for Children is a special place where magical things can happen, and where children and teachers often find themselves engaged in the process of learning.

Classroom Teachers

Laura Danes ()

Bio coming soon!

Scott Larson ()


Scott Larson, a graduate of the Bank Street College of Education, has taught kindergarten and first grade in New York City, the Dominican Republic, Chapel Hill, and Durham since 1990. He taught kindergarten at the City & Country School in Greenwich Village, where Caroline Pratt invented unit blocks nearly a century ago. Scott was chosen to be part of the Power of K: a state-wide teacher leader initiative sponsored by the NC Department of Public Instruction. Scott says, "I am excited to teach in a city school. Kindergarten children love to explore the community and see first hand how people do their jobs. We visit stores in the neighborhood, talk with people or just watch while workers fix a pothole. Kindergarteners take the real world experiences back to the classroom and make math, reading and social studies more meaningful."

Tammy Macomson ()

When Tammy Macomson came to CPSC in its first year, she had 20 years of teaching experience at the preschool, kindergarten, and college levels. She holds an undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in early childhood curriculum and instruction from UNC-Chapel Hill. "I am guided in my teaching by a strong commitment to creating environments for young children that support creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, curiosity, and mutually-respectful relationships among children and adults."

Amy Kelley ()

1st Grade

Amy Kelley is a Durham native who studied Elementary and Middle Grades Education at NC State and UNC-Wilmington. Her teaching experiences include teaching 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts, owning and operating a small multi-age preschool, homeschooling her two children for three years, and teaching various classes to homeschooled students in Durham and Chapel Hill. She started working at CPSC as a substitute teacher before joining the EC staff in January 2015. After teaching seventh grade for several years, she is happy to be back on the Elementary campus as part of the first grade team!

Amy lives in Durham with her husband and two children. When not in school, she enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, live music, and hanging out with her family..

Anna Morrison ()

1st Grade
Anna Morrison grew up in King, NC, and she always knew she wanted to work with children. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Child Development. Her experiences in education range from interning at Lucy Brock Child Development Center (a Reggio Emilia approach school), homeschooling her four children for six years, assisting K-1 teachers at Central Park and currently teaches first grade. Anna believes in educating the whole child through rich literature and hands-on experiences. She works to foster a strong and connected learning community with goals of being a listener, observer, and learner along with the children. She is passionate about social justice education, project based and outdoor learning, as well as farm and garden-based education. Anna loves cooking with her students. She enjoys and teaches mindfulness in the classroom through her training from Mindful Schools.

Anna and her husband have four children and are licensed foster parents in Durham County. Along with teaching, Anna enjoys spending time with her family, reading, enjoying nature, gardening, visiting the beach, cooking and eating vegan food.

Julie Janes ()

1st Grade

Julie Janes is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, and grew up in Midlothian, Virginia. She is a graduate of East Carolina University with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in elementary education. Julie has taught K-2 in Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and began teaching at CPSC in 2005. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going to the beach and to the mountains.

While at Central Park, Julie has had several opportunities to travel and learn about best practices and project work in both Canada, at the Garneau School, and India, through a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship from Duke University. She is an advocate for teaching the whole child and developmentally appropriate practices. Julie believes each day is a new day for many adventures to explore and learn!

You may see Julie and her husband, Douglas, around town at local restaurants, theatres, and events.

Amy Elmore ()

2nd Grade

Amy and her family moved to Durham in 2008 from Chicago and she has been at CPSC since 2011. She was a theatre major at Hofstra University and has her Middle Grades ELA teaching licensure from NCCU. Amy started the Drama department at CPSC and was the K-4, then K-8 Afterschool Director for 6 years before moving over to the middle school to teach theater and creative writing electives. Amy's daughter was a student at CPSC and thrived doing projects with our talented and supportive teachers. She is thrilled to be joining the 2nd grade team and is ready to bring an Arts integrated approach to her classroom. When she is not at school, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, travel, listening to 70's music and sitting on her porch watching the birds with her dogs.

Devin Hall ()

2nd Grade

Devin is a graduate from the University of North Carolina - Asheville with a BS in Health and Wellness promotion. She is married to her college sweetheart, Adam. Together they have a boxer pit mix named Pood and an orange tabby cat named Walter. They are expecting their first baby this coming October! Outside of teaching, you will find Devin at Bull City CrossFit where she has coached for the last four years. Prior to living in Asheville, she grew up on Long Island, living there for 16 years. This will be year 7 in her dream career. Her first teaching job was in the mountains, but since then, she has spent every year teaching in Durham. During her first year of teaching, Devin developed a practice of mindfulness. She quickly learned of its benefits and knew it was something that needed to be integrated into the classroom. She continues to develop her practice and teaching of mindfulness through reading, meditation and workshops.

