Faculty and Staff
Catherine Oudjit, Head of School
Catherine was born and raised in France, where she earned a J.D. in International Business Law. In 1995, she started her Montessori career at the Montessori School of Raleigh (MSR) where, having earned her AMS Infant/Toddler Certification from CMTE/NY, she directed a Toddler section for almost 10 years. In 2005, Catherine started teaching at the Lower Elementary level at MSR, then continued in 2010 at the same level at Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School in Morrisville, NC. She earned her AMI Montessori credential for 6 to 12 year olds and her Master of Education in Montessori Elementary Education from the Washington Montessori Institute and Loyola University in Maryland. Beginning in 2013, Catherine worked as the Director of Programs and Curriculum for the Primary Level at Sterling Montessori, then took on additional responsibilities to support the leadership transition there through 2016.
In 2017, Catherine joined Willow Oak as the Upper Elementary Team Leader. Her role later evolved to center on Montessori coaching, curriculum, and operations, including testing and assessment oversight. Catherine and her husband, Zack, have two sons and a daughter who were privileged to receive a Montessori education from the toddler through the middle school years. During her down time, Catherine enjoys reading, cross-stitching, quilting, and playing pickleball.
Erica Halter, Assistant Head of School
Erica grew up hiking, skiing, and exploring the mountains near Fort Collins, CO. She decided to move across the country to attend college at Clemson University. While at Clemson, she studied Elementary Education with a Math and Science Emphasis. During this time, her parents decided to follow her to the East Coast and moved to Chapel Hill. This led to her spending summers in Chapel Hill working as a nanny for children who attend a Montessori school and as a summer camp counselor/director at a Montessori School in Durham. There she was introduced to the Montessori philosophy and was impressed by the students' curiosity, compassion, and independence. While working in the Yellow/Sycamore class, Erica was able to earn her certification in Elementary I and II. She loves the close-knit community at WOM, enjoys coaching the school's Ultimate Frisbee team (Go Dragonflyers!), and is excited to join the leadership team. In her free time, she loves to be active, cook, travel, and play board games.
Susan Johnstone, Montessori Coach
Susan has been a Montessori teacher since 1987 and an administrator since 2003 and has served as a coach, mentor, and consultant for Montessori teachers and administrators. In addition, she served as the Director of Education for a small progressive middle and high school in Raleigh that she co-founded. Susan earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from North Carolina State University and a Master of Arts in Community Education from Goddard College. She is married to a fellow Montessori teacher, Don Henchel, who taught for 42 years and is mentoring teachers in his retirement. Susan served on the founding board of Willow Oak Montessori Charter School and was a founding teacher in 2013. Her three boys attended Montessori schools up to the 6th grade. Susan finds joy in the arts and being with her grandchildren.
Allyssa McNeal, EC Coordinator
Kelli Bee, Adolescent Program Director
Emily Vance, Children's House Director
Hailing from Asheville, NC, Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a concentration in Diversity Studies and a minor in Psychology from Appalachian State University. She is also Lower Elementary certified by the American Montessori Society. Emily obtained her Montessori-focused Masters of Education from St. Catherine University in May 2019. Emily feels honored to have been a member of the inaugural teaching team at Willow Oak Montessori in 2013 and to have joined the leadership team at Willow Oak Montessori as the Director of the Children's House in 2020. Emily enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, baking, and reading.
Sheldon Bae, Montessori Intervention Coordinator
Sheldon graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She obtained her American Montessori Society Early Childhood credential in 2012 and is proud to be a founding staff member at Willow Oak Montessori. In 2022, she joined the Diverse Learning Community Support Team as the Montessori Intervention Coordinator. Sheldon has lived in Chatham County for 20 years with her husband, Andrew, and two sons, Mason and Brooks. She enjoys giving back to the community by being a peaceful influence to the hearts and minds of children.
Children's House Community (3 year olds - Kindergarten)
Jody Berry, Children's House Lead Teacher
Jody grew up on the North Carolina coast and first fell in love with the Montessori philosophy while volunteering in her daughter’s Montessori Children’s House classroom in Wilmington, NC. She received her AMS Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Center for Montessori Training and Education of North Carolina and has been teaching Montessori in the Triangle area since 2014. Jody received her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Education from William Peace University in the fall of 2021. Jody lives in Chapel Hill with her husband Jeff, daughter, Lucy, and son, Levi. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, gardening and hiking with family and friends.
