Meet Our Staff

Management Team

John Heffernan ()

Director
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portrait of John Heffernan

John has 15 years experience as an elementary teacher at the Sierra School in the San Francisco Bay Area, NYC's Bank Street School for Children, and prior to coming to CPSC, Forest View Elementary School in Durham. John believes in supporting students to take risks and assume greater responsibility for their learning, and he has consistently sought out schools with a constructivist, inquiry-based mission that place a high value on parent involvement and professional development for teachers.

John received a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies in philosophy, psychology and studio arts from Georgetown University and a master's degree from Bank Street College of Education. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher and has held leadership roles on the governance team of Forest View Elementary, instructed UNC student teachers, and guided study groups for colleagues.

John's commitment to excellence and his ability to inspire others is reflected in his selection as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Teaching Fellow in Japan, a Kenan Fellow (training teachers statewide in science education), and a trainer and planner for the NC Science Leadership Institute. He lives in Durham with his wife, Karen, his three daughters, and numerous pets.

Raenel Duncan-Edmonds ()

Elementary Associate Director
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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 Associate Director
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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 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 ()

Middle School Associate Director for School Culture
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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.

Abby Stitsinger ()

Exceptional Education Director
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Abby started her career ten years ago as an EC Assistant and has been in the classroom ever since. Growing up in Colorado, Abby received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and her Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She then taught abroad in Bangkok, Thailand where she learned dedication and awareness working at a small, multi-cultural school. She then moved back to Colorado Springs and began teaching Special Education. Within three years time, she joined the Leadership Team and managed the Special Education department for another two years. This experience helped Abby develop important strategies in communication, advocacy and facilitation.

Moving in the summer of 2017, she joined the incredible staff at Central Park School for Children. Abby believes in CPSC’s mission statement that all children can thrive and the learning environment can meet the needs of all children when we collaborate and support one another.

Joy Porter ()

Business Manager
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Joy has over twenty years experience as an accountant with a technology business and eight years as a business manager with another local charter school.

Classroom Teachers

Evika Sturdivant ()

Kindergarten
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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.

Scott Larson ()

Kindergarten
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"Kindergarten children love to explore the community and see first hand how people do their jobs." —Scott

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 ()

Kindergarten
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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
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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 three years, she is excited to move back to the Elementary building to join the first grade team!

Amy lives in Durham with her husband and two children. Her youngest child is a current student at CPSC. When not in school, she enjoys cooking, reading, gardening, live music, and spending time with her family.

Anna Morrison ()

1st Grade
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Anna Morrison grew up in King, NC, and she always knew she wanted to work with children. She graduated from 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, and assisting K-1 teachers at Central Park. 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.

Anna and her husband, Scott, have four children, two of whom currently attend CPSC. Anna and Scott are also licensed foster parents in Durham and have cared for eight foster children in their home thus far.

Julie Janes ()

1st Grade
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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.

Emma Paradiso ()

2nd Grade
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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 just graduated from Duke University (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, (29 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. She is thrilled to join the CPCS family and excited for the experiences and growth to come.

Katie Crammer ()

2nd Grade
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I enjoy working with children because no two days are ever alike. Children nurture my creative spirit because I get to see them exploring their world and figuring things out for the first time. This makes it all seem new to me as well. Creating new ways to explain ideas lets me be inventive and think about simple things in new ways and I love that!

Katie has a Bachelor's Degree in English with a focus in creative writing from North Carolina State University. She also received her teaching license from North Carolina State University through the North Carolina Teachers for the Excellence of All CHildren (NCTEACH) Program.

Professionally, Katie has been working with children for four years but her love of learning and the curiosity of children extends far beyond that. She 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 five nieces and nephews, two brothers, and one sister.

In her free time, Katie loves to watch movies. After taking a couple screenwriting classes in college, she became fascinated with different styles of storytelling, which she tries to incorporate into her teaching style through hands on, engaging lessons. She also loves to read, paint, and practice yoga. Her heroes are Jane Goodall, Lena Dunham, and Taryn Brumfitt, to name a few.

