Teachers and Staff
Just Right Academy has six full-time teachers, one full-time teaching assistant, a speech-language pathologist, two part-time reading teachers, and a part-time administrator.
Linda McDonough, JRA Director and teacher, 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 the past 21 years she has 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 Project, a program sponsored by 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. She is the mother of two daughters, neither of whom fit well into public schools. Just Right Academy is the culmination of years of working to find just the right school for her students and her own children. She teaches language arts and reading. This is her third year at JRA.
Marion Houser, teacher, grew up in a military family who lived all over the U.S. She graduated from Georgia Tech in 1988 with a B.S. 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 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 primarily in the areas of science, math, reading and social thinking. This is her third year at JRA.
Sarah Flanary, teacher, teaches language arts and English, Spanish, and civics. She also teaches reading to students who need one-on-one help. Formerly a public school foreign language teacher, Sarah was a home-schooling mom for the five years preceding her time at JRA. She completed the Augustine Project training in 2010, allowing her to become a reading tutor. This is her second year at JRA.
Tracey Powell, reading teacher, works with students who need intensive help in reading. She grew up in Raleigh and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University. She and her husband John have 4 children, ranging in age from 18-25. After graduating from college, she worked briefly in the Wake County Public School system before deciding to stay at home with her children. When the oldest two (twins) were in first grade, it became apparent that public schools weren’t going to meet their needs, so she homeschooled all 4 of them through the end of high school. In 1995 she enrolled in Orton-Gillingham training in order to help her dyslexic daughter with reading and writing. She found that she really loved tutoring and later began to work with other students. She has also worked for the Augustine Project observing and mentoring tutors. Three years ago, after completing additional training, she became a certified Wilson Reading Instructor. Tracey spends her summers working in administration at Camp Cheerio, a YMCA camp located in the North Carolina mountains. In her spare time she enjoys swimming, water skiing, snorkeling, and spending time with family and friends. This is her first year at JRA.
Tarish Pipkins, teacher, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He began to realize his talent in art in elementary school, when he sold his first piece of art to a teacher. At age 14, he taught himself to cut hair and spent twenty years in the cosmetology field, especially enjoying the small children whose hair he cut. He became a spoken word artist and a live performance painter and joined a collective called the Bridgespotters. The collective performed, put on workshops, and went into schools to work with children. He became a trained NFTE instructor, teaching young people entrepreneurship and the skills needed to start their own businesses. At the same time, he received commissions for murals in Pittsburgh and left his mark on walls all over the city. In 2005, he moved to NC and began working with children with disabilities. Finding he had both a love and a gift for that work, he became a therapeutic foster parent for YouthQuest. He has been a lead teacher at Clapping Hands Farm Camp in Pittsboro, a puppeteer, and has worked with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, most recently with the Love & Robots production. He is married with four children. Mr. Pipkins works in the areas of art, movement, and social skills, and assists in science. His work can be seen on youtube. Tarish works with students in art, movement and bal-a-vis-x, and works in our primary classroom. This is his third year at JRA.
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 comes to us after 6 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. She has traveled a large part of the world, living in 6 states and 4 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 third year at JRA.
Behm Williams, 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. In 2011 Behm returned back to his native North Carolina to further his education, and began working at Just Right 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 teaches Bal-a-vis-x and PE classes at JRA, outdoor education, and math. He has also taken the Augustine Project Literacy training and will be working with some students in reading. This is his second year at JRA.
Courtney Wilson, teacher, works in our Supported Learning class. She has BA’s in Communication and Psychology and a Masters in Special Education with a graduate certification in autism. Courtney’s background is in ABA, and she taught for six years with Wake County Schools. She has Augustine Project training in teaching reading. For over three years she has been lead facilitator in Sibshops, a program for the siblings of those with special needs. This is Courtney’s first year at JRA.
Katie Reily, who works with our students on a contract basis, is a certified, licensed speech-language pathologist who has been in private practice for many years. She has worked in public and private school settings and is also a certified therapeutic educator in the Waldorf school movement. She serves children with articulation, receptive/expressive language, and social communication challenges. She has completed the mentor training in Social Thinking with Michelle Winner. Since so many school challenges are influenced by poorly developed sensory systems, Katie includes regular exercises in her therapy sessions to help mature the senses, particularly balance, visual and auditory processing. Katie and her husband have four grown children. http://www.katiereily.com/
Katie will work intensively with students in three week blocks separated out over the school year. She is excited about getting to know the unique learners at Just Right 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. This is her second year at JRA.
The Augustine Project
The Augustine Project, founded in 1994 by Linda McDonough at the Church of the Holy Family (Episcopal), will provide tutors for our 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. They will be supervised on-site by Linda McDonough and Marion Houser, tutor trainers. Though sponsored by the church, they provide secular instruction.
Developmental Therapy Associates, Inc.
Developmental Therapy Associates, Inc, comes to JRA 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.