Welcome to our newest employees! (2022)

As we prepare for the 2022-2023 school year and the arrival of NCSSM-Morganton’s inaugural class, we’d like to officially welcome the talented new faculty and staff who have joined Team NCSSM, in both Durham and Morganton, since August 2021.

Find contact info for NCSSM faculty and staff in our employee directory.

Welcome to:

Mariah Alexander, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Mariah Alexander joined NCSSM-Durham in 2021 as a Community Coordinator. She earned her Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a computer science minor from UNC Charlotte and is currently enrolled at North Carolina Central University, where she is working on obtaining a Master of Science in mathematics with a concentration in data science. Prior to coming to NCSSM, Mariah taught high school mathematics for four years. She’s a Durham native and proud alumna of CE Jordan High School. In her free time, she enjoys shopping, crafting and traveling the world.

Megan Alvord ’10, Instructor of Physics, Science

Megan Alvord, a North Carolina native, joined NCSSM as an Instructor of Physics in September of 2021. Megan has been working with students of physics for many years now, starting as a physics TA her senior year at NCSSM to seven years of varied physics courses in North Carolina public schools. She is excited to bring her experience back to where her physics journey began. Her undergraduate degrees are in physics and secondary science education from North Carolina State University and her master’s is in physics from Texas A&M at Commerce. Megan’s peak experience in physics was touring the Compact Muon Solenoid at CERN, 100 meters below Geneva, Switzerland. In her spare time, Megan loves to read, explore new places, and stare at coins.

Jessica (Jess) Anderson ’08, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Jessica (Jess) Anderson joined NCSSM in August 2022 as a Community Coordinator. She is an NCSSM alumna from the class of 2008 and went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain scholar, earning her bachelor’s degree in biology and Spanish. She worked in partnership marketing at Major League Soccer in New York City after college but chose to return to North Carolina to earn a clinical doctorate in physical therapy at UNC-Chapel Hill. For over three years, she worked as an outpatient neurological physical therapist at UNC Health, mentoring student physical therapists during their clinical rotations and Neuro STEP UP scholars while they completed their specialized scholarship curriculum. Jess hopes to use the knowledge she has gained from her previous careers as well as her experience as an NCSSM alumna to support students and help them achieve their potential at NCSSM. During her free time, she enjoys going hiking with her husband and watching K-dramas with their cats, Luke and Iris.

Marcelo Aranda, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Marcelo Aranda joined NCSSM-Morganton as Digital Humanities Coordinator in July 2022. Born in Nicaragua, he grew up in South Florida in close proximity to Space Shuttles, Cold War politics and a diverse community of people from all over Latin America. As a child, he became curious about the historical accidents, circumstances and decisions that led him to the United States, which in turn sparked his study of history. Dr. Aranda studied history at UC Berkeley and Stanford and has written scholarly articles about early modern scientific networks and practices in the Spanish Empire and has merged new digital methods with traditional historical instruction. He taught in the SIMILE program at Stanford, and was then chair of the History Department at Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. He has also written about historical world-building in video games. His other interests include local food, graphic novels, animation, and science fiction novels. Dr. Aranda, his wife Lucinda and their four cats are pleased to be part of the Morganton community.

Antavious Ashe ’10, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Antavious Ashe joined NCSSM-Durham as a Community Coordinator in March 2022. Prior to NCSSM, Antavious attended UNC-Chapel Hill & Drake University for undergraduate and graduate studies. He went on to work as a Legislative Assistant in the NC General Assembly. A Henderson, NC native and NCSSM graduate, Antavious hopes to use his enthusiasm and experience as a former student to help students better navigate their way through NCSSM. In his free time, he enjoys writing, watching NBA basketball, and keeping up with current events and discourse.

Kate Auger, Instructor of Photography, Humanities

Kate Auger joined NCSSM in August 2022 as a part-time Instructor of Photography. She grew up in Brunswick County, North Carolina and attended North Carolina State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial design. She then received her MFA of experimental and documentary arts at Duke University in May of 2021. Kate has served as an Instructor of Art at Duke University and at the NC State Crafts Center. Her work explores identity, home, trauma, and landscapes through still photography, film, and speculative fiction. Outside of teaching and photography, she enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy novels, paddle boarding, and spending time with her partner and two cats.

Leah Barlow, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Leah Barlow is an Elon, North Carolina, native and proud Hampton University alumna who joined the NCSSM faculty in August 2022. She holds a master’s degree in English from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Leah credits her investment in the study of the African diaspora, black geographies, and the contemporary aestheticism of black artists to her time at Hampton. There, she cultivated a love for cultural criticism alongside a recognition of the necessity of intersections between mentorship and intellectual prowess – all rooted in southern sensibility. While in graduate school, Leah was the graduate assistant for Georgetown’s Women’s Center, a founding member of the Black Cultural Studies Collective, and participated in a host of conferences. Leah’s scholarly interests are in the sociopolitical construction of urban centers, Afro-futurism as means for political power, and black aesthetic production. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys cooking unnecessarily extravagant meals and frequent trips to the beach.

Lindsay Barrick, Special Events Coordinator – Morganton, NCSSM-Morganton Administrative Operations

Lindsay Barrick (she/her) joined NCSSM in July 2022 as Special Events Coordinator for Morganton. She works to make space for all people; helps create a sense of belonging; and nurtures places where folks feel at home to be their authentic selves. Special events are near to her heart. As a former programs director and arts executive director, she understands the power in gathering. Lindsay believes that when people come together to celebrate, commemorate, or learn, individuals become more engaged, informed, and connected with their community. She loves building bridges and working with people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Lindsay thrives by fostering meaningful relationships. A life-long artist, Lindsay is surrounded by a diverse community of musicians, poets, dramatists, and creatives. They spend time singing, sharing, eating, and laughing together in Lenoir, Morganton, Hickory, and beyond.

Gina Barrier, Director of Summer Programs & Extended Partnerships – Morganton, Extended Learning

Gina Barrier joined NCSSM as Director of Summer Programs and Extended Partnerships-Morganton in February 2022. Prior to NCSSM, she conducted teacher professional development for The Science House of NC State University for over two decades. She has experience writing grants and administering programs that involve data-collection technology, robotics, coding, VR/AR technology, 3D printers and other makerspace technologies using inquiry-based pedagogy including project-based learning. She received her bachelor’s in chemistry from Lenoir-Rhyne University and her master’s in educational media/instructional technology from Appalachian State University. She has taught high school Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and Physics and worked as an industrial chemist. Gina has presented at conferences across the country and has won multiple awards from NCSU, ACS, Hibriten High, and Rotary. She has also served the NC Science Leadership Association (NCSLA) as President, Membership Committee Chair, and Secretary. In 2019, NCSLA presented her with the Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to STEM education.

Paulette Becoat, Donor Relations Officer, NCSSM Foundation

Paulette Verdell Becoat joined the NCSSM Foundation and Development as a Donor Relations Officer in June 2022. In this role she is responsible for fundraising support, database management and reporting, event logistics, and stewardship. Her experience encompasses disciplines ranging from research and data collection at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to fundraising and community outreach at the American Diabetes Association. Paulette began her studies in industrial engineering, fueling her interest in project management. Her nonprofit, member recruitment, business development, fundraising,and special events experience was acquired at the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance respectively. Before coming to NCSSM, Paulette was the assistant director of stewardship services at UNC-Chapel Hill in the University Development Office, where she managed the annual endowment reports, served on the Chancellor’s Naming Committee, and performed survey analyses and benchmarking studies. She resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband Rufus and enjoys gardening, music, reading, traveling, and decorating.

