Leland Rayner has a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Studies from the University of South Carolina and a Certificate in Waldorf Education from Antioch New England University. His interests in music began at a young age, learning first the viola, followed by the guitar and piano. His love of music ultimately brought him to the double bass and jazz improvisation He spent several years as a professional freelance musician in Charleston, South Carolina.
While teaching music lessons under the same roof as a newly founded Waldorf-inspired initiative in Charleston, Leland struck up a friendship with the school's founder. He quickly realized that Waldorf Education spoke deeply to his own instincts as an educator. It was at this time that he committed not only to a path of serving children, but also to one of spiritual development. In 2018 he moved north to pursue his Waldorf teacher training, and Masters of Education at Antioch University in Keene, New Hampshire.
It was upon completion of his Waldorf teacher certification program in the summer of 2019 that he was asked to step into a full time teaching position in a mixed 7th/8th grade classroom at the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene. He loved teaching middle school and learned immensely through his work with this class as well as mentors and colleagues.
He is excited to continue teaching in a new venture in North Carolina while finishing his M.Ed. Leland eagerly helped form this new Waldorf-inspired initiative in Raleigh, putting down roots close to his home town of Spartanburg, South Carolina. In his free time he enjoys running (and is currently training to complete his second marathon), hiking, playing his upright bass, reading and spending time with loved ones .
Leland is dedicated to Waldorf-inspired education. He is a steady and calming presence, whose mindfulness and clarity of action and word holds our first grade class with a gentle strength.
Jamie Kelly holds a Master of Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she concentrated her research on Waldorf Education. She began her teaching journey as a preschool teacher at Christ Church in downtown Raleigh. After learning about Waldorf education, she left to become the lead teacher of Sun Star Farm's transitional kindergarten, a Waldorf-inspired preschool program in Apex, NC. While there, her growing passion for Waldorf education led her to serve on the founding board of directors of the Raleigh Oak Charter School, demonstrating vision and leadership as one of her many talents. Following her board tenure, Jamie become one of four lead kindergarten teachers at Raleigh Oak Charter School, where she worked to integrate Waldorf-inspired methods of teaching into public education.
Jamie is a passionate, dedicated teacher who brings joy to her class children, works collaboratively with their families, and altogether embodies the spirit of Waldorf principles. Jamie plans to continue her studies working towards a certification in Waldorf Education over the next several years.
We are pleased to have Jamie nurturing the children in our Early Childhood program. She brings an abundance of talent and immense love of educating young children in the Waldorf-inspired tradition to our mixed age kindergarten class.
Heather has been an educator for over 15 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from Boston University, and a Master of Education from Antioch New England University with Waldorf Education specialization. She has held teaching positions at Monadnock Waldorf School, Cobb Meadow School, and was the director of a home-based Waldorf-inspired program called Summer Song School. Heather has a deep understanding and love of Waldorf education which she has developed by living into the philosophy both professionally and personally. She raised two children who attended Waldorf schools in New Hampshire where she and her family resided until 4 years ago, when they moved to sunny North Carolina.
Following her move to NC, Heather became involved with the effort to launch the Raleigh Oak Charter School, where she worked alongside Jamie Kelly as a lead kindergarten teacher, and as a mentor in the art of Waldorf principles of education to her fellow educators.
Heather joined The Unity School in it first year as Faculty Mentor, Chair of the College of Teachers, and to provide curriculum support. In this role, her many years of experience enhances the strengths of our first grade and kindergarten teachers. She has a magnificent talent for the arts, such as puppetry, handwork, and watercolor painting-other ways she provides support to our teachers.
Heather is the handwork teacher and serves as our primary substitute teacher. She also heads the festivals committee, organizes and leads book study groups, as well as parent education events.
We appreciate the depth and breadth of Heather's experience in Waldorf education.
Joanna Tzeng is our Mandarin language teacher. She has been a language teacher for more than 10 years. She is originally from Taiwan. Joanna holds a Master of Education in Early Childhood, Special Education, and Literacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which focuses on researching how to use the Reggio Emilia Approach in teaching. She observed and learned how art plays a critical role in child development in public and private schools.
Joanna also has a certificate in Differentiated Instruction from Harvard University. She understands how to apply differentiated instruction to different students from various backgrounds in her class.
In the 2019-2020 school year, Joanna served as a Director of Academic Affairs at Raleigh Chinese Languages School with more than 20 teachers. In order to further develop her skills in problem resolution, Joanna is pursuing another certificate in School Management and Leadership from Harvard University, and she expects to complete this program by August, 2021.
Joanna has researched Waldorf Education principles and methods as her own children attended Waldorf schools. She spends her free time learning more about Waldorf Education with experienced mentors.
Joanna hopes all her students are thrilled to learn Mandarin Chinese as she leads them to become successful learners.
In the The Unity School curriculum, "specials" or non-academic subjects are a fundamental part of the education. Handwork develops dexterity, visuospatial awareness, fine motor skills, creativity, basic math, as well as patience and perseverance! In later grades, these skills are further developed by woodworking and coppersmithing. Movement forms, such as the traditional eurythmy, teaches control over the body, gross motor skills, and connects sound to movement, enhancing the understanding of phonetics. Clay and beeswax modeling, watercolor painting, puppet shows, playing the recorder, singing, and languages-each contribute to and enhance academic learning in ways which engage children and create a solid foundation on which to build for the rest of their lives.
Our goal is to cultivate a vibrant, connected, and involved parent community dedicated to the overall well-being of our students. We have many opportunities for parent volunteers both in and outside the classroom. All volunteers are required to complete a background check.
Specific volunteer opportunities include:
Regular parent volunteers interested in assisting the class teachers as needed, chaperones/ transportation for field trips and outings, and as needed, assistants for recess times and certain activities such as gardening.
Let us know if you are interested in being a volunteer!