Lauren Vejvoda ()

2nd Grade
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Lauren Vejvoda graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education in 2007 with a bachelors degree in elementary education and a minor in Spanish. After graduating, Lauren taught at George Watts Montessori Elementary School in Durham for seven years as a lower elementary teacher. She taught all subjects to 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students while working to earn her Montessori certification from the American Montessori Society in 2011. She also holds an ESL and AIG certification, which allows her to integrate a variety of instructional methods to benefit all students.

Throughout her early teaching career, Lauren became increasingly interested in learning how to teach early elementary students how to read, so she returned to UNC in 2012 to earn her masters in literacy. Outside the classroom, Lauren enjoys running, cooking and especially traveling. She has been to Guatemala, Peru, England, and China.

Lauren's favorite quote is from Ghandi who stated that you must "be the change you wish to see in the world." She truly believes that educating children to be engaged citizens can change the world.

India Jiminez ()

3rd Grade
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India graduated from NC Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, NC with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology focusing on Child Development and Mental Health. Her early background included working as an EC teacher in a Cross Categorical classroom. Through the years, social work became her passion and that is where she thrived for many years working with foster parents who provided Therapeutic Foster Care.

After becoming a parent, India decided to pursue her Master's Degree in School Counseling. As an Elementary School Counselor, she worked tirelessly to provide emotional, social and academic support for students and families in a small rural community. Most recently, India is the parent of a Central Park alum and two current students. India has served in several capacities at Central Park including after school Behavior Specialist, assisting with Parent Workshops, serving as a proctor for BOG and EOG testing, long-term substitute in EC department at the middle school.

Erin Linn ()

3rd Grade
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Erin Linn grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, and attended Samford University. After graduating with honors, she began teaching at Eastway Elementary in Durham. During her six years at Eastway, Erin has team-taught third grade, led professional development, served on the Superintendent’s Teacher Council, and has been a leader in Positive Behavioral Support. After making the switch to teach fifth grade in 2010, she discovered that fifth graders "are some of the most clever, confident, passionate people I’ll ever have the privilege of knowing." And now, in 2017, Erin is moving back to third grade!

In her spare time, Erin enjoys acting and singing with our local Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired Durham Savoyards and teaching in Uganda during the summer. After seven years of teaching classes in Uganda, Erin will be the U.S. coordinator and a teacher trainer for a newly developed school in Uganda.

Jen Dunlap ()

3rd Grade
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Jen Dunlap has fifteen years teaching experience, most of those with Durham Public Schools. As part of her passion for traveling and learning about other cultures, she spent a year helping to start a school in Yangon, Burma. She enjoys creating authentic learning experiences and using the natural curiosity of students as a starting point for learning.

Jen holds a Masters in Education from UNC Chapel Hill, is National Board Certified and has her AIG certification from Duke University. As an Outward Bound Kurt Hahn Fellow, she is inspired by outdoor education and the power of guiding students towards "accepting challenges and taking initiative".

In her spare time she enjoys hiking and exploring the woods with her two young children and and her husband Mark.

Joshua Rudisill ()

3rd Grade
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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
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Aaron was excited to put down roots in Durham after 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 jazz, to ska. He also makes and eats a lot of food, and loves to be in the woods or in his wooden kayak on the water. Aaron believes strongly that all learners are entitled to creative and engaging education and enjoys exploring the world with students in a supportive, challenging, and caring community.

Cheryle Pope ()

4th Grade
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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
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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 also has a certificate in technical communication from Duke's Continuing Studies Program. Judy loves being part of a staff committed to helping create thoughtful, intelligent children.

Michelle Siegel ()

4th Grade
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Michelle is excited to join the CPSC faculty for the 2018-2019 school year. She graduated with highest distinction from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Michelle 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 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
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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
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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
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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 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science and/or language arts for the past 17 years. She is a dedicated Mom, avid reader, and experimental knitter.