Adam Benoit, Instructor of Physics, Science

Adam Benoit joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in June 2022 as a physics instructor. He began his career in 2005 at Lincolnton High School in western North Carolina, where he taught physics, chemistry, earth and environmental science, physical science, and pre-calculus. In 2012 he was named Lincolnton High School Teacher of the Year, and in 2021 he became a North Carolina Energy Literacy Fellow. Adam also spent 15 years coaching football and three years coaching track & field. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and their three dogs and cat, 3D printing, and playing video games. He is a board member and active volunteer for Helping Animals to Survive (HATS) in Lincoln County.

Erudiel Bernal, Instructor of World Languages, Humanities

Erudiel Bernal joined the Morganton team in July 2022. He was born and raised in Mexico, where he began studying foreign languages as a high school student starting with Italian and then English. After graduating from college, he moved to Paris, France, worked as a garçon au-pair and studied French while being immersed in French culture. He also worked as a high school Spanish teacher in Valognes, a small town in the French region of Normandy. In 2007, he traveled to China to study Mandarin and Business at the University of Ningbo, also working as a Spanish and English teacher at different levels. From 2015 through 2022, he taught Spanish and Global Studies at Harris Road Middle School in Cabarrus County, NC. Erudiel loves traveling and has been to more than 30 countries thus far. When he is visiting a new place, he loves exploring and learning about its history, architecture, and culture, especially through the people and the food.

Sarah Booker, Instructor of Spanish, Humanities

Sarah Booker joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in June 2022 as an instructor of Spanish. Prior to this role, she received her doctorate in Hispanic Literature from the University

of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a focus on contemporary Latin American literature and translation studies. While at UNC, she taught a range of courses, including all levels of Spanish language, literary and cultural analysis, literary translation, and Portuguese. She was also a visiting lecturer at the Universidad de Sevilla, where she taught courses on English literature and literary theory. In addition to several years spent in Spain (in Sevilla and Cáceres), she has spent time in Argentina and Ecuador. Sarah is also a literary translator working from Spanish into English; her translations include Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone, Gabriela Ponce Padilla’s Blood Red, and Cristina Rivera Garza’s New and Selected Stories, Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country, and The Iliac Crest. Outside of work, Sarah is an avid reader with a love of experimental fiction and writing in translation. She also enjoys hiking, rock climbing, knitting, and cooking.

Maite Bucher, Instructor of Biology, Science

Maitê Ghazaleh Bucher began as an Instructor of Biology at NCSSM’s Durham campus in August 2022. Maitê is a marine biologist and environmental microbiologist. As an undergraduate earning her bachelor’s degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, she studied the effects of environmental change on coral biology and Vibrio bacteria. She earned her doctoral degree at University of Georgia, where she studied coral disease and coral-associated bacterial communities. Maitê also managed a laboratory as a post-doctoral researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill. Most recently she worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigating anthropogenic impact on aquatic ecosystems in Puerto Rico. Maitê is passionate about science communication and outreach. She enjoys writing science articles for the public and participates in the Scientific Research and Education Network (SciREN) to provide local K-12 educators lesson plans based on cutting-edge research. She is also enthusiastic about mentorship and research-based learning. As a Brazilian immigrant, Maitê is a strong advocate for diversity, inclusivity, and equality. In her free time, Maitê is a PADI SCUBA Diving Instructor and enjoys taking care of her saltwater aquariums. For more information about Maitê’s expertise, visit

Beth Bumgardner, Chair of Mathematics – Morganton, Mathematics

Beth Bumgardner joined NCSSM in January of 2022 as Chair of Mathematics-Morganton. Beth holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a focus in urban mathematics and a master’s in mathematics. She began her career in 2009 in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UNC Charlotte where she taught courses including statistics for business, statistics for the social and behavioral sciences, precalculus, business calculus, calculus I and II for science and engineering, and computer exploration and generation of data. Beth is also an Associate Chair of the UNC System Math Pathways Task Force. In addition, she led the efforts of the Statistics Pathway Team at UNC Charlotte to develop a project-based statistics course sequence and department-wide resources for students and instructors with the goal of improving student success and reducing the equity gap in introductory level statistics courses. Beth is passionate about helping students to connect mathematical and statistical concepts to their own interests and career aspirations. She is excited to be a part of such a collaborative and supportive team at NCSSM, and to work with the students of the NCSSM-Morganton campus to build a community of learning, to encourage them to dream big, and to help connect them to the resources and support they need to reach their goals.

Elizabeth Calderón, Instructor of Spanish, Humanities

Elizabeth Calderón joined NCSSM as an Instructor of Spanish on the Durham campus in August 2022. She is a native speaker of Spanish, born in the Dominican Republic. During her time as an educator, Elizabeth has taught in public and private schools, as well as the higher education sector, including Louisiana State University. Elizabeth has taught a wide range of courses, such as Elementary, Intermediate, and Intensive Spanish, Dual Enrollment Elementary and Intermediate Spanish, AP Culture and Language, AP Language and Literature, Communication and Culture, and Spanish Honors. In addition, Elizabeth has published her work in the magazine, El Cid, an undergraduate academic journal published by The Citadel in South Carolina. Some of her other published works include the short story “Los cascos negros” (“The Black Helmets”) and a research essay entitled “La subordinación de los indígenas y la mujer” (“The Subordination of the Indigenous and the Woman”) in “The Draft of a Report” by Augusto Roa Bastos. Elizabeth presented her research at The City College of New York’s 21st Annual Graduate Students Conference Ph.D. Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages. The theme of the conference was “The City: Voices and Creations”. Elizabeth’s dissertation project was “Economic Stagnation in Franco’s Spain from the Characters’ Perspective in ‘Story of a Staircase’ by Antonio Buero Vallejo Integrating Social Theater”.  In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys hiking, reading, walking with her dogs Luna and Daisy, spending time with her son Michael, and going to historical places. Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and Spanish from Monmouth University and a master’s degree in Spanish Literature and Language from The City College of New York.

Jane Cantwell, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Jane Cantwell joined NCSSM-Morganton Humanities Department in July 2022. She is originally from Yekaterinburg, a city located on the border of Europe and Asia in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Her research interests include connections between nineteenth-century German and Russian philosophy of history, interdisciplinary studies in British literature, and the moral dimensions of the American Dream. She is also interested in the emerging fields of bioethics, data justice, and philosophical dilemmas posed by AI. Since 2007, Jane has taught British and American literature, Introduction to Ethics, Philosophical Issues, and other courses at the Western Piedmont Community College. She has many years of experience working with academically gifted and high-achieving students through dual enrollment pathways. In 2018, Jane received an NC Live grant for developing Open Educational Resources and collaborated on OER initiatives aimed at reducing textbook costs and engaging students in shared pedagogy. She is committed to using technology and digital humanities approaches in the classroom. When she is not working, Jane spends most of her free time outdoors gardening and hiking. She participates in local trail maintenance projects and is a native plant geek. Jane lives in Morganton with her family, including a ’15 NSCCM graduate, and Mya, a strong-willed Siberian Husky.