Emma Paradiso ()

2nd Grade

Emma is a citizen of Italy, Denmark and Turkey, which is where she was born and raised (a wonderful cultural mix, ask her about it she loves talking about it). She graduated from Duke University in 2018 (Go DUKE!!) with a degree in Psychology, a Minor in Education, along with completing the Elementary Teacher Preparation Program while competing with the Duke University Varsity Volleyball team. Emma enjoys (almost) all sports, but volleyball will always have a special place in her heart. She love running, yoga/mindfulness, cooking and discovering the world around her, (32 countries and counting). As a young teacher she believes all children are unique and deserve a teacher who will nurture their uniqueness while supporting them during their learning experiences.

Kyla Briscoe ()

2nd Grade

This is Kyla’s first year at Central Park and her third year teaching. Kyla grew up in Lawndale, NC. She attended Lees McRae College playing collegiate soccer and graduated with a degree in Psychology. Kyla is very passionate about Black Lives Matter and teaching students about equity. She now lives in Chapel Hill now with her college bestfriend. Their favorite quarantine activity is going on walks around the neighborhood and chilling in her hammock. When not outside, you will find them playing Fortnite.

Rachel Cone ()

3rd Grade

Rachel spent her formative years in Massachusetts, where her curiosity and wonderment about the world was shaped. Driven by a desire to see, serve and learn from others around the world, she lived in Belize as a Peace Corps Volunteer, attended Spanish language immersion programs (Guatemala and Mexico) and lived in Costa Rica with her family. She moved to North Carolina in 1999 and spent several years working in public health, accounting and nonprofit management before returning to her soulful passion of education. Initially she worked as a K-5 substitute teacher and English as a Second Language (ESL) consultant in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district, and later returned to UNC-Chapel Hill’s MAT graduate program in elementary education with add-on licensure in ESL and EC. She is excited to have her first classroom of her own at CPSC. In the classroom, Rachel prioritizes connections and relationships with her students and makes learning fun by incorporating experiential education activities and establishing reflective mindfulness practices.

When she’s not teaching, Rachel enjoys long walks at the beach, attending her son’s basketball games, playing with her two dogs and cat, and spending time with friends and family. Before the pandemic, she loved to travel and looks forward to seeing new places in the future!

Erin Linn ()

3rd Grade

Erin has been teaching in Durham for over thirteen years. She got her degree in education from Samford University in Birmingham, AL. Her first teaching experience was in a first grade classroom with thirteen little people who taught her everything from how to draw funny looking monsters to how to console the onslaught of tears after losing a beloved toy. She then spent four years team-teaching in a third grade classroom and two years teaching fifth grade before coming to us at CPSC. She was a founding teacher of the middle school, having spent her first few years teaching fifth grade in the basement of the Trotter building. After many meaningful years in fifth grade, she decided to see what life was like in the elementary building and found her way back to teaching third grade in 2017. Now you can find her in room 204, still drawing funny looking monsters and wiping away tears (hopefully not as many!).

When she's not teaching, Erin enjoys being outside, walking her dog, reading books, doing crossword puzzles, traveling, and spending time with her partner, friends, and family. Also, she enjoys singing with the Common Woman Chorus and taking pottery classes when she has the time.

Jacqueline Nielsen ()

3rd Grade

Jacqueline grew up in Antigo, a small town in Northern Wisconsin. After high school, she moved to Chicago to attend Concordia University, Chicago, where she earned a degree in Art and Graphic Design. After a few years, she made her way to Durham, NC in 2008 and became involved in the growing Arts community.

Through volunteering at the NC Museum of Art, she saw the inquisitive minds and insightful nature of children. This inspired her to go back to school and get her elementary education degree. After graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education in 2011, she has primarily taught 3rd grade.

In the classroom, Jacqueline has a passion for integrating arts into all subject areas, as she finds it important to find Beauty in all aspects of our lives. When she is not at school, she enjoys being outdoors; hiking or camping, spending time with her two bearded dragons, and planning what artistic adventure she can find next.

Joshua Rudisill ()

3rd Grade

Joshua was born in western North Carolina and has always had a passion for the natural world. With enthusiasm for service and a yearning for a strong sense of community, he pursued a degree in Education from UNC Chapel Hill. After completing an Outward Bound backpacking and rock climbing initiative, he continued his education at Xavier University earning a degree in Master of Montessori Education and has taught science, social studies and language arts in Durham Public Schools. His excitement for the outdoors and experiential education has led him to participate in trips with students from the coast of North Carolina to the Galapagos Islands. He believes that a thoughtful, holistic approach to education is the key to a more compassionate and interconnected world.

Aaron Sebens ()

4th Grade

Aaron has put down roots in Durham after early years teaching in Japan, Boston, and Honduras. Aaron graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and education from the College of William and Mary and holds a master's degree in special education from Simmons College. Aaron grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia and plays a variety of music from old-time to ska. Aaron has lectured and presented nationally on project based learning, place based learning, and social justice teaching. He believes strongly that ALL learners are entitled to creative and engaging education and enjoys exploring the world with students in a challenging, supportive, and collaborative community.

