Our Faculty and Staff

Classroom Teachers


Monica Dodson – Teacher

Ms. Dodson has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from UNC Pembroke and a Master of Education in Special Education from NCCU. She is certified in Elementary Education and Special Education, and completed an Academically and Intellectually Gifted Certification Program for K-12 at Duke University. Before coming to Excelsior, Ms. Dodson taught for 18 years in Special Education and General Education, most recently at the Kindergarten level. She was named Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015 at her former school. This is her third year at Excelsior. Ms. Dodson has three daughters, the youngest of whom attends Excelsior.

Karyn Hodge – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Hodge has a BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in administrative support, as an assistant at a law firm, and as a talent management associate. For the past three years, she has been an Instructional Assistant with Durham Public Schools. She wants to be part of a team that focuses on giving students the motivational tools they need to succeed and helping them develop a passion for learning.

Lori Holder – Teacher

Ms. Holder graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Science in Early Care and Education. She is licensed in Birth-K. Before coming to Excelsior, she had nine years’ experience in pre-K. She is excited about Core Knowledge and about being a part of the start of a great school in Durham. This is her third year as a Kindergarten teacher at Excelsior. She has two daughters attending Excelsior, one in first grade and one in fourth grade.

Kelly Stewart – Teacher

Mrs. Stewart has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Southern Mississippi and a Masters in Applied Behavioral Studies from Oklahoma State University. Ms. Stewart’s Professional Educator Certification is (K-12) Cross Categorical. Before coming to Excelsior, Mrs. Stewart taught for 10 years in Special Education and in General Education classrooms, most recently leading a mild moderate classroom. 5 years in Tulsa public schools and 5 at Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. She is TEACCH certified, and was selected for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. This is her first year as a Kindergarten teacher at Excelsior. Last year she volunteered and assisted in guided reading in her son’s kindergarten class at Excelsior. He will begin his second year this school year at Excelsior in 1st grade.

Mica Savelle – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Savelle has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She has worked as an Assistant/Teacher at The Learning Experience and has been a science instructor at Club Scientific. She has also taught Sunday School. Ms. Savelle has experience in office administration and management and has worked as a free-lance writer..

Karynda Williams – Teacher

Ms. Williams has a Bachelor of Science degree in K-12 Physical Education from North Carolina Central University. She obtained licensure in NC K-12 Physical Education. Ms. Williams has been a Youth Counselor in a Community Center, a Pre-school Teacher, a Gymnastics Coach and Program Director, and a Teacher Assistant. As an athlete, Ms. Williams understands fidgety children and kinesthetic learning. For the past two years, she has been the Assistant Teacher in Ms. Dodson’s Kindergarten room. Ms. Williams is excited about having her own classroom this year.

Kelly Adams – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Adams has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Multidisciplinary Concentration and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from Appalachian State. She has a Master of Arts in School Counseling from North Carolina Central University. She has worked as a Clinical Care Manager, a School Counselor, and a Preschool Teacher Assistant. She substituted at Excelsior as an Assistant Teacher in Kindergarten in our first year, and this will be her second year as a full-time Assistant Teacher.

First Grade

Rhonda Currier – Teacher

Ms. Currier has a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has been a Lead Teacher for eleven years at Long Memorial Preschool, and spent two years prior to that as an Assistant Teacher. Ms. Currier’s goal is to encourage her students and mold them into lifelong learners by making academics enjoyable.

Sue Gaines – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Gaines is returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom to two girls. She has volunteered at her daughters’ schools and at Excelsior. She worked for Nortel Networks for 17 years and also runs her own successful art business.  Ms. Gaines has a strong belief in the growth mindset and looks forward to encouraging her students, making them feel that they belong, and helping them connect with what is being taught.

Kasey Gaines – Teacher

Ms. Gaines has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Reading Education, both from Appalachian State University. She is licensed in Elementary Education (K-6) and Reading Education (K-12). Before coming to Excelsior, she had two years of elementary teaching experience and had also taught gymnastics. She is excited to work with the Excelsior staff teaching the classical curriculum and feels very positive about the modified year-round calendar. This is her third year at Excelsior, and her second year teaching first grade here.