Syon Chand ’17, Community Coordinator, Student Life

Syon (it rhymes with “neon”) joined NCSSM-Durham in 2021 as a Community Coordinator. Through this position, he strives to create a safe, supportive, and healthy environment to help students be successful. He graduated from NC State University with bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering and political science and is also an NCSSM alumnus. He previously worked for three years in residential life at NC State University and has also worked in land surveying. In addition to his passion for supporting students and peers, Syon enjoys long-distance running, playing video games, and volunteering in the community.

Meagan Coneybeer, Director of Mentorship & Research – Morganton, Mentorship & Research

Meagan Coneybeer joined NCSSM in 2021 as the Director of Mentorship and Research at NCSSM-Morganton, bringing over 15 years of prior experience in STEM education and 10 years of prior experience in educational mentorship and work-based experiential learning curriculum development. In addition to her skill as an educator, Meagan worked as the lead technical agronomist for an international plant genetics company and has experience in applied and theoretical agricultural research. She brings diverse experience from academia and industry to her position and will work one-on-one with NCSSM-Morganton students to help them realize their academic and professional goals. A native of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Meagan currently lives on a small farm in Lenoir, NC, with her two children, Celia and Samuel. In her free time, she enjoys trail running, hiking, and learning about historical food production techniques. Meagan earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies at Denison University and her master’s in horticultural science at NC State University, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in horticultural science.

Jason Costner, Lead Campus Safety Officer, Campus Safety – Morganton

Jason Costner joined NCSSM in August 2022 as Lead Campus Safety Officer for our Morganton campus. He came to NCSSM from the Broughton Hospital Police Department, where he had served since 2014. Jason held various roles within the Broughton Police Department, including patrol officer, investigator and assistant police chief. Prior to his service with the Broughton Hospital Police Department, he worked as a ranger at South Mountains State Park. Outside of work, Jason enjoys spending time outdoors and spending time with his wife, Emily.

Alexander (Alex) Currin, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Alex Currin joined NCSSM in August 2022 as a Community Coordinator. Alex was born in Raleigh and grew up in Louisburg, NC. He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education at North Carolina State University, going on to teach English at Southern Nash High School for six years. Alex also has experience as a camp counselor for Camp Oak Hill in Oxford, NC, and volunteers with his church’s kids ministry. He is currently pursuing a master’s in counseling at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. His hobbies include playing Civilization V, hoarding obscure board games, and forcing his friends to watch cat-related TikToks. He is a big fan of all animals and would love to see pictures of your pets.

Michael D’Argenio, Instructor of Computer Science, Engineering & Computer Science

Michael D’Argenio joined NCSSM in 2022. He earned a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a master’s in computer engineering from NC State University. While in school, he served as the program director at WKNC, completed a co-op at Duke Energy, designed a prototype for an autonomous transit system, assisted with the senior design program, completed a teaching certificate program, and developed open-source embedded system development tools. He spent time in industry working for Schneider Electric, where he developed electric vehicle charging stations and motor starters while also serving as the University Outreach Program Coordinator. In 2020, he joined Ravenscroft School where he taught computer science, engineering, robotics, design & making, and CAD in addition to managing a makerspace and coaching two FTC teams. He is one of the founders of Raleigh Community Kickstand, a non-profit bike co-op serving the unhoused population in Wake County. He is an avid musician, cyclist, tinkerer, programmer, artist, and life-long learner.

Jainny Estrada, Assistant Director of Student Services – Morganton, Student Life

Jainny (rhymes with “shiny”) Estrada joined NCSSM in August 2022 as the Assistant Director of Student Services on the Morganton campus. She is a double alumna of Appalachian State University, where she earned a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in higher education administration. Before joining NCSSM, she served as the Coordinator of Intercultural Student Affairs at Appalachian State University, where she got to apply her strong passion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work. Jainny believes some of the most meaningful learning experiences for students occur when they pursue their passions through extracurricular leadership roles. Ultimately, she aims to engage in work that educates, elevates, and empowers students to be the devoted and enthusiastic leaders of the future. In addition to working with and supporting students, Jainny enjoys reading, trying new recipes, and spending time with her loved ones and her mini dachshund, Ivy.

Norma Evans, Purchasing Manager, Purchasing

Norma Evans joined NCSSM as purchasing manager in August 2021, bringing with her over 30 years of experience in purchasing. Her expertise includes knowledge of State of NC purchasing statutes, administrative codes, and term contracts, completion of RFQs, IFBs, and RFPs. She is an experienced manager of waivers of competition, specification composition, inventory and non-inventory purchases for a diverse range of commodities, e-quotes, vendor site visits, billing reconciliation and resolution, and procurement card purchases. She has traveled extensively internationally, participating in and conducting a variety of projects and trainings. In her free time, Norma is involved in several volunteer activities, and enjoys spending time with her husband Craig and their daughter.

Michael Falvo, Instructor of Physics, Science

Mike Falvo joined NCSSM in August of 2022 as a physics instructor on the Durham campus. Prior to NCSSM, he was a research professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Physics & Astronomy where he taught and conducted research for over 20 years. Mike taught a range of courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, including introductory physics, as well as courses in material science, nanotechnology, and biophysics. He also created several courses, including a First Year Seminar on Nanoscience which he developed with the help of a grant he won from the NSF. He has also mentored dozens of student research projects, several of which resulted in first-author student publications in top research journals. His research resulted in publications on topics ranging from nanoelectronics to cell biophysics in journals including Science, Nature, and PNAS. Mike earned his bachelor’s in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics at UNC-Chapel HIll. A proud Durhamite, he and his wife have lived in the Bull City for over 20 years, where they raised their son and wrangled several cats and dogs. As a card-carrying generalist, Mike enjoys mountain biking, bird-watching, banjo, gardening, and trail running, all of which he enthusiastically pursues with middling success.

Michele Ferry, CAP Counselor – Morganton, Student Life

Michele Ferry joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in July 2022 as a College, Academic and Personal Counselor. As a native of Fairfax, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area, she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Old Dominion University. She began her career in 1992, working with high school students in the Fairfax County Public School system (FCPS). Prior to her school counseling role, she worked in high school security/wellness, as a substitute teacher and athletic coach. Upon earning her master’s degree in counseling at Marymount University, she served as an FCPS counselor at James Madison High School for 14 years. Along with many diversified staffing responsibilities, she advised students on all aspects of the college process. She is proud to have been a contributing team member to the JMHS counseling staff in 2010 as they worked toward the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP Certification) by the American School Counseling Association. In North Carolina, she served as a high school counselor for the Buncombe County School System where she was the scholarship coordinator and College Foundation of North Carolina liaison at Erwin High School. Outside of work, Michele is an avid hiker who enjoys both land and water sports. She also loves cooking, writing, listening to various genres of music, playing piano, and spending time with her multi-talented black cat.

Jennifer Fisher, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Jennifer Fisher joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in July 2022 as an instructor of mathematics. A native of western North Carolina, Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a master’s degree from Wake Forest University. She began teaching in 1998 and joins us by way of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) where she taught a variety of courses, including precalculus, statistics, and calculus. While an instructor at CCC&TI, she helped develop and revise online course content for the North Carolina Virtual Learning Community and served as one of the advisors for CCCTI’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society. In 2019, Jennifer was presented the National Society of Leadership and Success awards for excellence in teaching and excellence in service to students. She deems it an honor to be a founding faculty member of NCSSM-Morganton and looks forward to collaborating with other team members to develop courses that will help students meet their educational goals. When she is not teaching, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and playing with her dog Toby.