Leslie Butterfield, Children's House Lead Teacher
Dianne Sowers, Children's House Lead Teacher
Dianne has lived in Cary for most of her life. She received her BA in Psychology from Meredith College and her AMI teaching credential for 3-6 year olds from the Washington Montessori Institute. She taught at SAS Montessori for over 33 years and has been at Willow Oak since 2021. Dianne enjoys spending time with her husband, walking her dog, exercising, and going to the beach. Dianne has two grown sons, who both live at the beach.
Benni Blount, Children's House Teacher Assistant
Benni is originally from Washington, DC, and moved to the Triangle area shortly after college. She holds a BA from Salem College in Winston-Salem. Benni has worked in public schools for 9 years. She wanted to find a more hands-on educational approach for her own child, which landed her in Montessori. Benni taught at Montessori schools for five years before joining the WOM staff in 2022. She has worked in the Toddler, Primary, and Lower Elementary programs. She is very excited to be starting a new adventure at WOM!
Kersten Fitzgerald, Children's House Teacher Assistant
Kersten grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York. She came to NC to attend Duke University. She graduated from Duke with an AB in History and a K-6 teaching certificate. After graduation, Kersten joined the SAS Institute Montessori School. While at SAS, she received her early childhood AMS credential from the New England Montessori Teacher Education Center. She was at SAS for 29 years and joined WOM in 2022. Kersten enjoys spending time gardening, beekeeping, cooking, hiking and reading. Kersten and her husband, Frank, raised two sons and love being a part of the Chatham County community.
Rebekah Rhodes, Children's House Teacher Assistant & PE Assistant
Rebekah was born in southern Georgia, grew up in Wake Forest, NC, and spent some of her teenage years in Brazil. She currently lives in Sanford, NC, with her husband and two children, Cassidy and Brandon. She first learned of Montessori education when a child for whom she nannied began attending Montessori Children’s House in Wake Forest and knew that it was the kind of education she wanted for her future children. She joined the Willow Oak community when her daughter began attending in 2021. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, reading, crafting, cooking, going to the beach, and seeking out live music.
Danyel Payne, Children's House Extended Day Assistant
Amelia Gilligan, Children's House Afterschool Assistant
Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
Alicia Hedrington, Lower Elementary Lead Teacher
Alicia was born and raised in Durham, NC. She earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After graduating, Alicia taught 2nd and 3rd grade in Cabarrus county for 4 years. Then she moved to Kuwait to teach 3rd grade girls an American curriculum. With the 2020 pandemic settling, she transitioned back into the States in 2021, where she taught 1st grade for an online education company. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology from Western College University.
Jennifer Hughes, Lower Elementary Lead Teacher
Jennifer is a Chapel Hill native and grew up in northern Orange County. In 2005, Jennifer relocated to Chatham County. As luck would have it, Jennifer became part of the Bynum Community in 2006, just weeks before welcoming her summer solstice daughter. After years of being a craftsperson, Jennifer returned to school and received her BA in Elementary Teaching from UNC-CH in 2012. Like many before her, Jennifer discovered the beauty of the Montessori philosophy when her daughter began her Montessori journey during Willow Oak Montessori’s inaugural year (2013) and in 2017 completed her Lower Elementary training. Jennifer enjoys being with family and friends, dancing, creating, camping, problem solving, and napping. As a member of a local folk dance team, Jennifer is fortunate to travel internationally and represent the USA at dance and music festivals. Jennifer feels very grateful to be a part of the Willow Oak Community.
Rachel Levesque, Lower Elementary Lead Teacher
Rachel graduated from Barry University in Miami Shores with a BS in Pre-K Primary Education. She then returned to Barry University after receiving her BS in Education to complete the Montessori Teacher Education Program receiving her AMS elementary teaching credential for 6-12-year-olds. In addition to her Montessori training, she had the opportunity to participate in additional literacy training to help struggling students become confident readers and writers. She taught at a diverse Montessori magnet school program in Ft. Lauderdale before moving to Apex. Rachel enjoys traveling with her husband Dale and two children Justin and Demi. She also enjoys camping in the mountains, reading, knitting, cooking, and entertaining for friends. She is happy to be part of the WOM learning community.