Terry Batson – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Batson attended Southside Virginia Community College. She has worked in banking for a number of years, where she was in a fast-paced, deadline-driven, goal-oriented, customer-focused environment. She worked as an Assistant Teacher with Ms. Cansler in first grade our first two years, and this year works with Ms. Gaines.

Tamu Tafari – Teacher

Ms. Tafari has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Central University. She has over five years’ experience in the Health Industry and in managing customer accounts. She has worked as a substitute in various areas at Excelsior, including in Ms. Warr’s first grade class, and last year joined Ms. Warr as an Assistant Teacher. She is excited to have her own classroom this year.

An Nguyen – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Nguyen has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Education, Early Childhood in General Education and ESL from the University of North Texas. She was a student teacher in first and fifth grades at Centerville Elementary. Ms. Nguyen is fluent in English and Vietnamese. She is thrilled to be a part of Excelsior.

Maria Helgeson Warr – Teacher

Mrs. Warr has a B.A. in English Communications with a minor in Women’s Studies from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in Special Education concentrating on Behavior and Emotional Disabilities from North Carolina Central University. She taught in both Durham and Chapel Hill as a special education teacher for the past three years. She has a special interest in creating classroom communities and the works of Nicholas Hobbs. Mrs. Warr is excited to integrate her experiences with those practices in her classroom at ECA. She is very excited about the Core Knowledge Curriculum and the opportunities it presents for learners of varying backgrounds. This is Mrs. Warr’s third year teaching first grade at Excelsior.

Kimberly Riggs – Assistant Teacher

Ms. Riggs has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science with a minor in Food Science and Agricultural Leadership from North Carolina State University. She has been a Teachers’s Assistant at a private school and has both volunteered at Excelsior and substituted.  She has two children in first grade at Excelsior.

Second Grade

Sarah Browning – Teacher

Ms. Browning has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and is a Certified Health Care Provider (CPR and AED Program). She also has her NC Early Childhood Credentials in Early Education. Ms. Browning has worked primarily with younger children, but loves teaching second grade. She is enthusiastic about Excelsior’s curriculum and looks forward to her third year as part of the Excelsior community. Ms. Browning has a daughter in fourth grade at Excelsior.

Whitney Blalock – Teacher

Ms. Blalock was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and the recipient of the Barbara Daye Scholarship. She was the ASU Teaching Fellows Executive Council President. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Elementary Education, with a concentration in Mathematics. She did her student teaching in third grade and interned in a variety of grades. Ms. Blalock is licensed in Elementary Education (K-6). She has two years’ experience teaching third and fourth grade. This will be her second year teaching second grade at Excelsior.

Jafar Cooper – Teacher

Mr. Cooper holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Concentration in Literature from North Carolina Central University. He is certified in Early Childhood Education. He has worked at Jumping Jacks Academy for two years as a Lead Teacher and at W.G. Pearson Magnet Elementary for a year as an Instructional Assistant. He worked as Lead Counselor at the YMCA for After School and Summer Camp for 7 years, including during his schooling. His volunteer experience includes Executive Officer at D.L .Forbes Youth Foundation, TeenFest Foundation Elementary Workshop Facilitator, and over 120 Community Service Hours while earning his degree at NCCU. Those include The Great Human Race, Book Bag Drive, and Service Learning at Durham Rescue. Mr. Cooper looks forward to creating a classroom atmosphere conducive to achieving longer-term and higher-order student goals.

Kerri O’Reilly – Teacher

Ms. O’Reilly graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Development from Virginia Tech. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (K-6) from North Carolina Central University. She completed her student teaching with Ms. Dodson at Excelsior, and holds a Professional Educator’s License in Elementary Education (K-6). She has two children attending Excelsior, and has volunteered at the school. She is excited to provide a caring, supportive environment that holds students to high standards and cultivates school connectedness.

Third Grade

Danielle Giles – Teacher

Ms. Giles graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Speech & Hearing Science (Speech Pathology). She earned a Master of Education from DePaul University in Elementary Education. Ms. Giles holds a State of Illinois Professional Educator’s License and is licensed in North Carolina for Elementary Education. She has been a Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant and a Teacher’s Assistant for Kindergarten. She has also taught Kindergarten and First Grade. Most recently, she was the Head of Student Services Department and Counselor at Thai-Chinese International School in Bangkok, Thailand. This is her second year of teaching third grade at Excelsior.