Collyn Gaffney, Instructor of Mentorship & Research, Mentorship & Research

Collyn Gaffney joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in June 2022 as an Instructor of Mentorship and Research. She began her teaching career in 2006 in Boise, Idaho. Aside from teaching core courses of history, math, and ELA, Collyn has enjoyed teaching Big History Project, morphology, improv, and coaching First Lego League, Science Olympiad, and Fishing Team. Prior to her 16 years in the classroom, she spent 13+ years in the radio, TV, and film industry in both North Carolina and Idaho. Collyn enjoys being on the NCSSM team and exploring western North Carolina. Her daughter is a NCSSM Class of ‘13 alum.

Suzanne Gavenus, Director of Wellness & Counseling, Student Life

Suzanne Gavenus joined NCSSM in August 2022 as Director of Counseling and Wellness on our Morganton campus. She earned her AAS degree in mental health technologies at Virginia Western Community College before earning her bachelor’s degree in social work at Christopher Newport University and earning her master’s of clinical social work at University of New England. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and since 1989 she’s worked in therapeutic and hospital settings, community outpatient clinics, wilderness programs, and in university and public high school settings. She is a certified trainer in School Mental Health, C.A.L.M. Suicide Prevention, and Check and Connect Mentoring programs. She has additional training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for School Based Clinicians, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Restorative Practices, and Resources for Resilience. After working 15 years as a senior counselor at a local high school, she was hired by Buncombe County Schools in 2019 to create college and career readiness programs, oversee Section 504 Compliance, and supervise their Naviance implementation. As a facilitator for NCDPI she taught College and Career Readiness courses through GoAlliance Academy to school counselors, career development coordinators, and college access professionals. She is passionate about building relationships, empowering others, and supporting the academic and wellness goals of students. Suzanne and her husband have three adult children, two of whom graduated from NCSSM-Durham. She enjoys walking, yoga, hiking, concerts, traveling, and playing with their menagerie of animals.

Justin Gildner, Director of Campus Safety – Morganton, NCSSM-Morganton

Justin Gildner joined NCSSM as Director of Campus Safety-Morganton in January of 2021, bringing over 25 years of combined experience in traditional law enforcement, campus safety, emergency management, and risk mitigation. As a sworn peace officer in California, Justin held assignments as a patrol deputy, K9 handler, narcotics investigator, and detective until he retired as a sergeant. He then took his first position as a campus safety administrator as Director of Public Safety, Emergency & Risk Management for a private college in WNC. Justin enjoys collecting vinyl records and is an avid supporter of Manchester United, Boston Bruins, Red Sox & Pats. He literally lives and dies with each win or loss, and is extremely proud that he has brainwashed his family to be as avid of fans as he is. 

Khortney Hamlin, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Khortney Hamlin joined NCSSM as a Community Coordinator in March 2022. Before coming to NCSSM, she was a classroom teacher (of 7th graders) in middle schools in Durham, a job she has enjoyed since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. While at the UNC Charlotte, Khortney majored in middle grades education, with concentrations in history and science, and minored in Spanish. She volunteered with her local library, tutoring programs, and the Army Reserve Child and Youth School Services while in undergrad, working with all ages of students, from preschoolers to high school students. Khortney is currently enrolled in North Carolina Central University’s master of library science program. She enjoys reading, writing, and baking, and is currently learning how to knit. A lover of self-care, you can find her in Lush, on a trail in Eno or Umstead, or drinking tea and watching Hulu.

Dustin Hand, Fab Lab Manager – Morganton, Engineering & Computer Science

Dustin Hand joined NCSSM in August of 2022 as the Fabrication Laboratory Manager for the Morganton Campus. He came into this role after nearly a decade of teaching in nearby counties and at Catawba Valley Community College as an adjunct instructor in the Welding and Fabrication Department. Dustin has a bachelor’s degree in career technical education (with a concentration in welding and fabrication, and a minor in STEM), and a master’s degree in higher education leadership, both from Appalachian State University. Dustin has taught advanced manufacturing, CAD, and electrical trades at the high school level and fabrication level I, symbols and specifications, and various welding processes such as SMAW, GMAW, and GTAW at Catawba Valley Community College. Dustin grew up in Western North Carolina and enjoys spending time with his wife Fay, daughter Savannah, and their animals on their small beef farm. He enjoys golf, fishing, and road trips with his family and friends. Dustin can also be found working on projects such as carpentry, welding, and automotive repair.

Jim Happer, Instructor of Physics, Science

Jim Happer joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in July 2022 as an Instructor of Physics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics from Columbia University, and earned his master’s in science education at Claremont Graduate School. Jim has taught high school physics, mathematics, and more in the US, India, Mexico, China, and Indonesia. He coached the robotics team that hosted the first FTC tournament in China in 2010, and later mentored FTC teams in Yancey and Mitchell counties in North Carolina. Since his first year teaching at Pasadena High School in 1994, Jim has incorporated engineering, tinkering, project-based, and design skills into science and math classrooms. In recent years, Jim has developed JavaScript-based tools to support “badges” as an alternative to grades, as well as to accredit student achievement in STEM-based skills. He is enormously excited to work with colleagues and students at NCSSM.

Maya Harden, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Maya Harden joined NCSSM as a Community Coordinator for the Morganton campus in August of 2022. She holds a bachelor’s in behavioral and social sciences from North Carolina Central University and worked previously as a teacher assistant in Chapel Hill. Maya loves to read, create art for her home, and spend time with her son. Her favorite things include Grey’s Anatomy and iced coffee. She hopes to support her students at NCSSM through her passion for educating and for knowledge of social diversity and human behavior.

Melani Harden, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Melani Harden joined NCSSM in July 2022 as a Community Coordinator. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at UNC Greensboro, and her master’s in applied anthropology at University of Maryland – College Park. Melani is a nomad, living in multiple states her entire life, and hopes to settle herself in Durham. She loves anime, coffee, and animals. In her free time, she enjoys long walks and pottery classes. She aims to inspire and support students at NCSSM through her anthropological insights and bright spirit.

Grant Harrison, Data Management & Technical Support Lead, Academic Programs

Grant Harrison joined NCSSM in September 2021 as data management and technical support lead for the school. He earned his bachelor’s in information science at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to joining NCSSM, Grant discovered a passion for supporting educational institutions while working in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Surgery. Some of Grant’s notable data projects at UNC Surgery included implementing an attendance tracking system for continuing medical education as well as an assessment system for maintenance of certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine. Other projects included managing a database for the Jaycee Burn Center’s Aftercare program and a database for faculty and resident peer evaluations. Outside of work, Grant is an avid tennis player, enjoys exploring the outdoors, and sampling his way through the Historic NC Barbeque Trail.