Gavin Vincent ()

5th Grade
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Gavin has a decade of experience as an educator with a keen interest in building nurturing communities and teaching students to hone their critical thinking skills and empathy. He received his Master of Arts and Bachelors of Science in Sociology and Applied Social Research at East Carolina University and is passionate about connecting students to the intricacies of their social worlds and the importance of civics. He was drawn to the mission statement of CPSC, especially its commitment to centering restorative justice practices and serving a diverse representation of the city of Durham. He is eager to help CPSC meet its goals of nurturing a kind, compassionate community of learners and thinkers.

Abi Zambrana ()

6th Grade
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Abi was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where she fell in love with learning and building strong relationships with her family and peers. From California, she moved to Syracuse, New York to pursue a degree in Policy Studies from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, she found a passion for Social Justice and committed herself to fight for equality. At Syracuse, she was also the campus campaign coordinator who helped recruit students for Teach For America. After doing this, she knew empowering the youth through education was her life goal.

Abi pursued a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of Southern California with a focus on social studies. She has taught social studies at the middle school and high school level.

She loves to read, paint, play basketball and golf, swim, and have fun. She is committed to empower others to become change makers in the future.

Ben Neal ()

6th Grade
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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.

Drina Dunlap ()

6th Grade
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Bio coming soon!

Elizabeth Ricker ()

6th Grade
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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.

Brenda Vieyra ()

7th Grade
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Brenda is originally from Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education. Throughout her college years, Brenda worked for Los Angeles Unified School District as an AVID tutor, a college prep program. This work developed her passion for working with under-represented middle school children. After graduating, Brenda continued her educational journey working in the EC department of Larchmont Charter Schools, as well as coaching the girls’ volleyball team. Her experiences with the children in LAUSD have driven Brenda to seek equity for all children who need extra support on their path to success. She hopes to empower children to become driven leaders.

Brenda is excited to begin her journey as an educator in North Carolina, where she can bring her experiences and passion to her science classroom.

Neal Myers-Perry ()

7th Grade
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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.

Seun Omitoogun ()

7th Grade
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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.

Thomas Bell ()

7th Grade
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Thomas hails from Onslow county. Although not native to North Carolina, he has grown to call it home. He comes to us at CPSC by way of NC State University where he obtained his degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics.

After spending one year teaching first grade, he discovered that he wanted to delve into more complex content; to take those foundational skills learned in the primary grades and utilize them in greater depth. In the middle school setting he has taught 6th grade math as well as 7th grade science and social studies.

Thomas has lived all over Wake County since coming to the Triangle to pursue his college education. However, he currently resides in Cary with his two dogs Timber and Bandit.

His hobbies include solving PennyDell puzzle books, reading (mostly fiction), collecting dolphin knickknacks, and traveling to theme parks… huge roller coaster enthusiast.

Thomas is excited beyond measure to join the family here at CPSC and meet all our wonderful students!!!

Amy Pine ()

8th Grade
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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, Richard, and her daughter.

Cliff Peek ()

8th Grade
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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 teacher, and together they have four children and two dogs.

Schara Brooks ()

8th Grade
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Schara is a North Carolina native. She graduated, with honors, with her bachelors degree in cultural anthropology from UNC Chapel Hill and then pursued her passion in making sure children in North Carolina were able to receive the type of education they deserved. After graduation she joined the non-profit organization Teach for America, where she was able to teach middle school math and science in rural Eastern North Carolina. Most recently she earned her Masters in Middle Grades Education from ECU.

Taylor Schmidt ()

8th Grade
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Taylor Schmidt is thrilled to be joining the CPSC family as a science teacher. A proud Kansan, he is a native of tiny Greensburg, KS and alumnus of Kansas State University, holding a BA degree in Biological and Cultural Anthropology. A wild ride involving rather large tornadoes, Maasai jumping, and a fatefully timed lecture from Justice Sotomayor landed him in North Carolina via the Teach for America program.

With TFA, Taylor taught 7th grade science at Bertie Middle School for two dynamic years. His time at BMS deepened his passion for education and community, and whether it is in Manhattan (KS, of course), Nyeri (Kenya), or now Durham, NC, he is privileged to work with powerful minds and to share the passions given to him. He is profoundly excited to begin the joyful, relentless pursuit of discovery and knowledge with the young minds and hearts in his classroom.