Lisa-Noelle Ncaca – Teacher

Ms. Ncaca has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University. She has been a substitute teacher, most recently for Excelsior. Last year she was a long-term substitute for third grade, and this year has joined the third grade team. Ms. Ncaca has two sons at Excelsior, one in first grade and one in third.

Fourth Grade

Ava Howell – Social Studies & Language Arts Teacher

Ms. Howell has a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Arts in Primary and Youth Education with a Concentration in Classroom Management. Her Bachelor of Arts is in Sociology with a Minor in Elementary Education. She has been a long-term substitute for us and has worked in our after-school program. Ms. Howell teaches Language Arts and Social Studies to all Fourth Graders at Excelsior.

Andrew Rowland – Math & Science Teacher

Mr. Rowland has a BA in Elementary Education from Point Park University, a university with a strong liberal arts focus. He is licensed in Elementary Education (K-6). Mr. Rowland has two years’ experience in teaching and has also been a coach and a youth minister. Mr. Rowland taught fourth grade at Excelsior in our first year. He currently teaches Science, including the Core Knowledge Science Domains, and Singapore Math to all Excelsior’s fourth graders.

Fifth Grade

Christopher Ammon – Language Arts & Social Studies Teacher

Mr. Ammon graduated Summa Cum Laude from Queens University of Charlotte with a major in American History and Politics and a minor in Environmental Science. He has been Environmental Education for America at Florida State Parks and has been a Park Ranger in Florida and North Carolina. More recently, he was an Instructional Assistant at Sandy Ridge Elementary and a substitute teacher for Durham Public Schools. He is the Primary Grade Representative for Excelsior’s Parent Teacher Forum and has a son in second grade.

Courtney Wilkerson – Math & Science Teacher

Ms. Wilkerson graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a minor in Visual Arts from Appalachian State University. She did her year of student teaching in second grade and has taught third grade for four years. She was named Beginning Teacher of the Year at her former school. Ms. Wilkerson’s Professional Teaching License is in Elementary Education (K-6). In addition to teaching in public school, she has worked with preschoolers and tweens at her church and has privately tutored students in grades 3 through 7 in various subjects. She teaches Science, including the Core Knowledge Science Domains and State Science Standards, and Singapore Math to all Excelsior’s fifth graders.

Sixth Grade

Elizabeth Larson – Social Studies & Language Arts Teacher

Ms. Larson has a Bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, a college with a classical format and a strong liberal arts focus. She has taught for three years at Glendale Preparatory Academy, part of the Great Hearts Academy network of schools which uses a classical curriculum. Ms. Larson has a Professional Teacher’s License in North Carolina. She teaches Language Arts and Social Studies to all Excelsior’s sixth graders.

Jill Murphy – Math & Science Teacher

Ms. Murphy has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Faimont State College and a Master of Education in Middle School Mathematics from UNC Chapel Hill. She obtained her NC Professional Educator’s license in Middle Grades Mathematics (6-8). She received her National Board Certifiication in Mathematics/Early Adolescence. Ms. Murphy has 14 years of teaching experience. She has taught at Sherwood Githens Middle School, Durham School of the Arts, Durham Academy, and Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill. Ms. Murphy has two daughters at Excelsior, and has been active in the Parent-Teacher Forum.

Special ClassTeachers


Courtney Valdes – Teacher

Ms. Valdes has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Arts in Education; Educational Psychology, Measurement, and Evaluation from UNC Chapel Hill. She is licensed in Art (K-12) and has over eight years of experience teaching art and preschool. Ms. Valdes teaches the Visual Arts component of Core Knowledge, integrating her art classes with the Core Knowledge Sequence by grade. This is Ms. Valdes’ third year at Excelsior.


Lindsey Tilley – Teacher

Ms. Tilley is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts with a major in Ballet. She was a Principal Dancer for Carolina Ballet and has taught dance ages 3 to adult. Ms. Tilley has worked in the Three-Year Old and Pre-K classes in Preschool for fifteen years. She also volunteered in Kindergarten and second grade at Excelsior in our first year. Last year, she was an Assistant Teacher in Kindergarten. Ms. Tilley has two sons attending Excelsior.