Kristin Harrison, IT Applications Administrator, Information Technology Services

Kristin Harrison joined NCSSM in March of 2022 as the IT Applications Administrator. Prior to NCSSM, Kristin worked in Distance Learning for Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI). She is passionate about learning, training, technology, and anything that involves Apple. In 2016 and 2020, she was featured in eLearn Magazine by Open LMS. Also, in 2020 she was Colleague of the Year for CCC&TI. Kristin served the North Carolina Community College Association of Distance Learning (NC3ADL) as President, President-Elect, and Webmaster. She was trainer for the North Carolina Community College Virtual Learning Community. In 2007, Kristin married the love of her life Brandon Harrison, a Project Manager for Wilkie Construction. She has a daughter who she considers to be her biggest achievement in life. Kristin holds associate degrees in computer programming, elementary education, and general education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in information technologies at East Carolina University, and her master’s in management information systems (concentration in cybersecurity) at Bellevue University. She loves spending time with her family and enjoys traveling, writing, and photography.

Korianna (Kori) Hays, Residential Education Instructor, Student Services

Kori Hays combines her love for education and student affairs in her position as a Residential Education Instructor on the Durham campus. Before coming to NCSSM, Kori worked in student transitions and orientation programming at her alma mater, Clemson University. While receiving her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, Kori was heavily involved in marine science research and continues to collaborate with laboratories at Clemson and with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As part of her work with Clemson, Kori briefly lived in the Florida Keys to complete SCUBA-based fieldwork, studying the association of butterflyfishes with coral disease. Her work with NOAA taught Kori “how to speak whale,” as she studied the bioacoustics of Australian Marine Parks. Prior to attending university, Kori graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and is happy to be back in a residential high school community.

Matt Hilton, Instructor of Computer Science, Engineering & Computer Science

Matt Hilton joined NCSSM on the Morganton campus in July 2022 as an Instructor of Computer Science. He previously taught computer science and engineering in the Caldwell and Pitt county school systems. Matt has also taught computer science for NC Virtual. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s of education from UNC Wilmington. Matt enjoys learning how to combine computer science and engineering to solve real-world problems. He loves working with students as they explore robotics, drones, physical computing, and algorithms. One thing that he has always loved about computer science is the puzzle nature of solving tasks. He has an endless curiosity about technology and how it works. Outside of academics, Matt enjoys spending time hiking, kayaking, and playing board games with his wife and daughter.

Caíla Holley ’13, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Caíla Holley, also known as Holley, graduated from NCSSM in 2013 and returned in July 2022 as a Community Coordinator on our Durham campus. She went to NC State University where she began her studies in civil engineering and after some soul searching graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology in 2019. Caíla has worked in many different fields including geotechnical engineering and construction, teaching English in South Korea, and as a college advisor at West Bladen High School through the NC State College Advising Corps. Her interests include Latin dancing, hiking, indoor rock climbing, Latin American and Black History, learning new languages, and Star Wars.

Reed Hubbard, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Reed Hubbard joined the NCSSM community in July 2022 as an Instructor of Mathematics on the Morganton campus. Hailing from North Little Rock, he attended the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (an Arkansan version of NCSSM) before pursuing a math degree at the University of Arkansas. For graduate school, he found his way to North Carolina, where he developed a love for the outdoors, student engagement, and mathematics at UNC-Chapel Hill. His mathematical interests include linear algebra, topology, and geometry. Recreationally, he enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time in the natural beauty of western North Carolina.

Lauren Huntley, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Lauren Huntley joined NCSSM in August 2022 as an Instructor of Mathematics on the Durham campus. Lauren is a North Carolina native, originally from the town of Monroe. She moved to the Raleigh area in 2000 to study mathematics education at North Carolina State University, and has been here ever since. For 17 years, Lauren was an instructor at Apex High School in Wake County where she taught a wide variety of high school math classes from Math 1 to AP Statistics. Lauren earned National Board certification in 2010, and has worked as an AP Reader as well. When she’s not teaching or learning math, Lauren enjoys running, backpacking, reading, and traveling. Her treks include the Laugavegur trail in Iceland and the Four Pass Loop in Colorado.

Terri Ingle-Krause, CAP Counselor, Student Life

Terri Ingle-Krause joined NCSSM’s Morganton team as CAP Counselor in July 2022. A native of the NC mountains, she earned her bachelor’s in deaf education at Lenoir-Rhyne College, and her master’s of school counseling at Appalachian State University. Terri began her career as a teacher at the NC School for the Deaf in Morganton, then transitioned to the role of school counselor. Since 2003 she has worked in McDowell County, with most of her time at McDowell Early College. There she assisted students with personal, social, and academic issues through individual and group counseling and taught a seminar class to assist seniors through the college application process. She loves working with students and families to help students succeed both in and out of the classroom. In her free time, she enjoys planting flowers, working in the garden, and all things outside. She lives with her husband Scott and their kitties in McDowell County.

Mikhaela Johnson, Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources

Mikhaela Johnson joined NCSSM in August 2022 as an HR Specialist for our Morganton campus. She started her career with the State of North Carolina in 2020 as an HR generalist with the Department of Health and Human Services. Mikhaela earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of South Carolina – Upstate and her master’s in business administration with a concentration in human resource management from Winthrop University. Outside of work, she enjoys yoga, DIY projects, and spending time with her husband, son, and pet parakeet.

Tevin Jones, Client Support Specialist, Information Technology Services

Tevin joined NCSSM in January 2022 as a client support specialist on our Durham campus. He helps students and staff with technical issues that may arise. Prior to his employment here, he worked for Orange County Schools for seven years as part of the tech support team. Tevin was born in and still lives in Burlington, NC. He has been interested in technology since he was 16 years old. He loves spending time with his wife and son playing board games and cards. Tevin also loves to grill, fish at the coast, and be with friends.

Jim Kirkpatrick, Instructor of Music, Humanities

Jim Kirkpatrick joined NCSSM-Morganton as a music instructor in June 2022. He has enjoyed a thriving career teaching music for over 25 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in percussion and music education and his master’s degree in conducting and music education at UNC Greensboro. Jim previously taught at T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, and West Forsyth High School and North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem. Jim has enjoyed performing as a percussionist with the Asheville Steel Band, the MidEurope Word Adult Wind Orchestra Project in Schladming, Austria and is also Conductor Emeritus of the Asheville Community Band. He is a Past Fellow at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has served as guest conductor and adjudicator for music festivals across NC, SC, and VA. He assists with the Hendersonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and has regularly conducted bands at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Summer Music Camp since 2002. Jim has been selected by his colleagues for several recognitions, including the WSFCS Band Director of the Year, the NCBA Award of Excellence, and honorable induction into the American School Band Directors Association. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, yoga, and exploring the hiking trails of Western NC with his spouse Joseph and rescue dog, Surya.

Fayez Kurdi, Instructor of World Languages, Humanities

Fayez Kurdi joined NCSSM in 2022 as an Instructor of World Languages on the Morganton campus. He has taught various levels of Spanish and Arabic language and humanities courses at Durham Technical and Piedmont community colleges as well as Elon University. He earned his B.S. and M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from North Carolina State University, and also holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Damascus University in Syria. Fayez’s interests include reading, writing, and speaking proficiently in multiple languages, including Arabic, English, Spanish, and French. Fayez is fascinated by the cultural, historical, and literary connections and diversity in the various countries and continents where these languages are spoken. Fayez also enjoys traveling; he has visited more than 12 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He also loves listening to music and playing

classical guitar. His wife is also a teacher who currently teaches in an American school in Kuwait, and both of his parents were teachers as well.