Nguyen Tran, Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Nguyen moved to the United States from Vietnam in 2016 to attend Lesley University in Massachusetts. In 2018, she graduated with an M.Ed in Elementary Education focused on Creative Art. Her pre-teacher job was coordinating a summer learning abroad camp for NCAA student-athletes to travel to Vietnam. Nguyen found Montessori after having experience in many alternative educational approaches like Reggio Emilia and Waldorf. She was impressed with how Montessori prepared the children to embark on their path to living a fulfilled life by kindling their love of learning, training them to take responsibility for their learning, and caring for their community and environment. Nguyen enjoys hiking, learning about nature, and reading books with children. She runs a book club for Vietnamese children every weekend.
April Cibulski, Lower Elementary Teacher Assistant
April joined Willow Oak Montessori Charter in March 2016, as a substitute teacher and volunteer for The WOM Children's House as well as Chatham County Schools. April is originally from Long Island, N.Y. After graduating High School, she moved to Hawaii working in retail, while attending Leeward Community College. Four years later, April moved to California. With a rapid growing family of 4 children, she decided to take a break from Business Management and Founder of Baby Loves Earth, to focus more on her two newly adopted children. April and her family moved to North Carolina in 2012. April saw and learned the benefits of a Montessori education after her youngest attended Willow Oak Children's House. While away from work, April enjoys family camping trips to the mountains of NC, hiking, firing up a good meal, and singing songs at the campfire. Heading to the coast is also a favorite, as April is a former surfer and diver. Yoga and Pilates are part of her daily routine. April plans on pursuing her degree in education and her Montessori certification. She is looking forward to a long-term future with Willow Oak Montessori.
Madeline Dills, Lower Elementary Teacher Assistant
Madeline was born and raised in Berkeley, CA, and earned her B.S. in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Davis. After working as a biological consultant for two years in Sacramento, CA, Madeline found herself drawn to working with children. With the hope of integrating her passion for education and childcare with her love of nature and ecology, Madeline moved back to the Bay Area and worked as a Lower Elementary assistant teacher at a Montessori school, where she started a gardening class for lower elementary children. Madeline loves music, reading, and being outside, and enjoys sharing these interests with her students. She is interested in learning more about social emotional development and positive discipline in the context of Montessori education, and looks forward to growing within the elementary community at Willow Oak Montessori.
Terri Stanfield, Lower Elementary Teacher Assistant
Terri came to Willow Oak in 2022 after spending 20 years with NC Public Schools. Terri is excited to return to her roots working with Lower Elementary students. Some of her favorite pastimes are spending time with family, reading fiction novels, baking, and jamming out to great music!
Tabatha Steed, Lower Elementary Teacher Assistant
Bio coming soon!
Hongyuan Wen, EC/LE Team Assistant & Wellbeing Support
“Ni Hao.” Ms. Wen was born and grew up in China. She received a master’s degree in Moral Education from Chang’an University, Xi’an. During this time, she received her National Psychologist certificate and served as a volunteer teacher that offered psychological counseling to a homeless children shelter. Wen found her love of working with students while working with teens and middle schoolers and teaching reading at her own Family Reading Center for children ages 1-12. In 2016, Wen and her family moved to the United States. She worked for five years as a Mandarin Chinese teacher at the International Montessori School and as a toddler teacher in the Montessori School of Durham Toddler program. She received her Montessori Infant-Toddler Teaching certificate in 2019 and loves to practice the Montessori Method in her classroom and at home.
Wen has earned her Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher certificate and Sound Healing certificate and enjoys teaching mindfulness with the intention of spreading peace and unity to children and family. She likes to meditate, teach Chinese, read, do watercolor paintings, and take care of family plants and pets. She has lived in Pittsboro since 2022 with her husband, Jamie, and their three girls.
Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6)
Connor Donovan, Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Connor graduated from Virginia Tech in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies and went on to receive his Master of Arts in Teaching with an Elementary specialization from UNC-Wilmington in 2018. He’s been active in his community, working with the Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington, helping tutor elementary students through the UNCW Learning Lab, and as a Family Resource Literacy Specialist at AmeriCorps. He has over three years of experience working with children and in classrooms. Connor’s goal is to help students flourish, and create an environment that encourages community, communication, and lifelong learning. He is currently pursuing his Montessori Licensure in Upper Elementary I-II.
Leslie Kasell, Upper Elementary Lead Teacher
Leslie grew up the youngest of four sisters in Springfield, VA. Upon graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Anthropology, Leslie taught English for a year in China, returning to the United States to study at the Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. She received her elementary Montessori teaching certification in 2009. Leslie completed her internship year working at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia and then became a volunteer docent in the Forensic Anthropology Lab at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Leslie earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree through Trinity Washington University in 2011. She was a Lower Elementary teacher at the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, DC, for three years before moving to North Carolina to join the founding staff of Willow Oak Montessori in 2013. She is committed to providing a high-quality Montessori education to all children in her care that promotes independence, connection to community, and joy in work and learning. She lives in Pittsboro with her partner and two young children.