Aaron is also a certified environmental educator who strives to builds a strong connection between the natural world and his classroom community. He loves spending time exploring the creeks and rivers of Durham (and the rest of the world) with his wife and two young children, and loves to find bakeries and eat street food wherever he goes.

Cheryle Pope ()

4th Grade

Cheryle Pope began teaching at CPSC in 2005. She taught for many years at the Duke School for Children and held the position of Curriculum and Staff Development Director. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching grades pre-K-8, consulting with schools across North Carolina, tutoring privately, and leading staff development with teachers and undergraduates at UNC. Cheryle has a master's degree in education from UNC-Chapel Hill. She thoroughly enjoys project-based teaching and experiential learning techniques.

Judy Compton ()

4th Grade

Judy Compton came to CPSC in 2008 from Durham Public Schools. Before teaching, she spent more than 13 years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor in Maine, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. She has a master's degree in elementary education from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree in international studies from Austin College in Texas, where she was born.

Judy is a certified environmental educator who enjoys sharing her interest in the outdoors with students. She has two sons who graduated from Central Park's elementary school. Judy loves being part of a staff committed to helping create thoughtful, intelligent children.

Michelle Siegel ()

4th Grade
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Michelle graduated with highest distinction from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She began her teaching career at an environmentally focused school in the heart of the city. During her time there, she developed a love for outdoor education, connecting to the community through learning, and guiding students through inquiry-based lessons. Before moving to North Carolina, Michelle completed her master's degree as a reading specialist with an instructional coaching endorsement at Slippery Rock University. She has been living and teaching in the Triangle for the past 4 years. In her free time Michelle enjoys exploring the cultural and food experiences in the Triangle, running, cooking, and rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

She has spent the last three years teaching at another charter school in Durham. While there she served as the head of the math department and coached with the Girls on the Run program. In her free time Michelle enjoys exploring the cultural and food experiences in the Triangle, running, cooking, and rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Megan Sherrell ()

5th Grade
Megan Sherrell was born and raised in the Biggest Little City in the World - Reno, Nevada. She came to Durham, NC in 2007 to attend Duke University. At Duke she studied Linguistics, History, and Slavic Studies (GO DEVILS!) Once she came to the Bull City, she never left. Following Duke, Megan pursued a Masters in Art for Teaching with a concentration in English as a Second Language. She spent that last 5 years as an ESL teacher with Durham Public Schools. Megan is overjoyed to join the 5th Grade team at CPSC. She has always wanted to teach, citing Laura Ingalls Wilder as her inspiration. Megan seeks to integrate across the content areas while instilling a love for reading in her students. She wants her student to learn from mistakes, try new things, experiment, and discover new passions. Megan herself is an avid reader, burgeoning artist, cat lover, and amateur baker.

Dawnsa Smith ()

5th Grade

Dawnsa Smith was raised in Raleigh, NC, and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. However, coming from a long line of engineers, she has a predestined loyalty to NC State University. Go Pack! She has worked with second, third, fourth, and fifth graders, but she has given the majority of her time and heart to fifth grade. Before coming to CPSC, she worked at Eastway Elementary and was very involved with developing positive behavior programs and with the student council.

Dawnsa has a passion for mathematics, visual arts, music, culinary arts, and the outdoors. Before she found her way to teaching, she was a caterer both privately and for Whole Foods. She also worked on a project to refurbish the carousel horses for Martha’s Vineyard. As a teacher, she hopes to help students deepen their love of learning by piquing their curiosity with curriculum that is inspired by students’ interests, their strengths, and their community.

Fiona Rae ()

5th Grade

Fiona Rae grew up in Hudson, NH where she spent much of her time building forts, catching frogs and turtles (releasing safely back into the wild, of course), and taking pond samples to look at under the microscope. From NH she moved to Alabama, finishing high school and college. She attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville, studying English and Biology for her undergraduate degree.

After moving to North Carolina, she received her Masters of Education in Middle Grades Curriculum at the University of NC in Greensboro. She has been teaching 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade science and/or language arts for the past 21 years in Chapel Hill and Durham. She is a dedicated Mom, an avid reader, and an experimental knitter/crocheter.

June Sadler ()

5th Grade

Bio coming soon!

Ben Neal ()

6th Grade

Ben Neal was born and raised in Durham and is committed to making it a better place for all of its citizens, starting with its children. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Appalachian State and studied Middle Grades Education at UNC-Wilmington. He has experience teaching children in elementary and middle school with a particular focus on working with at-risk populations and adjusting curriculum to make it accessible for all learners. Ben believes in a constructivist and integrated approach to middle grades education and is excited to find ways to bring math and science to life for CPSC sixth graders. In his spare time, you will find Ben reading, swimming, cooking, or spending time with his family.

