Faculty and Staff

Office Staff

Sue Daniel - School Director

Sue Daniel School Director

Bio coming soon


Mary McKinney - Office Manager

Mary McKinney Office Manager

Mary McKinney met Sue Daniel (Director) in the 3rd grade while they were both living in Dayton, Ohio. They started Heartwood Montessori school in 1991, along with Thelma Williams. It was a small operation at first. As time passed, Heartwood grew. Mary is glad that Heartwood found it’s home here on Byrum street and feels that she works with fantastic people.

Mary has a daughter, Kelsey, who lives in Georgia and a husband, Zeke, who works at UPS. Two dogs and a cat round out the McKinney family.


Samantha Chase - Communications Director

Samantha Chase Communications Director

Samantha Chase earned her BA in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida. She spent 8 years teaching in inner city schools in St.Petersburg Florida before leaving the classroom to stay home with her daughter Amelia and her son Oliver. Samantha’s love for the Montessori method began during an internship at a Montessori school in Florida while she was in college. When she began looking for a preschool for her daughter many years later, she knew she wanted it to be a Montessori school. Her love for the curriculum and philosophy has only grown since then.


Toddler House

Misty Massey - Lead Teacher

Misty Massey Lead Teacher

Bio coming soon


Kristal Wright - Lead Teacher

Kristal Wright Lead Teacher

Kristal started at Heartwood in 1999 working in the 3-6 environment. In 2011, she moved to the Toddler House. She is a certified Montessori Infant and Toddler teacher. She loves coming to work every single day. She feels as though she has found her true passion in teaching. She enjoys observing her class and being a part of the toddler’s environment. She feels they teach her the true meaning of life.

Kristal is lucky enough to be married to her best friend and soul mate. They have a beautiful daughter (who attended Heartwood) and recently gave them a grandson whom they adore. Kristal enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and canning not to mention going for motorcycle rides with her husband. Most of all, Kristal loves to do things that give back to her community.


Children’s House

Liz Flynn - Lead Teacher

Liz Flynn Lead Teacher

Bio coming soon


Jody Trainor - Assistant Teacher

Jody Trainor Assistant Teacher

Jody earned her Masters degree in Montessori Education in 2007. In 2013 her family moved from Maryland to North Carolina and less than a year later she began working at Heartwood. Jody was originally drawn to Montessori because of it’s compassionate yet logical approach to education which allows teachers to see each of their students as individuals. Jody loves spending time with her daughter and husband doing anything outside including hiking and camping.


Becki Peterson - Lead Teacher

Becki Peterson Lead Teacher

Bio coming soon


Christi Kightlinger - Assistant Teacher

Christi Kightlinger Assistant Teacher

Christi is a certified Montessori Teacher She was trained at The Florida Institute of Montessori Services in 2001. She also has BS degrees one business finance with a minor in accounting and a Early Childhood Development degree. Her first experience with Montessori was as a child at Arden Montessori in Wilmington DE. Her first Montessori classroom as a teacher was in 2001 at Brevard Community College Montessori School in Melbourne, FL. Before that she was teaching in child development in Charlotte NC as early as 1997.


Kathryn Wood - Lead Teacher

Kathryn Wood Lead Teacher

Bio coming soon


Tanya Dillard - Lead Teacher

Tanya Dillard Lead Teacher

Tanya was born and raised in Raleigh, NC. She has a wonderful husband whose she’s been married to for 21 years. They have 3 children ages 17, 14 and 11. They have all been in Montessori and that is what spurred her desire to become a teacher. Tanya has a BA from NCSU in business management. Before receiving her certification she assisted in an infant-toddler and early childhood classroom for 4 years. After receiving her certification, she received a teacher assistant position at Heartwood. She has been at Heartwood for 3.5 years and enjoys her time there immensely.


Amy Stocki - Student Teacher

Amy Stocki Student Teacher

Amy Stocki is new to our Heartwood staff this year as she is in her first year of student teaching. She is currently working on her Montessori Teaching Certificate and spends the first half of each day assisting in Ms.Kathryn and Ms. Tanya’s class. Amy was previously an airline pilot who got drawn into the Montessori environment after learning about the psychology behind the teaching methods. She observed lessons that were being taught to her children, who attend Heartwood, and felt compelled to learn more.


Transitional Class (K/El)

Beth Ryan - Lead Teacher

Beth Ryan Lead Teacher

In 1998, Beth Ryan became a teaching assistant at the Montessori School of Raleigh. She quickly learned that the Montessori path was her calling and has now been teaching for 15 years. She trained at the Seacoast Center in NH and is an AMS certified Lower Elementary teacher. She loves the beach and taking walks with her three dogs. She has been married for 22 years and has a son who is in high school and a daughter who is currently studying to become a dentist.