Rachel Baranski, Upper Elementary Teacher Assistant
Rachel comes to Willow Oak after nearly seventeen years in Cary designing and implementing performing arts-based curriculum for Applause! Youth Theatre, Town of Cary Police, and various nonprofits, schools, and youth-serving organizations. In Wake County she worked closely with SAFEchild’s Growing Resilience Movement developing trauma-informed care training for Town of Cary, YMCA, and SAFEchild. Rachel’s passion for inclusive, student-centered learning with an emphasis on building relationships, self-awareness, and personal resilience fits perfectly with the Willow Oak mission. She lives in Pittsboro with her husband and son.
Megan Brown, Upper Elementary Teacher Assistant
Nathalie Fish, Upper Elementary Teacher Assistant
Adolescent Community (Grades 7-8)
Emily Barrick, Humanities Teacher
After graduating from Brevard College with a B.A. in Integrated Studies: Elementary Education and completing the requirements to receive her K-6 teaching license, Emily realized that she was not comfortable with the traditional approach to teaching. She spent the next few years working as a camp and after school counselor and outdoor educator at Chestnut Ridge Camp and Retreat Center. She also worked during that time as a sales associate and nanny/babysitter. This time at different jobs taught her a great deal and helped her realize how much she truly loved teaching. However, she knew that she did not want to return to a traditional setting. At that time, through a Willow Oak family, she learned of Montessori. During the 2014-2015 school year, she completed her American Montessori Society Lower Elementary certification and spent time in the school's upper elementary classroom. The time she spent there helped her make the decision to pursue her Upper Elementary certification, which she completed during the 2015-16 school year. She has taught in the Blue/Magnolia Classroom since that time and continues to love teaching and the excitement of learning new things each year.
Eric Punkay, Science Teacher
Eric was born and raised in Chicago, spending a few weeks every summer camping, learning about nature, and developing a great appreciation and respect for all life on Earth. He studied biology at Colorado College and later earned his Ph.D. in conservation biology and ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, conducting research in Venezuela and California. After working for a marine conservation NGO in Washington, D.C. and later sustainability, Eric decided it was time to pursue a teaching career and earned his teaching license in Colorado, where he taught high school science in Denver Public Schools. During this time, his daughters attended public Montessori schools in Denver, including the first public junior/senior Montessori high school in the city. Being part of the Montessori community as a parent, Eric saw the logic and wisdom of Montessorian education, especially in contrast to the traditional system he was working in. Eric recently relocated to Chapel Hill with his family and is excited to have the opportunity to join the Willow Oak community and help to grow the adolescent program and share his love of learning and assorted skills with the students. In his free time, Eric spends time in nature with his family and practices the art of self sufficiency which includes making soap, vegetable gardening and now, raising bees and chickens as well as practicing martial arts.
Pam Fleischauer, Music Teacher (K-3rd), Art Teacher (K) & Children's House Assistant
Bill McCormick, Music Teacher (4th-8th Grades)
Bill’s adult life has been split fairly evenly between teaching and making music. He has worked as a regular classroom teacher and music teacher in numerous capacities as well as having taught English as a Foreign Language in the Czech Republic. He is a jack of all trades musician and has recorded and performed extensively for over a decade. Additionally, he has taught music and songwriting at a plethora of camps and afterschool programs, coached young rock bands, and given private guitar lessons. When not in the classroom or behind an instrument, Bill is a passionate lover of books, writing, and all things literature.
Tricia Staten, Art Teacher (1st-8th Grades)
Tricia is an educator, artist, counselor and mediator. Her schooling and career began in Art Education, followed by over two decades as a minister in a racially and economically diverse congregation, and a few years as conflict consultant working alongside her husband. Five years ago, she began teaching in a Montessori community in Chicago, assisting in a 6-9 classroom. Tricia’s last year before moving to North Carolina was coordinating a program for learning support, furthering the cohesion of parents, classroom teachers, resource teachers, speech pathologists and other specialists. Three of her five grandchildren are being educated in the Montessori community.