Student Support

Carla Stevens ()

Elementary School Counselor
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Carla grew up on a farm in Whiteville, North Carolina. She is a graduate of East Carolina University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She took two years off from school after completing her undergraduate degree to work as a community skills instructor for the Autism Society of North Carolina. Working for the Autism Society solidified her passion for counseling and her desire to be an advocate for children. She went on to pursue a master’s degree in Professional School Counseling at Appalachian State University where she also received a certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy. While at Appalachian she worked for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance. Carla’s passions include hiking, photography, art, DIY projects, gardening, and spending time with her family, friends and her Chihuahua. Carla is excited about being a part of the CPSC community and enjoys being a leader and advocate for the students of CPSC as the elementary school counselor.

Her favorite quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Lindsay May ()

K4 Learning Specialist
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Lindsay is originally from Fayetteville, NC. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where she received her bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in literacy. She is a certified reading specialist and is also certified in ESL. Before coming to CPSC, Lindsay taught kindergarten in Durham Public Schools and at Duke School. She enjoys music, reading, kayaking, and searching for vintage furniture. She also enjoys running and hiking along the Eno with her husband and their two dogs.

Crystal Small ()

Middle School Counselor
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Bio coming soon!

Crystal Grant ()

Social Worker
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Bio coming soon!

Exceptional Children Staff

Abby Stitsinger ()

Exceptional Education Director
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Abby started her career ten years ago as an EC Assistant and has been in the classroom ever since. Growing up in Colorado, Abby received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and her Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She then taught abroad in Bangkok, Thailand where she learned dedication and awareness working at a small, multi-cultural school. She then moved back to Colorado Springs and began teaching Special Education. Within three years time, she joined the Leadership Team and managed the Special Education department for another two years. This experience helped Abby develop important strategies in communication, advocacy and facilitation.

Moving in the summer of 2017, she joined the incredible staff at Central Park School for Children. Abby believes in CPSC’s mission statement that all children can thrive and the learning environment can meet the needs of all children when we collaborate and support one another.

Erin Nivens ()

Occupational Therapist
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Bio coming soon!

Lois Leazer ()

Speech-Language Pathologist
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Bio coming soon!

Andrea Rohrbach ()

K4 Exceptional Education Teacher
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Andrea received her Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in 1996. However, after working with preschoolers with Autism during her junior and senior years in college, she decided to change her life’s path. She received her Master of Education degree in Special Education two years later.

Since then, Andrea has taught in Pennsylvania and California before settling in North Carolina. She has taught locally at Glenwood Elementary School, Oak Grove Elementary School, and The Hill Center. Andrea’s favorite moments are when a child’s eyes open wide as the light of understanding shines through them.

Jen McCabe ()

K4 Exceptional Education Teacher
Bio coming soon!

Lyndsey Wallen ()

K4 Exceptional Education Teacher
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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 ()

K4 EC Teaching Assistant
Bio coming soon!

Liz Lohs ()

Middle School Exceptional Education Teacher
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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.

Bethany Ezawa ()

Middle School Exceptional Education Teacher
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Bethany comes to Central Park as a fourth year EC teacher. After teaching English in Tijuana, Kolkata, and her hometown, Mansfield, Ohio, Bethany served as a 2014 Teach for America Corps Member in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood. She quickly fell in love with teaching, and strives to empower students to become transformative leaders in their homes, schools, and communities.

Bethany earned her degree in International and Community Development and International Relations from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2012, and she holds a Master of Special Education from Dominican University.

Keith McDonald ()

Middle School Exceptional Education Teacher
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Keith D. McDonald, a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University, has a passion for education and teaching. With a Bachelors in Recreational Therapy, and a Masters of Education, he fits both the physical and mental needs to effectively teach all students. Inspired by working with an individual student, he caught the attention of Ashley Ledford, an Inclusion Teacher at Lenoir Public Schools, who told him he needed to pursue a career in Education. Taking her advice, he decided to pursue it and graduated at the top of his class.