Suzanne Lambert, Office Manager/Academic Programs Coordinator, Academic Programs

Suzanne Lambert joined NCSSM-Morganton in July 2022 as Office Manager/Academic Programs Coordinator. She was born and raised in Morganton, and from the age of five felt called to the teaching profession. She earned her bachelor’s degree in hearing impaired education and elementary education at Lenoir-Rhyne College, and her master’s of education at UNC Wilmington. Suzanne spent the first nine years of her career teaching in public and charter schools before joining Thales Academy, a private school located in Wake Forest in its inaugural year, 2007. During her tenure with Thales she served as a dual kindergarten teacher and administrator for the first Thales campus. For 15 years, she enjoyed contributing to the rapid growth and development of the school, and watched it grow from one small campus of 38 students to its current 13 campuses and 3500+ students. Suzanne and her husband, David, returned to Morganton after 20 years in Wake Forest and are proud to be parents to three children—Hayden, Bailey, and Brady. She loves reading, game nights, all types of sports, and breathing in salt air by the ocean!

Yuliya Lange, Payroll Specialist, Business Office

Yuliya Lange joined Team NCSSM in June 2022 when her family relocated to Durham. Prior to that, she enjoyed Eastern North Carolina beach life and worked as Payroll Specialist for Onslow County Schools. Yuliya earned her bachelor’s in business economics at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Payroll satisfies her love for math and gives her an opportunity to work with and help other people. Outside of the office, you can find her tackling a community service project, exploring a nature trail, cheering on her children at various soccer fields and baseball diamonds, or exploring local ethnic eateries.

Michael Lavigne, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Michael Lavigne joined the math faculty at NCSSM’s Durham campus in August 2022 after four years of teaching at the undergraduate level. A native of New Orleans, he came to North Carolina in 2015 to pursue a PhD in applied mathematics at NCSU after earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and Spanish at Tulane University. He then served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology from 2020-2022. During that time Michael also served as Assistant Director for the Southeast Center for Mathematics and Biology (SCMB), where he was lead organizer for the Center’s annual symposium, undergraduate Modeling Accelerator, and community outreach initiatives. His work focuses on the mathematical modeling of complex bio-systems and espouses a philosophy of math-bio storytelling—using mathematics to narrate the “why” of a well-described biological “what”. His original Mathematical Biology course at GT was one of two in the College of Sciences to receive the Student Recognition in Teaching Excellence award. Outside of the classroom, Michael is an avid pianist, a lover of languages, and an amateur florist.

Rebecca Locklin, Community Coordinator, Student Services

Rebecca Locklin joined NCSSM as a Community Coordinator for the Morganton campus in August 2022. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a triple major in psychology, media communication, and gender studies. Rebecca’s previous student life experience includes serving four years as a resident advisor for NCSU student housing. Outside of work, Rebecca has a passion for watching and writing about films.

Courtney Long, Instructor of Visual Arts, Humanities

Courtney Long joined NCSSM on our Morganton campus in June 2022. She received her BFA from West Virginia University in 1999, and on two study-abroad trips to China in 1998 and 2000, she studied wheel-throwing and hand-building methods using porcelain and stoneware along with various decorative techniques. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University in 2004 and completed a curatorial internship at the Everson Museum of Art. She has continued educational experiences from Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina; Santa Fe Clay, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anderson Ranch in Trelawney, Jamaica; Art School of the Aegean, Samos, Greece; and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 2005, Courtney was appointed Western Piedmont Community College’s Professional Crafts Coordinator in Morganton. She established a formal crafts education degree program in the Unifour area combining business essentials with studio coursework in three genres: pottery, furniture, and sculpture. In 2009, Courtney was named a GlaxoSmithKline fellow with NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues. Currently serving on the Burke Arts Council and Morganton Cultural Arts Commission, she is committed to economic development through “creativity” and collaborates with several local businesses, community leaders and non-profits to revitalize and expand Burke County’s placed-based crafts economy. Courtney lives and creates art on a farm located in the Chesterfield community with her husband Jeremy and daughter Saige along with horses, chickens, and two spoiled blue heelers. Courtney is a potter, sculptor, and jeweler; she loves creating art, hiking, traveling, glamping, gardening, cooking and cloud watching. To learn more, please visit

Luke Manget, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Luke Manget joined NCSSM-Morganton in July 2022 as an Instructor of American Studies & Humanities. He has been teaching history at the high school and college level since 2005, including stops at Murphy High School (NC), University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Dalton State College. His research focuses on Appalachian and Environmental History. His book, “Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia,” was published in 2022 by the University Press of Kentucky. His research has appeared in the “Appalachian Journal,” “Environmental History,” and “Ohio Valley History,” among other outlets. Luke earned his bachelor’s degree in history, technology, and society at the Georgia Institute of Technology; his master’s in American history at Western Carolina University; and his doctorate in history at the University of Georgia. When he is not teaching, researching, or writing, he enjoys playing soccer, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and disc golf with his wife, Natalie, and their three boys: Henry, Charlie, and Jack. His website can be found at

Kim Mayo, Evening Librarian, Academic Programs

Kim Mayo is the Evening Librarian in The Grace Breslin and F. Borden Mace Library. In addition, she has been one of the online instructors for Scholar Development during the summer. Previously, she served as school-level media coordinator and district coordinator of media services in the Durham Public Schools, and has also taught graduate courses in library science at NC Central University. Kim earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature/secondary education at Hofstra University, her master’s in library and information science at North Carolina Central University, and her doctorate in education (curriculum and instruction) at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her interests include travel and spending time with family and friends at the beach.

Ian McMichael, Assistant Athletics Director – Morganton, Student Life

Ian McMichael joined NCSSM in August 2022 as Assistant Athletics Director on our Morganton campus. A Roanoke, VA, native, he earned his bachelor’s in journalism and electronic media from the University of Tennessee. He earned his master’s in teaching at UNC Wilmington. Ian taught social studies and served as Topsail High School’s soccer coach for three years, prior to serving as assistant men’s soccer coach at Xavier University, UNC Wilmington, and Pfeiffer University. Ian was head soccer coach at Hampden-Sydney College and Barton College, and worked in additional capacities at both schools, serving as assistant to the athletic director and games operation manager, respectively.

Jenny Merrill, Dean of Students – Morganton, Student Life

Jenny Merrill joined NCSSM in January 2022 as the Dean of Students for the Morganton Campus. Prior to coming to NCSSM, she worked at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts for over ten years in Student Services. Jenny earned her bachelor’s degree from Rockhurst University and her master’s degree from Saint Louis University. She is passionate about making all students feel welcomed and included in campus life and enjoys getting to work with students and staff to provide opportunities for engagement both in the school and local community. Outside work, Jenny enjoys volunteering, spending time with her family, hiking, baking, and exploring new places. 

Samantha Moore, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Samantha Moore joined NCSSM-Morganton in 2022 as a mathematics instructor. She grew up in Colorado and attended the University of Northern Colorado for her undergraduate degree, though she spent a semester studying abroad in Dublin. She then moved to North Carolina to earn her PhD in mathematics from UNC-Chapel Hill. During her time at Chapel Hill Samantha was a co-director of Girls Talk Math, which is a high school math camp aimed at encouraging female and non-binary students to pursue careers in STEM. Her favorite topics in math include RSA cryptography, classification of surfaces, and non-Euclidean geometry. In Samantha’s spare time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with her cat Pi, painting, consuming far too much coffee, and taking care of her plants.