Carolina Stealey, Spanish Teacher
Diverse Learning Community
Olivia Farmer, SEL Coordinator
Olivia graduated from Appalachian State University in the fall of 2017 with a Bachelor's of Social Work degree and a Minor in Psychology. She has over three years of experience with trauma-informed care and Social Emotional Learning as an Afterschool Site Leader and Co-Lead Programmer at Western Youth Network. Olivia graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Master's of Social Work Program in May 2023 and received her Associate Clinical license in October of 2023. This is Olivia's first year at a Montessori School, and she is looking forward to working with the staff and families of Willow Oak! In her free time, she likes rock climbing, making collages, and spending time with her dog, Millie.
Beth Hoffman, EC Teacher
Beth has a Bachelor's of Science in Biology, with a concentration in Zoology, and began her career in Environmental Education over twenty years ago. After moving to North Carolina from New York, Beth had two children of her own and worked designing and teaching afterschool and summer camp programs. She earned her Graduate Certificate in Special Education from UNC Charlotte and is starting her eighth year working in Exceptional Education. Beth enjoys gardening, making artwork, and reading excellent books.
Jennifer Kidd, Reading Specialist
Jennifer began her career in education in 1992 and has been teaching exceptional children and struggling readers and writers for over 27 years. She is a graduate of the University of West Georgia with a B.A. in Psychology and holds a Master Of Education with a specialty in Multisensory Reading Remediation Curriculums, Exceptional Education and Behavior Therapy from Georgia College and State University. She worked as an Educational Behavior Therapist and teacher at Rutland Academy in Athens, GA, where she empowered at-risk adolescent readers and writers to be academically and socially successful through collaboration with student support teams, parents, and community organizations. After moving with her family to Raleigh in 2003, she was a teacher and later a Director of Education for the Paladin Program for students with mild learning differences and dyslexia in grades K-5. Here she taught students, and assisted and trained teachers to help students with Orton Gillingham based multisensory instructional techniques. As an administrator and a teacher, Jennifer assisted elementary students to overcome language challenges, attention deficits, dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory integration, motor skills, and processing disorders. In addition, she gained many hours of experience with early literacy, and was extensively trained in the Orton Gillingham methodologies for teaching reading.
Corinne Matthes, EC Teacher
Corinne came to Willow Oak with 18 years of Montessori teaching experience. Her career began after graduating from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY with a degree in music education in 2001. She very quickly realized becoming a Montessori teacher was her calling and completed her 6-9 AMS training at The Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies in Silver Spring, MD. After several more years of teaching, she realized she wanted more tools to help children who needed additional learning support and completed her Master’s degree in Special Education from North Carolina State University in 2018. She has taught music, Lower Elementary, and created and implemented systems for supporting students who learn differently in both private and public charter Montessori schools in New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Texas, and New Mexico. She is passionate about supporting a variety of learning styles in the Montessori setting. Corinne enjoys traveling, yoga, reading, camping, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband, son, and dog.
Rebecca Rommen, EC Teacher
Rebecca was born in Germany, living in four different U.S. states since her return at age 10. She received a Bachelor of Music Education and Flute Performance at Columbia College, SC. Her education grew to include certification in Visual Impairment and Exceptional Children - Adapted Curriculum. With 23 years of experience, she has worked with k-21 year olds at the NC Governor Morehead School for the Blind, k-8 public school children, and private tutoring. Rebecca enjoys swimmin, and hiking with her Boxer and Goldendoodle, art projects, and making music in her free time. She shares her teaching skills throughout the community, performing and teaching music, and helping all children grow to love learning and discovering the wonderful world they live in.
Josie Rule, Math Specialist & Math 1 Teacher
Josie was raised in a one-room schoolhouse nestled in the mountains of Vermont. You might say her path to education started early! After earning her degree in Middle Level Education (with concentrations in math and the fine arts) from the University of Vermont, Josie decided she needed a change of scenery and moved to New York City. In her 10 years in the Big Apple, Josie taught middle school math at the Salk School of Science, earned her Master’s degree in Leadership in Mathematics Education at Bank Street College of Education, and started a family with her husband, Brian. Soon after the birth of their first child, Emeline, they decided it was time to set down some roots closer to family. Josie spent her first five years in NC as a stay-at-home-mom with Eme and, eventually, her son, Rivers. As a WOM Children’s House parent, Josie has enjoyed watching her children thrive in the Montessori setting and is thrilled to have the opportunity to apply her training and experience to the WOM Charter community!
