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Meet Our Staff


Mary-Kathryn Connor is the Director of Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool.  She is a native of Goldsboro, NC and holds a Bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences from Meredith College and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has her B-K, K-6, and 7-12 teaching licenses. She has a vast resume of experiences having been a teacher, department chair, and adjunct instructor at Moore Square Magnet Middle School, Needham B. Broughton High School and Meredith College.  Through her skillful leadership, Mary-Kathryn brought about instrumental change and success not only in programming but also in student achievement and staff support. The Wake County Public School System recognized her work by naming her Wake County’s Diane Kent Parker First Year Teacher of the Year, Broughton High School Teacher of the Year, Wake County Teacher of the Year Finalist, WRAL Teacher of the Week, WCPSS Employee Excellence  Award recipient, and the Richard M. Jewell Teaching Excellence Award. 


Mary-Kathryn is married to Jeff, and they have 3 children -- Jordan, Mary-Knowles and Pate. She is an active member of Hayes Barton United Methodist Church and is a board member of the Root Elementary PTA, Wee Care Children's Enrichment Program, and the Southeast Raleigh YMCA. When she isn't working or volunteering, she enjoys traveling with her family, reading, and taking group fitness classes.


Jessie Barringer is the Assistant Director and Accountant at HBUMP. She grew up in Kinston, NC and graduated from NC State University with a BS in Accounting as well as a Masters in Accounting with a concentration in Finance. Upon graduation, she obtained her CPA license and went to work for Pricewaterhousecoopers where she worked in the Audit Group with clients across various industries including manufacturing, real estate, and life sciences. After leaving PWC, she went to work for Allscripts Healthcare as a Finance Manager for the services function. Her main responsibilities included developing budgets and forecasts, creating capacity models and project-level profit and loss statements, and writing add-on services contracts. Jessie is married to TJ and together they have two sons, Jones and Hayns who attend Aldert Root Elementary and are former students at Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool. They are active members of HBUMC where Jessie enjoys teaching children’s Sunday School and volunteering with Vacation Bible School. She also enjoys volunteering at Root and is currently wrapping up her term as the Treasurer of the Root PTA.

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Penny Hage is a licensed pediatric Occupational Therapist who has vast experience working with children who have developmental differences. Penny has an Associates degree from Peace College as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from UNC- Chapel Hill. In 1995, she received her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from UNC-Chapel Hill and has been employed in both educational and clinical settings. She has worked as a school-based OT for WCPSS, performed pediatric multi-disciplinary evaluations for Developmental Therapy Services and worked as an inpatient and outpatient pediatric OT at WakeMed. HBUMP feels very fortunate to have Penny help to address the physical, cognitive, psychosocial and sensory components of academic performance through one-on-one therapy and classroom instructional support.

Meet Our Teachers

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Beth Blackwell Swartz is our 5 day floater. Beth is a native North Carolinian who grew up in Raleigh. She received a BA in Elementary Education from Furman University and later earned a Master of Education with a concentration in Literacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her teaching career, Beth held a variety of leadership positions including School Improvement Chairperson, grade level chairperson, Mentor Coordinator, and served as an active member of various committees.  Beth believes relationships are key. She loves differentiating education and incorporating literacy in all areas of the curriculum. Beth and her husband Tony are members of Hayes Barton United Methodist Church and have two children, Amanda and EB. Beth is an active volunteer in the community and can most often be found chatting with people at A Place at the Table. In her spare time, Beth enjoys reading and spending time with her family.


Kathy Hamilton is our Kindergarten teacher. Kathy has lived in Raleigh for over 25 years; moving here with her family from the Washington DC area. She received her BA in Communications from the University of Maryland, College Park. After realizing education was her passion, she returned to school to complete a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology and has worked in Special Education and Early Childhood Education for over twenty years, most recently at St. Michael’s and the Raleigh School. Young children are her most favorite people and she loves using her hands-on, energetic teaching style to ignite their natural love of learning! Kathy is married to her husband Steve and they have three children: Alex, Eric and Kendall. She is an active volunteer with the Heroes Read Program and at A Place at the Table. When she isn’t walking her Labradoodle, Ruby, you can find her reading, working in her garden or trying out new restaurants with her family and friends.


Missy Boyd is one of our 5 day 4s teachers.  She holds a BA from Meredith College and has been working with children for her entire career.  Most recently, she served as an inclusion specialist and consultant with a non-profit called Community Partnerships, where she would provide strategies to teachers who had preschool students with behavior challenges and learning differences.  She has led professional development training for teachers all over the state over the past 10 years. In the summer of 2021, Missy began her Master’s in Education at UNC-CH and enjoys applying what she is learning to her classroom at HBUMP. She has two daughters, Hayden and Maddie, who attended HBUMP when they were preschoolers.  In her free time, Missy loves being the head coach for the JV women’s lacrosse team at Broughton, collecting shells and surfing at the beach, and reading a great book.