Amanda Moulder, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Amanda Moulder joined NCSSM as an Instructor of American Studies and Humanities in October 2021. Prior to this, she was Associate Professor and Writing Program Director at the University of San Diego, where she taught writing and Indigenous literature courses. She earned her doctorate in English from the University of Texas, where she taught in both the Department of Rhetoric and Writing and the Department of English. She has also taught at St. John’s University (Queens) and the University of Kentucky (Lexington). She began her teaching career over 20 years ago as an English instructor at Raleigh Charter High School. Her research interests include writing pedagogy, Indigenous studies, code-switching and English-language dialects, and feminist historiography. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in English and American studies from the Goucher College and a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas. When Amanda is not teaching, she enjoys taking yoga and barre classes, exploring Chapel Hill- and Durham-area restaurants with her family, walking in the woods near her house, and making Halloween costumes for her daughter.

Solange Muanda, Housekeeper, Housekeeping

Solange Muanda joined NCSSM’s housekeeping staff in December 2021. She and the rest of the housekeeping team work each day to keep the campus in good order for employees and visitors alike. When she isn’t working, Solange enjoys cooking her family’s traditional foods, taking care of her children, shopping for children’s clothes, and going to church.

David Oliveira, Jr., Coordinator of Physical Activity & Wellness, Physical Activity & Wellness

David Oliveira, Jr. joined the NCSSM team in August 2022 as the Coordinator of Physical Activity and Wellness for our Durham campus, following a five-year career as the head wrestling coach at Fuquay-Varina High School. While coaching at Fuquay-Varina, he worked closely with the athletic director to support the entire athletic department throughout the school year. David has experience with marketing, social media, ticketing, and operations and is well-versed in the “ins and outs” of the athletic administration career path. David is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati and plans to attend Western Carolina University to obtain a Master of Science in sports administration.

Lacey O’Rourke, Personal Counselor, Student Life

Lacey O’Rourke joined NCSSM in August 2022 as a Counselor on our Morganton campus. She was born and raised in the heart of Western North Carolina. She has over 10 years of counseling experience in a variety of work settings including academic, residential, and community. She has a passion for serving others and inspires self-awareness, self care, and self-advocacy to those around her. She is able to cultivate and maintain supportive relationships with students, families, staff, and community partners. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language and interpreting from Gardner-Webb University, and has been fluent in ASL since age nine. Lacey earned her master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Lenoir-Rhyne University and also graduated with her certification in Christian counseling. Lacey is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor (LCMHCS). She has a natural talent for leading and training others to reach their fullest potential. In her spare time, Lacey enjoys time with her family, social outings with friends, serving in her local church, journaling, photography, reading, singing, dancing, shopping, fashion, traveling, swimming, yoga, boating, and cooking.

Vincent Palmer, Housekeeper, Housekeeping

Vincent Palmer joined NCSSM in December 2021 as part of our housekeeping team. A Durham native, he worked for nearly two decades as a meter reader for a local gas company before coming to NCSSM. In his spare time, Vincent enjoys traveling, watching sporting events, and listening to R&B and jazz music.

Clevell Roseboro II, Director of Library – Morganton, Academic Programs

Clevell Roseboro II joined NCSSM-Morganton as Director of Library in July 2022. A native of Winston-Salem, Roseboro has extensive library experience and most recently served as director of the Meriden Public Library in Connecticut. Roseboro has held executive posts in both public and academic libraries such as: Felician University, Delaware State University, Lincoln University, Saint Augustine’s University, North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University. He is also a former 4th grade teacher and a collegiate debate team coach. Roseboro earned a master’s degree in library science from North Carolina Central University and a bachelor of science from Winston-Salem State University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership technology at William Taft University. Roseboro is a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Michelle Rutowski, University Program Associate, Mathematics

Michelle Rutowski joined NCSSM in August 2021 as the University Program Associate for the Mathematics Department. Michelle graduated from Meredith College and began her career as a teacher of music and drama in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System. After the births of her son and daughter, she transitioned to office management of a family business as well as Youth Choir Director at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, where she was also responsible for multiple music camps and adult musical productions. As her children grew, she accepted a new challenge as administrative assistant, zoning administrator, and event coordinator for The Village of Marvin. During her time with the village, she loved assisting the residents and organizing community events. In 2010, Michelle’s son graduated from NCSSM and she returned to education, accepting a position with Union County Public Schools as attendance counselor, where she worked for 11 years with the administration, staff, students, and parents of a cluster of four schools. Her responsibilities have included administrative and faculty support, records and report generation and analysis, working with students to address attendance issues, and event assistance. She is thrilled to be part of the NCSSM family!

Brian Sea, Instructor of Computer Science, Engineering & Computer Science

Brian Sea joined NCSSM in 2022 as a member of the first faculty cohort for the Morganton campus. Hailing from Louisiana, Brian went to university in Missouri where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and discovered a passion for teaching computer science while teaching at the ADVANCE program in Natchitoches. Brian has taught in all manner of settings including private and public boarding schools, a community college, and a four-year university. He’s developed and implemented computer science programs at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Head-Royce School. Aside from teaching, Brian has contributed in aspects of admissions, residential life, and even coached fencing. During summers, he can be found playing video games, literally running around, and trying to create educational software for teachers around the world.

Lindsay Smith, Instructor of Biology, Science

Lindsay Smith joined the NCSSM team in July of 2022 as an Instructor of Biology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Michigan State University, and her master’s of environmental science at the University of Michigan. Prior to NCSSM, Lindsay was a member of the faculty at South Lake High School in Michigan, served two terms as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow with the NOAA Office of Education in DC, and most recently was a teacher at Mooresville High School in North Carolina. To connect her students to scientists and real-time data she has participated in the Ocean Exploration Trust Science Communications Fellowship, NOAA Teacher at Sea, and the NSF PolarTREC program. Through these experiences she traveled to Antarctica, the Bering Sea, Galapagos Islands, and the Caribbean Sea to bring real science into her classroom and encourage her students to be scientists too. LIndsay is a 2021 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Math Teachers, and will use her award to connect NCSSM students to the surrounding community by providing citizen science and service learning opportunities throughout the region. 

Isaac Stewart, Instructor of Chemistry, Science

Isaac Stewart joined the faculty of NCSSM-Morganton in July 2022 as instructor of Chemistry. He completed his bachelor’s of biology at Lenoir-Rhyne College, and earned his master’s of biology at UNC Greensboro. Isaac began his teaching career in 2008 at Hickory Day School as middle grades science teacher and Director of Technology. Shortly thereafter he joined the faculty at Alexander Central High School where he taught biology, chemistry, and physics. Most recently Isaac has taught at St. Stephens High School in Hickory, NC where he taught chemistry and physics. In 2022 Isaac was named Teacher of the Year for St. Stephens High School, and was a finalist for Catawba County Schools Teacher of the Year. In his spare time he enjoys cooking in and out of the kitchen, hiking the NC mountains with his wife and two kids, being a Dad, and singing with his barbershop quartet.

