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Welcome to Our New Faculty and Staff!

The first day of school means new classes, new routines, new students and families — and new faculty and staff too! Take a moment to learn about our new teachers and other school employees, as well as returning Ravens who have assumed new roles or titles.

LOWER SCHOOL

Avera Acai joins the Lower School community as a first-grade teacher. She earned her master’s degree at Meredith College, where she discovered her passion for children's literacy, and bachelor’s degree from Peace College. Acai will coach varsity cheerleading in the winter. 

Fun fact: I am a former Carolina Hurricanes cheerleader. 

Jennifer Barcella, a National Board Certified Teacher, comes to the fourth-grade team from St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Boca Raton, Florida.She has a dual bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education from Slippery Rock University and a master’s degree in teaching leadership from American College of Education. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: Always be a little kinder than necessary.

Danny Carlson is excited to join the fifth-grade team as a math teacher. With a master’s in literacy and developmental mathematics coupled with an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction, he brings both a pedagogically sound approach and a creative energy into the classroom. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Keep moving forward.” — Walt Disney

Laura Crudup joins the Lower School as a PreK assistant. She earned her undergraduate degree in birth-Kindergarten education from Fayetteville State University and a Master in Educational Leadership Policy, Advocacy in Early Childhood Education from UNC-Wilmington. Before coming to Ravenscroft, she taught NC PreK for five years.

Super-secret superpower: I make lemonade out of lemons; what’s your superpower?

Erin Hunter joins the Lower School team as a first-grade assistant. She graduated from Clemson University with a degree in elementary education and from the University of Georgia with a master’s in reading education. She may be a familiar face, as she has been a substitute teacher in the Lower School and Winston Library for the past four years! Hunter has three other Ravens in the family: Spence ’19, Annabelle ’24 and William ’28. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Do your little bit of good where you are: it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu

Erin Murphy join the Kindergarten team. She has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from George Mason University and taught first grade and spent years as a reading specialist before becoming a primary school director at an independent school, Marin Primary and Middle School in California, for 11 years. 

Fun fact: I am a trained opera singer.

Kathleen Reinhart joins the second-grade team. She has a master’s degree in early childhood education from Furman University and has most recently taught second grade in Durham where she enjoyed designing and implementing STEM activities and project-based learning. 

Fun fact: In college I did a trip to Europe where we followed the complete front line of World War I. We went all over France, England and Belgium learning about the places that were significant in the war.

Kerri Wadsworth joins us from The Langley School in McLean, Virginia. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a Master of Education in Language and Literacy, along with reading specialist and intellectually gifted education certifications. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: Choose kindness.  

 

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Alan Carter will serve as a World History teacher and advisor on the eighth-grade team. He earned both his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science and his Master of Arts in Teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill. Carter will also coach in our wrestling program, having strong experience at several schools with dynamic programs. 

Super-secret superpower: Parenting twin toddlers

Merritt Cole, a National Certified Counselor, joins us as the Middle School counselor, having earned her M.S./Ed.S degree in counseling from UNC-Greensboro. Ms. Cole also has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Hispanic Linguistics and a minor in education. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Kim Martin will teach Language Arts 7 and Humanities 6. She has a master’s degree in teaching from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a master’s degree in library and information science from San Jose State University. 

Fun fact: I taught English in France and Korea, and I spent a few months volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel.

Doris Matal earned her Bachelor of Science in Middle Grades Education from NC State. She has taught language arts and social studies, most recently at Leesville Road. Mrs. Matal brings her expertise in both areas to our program, where she will teach World Geography and Language Arts 7. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.”

Karen Ojeda joins us to teach math in sixth and eighth grades. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA. She will coach in our soccer program.

Fun fact: I was born in Mexico.

Meenakumarie Schaffer comes to us from the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York, where she served as the Middle School technology integrator. She earned bachelor degrees in art education and Spanish from The City College of NY and a master’s degree in art education from Brooklyn College. 

Fun fact: I hiked a 10,000 foot active volcano in Indonesia. 

New members of the Middle School team: Alan Carter, Karen Ojeda, Meenakumarie Schaffer, Doris Matal, Kim Martin, Katie Torres

UPPER SCHOOL

Claudia Ayala comes to Ravenscroft from Henderson Collegiate High School in Henderson and joins the World Languages Department. She holds a master’s degree from NC State and a bachelor’s degree from Universidad del Valle in her native Colombia. She will teach Spanish III and Honors Spanish IV.

Fun fact: I clap when I laugh.

Richa Dolia joins the Science Department. She has lived in Minnesota since attending the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, from which she earned a B.A. in biology. In 2018, she earned her master’s degree from Hamline University. She will teach Honors Biology and Anatomy and Physiology.

Fun fact: I got an opportunity to participate in marine biology research last year and got to swim next to a whale shark.

Yi-Wen Liu joins the World Languages Department. In addition to building the Mandarin program at Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, Liu taught and directed the Middlebury Interactive Summer Academies and serves on the board of the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina. She will teach all levels of Upper School Mandarin.

Fun fact: I collect tea from all over the world.

Ali Olney joins the English Department, having most recently taught at Holly Springs High School. After earning her bachelor’s degree in English literature from William Peace University, she earned her master’s degree in English literature from NC State. Olney will be teaching English I and Honors English.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: Solvitur ambulando. (It is solved by walking.)