C. Wayne Mooring – Teacher

Mr. Mooring has an Associate of Arts Degree from Carteret Community College and is a Certified Nursing Assistant and Licensed Phlebotomist. He is a senior completing his Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration. He has worked as a Staff Assistant for the Faculty at Carteret Community College and currently teaches theatre arts for two theatre companies in Raleigh, N.C. He was previously employed by a charter school as a teacher assistant and a Theater Arts teacher for grades 6th-10th, where he also served as the Medical Administrator and Yearbook Adviser. Mr. Mooring has taught Drama and Creative Storytelling at Excelsior in grades K through 3, and this year teaches Drama in K-6.


Elena Marinina – Teacher

Ms. Marinina is a Graduate of Odessa State Conservatory, first as a conductor in 1996 and then as a classical singer in 2000, with an MA in Arts, with honors. She has lived in the US since 2000 and has more than 20 years experience teaching piano and voice. Being brought up in classical traditions of European Musical Education, she was happy to find a school that values music education and includes music in its curriculum, and she integrates music class with the Core Knowledge Sequence music component by grade. This is Ms. Marinina’s third year at Excelsior.

Physical Education & Health

Martinely Hernández Lazo – Teacher

Mr. Hernández holds an Associate’s degree from Nassau Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Central University. He achieved a Fourth-Degree Black Belt Certification and has taught Tae Kwon Do to different age groups. He has also coached soccer, provided fitness training, and taught health classes. Mr. Hernández has taught Physical Education and health for five years and holds a professional educator’s license to teach Physical Education in North Carolina. He is bilingual, and has assisted staff and administration in communicating with Spanish-speaking parents at hs previous school.


Cynthia Gadol – Teacher

Ms. Gadol was a Junior Cotillion Director for three years in Rutherford County starting in the 1999, and she is excited to bring an accessible program of social dance and etiquette to all Excelsior’s sixth through eighth graders. Decorum classes for this year’s sixth graders occur once a month during Dance, and Excelsior will hold two balls this year so that students can practice their skills in a comfortable, non-stressful atmosphere.

World Languages

Spanish & ESL

Lyndsay Campbell – Spanish & ESL Teacher (2-5)

As a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, Ms. Campbell earned a Bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages from UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, she has a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. She has been a Spanish tutor at the Hill Center of Durham as well as a classroom teacher in grades 3-5 since 2008. She was a dual immersion teacher for two years, and she holds certifications to teach English as a Second Language and Academically and Intellectually Gifted children. Ms. Campbell has also obtained two certificates from the Hill Center of Durham in the areas of Differentiation and Reading Strategies. In 2014, she earned the Community Spanish Facilitator’s Certificate from Durham Tech. This school year, Ms. Campbell is working to integrate Spanish, like the other special classes, with Core Knowledge content. She also works with Excelsior’s English Language Learners.

Jessica Palomo – Spanish Teacher (K-2)

Ms. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her husband is a native speaker and they are raising their children in a bilingual home. She has been a tutor at Sylvan Learning Center and started teaching Spanish part-time to Kindergarten and First Grade at Excelsior during our first year. She believes in having high expectations and promoting critical thinking skills, and she hopes to instill a lifelong enthusiasm for Spanish language and culture in her students. Ms. Palomo also helps with translating for Excelsior.

Leah Cohen – Part-Time Latin Teacher (6)

Under Ms. Cohen’s tutelage, the sixth grade students will begin the study of Latin using the Memoria Press charter school Latin curriculum. Studying Latin is useful for increasing vocabulary, helping students understand grammar and language structure, and even promoting organized, critical thinking.

Administration and Support

Cynthia Gadol – Executive Director

Ms. Gadol earned a BA in Statistics from the University of Georgia, after majoring in Art the first two years. She worked as a Programmer/Analyst and Technical Writer for a number of years. Cynthia has a Master of School Administration from Appalachian State University. She holds a NC K-12 Principal’s license and is also licensed to teach High School Mathematics.
As one of the founding teachers at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, Cynthia helped develop the high school curriculum. Over a period of twelve years she taught various courses: Art and Art History, Logic I and II, Rhetoric, Algebra I and II, Geometry, and AP Statistics. She served as Chair of the Mathematics Department and the Trivium Department. She was a member of the Curriculum Committee, the Scheduling Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the School Improvement Team, and the Accreditation Team. Ms. Gadol’s fellow teachers elected Cynthia as the upper school teacher representative to TJCA’s Board of Directors. Cynthia was a TeamCFA Fellow, working in administration at two TeamCFA schools, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and Lake Lure Classical Academy.