Michele Rutherford, Speech-Language Pathologist
Taryn White, Occupational Therapist
Originally from Clinton, NC, Taryn earned her bachelor's degree in Recreational Therapy from East Carolina University in 2016. She then completed a gap year, where she worked at a day program through the Autism Society of North Carolina in Greensboro, NC. Taryn went on to earn a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Radford University in 2019. Taryn has worked, volunteered, and served in a variety of settings, affording her the opportunity to learn from children and families from many walks of life. She is excited about joining the WOM team and continuing to develop as a professional while sharing her knowledge with others. In her spare time, Taryn enjoys doing DIY projects, spending time at the beach with family, and powerlifting.
Jon Groves, Business Manager
Jon was born and raised in Findlay, OH, and earned an Associate degree in Finance at Owens Community College, Toledo, OH, and a BA degree in Finance at The University of Findlay, Ohio. As a teen, Jon earned the rank of Eagle in the BSA. Jon spent his career working in distribution, logistics, transportation and plant management. Jon has held positions such as Purchasing Agent, Materials Manager, Operations Manager, Director of Logistics, Plant Manager, and General Manager. In Jon’s free time he volunteers for youth groups ages 11-19 years of age and has been the Treasurer of his community HOA since 2013. Jon is married to Tonia and has two children, Matthew and Corrine, and has lived in Holly Springs, NC for 10 years. Jon loves to cook outdoors, plan events, and be an example for youth to trust and be a good role model to follow. Jon enjoys using his business acumen, financial perspective, and passion for success to help Willow Oak Montessori Charter School and Children’s House move into the next phase of their growth.
Noemi Plata, Office Administrator: Compliance and HR
Born in Mexico, Noemi moved to the United States at a young age. After graduating from college with a degree in business, she started to work for hospitals to help translate documents. Noemi began working for the Chatham County school system in 2005, where she has touched the lives of many Hispanic and exceptional children. After transferring to SAGE Academy, Noemi began to assist every teacher in the school and won the Best Instructional Assistant Award for four consecutive years. She continues to have an impact on students who have graduated in the past. When she isn’t helping students, Noemi is an active member of her community. She is currently president of her neighborhood’s Homeowners Association, and she was previously a board member for Habitat for Humanity for four years. For fun, Noemi loves to refurbish old furniture and has made beautiful pieces of decorative furniture. She is also a photographer and loves to spend time photographing her three children and her two dogs. Noemi is super excited about the opportunity to help the community of Willow Oak Montessori!
Susannah Hunter, Office Administrator: Logistics and Communications
Susannah was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC, and now makes her home in Chatham County right down the road from Willow Oak. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics from UNC-Chapel Hill and lived and worked in the DC area for 10 years before returning to the Triangle in 2010. She has done a variety of paid and unpaid jobs involving writing, editing, website management, social justice, and racial equity -- and a little bit of nannying, too! Susannah has been part of the Willow Oak community since 2014, when her children began attending the Charter school. She has served in various capacities at the school and was a member of the WOM Board of Directors and Equity Team until 2020. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking & eating good food, doing crossword puzzles, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband, Luke, and two teenagers, Amelia and Isaac. Susannah is thrilled to be back at Willow Oak serving in this capacity!
Pat Garza, Office Assistant & School Nurse Consultant
Bio coming soon!
Joshua Steed, Facilities Maintenance Technician
Joshua was born at a very young age in eastern North Carolina. Despite these obviously uncalled-for disadvantages he managed to thrive. At 16, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts and Explorer Scouts. Due to a scandalous senior prank he graduated from high school in the top 10% of his graduating class. He now had leveled up and had the know-how to either go to college or live as a hermit in the woods. His first year of college at North Carolina State University was punctuated by being accepted into the Alexander Hamilton Scholars Program. Induction into the program included a no-expense-paid highly unsupervised study program in Guatemala. There he was able to polish and broaden the Spanish he learned on his grandparents' farm and study the country's socioeconomic and environmental policies and volunteer at a daycare center while the country was under martial law. It was at NCSU that Joshua met his future soulmate. As the Fates would have it, he married his current wife, Tabatha, instead. Together they have three lively kids who all either currently attend or have left their mark on Willow Oak. The school now has a new building so hopefully there's no lasting evidence of his eldest's graffiti. Joshua has filled his time between having kids by finishing his associate's degree at Central Carolina Community College, working, and volunteering with the various sports, music, and other endeavors their children fancy upon. Joshua has also earned a living as a maintenance technician or manager for four Chatham County communities and as a freelance handy person. Now Joshua is excited to bring together his joys of enriching the lives of children and their environments to Willow Oak.