Elizabeth Ricker ()

6th Grade

Elizabeth received her bachelor's degree in English and her master's degree in education from North Carolina State University. She taught fifth grade at CPSC for four years before transitioning to the Exceptional Education program. She loves teaching at CPSC because of the close community of students, parents, and teachers. The project-based approach to learning and teaching also gives every child a chance to succeed — and this is extremely important to Elizabeth. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys reading, quilting, camping, and spending time with her husband, Pete, and her daughter.

Montae Howard ()

6th Grade

Bio coming soon!

Neal Myers-Perry ()

6th Grade

Neal is overjoyed to be a part of the CPSC family for the 2018-19 school year. He grew up in Chapel Hill, NC (Go Heels!), and graduated from UNC-Asheville with a Bachelor’s of Arts in History. Since January 2018, he has had the honor of working for Central Park School for Children.

He has nine years of experience as an educator, ranging every grade level K-12. His experience includes working for the AVID Program, serving as the staff coordinator for Asheville City Schools’ Bright IDEAS program, a stint as a math teacher with the Youth Transformed for Life Program, and recently spent a year abroad teaching ESL for Sogang University's Language Program in rural South Korea.

Throughout his career, Neal has been struck by the constant dedication and determination of fellow educators as they prepare students to face challenges inside and outside of the classroom. In his brief moments of spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, travelling, photography, and experiencing the beauty of nature. He hopes to bring social studies to life and inspire all of CPSC's incredible students to help create a more equitable, just, and empathetic world.

Brandon Palmer ()

7th Grade

Brandon is elated to join the CPSFC community as a 7th Grade math teacher. Having served the Durham community as an educator and youth wrestling coach (Riverside High School Oct 2010-present) the former Division I student-athlete has expressed that his passion for coaching sports lead him to a career in education.

As a result of his wrestling program’s three conference championships in the last five years, Brandon was three times voted the PAC 6 Coach of the Year (2014, 2015, 2017) by his peers. Concurrent with his wrestling program’s success, Brandon gained valuable experience off the mat and in the classroom Co-Teaching Math I, Case Managing, and teaching Math Study Skills to students with disabilities. He hopes his “Together Everyone Achieves More” mentality will cultivate an inclusive learning environment and be a strong proponent in helping prepare our middle schools students for secondary education.

Chris Roberts ()

7th Grade

Chris grew up on a farm in a small town near Buffalo NY. His father, mother, sister and brother still operate the orchards and stay busy all year growing apples. Chris went to Cornell University for Plant Science and became an agriculture teacher in the mountains of NC shortly after that. There he and his family loved being outdoors enjoying hiking, paddling, mountain biking, gardening and relaxing. Chris and his wife have three awesome children who love exploring the world around them. They all recently moved to Durham and are excited to explore the city! Chris is also looking forward to sharing his passion for the outdoors and learning with the students here at Central Park!

Katie Crammer ()

7th Grade

Katie grew up surrounded by books and loved to play teacher, creating homework assignments for her little brother to complete. She is one of four children, with six nieces and nephews! Katie has a Bachelor's Degree in English with a focus in creative writing from North Carolina State University. She returned to North Carolina State University to obtain her teaching license through the North Carolina Teachers for the Excellence of All CHildren (NCTEACH) Program. She also teaches mindfulness at the Sati School for Mindful Families of Durham on Sundays.

Since coming to work at Central Park, she has become very passionate about equity and social justice work both with her students and in the larger Durham community. She lives in Durham with her partner, Sean, and their two dogs, Walter and Delilah. In her free time, Katie loves to watch movies, read, and make art. She is also enthusiastic about the environment and doing her part to care for it. You can find her hiking at the Eno River, rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club, or practicing yoga and mindfulness just about anywhere. Her heroes are Jane Goodall, Lena Dunham, and Taryn Brumfitt, to name a few.

Seun Omitoogun ()

7th Grade

Seun was born and raised in Greensboro, NC. She graduated early, with distinction, from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Education.

During her time at UNC, Seun became fixated on her belief that all students should have equal opportunities and resources to succeed, as well as, her passion for racial and educational equity through her work at multiple non-profit and education-based organizations in the Triangle area. As a Bonner Leader at Volunteers for Youth in Carrboro, she worked for 4 years as an intern and co-facilitator of Every Girl Counts, a weekly lunch group for middle school girls of all backgrounds with activities and discussions centered on conflict resolution, leadership development, and self-improvement. In her final semester working as an intern at VFY, she piloted and co-facilitated the inaugural cohort of Brotherly Empowerment, a similarly focused group catered to 7th grade African-American boys at a school in Orange County. Furthermore, she spent 3 years working for Student U, a college-access program based in Durham, as Family Head, Tutor, and Summer Academy teacher, in their middle school program. She also worked as a Teach For America Ambassador, recruiting like minded peers at UNC to join the fight towards educational equity.

Seun is thrilled to be joining the CPSC community as a 7th grade ELA teacher because she firmly believes that through deep understanding of language, we will be able to dismantle systems of oppression from their root, but also have a greater understanding of one another. In her free time, Seun loves cooking (and feeding others!), and spending time with her family and friends.