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Ronnie Wood is one of our 5 day 4s teachers.  She grew up in Greensboro, NC and holds a BA in Psychology from UNC- Chapel Hill, as well as a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University.  Ronnie supported preschoolers with special needs within Wake County Schools for 6 years, both as a classroom teacher for young children with Autism, as well as an itinerant teacher for children with Individualized Education Plans throughout our community.  She values creating an inclusive school family and nurturing social-emotional skill development through play. Ronnie lives in Five Points with her husband Stuart, her son Finn, and two kitties. She loves to spend family time exploring neighborhood restaurants and going on walks.


Mary Beth Evans is our 4 day 4s teacher.  Mary Beth is from “Little” Washington, NC and has a B.A. in history from UNC, where she minored in creative writing. In addition, she earned her M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University, during which time she had a teaching assistantship at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, TN. She has seven years experience teaching preschool and elementary school and has completed extensive professional development in literacy through Teachers College at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh. Mary Beth has a passion for incorporating literacy across the curriculum and she looks forward to exploring authentic and joyful learning in the early childhood environment. Mary Beth and her husband Zach are members of HBUMC, and children Louise, proud graduate of HBUMP, and Henry, happily enrolled at HBUMP. In their down time they enjoy working on house projects, spending time with friends and family, and playing with their German Shorthair Pointer, June.


Lisa Coster is one of our 3 day 3s teachers.  She received a BA in Early Childhood Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then embarked on a 30-year career in the Wake County Public Schools System, with five years at Aversboro Elementary School in Garner, NC and 25 years as a Kindergarten teacher at Lead Mine Elementary School in North Raleigh.  Lisa retired from the school system in 2015. Later in 2015, Lisa began teaching at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church Pre-School.  Lisa was raised at, was married in and remains an active member of HBUMC, where in addition to teaching in the preschool, she leads the children’s choir, sings in the chancel choir, co-leads the Appalachia Service Project and co-leads a circle.  Lisa has been married to David since 1985 and they have two children, Davis (Associate Youth Director at HBUMC), and Kiley who is completing her Master's Degree in Higher Education.


Erica Jones is one of our 5 day 3s teachers.  Erica graduated from East Carolina University with a dual degree in Family & Community Services and Family & Consumer Sciences Education. She taught high school for 11 ½ years, earned her National Board Certification and was a Certified Teacher Mentor in WCPSS. Erica taught Parenting & Child Development and Early Childhood Education courses while maintaining various leadership roles within her school and department. In her Early Childhood Education classes, Erica taught her students about working with young children and placed them in internships at local elementary schools, childcare centers and even at Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool. She loves the opportunity to use what she taught her high school students for many years. In her classroom, Erica is known for providing a welcoming, home-like environment where everyone feels comfortable. She prides herself on creating and maintaining positive and meaningful relationships with her students. She believes in teaching the whole child, meeting children where they are and providing differentiation, as needed. Erica also deeply understands the importance of the parent-teacher relationship and how it correlates with student success in the classroom. Erica and her husband, Jason, have two little girls, Emma and Willa, who both attended the preschool. They enjoy spending time outdoors, walking their dog and having dance parties in their living room. 


Heather Wilson is one of our 5 day 3s teachers. Heather grew up in Snow Hill, NC.  She was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill where she graduated with a B.A. Heather continued her studies at Wake Forest University where she earned a Masters in Education (K-12). Throughout her teaching career Heather served in various leadership positions including department chair, student council advisor, National Honor Society advisor, mentor teacher and Professional Learning Community chair. She has served as a presenter at several county level professional development seminars, focusing on topics such as student engagement and differentiated instruction.  Heather was named the Cox Mill High School Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for the Cabarrus County Teacher of the Year.  Heather's family relocated from Charlotte to Raleigh in 2019 to be closer to family.  Heather and her husband, Rob, have two children; Everett is an HBUMP graduate and attends Lacy Elementary while Caroline attends HBUMP. Heather and her family are members of HBUMC. 

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Virginia Williams is one of our 3 day 3s teachers. She was born in Raleigh and grew up as an active member of HBUMC.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Wake Forest University and is also certified to teach Special Education in grades K-12.  After graduating from Wake Forest, Virginia moved to Washington, DC where she taught for KIPP Charter Schools for three years. She then relocated back to Raleigh and worked for Pave Southeast Raleigh Charter School.  During her time at Pave, Virginia taught grades K-4 and Special Education before finally serving as an Instructional Coach.  In 2019, Virginia joined the Wake County Public School System. While at WCPSS, Virginia served as Grade Level Chair and was part of the School Improvement Team. Virginia is passionate about using creativity and differentation to meet the needs of all learners.  Her classroom is a warm and inviting environment where students feel confident taking risks.  In Virginia’s class you will notice high expectations alongside joy and spontaneity.  She and her husband Woodie welcomed their son McMillan (Mac) in 2021 and are so excited that he will also be part of HBUMP this school year. 