“Instead of teaching one, reaching one, we can teach all and reach all!”

Loving to cook and travel, Keith is able to connect to students of all socioeconomic and academic backgrounds. Keith expands beyond the classroom and incorporates life principles to create an atmosphere of charismatic teaching.

Going by CPSC's mission statement, Keith believes that empowering students to do their best will give them the motivation to accumulate the drive to be successful! Given the quote, “We strive for success and nothing less,” Keith believes that all students are able to achieve their highest potential.

Marsha Edwards ()

EC Teaching Assistant
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Marsha is a Durham native who recently returned home after living in Charlotte for nearly 20 years. Before coming to Central Park, she worked a few years with exceptional children for Durham Public Schools. Marsha enjoys working with EC staff and the teachers to provide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support for K-4 and middle school students. She enjoys discovering new music, visual arts and being on a beach.

Teaching Assistants

Beth Bonow ()

K Teaching Assistant
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Beth has over 20 years of early childhood experience, both in the classroom and leading workshops for preschool teachers and parents. She has worked in a variety of settings including private preschools, a resource and referral agency, and Head Start / Early Head Start.

Beth came to Central Park as a parent of a first grader in Evika's class. She has been a CPSC frequent volunteer and occasional substitute . She is excited to team with Evika in kindergarten this year. She strongly believes that all children are ready for kindergarten, and that kindergarten should be a place of joyful learning. Beth lives in Chapel Hill and is the mother of two CPSC students.

Susan McCraw ()

K Teaching Assistant
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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
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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

Chris Blacker ()

Tech Director
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Chris made his way to North Carolina from Knoxville, Tennessee in 2000 to attend UNC-CH. He enjoyed delving into astrophysics research and graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 2005. He has since worked in numerous industries around the triangle, including television production, software development, banking, IT support, and IT sales. In late 2016, he decided to transition out of the corporate world to focus on more personally rewarding work, specifically education. His first opportunity was to take a high school math teacher position in Alamance county, filling an emergency opening at Southern High School. He then spent the last year at The Exploris School in Raleigh, NC, supporting their technology and assisting them on a variety of other operations, security, and development projects. He now looks forward to joining the CPSC community with his wife and (almost) two sons, to help further the mission of preparing the next generation for the future ahead.

Dena Belvin ()

MS Tech Curriculum Facilitator
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Dena was born in the arid land of El Paso, Texas and never truly felt at home until her feet touched damp NC soil in 1990. She graduated from Duke, spent 8 years melting in Houston working, pursuing graduate work, and having twins and returned to NC permanently in 2000. Her academic and professional background is in math, physics, technology and libraries in both Montessori and traditional public schools. Her interests include music, exercise and handiwork of all types. She has recently challenged herself to learn the Chopin Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 and welcomes anyone encouraging her along the way to playing this beautiful piece which lulled her to sleep night after night when she was in high school. Her twins are now in college, and another daughter is finishing high school,, but if you ask her about them, be prepared for a long answer because they have shaped her entire life. Dena is thrilled to be at Central Park MS and feels like it is the place she has been hoping to find for 20 years.

Meg Millard ()

K4 Media Specialist
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Meg Millard grew up in Chapel Hill, but has traveled and studied throughout the U.S. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College (in Olympia, WA), a MEd in K-8 Mathematics from UNC-CH, as well as Environmental Educator certification. Meg has over 25 years of teaching experience. She has taught at Central Park School for Children, Duke School for Children, Frank Porter Graham Elementary School (Chapel Hill), and substituted in both Alamance and Orange counties. Most recently Meg spent a year at The Expedition School in Hillsborough (while on leave from CPSC) helping to get a new school started with a STEM, project-based focus. She initiated a grade level team planning retreat at NCCAT (North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching), helped plan and implement hands-on integrated projects with the 3rd/4th grade team, and led the efforts to have students plan and create a school garden. She has also taught summer programs for teachers, mostly through the UNC Center for Math and Science, the Thomas Day Education Project, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. In 2017, Meg is embarking on a new adventure, as our elementary school librarian.