Amy Pine ()

8th Grade

This is Amy's second year teaching 8th grade ELA at CPSC. Amy comes to CPSC with more than twenty years in teaching. She landed in Durham by way of Seattle, where she taught at an Expeditionary Learning school, and Brooklyn, where she taught and served as a literacy coach at a social justice high school. Here in Durham, Amy has taught at Riverside High School, Durham Tech, and most recently, Carolina Friends School. She has a BA in English from Syracuse University, and an MA in education from Antioch University Seattle.

In 2012, Amy’s passion about types of educational opportunities available for adolescents in Durham led her to join CPSC’s middle school planning team as a curriculum consultant, and she has remained connected to this venture ever since. She is excited about working with staff, students, and families at CPSC.

When Amy is not teaching, she is tending to her chickens, dabbling in ceramics and writing, and exploring the history and many pockets of an ever-evolving Durham with her husband and her daughter.

Cliff Peek ()

8th Grade

Cliff is from nowhere, yet everywhere. Growing up, his father was in the construction business, so Cliff was able to travel and see the lower United States. After high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps and travelled the world for the next 20 years, retiring as an officer. Retired life was boring so he chose to get a middle school mathematics teaching degree from North Carolina Central University. (He was enrolled at NC State, but happened to see someone wearing a “Stay Humble” shirt and quickly changed schools.) Cliff enjoys teaching and coaching a great deal: he finds it rewarding, frustrating, but mostly fulfilling. Most of his lessons are about life and situations. Cliff enjoys any physical activity and sport (except golf). He is married to a gorgeous real estate agent, and together they have four children, two dogs, and nine motorcycles.

Drina Dunlap ()

8th Grade

Drina, according to, is a name for a very cute girl with a great sense of humor. "Drinas are very nice to people who are nice to them and are always good at everything and do just about everything". This could not be more true and spot on! She loves people, she loves life, and she's probably one of the most energetic people you'll ever meet. Besides her love for teaching science in the classroom at CPSC, you might also catch Drina on your local performance arts stage bringing art to life. If you see her out in public, speak. I promise she'll speak back. And remember, "always choose love first".

Cheyenne Solorio ()

8th Grade

Cheyenne is a first generation American on her father’s side, a first generation college graduate, and identifies as an OUT and PROUD Indigenous Latinx educator. She grew up in the Southwestern United States, mostly Southern California, and moved to Fayetteville, NC when she was 16. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Middle Grades Education; Language Arts and Social Studies, and received her AIG Licensure through Duke University. This is Cheyenne’s 8th year of teaching.

Cheyenne lives with her partner, Bri, and frequently takes care of their three year old nephew. She is passionate about becoming an influential teacher, like the teachers she had growing up, that believed that a little girl with so much against her could become anything she wanted to in life. When she is not teaching, you can catch Cheyenne at a local protest fighting against inequitable systems, visiting and mentoring former students, writing poetry, reading, listening to Beyonce and hip hop music, and dancing with her sister-in-law in the car.

Student Support

Jen Scoville Huff ()

School Nurse
Jen is originally from Aurora, Ohio, a small rural town just outside of Cleveland. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Hiram College, and got to live in Kenya for three months during her undergrad internship. She moved to North Carolina to attend graduate school at UNC, leaving after a year to start a family and her nursing career. Jen is a graduate of Watts School of Nursing, and has 26 years experience as an RN. In 2010 she returned to Kenya for a medical mission trip and then returned to UNC to (finally) finish her Master’s degree in Public Health. Jen and her husband Barry live on the family farm in Person County, where they grow organic vegetables to sell at market. They have two children, along with a flock of exceedingly spoiled chickens, too many cats, a dog, and a rabbit. Jen is thrilled to be joining the CPSC community and is excited about this new adventure!

Rojulynne Fike ()

Elementary School Counselor
I am your elementary school counselor. I am a native of Durham, NC. I was a student at Durham Academy from the 2nd grade through 12th grade. My mother is a retired college professor and my dad is a retired college administrator. I do not have any siblings, but I have two wonderful children. My son will begin college as a freshman and my daughter will be a senior in college this school year. I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Broadcast Performance from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I completed my Masters of Arts Degree from North Carolina Central University in Student Personnel and School Counseling. While advancing in my career I obtained my National Board Counselor Certification and I have worked as an elementary, middle and high school counselor. Some of my passions are visiting the mountains and the beach, spending time with family, attending outdoor festivals and concerts and I enjoy my book club. I am very grateful to a part of The Central Park family.

Schara Brooks ()

Middle School Learning Specialist / Mentor Coordinator
Bio coming soon!

Evika Sturdivant ()

K-4 Learning Specialist / MTSS Coordinator / Testing Coordinator
Evika Sturdivant came to CPSC with 16 years experience teaching kindergarten and first grade in Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools. A Chapel Hill native, she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in early childhood education. She has also trained and served as a Reading Recovery teacher and literacy coordinator. She strives to cultivate a "love of literacy that can integrate all subject areas and last a lifetime." Evika has three children.