Ms. Gadol led professional development courses at TJCA on teaching critical thinking and logic throughout the curriculum, Socratic questioning, and Paideia seminars. She was the National Honor Society adviser and oversaw Prom and Graduation activities. The National Society of High School Scholars recognized Cynthia as an Educator of Distinction after one of her students who was a member nominated her. She was selected for Who’s Who among American Teachers for three years, nominated by four different students. Her school nominated Cynthia for Disney’s American Teacher Award for creativity in teaching and for NC Charter School Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Gadol is the author of the charter application for Excelsior Classical Academy CFA.

Kim Carpenter – Operations Manager
Ms. Carpenter has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Child Development from Meredith College. She was chosen as a Top 10 Outstanding Senior and was a Tomorrow’s Business Woman Award Winner. Ms. Carpenter has been a golf shop owner and head golf professional, a general manager of a country club, and a school treasurer. She has coached various sports and has been active in community schools, service organizations, and fundraising. She was a Kindergarten Assistant Teacher in our first year, and helped Excelsior with various events and fundraisers. She has a daughter attending Excelsior.

Christina Harris – Administrative Assistant, Data
Ms. Harris attended Durham Technical Community College and ECPI University. She has worked in various customer service positions before coming to Excelsior. She is the proud mother of three Excelsior students. This is her third year at Excelsior, and she looks forward to many more.

Myra Clayton – Administrative Assistant, Operations
Ms. Clayton is a graduate of Shaw University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She has worked as a store administrator, a payroll specialist, a data collection specialist, and a claims representative. Ms. Clayton assists with Operations and runs the Before- and After-School Program and Intersession Camps. Ms. Clayton enjoys the Raleigh-Durham area with her son, who is a student at Excelsior. This is Ms. Clayton’s second year working at Excelsior.

Teresa McRae – Administrative Assistant, Transportation and Nutrition
Ms. McRae founded The Personalized Transporter, Inc., a door-to-door transportation service for children, in 1994. She has also worked in child daycare, event planning, and food services. In our first year, Ms. McRae was our transportation coordinator, and later moved into helping with the lunch program, too. She is now with us full time, handling both transportation and nutrition. She is excited to be at Excelsior.

Larry Campbell – Dean of Students
Mr. Campbell has a BA in Social/Criminal Justice and earned his MA in Business and Organizational Security Management. He was a Captain in the U.S. Army, serving as Plans and Operations Officer and as Senior Leadership and Human Resource Manager. In those capacities, he was responsible for the safety, training, discipline, welfare, and readiness of soldiers, Military Police, K-9, and the Special Reaction Team (like SWAT); and vulnerability assessments, law enforcement support, and physical security support, respectively.

Mr. Campbell has worked for Durham Public Schools in Behavior Support and has been a regular substitute teacher at many grade levels at our school and another Core Knowledge school. He has been a frequent volunteer at Excelsior, utilizing his many talents to help the school in a variety of ways. Mr. Campbell is certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and who serves as a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association. He has anti-terrorism and Non-violent Crisis Prevention training.

As Dean of Students, Mr. Campbell will work to maintain a safe and civil school environment. Mr. Campbell will oversee our school-wide discipline program, including administering our Uniform Policy. In addition, Mr. Campbell monitors school attendance and will work with families to minimize absences, late arrivals, and early departures. He also chairs the Emergency Response Team.

