Hope Creek Academy has twenty-one full-time teaching staff, a speech-language pathologist, an after-school director and assistant, and an administrator.
Linda McDonough, HCA Director, graduated from Western Carolina University in 1977 with a BA in English and minors in Reading and Education. She has taught at Waynesville Junior High, Ashe Central High School, and was chair of the English Department at The Patterson School, a private boarding school with a strong Orton-Gillingham program for dyslexics. For many years she worked as a private tutor, teaching reading, writing, and spelling to dyslexic children and teens. A particular interest has been children with autism and dyslexia. From 1992 to 2008, she served as the Director of Christian Education at the Church of the Holy Family (Episcopal). She is the founder of the Augustine Literacy Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded at Holy Family to serve low-income children with reading difficulties. She still serves as a tutor trainer and board member. For this work she was awarded the June Lyday Orton Award for service to dyslexics by the NC International Dyslexia Association branch. She has been a foster parent and transracial adoption trainer, and she presently works as a volunteer mental health advocate and the chair of Cedardell, Inc, a nonprofit that serves young adults with mental illness. She is the mother of two daughters, neither of whom fit well into public schools. Hope Creek Academy is the culmination of years of working to find just the right school for her students and her own children. This is her ninth year at HCA.
Marion Houser, assistant director and teacher, grew up in a military family who lived all over the U.S. She graduated from Georgia Tech in 1988 with a BS in chemistry and a minor in biology. She worked five years as a developmental scientist at Burroughs-Welcome before taking time to stay home with her four daughters. Marion has volunteered extensively in the community. She worked with the Chapel Hill Service League at Christmas House, focusing on teens. She set up math and science labs at her children’s CHCCS schools and volunteered as a literacy tutor. In 2003 she took the Augustine Literacy Project training and has worked as a tutor and tutor trainer. She has also tutored teens as a consultant for Durham Schools, working primarily with students at Lakeview. In addition, she has taught Sunday School for many years and prepared and served meals at Chapel Hill’s Interfaith Council Community Kitchen. Mrs. Houser works with students in math, and she provides teacher support. This is her ninth year at HCA.
Claudia Kaplan, administrator, was raised mostly in Ohio and is the daughter of a Methodist minister. She graduated in 1974 from Earlham College in Richmond, IN, with a major in French Literature. Claudia came to us after six years as administrator/bookkeeper at Rainbow Soccer, but has worked a variety of jobs over the years, most memorably as a trainer with Sondra Ray’s Loving Relationships Training (LRT), as a Breathwork practitioner, and as a birth doula—which she still does now and again because she loves it. Claudia has also been singing all her life, in living rooms, coffeehouses, churches, and with choirs ranging from 10 to 200 voices, and she has released one CD. She has traveled a large part of the world, living in six states and four other countries before settling in NC in 1993 with her husband Simon. She and Simon have two children through adoption, a daughter from China and a son born in Chapel Hill. This is her ninth year at HCA.
Sarah Flanary graduated from Union College, Schenectady, NY, in 1988 with a BA in Modern Languages. The following year she was an au pair for a family with two young boys in southern France. From 1990-1997 she taught at Charlotte Country Day Middle School as a French/Spanish instructor, and was also a coach and student advisor. In 2004, her family moved to Vero Beach, FL where she was hired as a French/Spanish teacher, as well as a freshman advisor at Indian River Charter High School. For HCA’s first two years, as a parent volunteer she tutored several HCA students after she took the Augustine Literacy Project training. In 2012 she became a full time employee, teaching language arts in our middle and high school classrooms. While at HCA, she organized and participated in Bal-a-vis-x training, attended Nancie Atwell Writer’s Workshop seminar, and participated in Michele Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking seminar with her colleagues. This is her eighth year at HCA.
Kyla Briscoe is a co-teacher in the high school. Kyla is from Shelby, NC, and graduated from Lees McRae College in May 2018 where she studied psychology while running track and playing soccer. Prior to joining the staff at HCA, Kyla spent her time working with children at Holston Presbyterian Camp. This is her first year teaching and she is very grateful and eagered to continue working with students. She also works aftercare with Ms. S; she enjoys this extra time with the students. During Kyla’s free time she loves hiking, traveling and playing soccer.
Behm Williams, middle school teacher, grew up in the Chapel Hill area and graduated from the Carolina Friends School in 2007. Behm attended college at Louisiana State University where he studied Sociology and English, graduating from Ashford University in 2017. In 2011 Behm returned back to his native North Carolina to further his education, and began working at Hope Creek Academy. Behm is trained in Bal-a-vis-x, a movement system that uses rhythmic patterns and visual tracking to promote internal rhythm and balance. Behm is a middle school co-teacher. He has also taken the Augustine Literacy Project and TEACCH trainings. This is his eighth year at HCA.
Mackenzie Smet is a co-teacher in the middle school class. Mackenzie is originally from North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2017 where she studied Linguistics, History, and Speech/Hearing Science. Prior to joining the staff at HCA, Mackenzie spent her time working with children at YMCA Camp Cheerio. She is very excited to continue her passion for working with children. In her free time Mackenzie enjoys reading, being outdoors, traveling, and all animals. This is her second year at HCA.