Crystal Small ()

Middle School Counselor

Hello, I'm Crystal Small. I was born 11 minutes after my twin brother at Harlem Hospital in New York City. My mother was a school teacher and my father was a Police Officer with the NYPD. I attended North Carolina Central University in 1993 and graduated with a double bachelors degree in Child Development and Psychology. After returning to New York and realizing that I could not afford it, I moved back to North Carolina and obtained my Masters Degree in Counseling.

Some of my passions include nature watching, spending time with my friends and family, shopping(of course) and DIY projects. I am so grateful to be apart of the Central Park Family.

Crystal Grant ()

Social Worker
I am Crystal Grant. I was raised in Chinquapin, NC which is in Duplin County (Home of Duplin Winery). In 2001, I received my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University. I previously worked for Durham County Department of Social Services as a Fraud Investigator for two years. I also worked for North Carolina Department of Public Safety as an Adult Probation/Parole Officer for four years and a Juvenile Court Counselor for 7 years. After much thought and consideration, I made the decision to pursue my Masters in Social Work. In May 2018, I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll with my MSW degree. A few of my hobbies include traveling, outings with my friends, and shopping. I enjoy nothing more than spending time with my husband, Marcus, and my two children Jiani (13) and Jahbril (7). I am delighted to be a member of the CPSC community.

Exceptional Children Staff

Karen Scofield ()

Elementary School Exceptional Children OC
Karen joins our staff with over 20 years of experience as an occupational therapist who has dedicated her entire career to working with children in both school and clinic settings. She received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Auburn University before pursuing her Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. She has extensive training in sensory integration through advanced coursework and training with first generation students of Dr. A. Jean Ayres. As an advocate for enhancing participation in meaningful ways for children of all abilities, she makes it her mission to spark her students’ joy, confidence, and success through highly engaging OT services. She loves to laugh and learn with her students and create the “just right challenge” to help her students meet their IEP goals. Karen is excited to join our EC team and honored to use her skills and passion for inclusiveness to work collaboratively to serve her students and our staff. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, hiking, traveling, cooking, working out, getting together with friends and family, and cheering on her Auburn Tigers!

Lois Leazer ()

Speech-Language Pathologist
Lois is originally from Barnwell, SC. She received her Bachelor’s of Art in English from Virginia State University. She completed her Master’s of Education from North Carolina Central University with a concentration in Communication Disorders. Lois has over 10 years of experience working in both pediatric and geriatric populations. While in graduate school, Lois’ practicum experiences included outpatient rehabilitation, an early intervention private practice, and an elementary school. She has earned additional training in VItalStim for adults with swallowing disorders. During her professional career, Lois has had the opportunity to work with a variety of populations and disorders. She also has gained experience working as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings including schools, daycares, homes, skilled nursing facilities and independent living facilities. Lois has worked in a variety of private practices with special needs children and also has a great deal of knowledge and experience in early intervention. She has experience working with children ranging in ages from toddlers to teenagers. She has expertise working with children with receptive and expressive language deficits, pragmatic language (social skills) deficits, and speech disorders including articulation, phonological, and dysfluent behaviors. She strives to make therapy fun and highly contextual whether that is play-based for younger children or academically-based for older children. Lois is certified by the board of North Carolina, and has her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association. She met her husband Marcus in Durham, and they were married in October 2012. She is looking forward to working with you and your child reach their speech/language goals!

Amanda Kramer ()

Elementary School Exceptional Education Teacher
Bio coming soon!

Lyndsey Wallen ()

Elementary School Exceptional Education Teacher

Lyndsey grew up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and she entered the education field first as a journalist. With an undergraduate degree in mass communications and a masters in journalism, she began working as an education reporter. However, she quickly realized that being in the classroom would provide what was missing — having a direct impact on students and schools. For two years before joining CPSC, Lyndsey worked as an EC teacher in Bertie County Schools. She is excited to be a part of the CPSC team and work to help all children find joy and success in learning!

Cassidy Logan ()

Elementary School Exceptional Children Teaching Assistant
Bio coming soon!

Javetta Ellis ()

Elementary School Exceptional Children Teaching Assistant
Born and raised in Pleasantville, New Jersey, Javetta now meets the south. Javetta is a mother to a little boy who is smart, handsome, full of life and energy. Over the years, Javetta has cared for and nurtured many lives. Being an only child, Javetta grew up quickly and took pride in the care she gave her parents. Javetta has experience working in a daycare with children. She also has 14 years of experience working with intellectually disabled adults, in day programs as well as group homes.

Javetta is so happy to be a part of the CPSC family. Javetta is excited to be working with children again and hopes to make an impact on their lives. Wanting to further her education, Javetta looks forward to the new opportunities and experiences that North Carolina will bring.

