Faculty and Staff

Office Staff

Sue Daniel

Head of School

“My Montessori journey began in 1978 in Homestead, Florida. I fell in LOVE with Montessori mainly because it is such a common sense way to learn. Having had learning issues as a child, I did NOT enjoy school! Montessori helped me realize how each person is “supposed” to be so different and that was a good thing!

My teaching experience began with children ages 3-6. I especially loved working with the 5 & 6 year olds. I became involved with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education and taught new teachers about the joys of the Kindergarten age child. I also gave the Montessori Overview to elementary teacher interns who had not had the foundation training of the 3-6 level.

After teaching for 13 years, I decided to start my own school with the help of long time friend, Mary McKinney, and an elementary colleague, Thelma Williams. Heartwood is a labor of love! We have always had the best support from our parents, who continue to make HW a real home to this day.”
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Mary McKinney

Office Manager

“I’ve known Sue since third grade in Dayton, Ohio. We met Thelma Williams when we all worked together for another Montessori school in the area. Together, we started Heartwood in 1991, with Thelma as a lower elementary teacher and Sue as the preschool teacher. I assisted Sue in the morning and went into the office after lunch. Time passed and Heartwood grew. Happily, we found this place on Byrum to call home. I work with fantastic people. I have a daughter, Kelsey, a husband, Zeke, and two dogs to round out the McKinney family.”
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Ginny McCollum

Office Coordinator

“After my own Montessori experience as a child, my husband and I knew we wanted a Montessori education for our son. We discovered Heartwood in 2013 and instantly fell in love with everything about it, from its down-to-earth vibe to the kindness of its community. Before joining the staff, I volunteered for five years in varying capacities at the school, including as room parent and editor of the yearbook. When I ’m not working or doing family things, you can probably find me gardening, reading, or planning some kind of trip.”
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Lesley White

Financial and Technology Consultant

“I’ve been part of the Heartwood family for over three years. I own and operate the dog-walking service Peak City Puppy and volunteer as a foster for Carolina Adopt-A-Bulls. Outside of working and mom duties, I find balance through hot yoga, walking my dog and listening to books on Audible (sometimes even in the car-pool line!)”
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Toddler House

Misty Massey


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Kristal Wright


“I started at Heartwood in 1999, working in the 3-6 environment, and moved to the Toddler House in 2011. I am now Montessori certified as an infant/toddler teacher. I love coming to work everyday —I ’ve found my true passion, and I enjoy observing and just being a part of the toddler environment. They teach me the true meaning of life at times. I am married to my best friend / soulmate for life; we have a beautiful daughter (who went through Heartwood) and a grandson whom I adore. Canning is a big hobby of mine. I enjoy the outdoors, especially motorcycling with my husband, going to the beach, and kayaking. I love doing something that gives back.”
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Children ’s House

Liz Flynn

Lead Teacher, CH1

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Jody Trainor

Assistant Teacher, CH1

“I earned my Masters in Montessori Education and AMI 3-6 certification in 2007, and joined Heartwood in 2014, shortly after moving to North Carolina from Maryland. I love spending time with my family, reading, hiking, camping, and being in nature. I was drawn to Montessori because it is a compassionate and logical approach to education, allowing the teachers to see each child as an individual and celebrate their uniqueness. I love Montessori because it just makes sense!”
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Becki Peterson

Lead Teacher, CH2

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Lynda Dawson

Assistant Teacher, CH2

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Kathryn Wood

Lead Teacher, Extended Day

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Tanya Dillard

Lead Teacher, CH3
Assistant Teacher, Extended Day

“I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC. I have a wonderful husband of 23 years and 3 children. They have all been in Montessori, and that ’s what spurred my desire to be a teacher. Besides my Montessori certification, I have a BA from NC State University in business management.”
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Tracy Cubbison

Assistant Teacher, CH3

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Devika Kathresal

CH Floating Teacher

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Hannah York

Summer Camp Coordinator
CH Floating Assistant

“I started as an intern at Heartwood in 2014, when I was still in high school. After I graduated I began working summer camp and have worked every summer since. I have been attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro studying early childhood education and getting my birth though kindergarten teaching licensure. I graduate from UNC-G in May of 2019.”

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Elementary School

Ryan Shands

Lead Teacher, K-EL Transition Class

“Prior to my graduation from North Carolina Central University I began an internship at SAS Institute in Cary, NC which was offered as a Montessori program for the children of employees. Upon graduation I was offered a full time position with SAS where I received my American Montessori Society credentials in Early Childhood education. In addition to managing a classroom and adhering to all of the administrative reporting requirements, I maintain my professional development by participating in conferences and workshops.”