Her hobbies include reading, gardening, hanging out with her critters, exploring and creating with clay, composting, and almost anything else that might catch her interest. She has 2 grown children who travel the world, a dog, a cat, and numerous chickens and worms who hang out at home.

Meg says, "I love hands-on, project-based learning! My goal is to help students experience the joy of learning through meaningful projects and experiences!"

Arts & Movement

Cara Valenti ()

Elementary Music Teacher
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Cara received her Bachelor of Arts in Music at NCCU, where she studied Vocal Performance. She went on to complete her K-12 Music Teaching Certification at UNC Chapel Hill, receiving a Master of Arts in Teaching in 2009. She has been teaching music in schools ever since, and has experience with students of all ages. Cara also holds an Orff-Schulwerk Level 1 certification, which has shaped and defined her teaching for years.

As a performing musician, Cara keeps busy as a member of several groups in the area. In particular she enjoys performing with the Common Woman Chorus, where she is not just a singer but has served as an arranger, guest director, and board member.

Cara’s teaching philosophy stems from the belief that music can come naturally to all of us -- as a teacher it is her job to find it in each student. Her teaching experience has helped her to hone countless ways to access musicality in students, and give them unique and engaging ways to listen to, read, and create music. Cara especially has an excitement for music’s capacity to bring people together in community.

Leah Waller ()

Elementary Art Teacher
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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.

Gaspard Louis ()

Elementary Dance Instructor

Gaspard was a member of Pilobolus Dance Theater. He has performed worldwide and has collaborated on the choreography for nine major dance works with the company. He continues to engage in special projects with Pilobolus, including a commercial for Hyundai. He has also danced for Shirley Mordine and Company in Chicago and AllNations Dance Company in New York.

Gaspard has choreographed for the Kentucky University Dance Ensemble and collaborated on four works for Freespace Dance Company in New Jersey. He has been a guest artist for the New York Renaissance Dance Festival and has choreographed for and performed in a Caribbean music video. He received a BFA from Montclair State University and continued his studies on scholarship with Gus Giordano in Chicago and Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in New York. Gaspard is currently directing the American Dance Festival’s creative movement outreach program. He founded his own dance company, Gaspard & Dancers, in 2009.

Middle School Elective Teachers

Anthony Dugo ()

Art, Tech, Fusion
Bio coming soon!

Jason Lord ()

Art, Chorus, Fusion
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Jason has been teaching music, drama and art in the Triangle since 1997, including 10 years of focus on arts integration into project-based education at Duke School. He's worked in the area as an actor, singer, set and lighting designer, and scene painter. He likes to make all sorts of things, from food to art. This year he is co-teaching our new Fusion elective in addition to art classes.

Amy Elmore ()

Theatre

Amy and her family moved to Durham in 2008 from Chicago. She was a theatre major at Hofstra University and spent several years in sales and marketing at Showtime Networks before deciding to change career tracks and move into education. She has directed several productions here at CPSC, including a musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book in spring 2015. Prior to coming to CPSC, she taught sixth grade language arts in Roxboro for a year. Amy's daughter is a student at CPSC.

Dena Belvin ()

Library, Tech, Fusion
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The Maker movement is all about creating something from nothing -- whether that's a computer program, a piece of music, an persuasive presentation or a prosthetic hand. Dena is co-teaching our new Fusion elective this year, which will draw from her background in math, physics, technology, libraries, music and all kinds of handiwork. The sky's the limit!

Kendra Madding ()

Health
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.

Katie Moravec ()

P.E.

Katie, a Wisconsin native, is an environmental and sports enthusiast. She enjoys working in nonprofit development along with coaching and playing soccer & futsal. At Central Park Middle School, she strives to advocate and educate, build kind leaders among youth, encourage critical thinking, active learning, and help empower individuals to be engaged in their communities.

Katie is our Middle School Athletic Director.

Libba Moravec ()

P.E.