Caitlin Fuller, upper elementary co-teacher, grew up in Apex, North Carolina. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Sociology. She has 10+ years experience working with children through YMCA camp, nannying, and as a preschool teacher. She has taken the Augustine Literacy Project and TEACCH trainings. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time outside. This is Caitlin’s fourth year at HCA.
Taylor Miller is a co-teacher in the upper elementary class. Taylor is originally from Charlotte and graduated from Appalachian State in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, concentrating in American politics. This is his first job as a teacher, but he has enjoyed working with students for some time. He volunteered the past five summers at Montreat Conference Center serving as a small group leader and advisor. He also assisted with his local scout troop and church youth choir as an adult. Taylor loves to play golf and hang with his dog, Bodie. This is his third year at HCA.
Helen Grace Barefoot, primary teacher and behavior consultant, graduated from Meredith College with a psychology degree. She trained in ABA and discrete trial teaching techniques at the Meredith Autism Program, providing early intervention services. After graduation, she continued to work with children with autism in home and community settings, providing consultation, programming, and parent/teacher training for a homeschool program as well as gaining experience in Verbal Behavior techniques providing 1:1 tutoring through the Carolina Center for Applied Behavior Analysis. This is her fourth year at HCA.
Julia Newman, teacher assistant in the Independence Academy classroom, studied psychology at Vassar College and completed her work study program at the college through the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, where she assisted in giving counsel and supervision to school aged children living under the care of the state of NY. She also interned as an assistant teacher in the Harborside Montessori school in her native town of Beverly, MA. She is certified in TEACCH’s intensive training for classroom teachers of students with autism and is thrilled to have found a home at Hope Creek Academy. She loves to explore RDU, yet is often found talking about her native Massachusetts, and may even share a few pics with you without much prompting at all. This is her second year at HCA.
Jane Oldham is a co-teacher in the primary class. Jane graduated from Appalachian State University in May 2018, where she studied Human Services Psychology and Communications, Sciences, and Disorders. She also is proficient in American Sign Language. Before working at HCA, Jane worked at YMCA Camp Cheerio with children for five summers. This is Jane’s first year at HCA, but she is very excited to continue her passion of serving others and working with children. In her free time, she is excited to spend time outside and explore Durham!
Nicole Heath is a co-teacher in the primary class. Nicole is New Yorker at heart, originally from Long Island N.Y. She has very happily called N.C. home for the past 11 years. Nicole attended The State University of New York and graduated with a degree in Veterinary Science. She also completed studies at Ashford University and graduated with a BA in Early Childhood Education. Nicole then completed coursework at East Carolina University to earn a NC Professional Educator’s License. She has completed TEACCH coursework trainings. Nicole was a special education teacher for Durham Public Schools. She taught in a separate setting autism classroom for 5 years before coming to HCA. Nicole and her husband have 3 sons, dogs, cats, chickens and a tortoise that always help occupy much of her free time. When any free time allows, she likes to get out and travel around our beautiful world. She also enjoys capturing her experiences while traveling through the lens of her camera.
Jim White, teacher assistant, is a North Carolina native. He attended Western Carolina University with a major in Psychology and Sociology. He brings a variety of work experience including twenty plus years in retail management, eight years with Wake County Area Mental Health as a Teacher Parent Supervisor working with behaviorally disordered youth, two years as a Substance Abuse Counselor in the adolescent unit at Charter Northridge Hospital, and 15 years as a professional photographer. After working as a substitute at HCA, he joined the teaching staff full-time; this is his third year.
CJ Barefoot, co-teacher in our Independence Academy, earned her BA in Psychology at Meredith College. CJ participated in the Meredith College Autism Program (M.A.P.) and received extensive training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), working with children aged 2-7 in school and home settings. After graduation she was offered a staff position at M.A.P. providing one-on-one teaching and assisting the behavioral consultants and director with training and supervising undergraduate student teachers in ABA and DTT techniques. While completing her Masters in Education for Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support at UNC-Chapel Hill, she continued to work with children with autism aged 5-9 in home and community settings, gaining training and experience using Verbal Behavior teaching techniques. She has served as a one-on-one teacher as well as a consultant developing programming, assessing skills, and supervising a team of teachers for an in-home program. This is CJ’s fifth year at HCA.
Lisa Townsend, Supported Learning teacher, was raised in a military family and has lived in many places. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, with a degree in Business and German. All three of her sons have various disabilities, from attention deficit disorder to autism spectrum disorder to a couple of learning disabilities to a mental illness; one is a college graduate, one is due to graduate this December, and the youngest just left for college. Lisa has worked in regular education and special education classrooms in a variety of capacities: as a volunteer, as a substitute teacher, as a reading tutor, and as a teaching assistant. She was an autism specialist for the Autism Society of NC as well as a private consultant in the areas of special education, special education law, and Individualized Education Programs. As such, Lisa has presented at local, regional, and national conferences on topics related to autism spectrum disorders (from topics ranging from the basics of autism spectrum disorders to teenage issues to parental involvement). She has received training by the Augustine Literacy Project, TEACCH for classroom teachers, Bal-a-vis-x, Social Thinking (Michelle Garcia Winner), Pamela and Pete Wright (wrightslaw.com), and Partners in Policymaking, among others. She has also served on the Local Interagency Coordinating Committee for Chatham County. Lisa has volunteered with middle school youth for the past four years and has been on a committee to increase the understanding and awareness of mental illnesses in a local community. This is her fourth year at HCA.