Jalal Osman ()

Middle School Exceptional Education Teacher
Jalal joined the Central Park School for Children staff in the fall of 2018 after two and a half years of working as an EC teacher. Jalal grew up in a nomadic family and has lived in California, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Thailand. He returned to the US for college and earned his Bachelor’s Degree at Yale University. Jalal is excited to be a part of the CPSFC family and has been especially grateful to get to know the enterprising scholars, involved families, and excellent staff members that make up the community.

Liz Lohs ()

Middle School Exceptional Education Teacher

Liz grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an undergraduate degree in communication. After graduation, she lived in Detroit and Salt Lake City before moving to Durham in 1999.

Liz taught kindergarten, third, fourth, and sixth grades at a private school in Utah before transitioning to the exciting life of a wife and mother. Both of her daughters have attended CPSC, and one of them is still a student here. Before joining the CPSC staff, Liz was a substitute teacher at CPSC for five years.

Liz believes in the project-based learning approach, as it gives every student a chance to thrive and enjoy learning.

Lori Turner ()

Elementary School Exceptional Education Teacher
Lori has called Durham home for over 15 years and is mom to three CPSC kids. She has an undergraduate degree in Comparative Religions and a masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education. Lori loves good books, yoga, leading a Girl Scout troop, exploring with her kids, and spending time outdoors in the mountains with her family. In addition to her family, she lives with two Rhodesian ridgebacks, a kitty, two gerbils, and 4 chickens.

Lori loves traveling and spent two years working in Lesotho (southern Africa) as a special education teacher with the Peace Corps. It was life changing to experience traditional village life and live in a rondavel, a one room round house made of thatch. Being in Lesotho shaped the person and educator she is today by challenging her perceptions, teaching her to see the beauty in difference, and expanding her empathy and compassion for others. Lori’s life long passion is helping all children grow into confident and enthusiastic learners.

Eli Carleyolsen ()

MIddle School Exceptional Children Teaching Assistant

Coming soon!

Teaching Assistants

Rossy Gutierrez ()

K Teaching Assistant
Bio coming soon!

Susan McCraw ()

K Teaching Assistant

Susan has called Durham home for over 26 years, having grown up in Atlanta and then lived in Northern Virginia. She has a Masters in special education and has loved working with kids and adults in a variety of capacities. A teacher, behavior specialist, parent educator, mentor, program coordinator and reading tutor describe some of the roles she has held over the years. She especially enjoys connecting with students and their families. She joined Tammy's class at CPSC in January of 2016. She enjoys listening to and telling stories, watching the full moon rise, cooking — because she likes to eat — and being in the company of good friends.

Liz Clark ()

K Teaching Assistant

Liz was born and raised in New York state. After attending UNC-Chapel Hill, she became a professional chef and has cooked in kitchens for more than 20 years. Liz started volunteering in the classroom when her children were in preschool. She has taught cooking and various craft classes to children at CPSC and a Durham public school. She volunteered in the media center and art room and tutored children in reading and math. Before becoming a kindergarten assistant, Liz was a substitute at CPSC and was a head class parent and "Strawberry Parent." Liz loves camping, cooking, traveling, and reading to children.

Media & Technology

Todd Fife ()

Middle School Media Specialist/Tech Coordinator
Bio coming soon!

Beth Bonow ()

Elementary School Librarian

Beth started reading at age two, and has never stopped. By elementary school, she was walking home with huge stacks of library books. Her favorite college courses were the early literacy and children’s literature ones. She has a dual degree in elementary and early childhood education, and if she had known a library science degree existed, she might very well have done that afterward. Unfortunately, internet searches did not exist way back then. She has taught at many levels from toddlers all the way to adults, and has volunteered at many different libraries starting way back in fifth grade. She spent the last two years in kindergarten with Evika, but could not resist moving into the open library position. Whole days with books? Helping kids learn to answer their own questions with books and internet searches? Beth plans to start a master’s degree program in library science as soon as she can.

Beth lives in Chapel Hill with her two amazing kids. One is a 2019 graduate of Central Park’s middle school, the other is still there. Central Park’s commitment to equity and project`based learning is what drew us to Central Park. We love that kids can be who they are here, and have recess all the way through eighth grade.

Beth is now a master internet searcher.

Elementary Arts & Movement

Cara Valenti ()

Elementary Music Teacher
Cara received her undergraduate degree in vocal performance from NC Central, and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been teaching lower school music at CPSC since 2016. Cara’s philosophy around making music, especially singing, is that it is for absolutely everyone. She loves helping kids find their individual and creative musicianship, as well as facilitating ways for music to bring our school community together. Cara enjoys singing with a number of musical groups in the area, serves as assistant director with Common Woman Chorus, and as the Youth Choir director at Watts Street Baptist Church. One of her favorite pastimes is playing ukulele and singing with her family on the back porch.