Along with other P.E. classes, Libba teaches Zumba, a Latin-American-inspired dance/exercise class. Zumba Kids classes feature kid-friendly dance fitness routines based on original Zumba choreography. The class incorporates key childhood development elements like leadership, respect, team work, confidence, self-esteem, memory, creativity, coordination, and cultural awareness. This gives students the opportunity to learn about rhythms and music from around the world. Libba also leads our Mountain Bike team.

Erica Leavell ()

Strings: Cello
Erica received her Bachelor’s of Music degree in cello performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and her Master’s of Music degree from New York University. Following NYU, Erica attended the School for Strings in New York, where she completed a two year teacher training program and became registered in the Suzuki Method. Erica Leavell has performed at a wide variety of venues including the Kimmel Center, Fashion Week in NYC, and Carnegie Hall. Erica Leavell is also an avid teacher and has enjoyed sharing her love of music with students of all ages. She has served as an adjunct cello professor at New York University, and currently teaches at Kidznotes, and the Duke University String School.

Megan Guiliano ()

Strings: Violin & Viola

Megan has been teaching music in the area since 2013, including instruction on violin and viola. She enjoys giving students the tools they need to make a beautiful sound. Megan also has a great fondness for words and hopes to someday write a musical with her husband and have it performed.

Rendon Foy ()

Spanish

Rendon Foy is originally from Louisiana and graduated from Tulane University with degrees in Spanish and mathematics. She went on to earn a master’s in Spanish from New York University in Madrid. There, she worked with grades 1 through 5 at Colegio Montserrat for two years, assisting with and leading English classes, as well as art and science in English. This experience inspired her interest in immersive classroom experiences and project-based learning, and it sparked her admiration for younger learners’ enthusiasm and ingenuity. She taught introductory Spanish at Duke University for a year and has tutored ESOL classes for several years, most recently at the Durham Literacy Center.

Rendon embraces language learning as a many-faceted exploration of culture – both the language’s and one’s own – that holds something for every student, and she is excited to share in these experiences at CPSC. In her spare time, she dabbles in percussion and enjoys gardening.

Other Administrative Staff

Atisha Burnett ()

Office Manager for Elementary
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Atisha is a native of Durham with strong ties to the community. She attended both NC Central University and UNC-Greensboro, studying early childhood development. She's been a part of our school community as a substitute, teaching assistant, and interim librarian. Prior to CPSC, she owned and operated a daycare and a half-day preschool. Atisha was also a teacher assistant for Durham Public Schools while managing one of their before- and after-school programs. She believes she is most effective by being able to support CPSC as a staff member and a parent. Atisha loves coffee, jazz, and football. Go Broncos!

Khaleelah "Kay" Mueed ()

Office Manager for Middle School
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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!

Christina Teach Fountain ()

Student Records / Data Manager
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Christina graduated from the University of Mount Olive in Mt. Olive, NC with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She has more than six years of school office experience with Durham Public Schools. Additionally, Christina is an active member and volunteer with several local community service and non-profit organizations.

Eli Carleyolsen ()

After-School Program (ASP) Director
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Bio coming soon!

Kendra Madding ()

Middle School ASP Director
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.

Katie Moravec ()

Athletic Director

Katie, a Wisconsin native, is an environmental and sports enthusiast. She enjoys working in nonprofit development along with coaching and playing soccer & futsal. At Central Park Middle School, she strives to advocate and educate, build kind leaders among youth, encourage critical thinking, active learning, and help empower individuals to be engaged in their communities.

Katie wears many hats at CPSC: She has taught Tech electives, she teaches P.E. classes, and she is our Middle School Athletic Director.

Gretchen Mauney ()

Nutrition Coordinator
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Bio coming soon!

Nadine Blake ()

Nutrition Coordinator
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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).

Kat Benson ()

Director of Development
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Bio coming soon!

Cheryl Chamblee ()

Development Team Member
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Bio coming soon!

Testing Coordinator ()

Testing Coordinator
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Lindsay May, our testing coordinator, is also a Learning Specialist for elementary.
This page (Meet Our Staff) last updated February 27, 2016