Maria Dontas, teaching assistant in Supported Learning, began as a parent volunteer of the school in 2013. She enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to teach language arts in the high school/middle school classroom the following year. She jumped even higher when asked to team up with Mr. Williams in the middle school classroom for the 2015-2016 school year. In preparation for that year she trained with the Augustine Literacy Project. She has had some TEACCH training. Ms. Dontas speaks Spanish fluently and is learning Greek. She is a student of the world and since 1988 she has also attended The North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, Stonybrook University in Long Island, NY, and The New School in NYC, NY. She continues to take classes when time and her busy life will allow. She is married and has two children, one of whom attends HCA. She sings in her church choir and enjoys movies, the theater, all animals, your kids, and life! This is her fifth year at HCA.
Molly Stein-Seroussi, teacher assistant in the Supported Learning class and after-school director, studies psychology at William Peace University. Ms. S is a trained ABA tutor, Augustine Literacy Project trained, and is TEACCH certified. Prior to joining the staff at HCA, Molly worked with children with special needs in a variety of capacities, from tutoring to nannying to acting as a camp counselor. This is her fifth year at Hope Creek. In her spare time, she enjoys running, home improvement, and hanging out with her dogs, ferret, and chickens.
Ginny Brooks, reading teacher, grew up in the Richmond, VA, area. She received her Masters in Special Education from The College of William and Mary and has worked in self-contained classrooms and as a resource teacher in Virginia, Oregon, and North Carolina. Ginny has taught in both public and parochial schools in Durham and tutored in home settings and at The Hill Center. She received her Augustine Literacy Project training in 2010 and continues to volunteer with her Augustine child. She has been supervising and teaching a Montessori-based Sunday School curriculum at a local Episcopal church for the past 9 years. She and her husband live in Durham, and her two children attend Riverside HS and Guilford College. This is Ginny’s sixth year with HCA.
Deborah Horvitz, reading teacher, utilizes Augustine Literacy Project training and Lindamood-Bell’s Visualize and Verbalize program. She first used the Orton-Gillingham reading program in the late 1970s in a program run by Massachusetts General Hospital, but located in Newport, RI. She began applying this method in her special needs classes in Medford, MA, where she taught for six years. For 27 years after that, she took on various administrative, public relations, and marketing communications roles for a variety of organizations in Boston, and then in the Triangle. These included serving as Director of Public Relations for a Harvard hospital, Director of Executive MBA Programs at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and Executive Director of the Durham Public Education Network. She returned to her first love, teaching special needs children, at Watts Montessori Magnet School in Durham. After six years there, she decided she would rather spend her time teaching children rather than doing all the paperwork required in public schools. Ms. Horvitz lives in Durham with her husband, David Stein. They have two sons, one working in New York City, and one who recently graduated from college in Connecticut. This is her fifth year at HCA.
Katie Reily is a licensed speech-language pathologist who has been practicing in public and private schools for nearly twenty five years. This is her eighth year working on a contractual basis with HCA. Katie specializes in challenges with receptive/expressive language and social communication. She has completed the mentor training in Social Thinking with Michelle Garcia Winner. Katie has learned over the years that behavior is hierarchical, that for children to be available to use language in a classroom or to form meaningful friendships, their underlying sensory and emotional systems have to be sufficiently regulated. For that reason she has completed numerous trainings to help children in these two areas. Katie is certified as a Transdisciplinary Therapeutic Educator in the Waldorf School movement, has completed the advanced training in Integrated Listening and by fall, 2017 she will have completed the curriculum training in teaching mindfulness through the Mindful Schools training organization. She and her husband have four grown children. Katie loves getting to know the unique learners at Hope Creek as well as teaming up with teachers and parents to support the students’ strengths for classroom success. All students will receive her services as part of their tuition, sometimes in small groups, others individually, and still others through teacher consultations. For more information, see http://www.katiereily.com/.
The Augustine Literacy Project of the Triangle
The Augustine Literacy Project, founded in 1994 by Linda McDonough at the Church of the Holy Family (Episcopal), provides tutors for low income children. The Augustine Project gives their tutors 70 hours of training in Orton-Gillingham techniques to teach reading, writing and spelling. Each tutor commits to tutoring a low-income child for at least 60 sessions. Though originally sponsored by the church, they provide secular instruction, and are now a 501(c)(3) organization.
Developmental Therapy Associates, Inc.
Developmental Therapy Associates, Inc, comes to HCA to work with individual students on a contract basis. Parents should contact them directly. We will provide a time and space for them to work. They are able to provide speech and occupational therapy services and take Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicaid. We welcome Jenny Bonano Walther, MS, OTR/L.