Karen Carrubba - Assistant Teacher

Karen Carrubba Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon


Lower Elementary

Jeny Brill - Lead Teacher

Jeny Brill Lead Teacher

As a child growing up on Cape Cod, Jeny felt a deep connection with nature. After completing her undergraduate in studio art she worked for 10 years in art colleges before learning about Maria Montessori. It was life changing to learn of an approach to teaching that was grounded in respect and inquiry. Jeny felt that her love of nature and art were a perfect compliment to the lower elementary curriculum. “The lower elementary classroom is a magical place. In 21 years of teaching, no two days have been the same. I continue to learn and grow both as a teacher and a person through my willingness to always learn from the child.” Jeny continues to make art when she can. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, five children and red lab Gracie.


Karen Meier- Assistant Teacher

Karen Meier Assistant Teacher

Karen has been with Heartwood for four years and works with Jeny Brill in the Lower Elementary 2 class. She spent 25 years in corporate marketing in Michigan before moving to North Carolina in 2012. Karen has two sons. Her youngest Kevin is 15 and is a Sophomore at Heartwood. Her oldest, Andrew is 19.


Ruthie Haugh- Lead Teacher

Ruthie Haugh Lead Teacher

Ruthie was born and raised in Charlotte, N.C. She attended NCSU for college and majored in Chemical Engineering. She worked as a process engineer for 5 years and realized her true passion was teaching children. She finished her Lower Elementary training in 1999-2000. She started her family in 2000 with the birth of her daughter. Ruthie, and her husband Jason, have 3 children who all started out at Heartwood.

In Ruthie’s free time, she likes to spend it with her large extended family, her husband and kids. She is an avid runner and enjoys running races and marathons, especially on trails. This is Ruthie’s 8th year teaching at Heartwood.


Ranny Mast - Assistant Teacher

Ranny Mast Assistant Teacher

Ranny has been teaching in a Montessori environment for 16 years. She fell in love with the philosophy in the 90’s and made the decision to pursue her Montessori Certification. Ranny was born and raised in Richmond, VA and spent two years abroad tutoring in Germany. She is the mother of two wonderful boys. Ranny works in on of our Lower Elementary classrooms with Ruthie Haugh.


Upper Elementary (UE)

Mary McKown - Lead Teacher

Mary McKown Lead Teacher

Mary has been an unshakable fan of Montessori education for over 40 years. As a mother, a teacher and as a school director and currently serves as an upper elementary teacher. She has degrees from West Virginia University and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and completed Montessori certification through AMI (Put in what this stands for), Washington, DC and NCME, San Diego, CA.


Tammy Smith - Assistant Teacher

Tammy Smith Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon


Middle and High School

Missy McClure - Lead Teacher

Missy McClure Lead Teacher

Missy McClure, M.Ed., answered an ad in a newspaper when she was in her early 20’s and thus began her Montessori career. She has taught at the 3-6, 6-9, middle and high school levels. She works with two different teacher training programs for Montessori teacher training as well. Montessori has become a part of her very essence and she is so excited to get to share it in so many ways with people of all ages.


Ray McClure - Lead Teacher

Ray McClure Lead Teacher

Ray has been teaching in a Montessori Classroom for 15 years, 11 of them at Heartwood. He studied mathematical physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also currently a Montessori Teacher trainer at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education of North Carolina, the Center for Guided Montessori Studies and is an instructor and curriculum developer for the Association for the Advancement of Science and is a voting member of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics


Specialists and Support Staff

Courtney Taylor - Art Teacher

Courtney Taylor Art Teacher

Courtney started her education as a Montessori School student, and feels that it has shaped her as a creative thinker. Later she got her degree in Fine Art Education at the University of North Texas, with a minor in child psychology. She knew as soon as she became a teacher, she wanted to follow her roots back to a Montessori School, and that’s when she found Heartwood. Heartwood has been her teaching home for going on four years now, and she shares Heartwood’s nurturing teaching methods that value peace and community.


Isabel Moncayo - Spanish Teacher

Isabel Moncayo Spanish Teacher

Bio coming soon


Eric Rhinehalt - P.E. Teacher

Eric Rhinehalt P.E. Teacher

Bio coming soon


Hannah Stiles - Floating and After Care Teacher

Hannah Stiles Floating and After Care Teacher

Bio coming soon


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Call 919-461-8386 (our fax line) until Thursday morning.