Leah Cohen – Programs and Resources Coordinator
Ms. Cohen was the valedictorian of the first graduating class of our sister school, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy CFA. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UNCG with a BA in History and a minor in Mathematics. She has partially completed her Master’s Degree in Education Research Methodology. At UNCG, Ms. Cohen was an undergraduate assistant at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, an SIP Leader in the Supplementary Instruction Program, and a Tutor at the Learning Assistance Center. She has also privately tutored undergraduate and graduate students from UNCG, Strayer, NC A & T State, and Duke in math and statistics. Before coming to Excelsior, Ms. Cohen was the Coordinator of Tutoring Services for Student Support Services at UNCG. Ms. Cohen handles what she affectionately calls the three Ts: Testing,  Technology, and Teacher Resources. This is her third year at Excelsior.

Greg Hamilton – Athletic Director

Mr. Hamilton received his BS Degree in Physical Education from Elon College and his Masters in School Administration from Liberty University. He has been a head coach for many sports including Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, and Wrestling and has over 30 years of combined experience as a high School and NCAA Soccer and Lacrosse Official. Mr. Hamilton has over 25 years experience in education at all grade levels and has both teaching and administrative experience. He has over 15 years experience an Athletic Director for Middle and High School Programs.

Mr. Hamilton will organize and manage Excelsior’s athletic program, starting with grades 6 and 7 this coming year and continuing until we have Middle and High School Programs. He will also help plan our facilities for athletics as we grow.

Ashley Bennetone – School Counselor

Ms. Bennetone has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Korean from Duke University. She holds a Master of Education in School Counseling from UNC Chapel Hill. She is licensed in Elementary Education (K-6) and in School Counseling. Ms. Bennetone believes a school counselor is a great resource in a school like Excelsior that emphasizes a growth mindset, social connectedness, and content self-relevance. She works to enhance the ideas of the growth mindset within individual, small group, and classroom guidance lessons. She collaborates with teachers to ensure the school counseling curriculum is an additive component to a child’s education. Ms. Bennetone is active in the character education component, as well. This is her third year at Excelsior.

Natasha Jackson – School Nurse

Ms. Jackson earned her Bachelor of Science from Mount Olive College and her LPN from ECPI University. She received her nursing cohort’s Leadership Award and was on the Dean’s List. Ms. Jackson is CPR trained. She has accumulated 1000 clinical hours providing direct bedside care. Her experience ranges from treating patients for bruised knees to working with adults and children with developmental disabilities. Her passion is Pediatric Nursing.

Janel Harris-Hamiel – EC Director

Ms. Hamiel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from East Carolina University. She obtained a Master’s in School Administration from North Carolina A&T State University. Her licensed areas are Exceptional Children: General Curriculum (K-12) and School Administrator: Principal. She has also passed the Praxis for Middle Grades Mathematics. Ms. Hamiel has 12 years of teaching experience and has served as a Remediation Teacher, a Special Education Teacher, a Department Co-Chair and Chair, a Principal Intern, a Coach in various sports, and a Student Council Advisor. This is her second year in our EC Department, and her first year as Coordinator. She has two children attending Excelsior.

Mary Joan McClure – Speech and Language Pathologist/Related Services Coordinator

Ms. McClure graduated summa cum laude from University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology. She has a Master of Science in Hearing and Speech Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She has more than 10 years’ experience in Speech and Language pathology, as an independent contractor and with Durham Public Schools. This will be her third year at Excelsior. She has two children at Excelsior.

Avis Keen – EC Teacher

Ms. Keen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, both from North Carolina Central University. She earned a Master’s Degree in Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked as an elementary school teacher and a Special Education teacher for elementary and middle school, an EC Facilitator, a Liaison for Homeless and At-Risk Children, and an administrator, all for Durham Public Schools.

Wanda Carter – EC Teacher

Ms. Carter has two Master’s degrees, a Master of Arts in Special Education and a Master of School Administration. She has been a Special Education teacher, an Exceptional Children’s Compliance Facilitator, and has worked at Durham Public Schools as a Coordinator for Exceptional Children’s Program and a Director of Special Education for High School. She is Nationally Board Certified.

Erin Adams – Contract Occupational Therapist

Ms. Adams has a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in school-based practice since 2001, at local public and charter schools.

Anna Beltramo – Contract Psychologist

Ms. Beltramo is a Licensed School Psychologist and Licensed Psychological Associate with extensive experience in psychological evaluations for individuals of all ages, functioning, and ability levels. She has more than eight years’ experience working with public, charter, and private schools, and this is her third year providing psychological testing and other services to Excelsior.