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Lindsey Williams

Assistant Teacher, K-EL Transition Class

“Aloha, all. My name is Lindsey Williams, a native of Cary, NC (Yes! We do exist!) 🙂 I have a Bachelors of Social Work from UNCW, and a Masters of Education from Northern Arizona University. I have spent the last four years being a stay a home mom to my son Kai, who will enter his second year at Heartwood. I have taught ESL in Arizona, and have been an assistant in Montessori grades 4-6 as well as Preschool. I’m a yogi, writer and artist and hope to publish my first children’s book, soon! I’m eager and excited to get back into the classroom, living with purpose, being of service, learning and growing with your children!”
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Bridget Dickerson

Lead Teacher, Lower Elementary 1

“I taught at Heartwood for 5.5 years before leaving in 2016 to teach in Kunming, China, and I ’m excited to be back in the classroom. I studied Speech Science Communication and Disorders at the University of Texas in Austin and worked in a Speech-Language Pathology Center in Austin, TX until my twins were born. I earned my American Montessori Society (AMS) certification in Lower Elementary Education while homeschooling my children; recently, I finished my AMS certification in Upper Elementary Education, as well. I love spending time with my family, running outdoors and being with people who make my heart sing.”

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Rebecca Bloom

Assistant Teacher, LE1

“I graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Middle Grades Education. After teaching 7th grade math for 3 years I decided that I wanted to return to my roots and join the Heartwood Montessori community. In August 2017 I got married in Blowing Rock, NC. Now, my husband and I live in Raleigh with our two sweet cats, Asher and Athena. My hobbies include reading, cross stitching, and being outside in my hammock.”
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Jay Batman

Lead Teacher, Lower Elementary 2

“I’ve been teaching for eight years and am certified in both Lower and Upper Elementary by the American Montessori Society. I have taught in both public and private Montessori schools. I have a BA in Psychology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. I spent years in the restaurant business, including owning an Italian restaurant in Chicago. I love to travel, and have lived in Ecuador and Germany. I enjoy reading and bicycle riding. And yes, that is my real last name.”

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Fernanda Waclawik Porter

Assistant Teacher, LE2

“I am from Brazil, and have been teaching for ten years, seven years as an English teacher in Brazil, and three years as a bilingual Portuguese teacher in Utah. I moved to North Carolina in May with my husband, and we recently adopted our little Westie, Friedrich (or just Fred). I was drawn to Heartwood because of the innovativeness of the Montessori Method and its impeccable results. In my free time I like to hang out with my family, and together we go to parks, museums and libraries.”

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Mary McKown

Lead Teacher, Upper Elementary

“I ’ve been an unshakable fan of Montessori education for over 40 years, as a mother, a teacher, and a school director. I have degrees from West Virginia University and UNC-Greensboro, and completed my Montessori certification through AMI in Washington, DC, and NCME in San Diego, CA.”
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Tammy Smith

Assistant Teacher, UE

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Middle and High School

Missy McClure

Lead Teacher,
Middle & High School

“I answered an ad in a newspaper when I was in my early 20s and thus began my Montessori career. I ’ve taught at the 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, middle and high school levels, and also work with two different training programs for Montessori teacher training. Montessori has become part of my very essence, and I ’m so excited to get to share it in so many ways with people of all ages.”
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Ray McClure

Lead Teacher,
Middle & High School

“I ’ve been teaching in a Montessori classroom for 16 years, 13 of them at Heartwood. I studied mathematical physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am currently a Montessori Teacher trainer at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education of North Carolina, the Center for Guided Montessori Studies, and am an instructor and curriculum developer for the Montessori Institute of Poland located in Warsaw, Poland. I am a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and am a voting member of the NC Council of Teachers of Mathematics.”
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Rebecca Porter

Middle & High School

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Foreign Language

Isabel Moncayo

Spanish, Toddlers –Elementary

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Emily Wade

Spanish, Middle & High School

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Cecile Kohlhofer

French, Middle & High School

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Beth Ponder

Physical Education

“I earned my BS in Psychology from the University of North Florida in 2008. I have two very active sons, Finn and Miles, who inspire my love of fitness. I’ve taught boxing, Crossfit, and several athletic boot camps. It is my hope that I can bring a fun, dynamic, and engaging Physical Education program to the students of Heartwood. I’ve loved Montessori education ever since my eldest son started at the age of 3, and I’m thrilled that both my boys have the opportunity to further their Montessori journey at Heartwood.”
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Vanessa Hanley


“I have taken an unusual route to get where I am today. I grew up in the UK, surrounded by creative and crafty relatives who had non-creative occupations. I have always been drawn to paper, pens & paint. I was as much nurtured by my Mum & Dad as the ever-changing art and craft supplies! I decided at 14 years old (little did I know) to leave behind Art, Ceramics, Graphics and focus solely on more academic subjects, graduating University with a B.Sc (Hons) in Psychology and English Literary Studies. I’ve had many disparate jobs but the one constant has been working alongside children…babies to teens! It was not until I turned 38 that I had my epiphany: I am an Artist! My first job in the States was leading an art program for Pine Tree Camps in Florida, where I met my American husband and left my fledgling psychology career behind. I have three children who have all benefited by their early exposure to Montessori instruction. When I toured Heartwood in 2014, I felt like I had found my home, my people! I volunteered in 2018 at Heartwood and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students and staff.”
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Snow Day January 19th

There will be no school tomorrow due to inclement weather.