Leah Waller ()

Elementary Art Teacher

Leah is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but has called North Carolina home for 27 years. She received her BFA in Sculpture and Art Education from East Carolina University, and has been teaching art for the past twelve years. From 2003-2011, Leah and her husband spent many hours working in the Liberty Arts Sculpture Studio in Liberty Warehouse sculpting Durham's iconic bronze bull 'Major', the box turtle in Durham Central Park, and several other private and public art projects throughout North Carolina. She is thrilled to return to the neighborhood and share her passion for art and creative expression with the CPSC community.

Leah and her husband, Mike, live in a restored 19th Century farmhouse in Hillsborough with their two children. When not teaching, Leah enjoys spending time with her family, sculpting in the studio, playing guitar, singing, gardening, and listening to live music.

Middle School Elective Teachers

Jodie Hatcher ()


Jodie received her bachelor's degree in Elementary and Special Education with a minor in Visual Arts from Louisiana State University in 1996. During the last 18 years, she has taught grades K-12 in all academic areas in Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina, and earned her National Boards for grades 4th-8th. She has extensive training and practice using the PBL approach and loves helping students see the connections between the arts and their learning in other subject areas. She has participated on planning and development committees for elementary and middle school design with a focus on building community and providing a safe place for students to learn and grow. When she's not teaching, she enjoys working in her studio and spending time with her family and pets.

Kendra Madding ()

Kendra is originally from Lake Tahoe, CA and received her bachelor's degree in International Development Studies at UCLA. After teaching bilingual elementary school in San Antonio, TX for two years with Teach for America, she moved to Springfield, MA where she taught 5th grade ESL. She then decided to pursue a master's degree in Public Health, which brought her to UNC, Chapel Hill. Upon graduation from the program, she served as a Bilingual Parent Advocate with the East Durham Children's Initiative. She is excited to combine her love for education and public health at Central Park as the middle school health teacher. In her free time, she loves reading, running, traveling, and teaching and playing piano.

Other Administrative Staff

Wendy Phillippe ()

Office Manager for Elementary

Coming soon!

Khaleelah "Kay" Mueed ()

Office Manager for Middle School

Khaleelah "Kay" Mueed has been a part of the CPSC community since 2011, first as a parent, then as an After School counselor, substitute teacher and teaching assistant. Prior to joining Central Park, she managed a local daycare center; she has over 15 years of experience in the childcare network. She is a native of Durham and an alumna of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) with a degree in Accounting. She also holds a secondary degree in Cosmetology. Kay enjoys working with kids and alongside a great community. She looks forward to meeting new families and rekindling with our veterans... She's just a call away!

Gretchen Mauney ()

Nutrition Coordinator

Gretchen grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and came to the Triangle to attend school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After receiving her BS in Mathematical Sciences with a minor in Business Administration and her MS in Operations Research, she started her professional career at Nortel. Gretchen held a variety of positions in operations, business management, and information services before leaving the workforce after more than 9 years in order to raise her two boys.

Gretchen began her involvement with Central Park as a parent of two kindergarteners in 2012. She quickly became involved in volunteer activities at the school and joined a team to address operational changes needed to support the new lottery preferences. In 2014, Gretchen signed on as a part time employee. Her primary goal was to lead the school down the path towards joining the National School Lunch program to allow the school to receive reimbursement for the lunches served. It has been quite a journey, but Gretchen has enjoyed seeing the vision dreamed so long ago come to be. The school lunch program has expanded from serving bag lunches to roughly 10 kids per day to serving fresh, hot meals to over 200 students per day across both campuses. Gretchen continues to provide operational support to the program and enjoys assisting the families and students of CPSC. In addition to her role in the nutrition program, Gretchen lead the effort to create a formal PTA at CPSC and served as the president in its first two years.

Outside of work, Gretchen enjoys spending time in nature, exercising, and playing with her family and dog, Scruffy.

Stephanie Harris ()

School Nutrition Assistant
Bio coming soon!

Dilip Barman ()

Director of Nutrition Education

Dilip Barman is a certified Food for Life instructor who teaches adults and children about health benefits of moving toward a plant-based diet. He has been a Central Park School for Children Middle School electives teacher, teaching food/nutrition, math, and photography. At the Elementary School, he teaches Food for Life and has created a "Healthy Snack Program" for classroom teachers to serve whole food plant-based (WFPB) snacks like soups, rice and beans, and vegan yogurt to their students. He also has helped with breakfast options for before school at Middle School. He has degrees in Mathematical Sciences (Johns Hopkins University) and Computer Science (Brown University and Marist College), and various food and nutrition certifications, such as through Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and as an Affiliate of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He has several published articles and recipes, leads Triangle Vegetarian Society (and the country's largest vegetarian Thanksgiving), is on the Leadership Board of the Triangle Math Teachers' Circle, and is Executive Producer of `code blue´, a film released in early 2019 about the medical profession and WFPB diets to prevent, manage, and possibly reverse major diseases. He also teaches elementary and middle school math at Art of Problem Solving and tweets @dbarman.

This page (Meet Our Staff) last updated July 16, 2019