Breanne Rodino joins the Math Department. Rodino earned her B.S. in business management from George Mason University and started her career as a swim coach, including on the club and collegiate levels. While coaching, she earned her master’s in education from Marymount University. She will teach Algebra I and Advanced Functions and Modeling.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” — Gandhi

Sarah Swain comes to Ravenscroft from Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio, where she served as the coordinator of entrepreneurial studies.She has a B.A. from Rice University and has taught Biology and Environmental Science at Virginia Episcopal School and St. Anne’s-Belfield School. She will teach AP Environmental Science and Honors Biology.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “The apparent destruction of a disturbance is in fact an act of renewal, provided the balance is right.” — Robin Kimmerer

Katie Cavanaugh Torres joins the Upper School World Languages Department She has a master’s degree at NC State and a double-major in psychology and Spanish at Wake Forest University. Torres will teach Spanish II in the Upper School and two sections of Middle School Spanish.

Fun fact: I spent a year teaching English in Galicia, Spain (which is also where I met my husband!).

New members of the Upper School team: Sarah Swain, Claudia Ayala, Erik Schettig, Richa Dolia, Ali Olney, Breanne Rodino, Yi-Wen Liu, Katie Torres

FINE ARTS

Jennifer Lam is joining the Fine Arts Department and will be teaching sixth- and seventh-grade visual arts classes in the Middle School. Lam graduated from James Madison University with a BFA in studio art with emphasis in interior design. Her daughters, Tessa and Avery, will also be joining the Ravenscroft community.

Fun fact: I was a competitive dancer for 14 years.

Kristen McCarthy ’14 joins the Fine Arts Department and will be teaching PreK and Kindergarten visual art classes. She graduated from High Point University in 2018, where she got a bachelor’s in special education-general curriculum. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: Not all those who wander are lost.

Kelly Nivison will be teaching band and private lessons on flute and saxophones. She received her doctorate in historical performance at the Early Music Institute at Indiana University in 2017 and additionally holds degrees from Florida State University and Appalachian State University. She has been active in the local music community for many years.

Super-secret super-power: I can befriend any cat! 

Matthew Parunak will be teaching band and private brass lessons. He comes to us from Jordan High School, where he served as assistant band director and musical theater pit orchestra conductor. Mr. Parunak graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Bachelor of Music Degree in Tuba Performance. 

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”― Rumi

New members of the Fine Arts team: Jennifer Lam, Kristen McCarthy, Matthew Parunak

PHYSICAL EDUCATION/ ATHLETICS

Nick Lepera joins the Physical Education Department and will assume teaching duties in the Lower School P.E. program. He earned his B.S. in business administration from The Ohio State University and his master’s in physical education from The University of Toledo. In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Lepera will also be coaching in the athletic program.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss

New member of the Athletics team: Nick Lepera

LIBRARY & TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

Matt Burgess joined us in April as the newest member of the Technical Services Team. He comes to Ravenscroft after serving as an IT analyst with Easterseals UCP in Raleigh. Burgess will be an IT specialist and join our frontline Help Desk team troubleshooting various technical requests. Originally from Indiana, Mr. Burgess holds an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: It’s not that bad.

Erik Schettig is Ravenscroft’s first Upper School innovation lab coordinator and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Innovation Lab and Machine Shop in the Keim Center. He will also teach robotics and computer-aided design classes as well as moderator for the school’s robotics team. Schettig has an M.Ed. in technology, engineering and design education and B.S. in technology education from NC State.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks.

New members of the Library and Technology services team: Matt Burgess

ADVANCEMENT

Sarah Macey joins the Advancement team as the donor engagement officer. She graduated from NC State in 2003, where she played soccer on the women’s team. She has previously served as an administrative professional, as the director of development and volunteerism at the A.E. Finley YMCA and as the human resources specialist at Camp Kanata.

Personal motto or inspirational quote: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do it just show up.” — Brene Brown 

Brooke McDaniel joins the Advancement team as Advancement Coordinator and Events. She earned an undergraduate degree in art history from Duke University and a Master of Architecture from NC State. She has held positions as a design consultant and office manager, and with her daughters, Grace and Bridget, attending Ravenscroft has been an involved parent. 

Fun fact: I attended gymnastics training camp in Moscow when I was nine years old.

New members of the Advancement team: Sarah Macey, Brooke McDaniel

The following faculty and staff members have moved positions or departments:

Lower School

Meg Ellis: Kindergarten Teacher

Sonja Fenner: Teachers’ Assistant for Grades 3-5

Bernardo Guzmån: Assistant Head of Lower School

Dante Johnson: Third-Grade Teacher

Karrah Lewis: First-Grade Teacher

Renee Riggs: Teachers’ Assistant for Kindergarten

Brittany Valentine: Teachers’ Assistant for Grades 3-5
 

Middle School

Tinnie Salzano: Associate Head of Middle School

Greg Anysz: Middle School Dean

Amy Tomblinson: Sixth Grade Level Leader

David Hutchings:  Seventh Grade Level Leader

Sarah Baker: Eighth Grade Level Leader
 

Upper School

Kat Belk: Interim Dean of Upper School

Kalista Richardson: Interim Dean of Upper School

Kendra Varnell: Upper School Counselor and Co-Director of Clinical Services
 

Physical Education/Athletics

David Myers: Co-Physical Education Department Head

Roxanne Roberts: Co-Physical Education Department Head
 

Advancement

Dan Ressner: Alumni Engagement Officer

Shelly Micyus: Advancement Services Manager

Tammy Haywood: Parent Groups Manager
 

Health Services

Rebecca Nelson: Health Coordinator of Jones Health Center, Co-Director of Clinical Services
 

Leadership Team

Aaron Sundstrom: Interim Head of Upper School

Colleen Ramsden: Associate Head of School for Academics and Student Life

Lisa Miller: Assistant Head of School for Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion

Phil Higginson: Associate Head of School for Philanthropy