Bryan Stutzman ’83, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Bryan Stutzman was one of the first graduates of NCSSM-Durham and returned in June 2022 to teach the first students of NCSSM-Morganton as an Instructor of Mathematics. Prior to that, he was a math and science teacher for 14 years at Woodlawn School in Davidson where he worked in a small team to form its upper school curriculum and experience. Among the classes he taught were precalculus, discrete mathematics, AP Calculus, physics, and AP Chemistry. After receiving his doctorate in operations research, Bryan wrote software for supply chain planning and modeling until he left the field to be a teaching assistant at his childrens’ school; Through his career he has taught math from first grade to calculus. Brain earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and economics at Duke University, his master’s of industrial engineering and his doctorate in operations research at Georgia Institute of Technology. His son, Eli, is a 2012 graduate from NCSSM and his daughter, Claire, was one of his students at Woodlawn. He loves for his students to find connections in not only the sciences but also the humanities.

Shaquana Suggs, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

Shaquana Suggs joined NCSSM in July 2021 as a Community Coordinator for 3rd Beall Hall, and joined NCSSM-Morganton as an Instructor of American Studies and Humanities in July 2022. She is a native of North Carolina and has taught English Composition at several colleges and universities in the area, including some public and private institutions. She is originally from Wilmington, N.C., but moved to Durham when she was in third grade. A fan of the arts and humanities, she attended Durham School of the Arts, and later UNC Greensboro where she double majored in English and studio art. She earned her master’s degree in English at UNC Greensboro as well. In her spare time, she enjoys writing novels, crafting, and some interior design. She also enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and camping.

Eric Taylor, Instructor of Mathematics, Mathematics

Eric Taylor joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in July 2022 as an Instructor of Mathematics. He is a National Board Certified Teacher with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from WVU Tech, and a master’s degree in instructional systems technology from UNC Charlotte. Prior to joining NCSSM, he taught high school math for Burke County Public Schools for 20 years. While at Patton High School in BCPS, Eric served as the graduation coordinator and chair of the school improvement/leadership team. In addition, he has presented at the North Carolina Technology in Education Society annual conference, teaching other teachers how to utilize Canvas in the math classroom. Outside of school, Eric’s favorite pastimes include reading and traveling with his family. In April 2022, the Taylor family achieved their goal of visiting all 50 US states. Up next on their list? Only 194 more countries to go!

Vickie Thomas, Director of Business Office & Risk Management, Business Office

Vickie Thomas joined NCSSM-Morganton in July 2022 as the Director of Business Office and Risk Management. Prior to joining NCSSM, she worked as an auditor with KPMG, a controller in private industry, and a finance director in NC local government. Vickie earned her bachelor’s in accounting at UNC-Chapel Hill, and is a Certified Public Accountant. She is a native of Morganton, and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, and nieces and nephews. She also enjoys sports, especially UNC Tar Heel Basketball!

Katherine Unruhe, Instructor of Physics, Science

Katie Unruhe joined NCSSM as an Instructor of Physics on the Durham campus in August 2022. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and Spanish at Vassar College, and her MAT degree at Duke University. As a physics instructor Katie brings her experience teaching high school science learners of all levels, ensuring they know they can all successfully learn physics. She is also a Senior Knowles Fellow, which means that she reflects regularly on her teaching practice with an amazing group of teachers from across the country.

Kayla Vance, Counseling Intern, Counseling

Kayla Vance is a member of the 2022-2023 School Counseling Cohort at UNC-Chapel Hill. She graduated in May of this year from the University of Virginia as a first-generation college student with a major in psychology and a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies. Throughout her undergraduate career, Kayla has served as a mentor to fourth- and fifth-grade elementary students and first-year and transfer students at UVA. She has also worked several jobs throughout her time as an undergraduate student, including serving as a UVA Dining Ambassador, working as a child watch member at a local fitness center, and working as a barista at Greenberry’s Coffee Company (a Charlottesville favorite!). In her free time, Kayla enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, and playing with her beloved rescue dog, Phoebe.

John “JJ” Watts, Senior Community Coordinator, Student Services

John “JJ” Watts joined NCSSM as a Community Coordinator in 2014, and joined the inaugural staff on our Morganton campus as a Senior Community Coordinator in July 2022. Before coming to NCSSM, JJ spent time working with high-school-aged students at Eckerd Youth Alternatives as well as the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. At NCSSM, he has spent time working as one of two RLA Coordinators on campus and one of three Online Resource Coordinators. He has sponsored several student clubs and will often use his school bus commercial driver’s license to assist with transportation needs throughout the Student Services department.

David Williams, Assistant Director Facilities Management – Morganton, NCSSM-Morganton Administrative Operations

Dave Williams joined the NCSSM-Morganton team in April 2022, bringing 35 years of experience in commercial and residential construction. After earning a bachelor’s in philosophy at the College of Wooster, he owned and operated a commercial glass and glazing company in Brevard, N.C., until 2002 when he founded West Main Development Co. Specializing in urban infill and downtown revitalization projects, Dave enjoyed the complex and fast-paced nature of the development process. For five years prior to coming to NCSSM, Dave has been the instructor of building trades and facilities maintenance at Schenck Job Corps Center in Pisgah Forest, N.C. In his free time Dave likes to create architectural specialty products and functional art installations.

Jennifer Williams, Chair of Science – Morganton, Science

Jennifer Williams joined the NCSSM team in November of 2021 as Department Chair of Science at NCSSM-Morganton. Jennifer began her career in western North Carolina, where she taught chemistry, physics, biology, environmental science, math and science research in Transylvania County for 23 years and served as science chair at Brevard High School for 15 years. Beginning in 2006, she created, developed and facilitated the TIME 4 Real Science program in collaboration with community partner Mary Arnaudin, NC Cooperative Extension. The TIME program continues to support students in authentic inquiry into their own questions as they work with scientists and teachers to conduct locally relevant science projects. Jennifer’s students have conducted award-winning work on topics ranging from endangered species to invasive insects to endophytes to biophotovoltaics. A 2010 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers, Jennifer is passionate about supporting high school students as they become scientists and is excited about the opportunity to impact even more students in her position at NCSSM. She earned her bachelor’s degree in science education (chemistry), from North Carolina State University, and her master’s degree in marine science (chemistry) from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

John Zimmerman, Instructor of American Studies & Humanities, Humanities

John Zimmerman came to the NCSSM-Morganton Humanities faculty as a Morganton native. Before joining NCSSM, John taught humanities for two years at local Freedom High School before moving to the newly-opening Patton High School (also in Morganton) as a charter faculty member. John taught at Patton for 15 years and was at different times the English Department head, the advanced placement coordinator, and chair of Humanities. Having taught an array of courses, John’s academic interests focus on early American studies, 20th Century American fiction, Southernism, and film. John is also deeply interested in curriculum design and teacher leadership. Publications and presentations include “Aristotle Reclaimed” in the Journal School Public Relations, NCTE conference talks on censorship, college preparation, designing writing curriculum, and teacher leadership, in addition to chairing, hosting, and speaking at regional and state-level conferences such as those platformed by the Northwest RESA and the North Carolina English Teachers Association, of which John is a past Board of Directors member. John is the co-founder and CEO & Board Chair of North Carolina nonprofit Casting for Hope, which serves women and families in NC battling gynecological cancers. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from UNC Greensboro, and his master’s in English at Appalachian State University. When not teaching, John is usually in Europe—traveling both personally and touring students, teachers, and casual travelers through the UK, France, and Italy specifically—or in a trout stream with a fly rod and his trusty companion yellow Lab, Caedmon (named after the “first among the English to make verses” according to his memorial stone in Westminster Abbey!).