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Denise Stovall is one of our 2s teachers. Denise graduated from Appalachian State University with a BS in Child Development/Birth-Kindergarten Education with a concentration in Psychology. She has been teaching young children for over 25 years in a variety of settings, including her own home preschool, faith-based preschools, private early learning centers and special needs programs. She takes great pride in engaging young children in activities that interest them as well as exposing them to new and exciting learning opportunities. She has a passion for providing positive and meaningful preschool experiences that spark a child’s love of exploration and discovery and lays a strong foundation for future learning. Denise lives in Apex with her husband David, and they have three children, Becca, Cameron and Madison, and a wonderful son-in-law, Cody. In her free time, Denise and her family love vacationing in the Outer Banks and the NC Mountains. They also enjoy attending ASU and Clemson football games, where their son plays in the Clemson University Tiger Band. 

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Sydney Reid is one of our 3 day 2s teachers. She holds a BA in Psychology and a MA in Counseling, specializing in School Counseling, from Wake Forest University. She was the lower school counselor at The Fletcher School in Charlotte, which specializes in supporting children with specific learning disabilities. There, she had the opportunity to provide weekly social skills classes, as well as individual and group counseling to support the social and emotional growth of students. She most recently was a Mental Health Consultant for various Early Head Start and Head Start Centers in Raleigh and Eastern North Carolina. In this role, she provided consultation to staff, teachers, and families on mental health issues and preventing/managing challenging classroom behaviors. Sydney is passionate about the role that relationships play in learning and is a certified facilitator in Circle of Security Parenting and the Circle of Security Classroom Approach. Sydney is married to her husband Rob and they have a son named Graham. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, being outside, working out, and playing with their family dog, Muggsy. 

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Christine Stone is one of our 2 day 2s teachers. She has lived in Raleigh for 16 years. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Reading from UNC-Greensboro. She taught first grade for 11 years beginning in Woodbridge, Virginia, then Winston-Salem, and later at Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh. During her teaching career, she earned her National Board Certification and served in many leadership roles. She is passionate about building positive relationships with her students and their families. She strives to create a comfortable classroom where all students can play and learn together. Christine and her husband Jim have three daughters, Kate, Emily, and Molly, all proud graduates of HBUMP. She currently serves on the PTA Board at Root Elementary, where her daughters attend. She is an active member at Christ Church where she volunteers with the Outreach Ministry and teaches Sunday School. She enjoys reading, playing tennis, walking her dog Tucker, and traveling with her family.


Susan Johnson is one of our MMO teachers. She is a native of Williamston, NC, a graduate of Meredith College, and a member of Christ Church.  She and husband, Dick Johnson, are proud parents of Sarah and Richard.  Susan loves spending time at the beach, singing in the Junior League Chorus, and reading.  She is excited to begin her 20thyear of teaching at Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool.

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Sarah Wyche is one of our MMO teachers.  Originally from Henderson, NC she has a BA in Community Health from UNC-Wilmington. Prior to teaching at HBUMP, Sarah was fortunate to stay home with her two children, Ford and Sally. She is a member of St. Michael's Episcopal Church. She enjoys running, yoga, reading, and spending time at the beach with her family and friends.

Ashley Silverman is the Movement Instructor at HBUMP. She grew up in Raleigh, NC, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from the University of Virginia. She became a certified Athletic Trainer and then received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a pediatric Physical Therapist for 8 years at Wake Forest University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC before moving back to Raleigh and beginning work in a pre-school setting. Ashley is married to William, and they have three sons -- Wally, Whit, and Andrew.

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Betsy Vance, a native of Clemson, SC, is our music teacher  She holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Health and Exercise Science from Furman University and a Master’s of Public Health degree from Boston University. Growing up, Betsy participated in church children’s choirs, the SC Baptist Honor’s Children’s Choir, her high school’s elite choral ensemble, was selected to attend the prestigious SC Governor’s School for the Arts Academy and Honor’s programs, and was selected into the SC All-State Honor’s SATB Chorus each year eligible. She received a vocal scholarship to attend Furman University where she was a member of the University’s Chamber Choir and Furman Singers.  Betsy has sung with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, and the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus where she had the great opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall. Betsy is married to Wes and they have two children- Hannah and Collins. She is an active member of HBUMC. In her free time, she enjoys singing, traveling, reading, running, photography, and cooking. Betsy is a strong believer that all children have a natural capacity for music. Her goal is to increase your child’s curiosity about music in a fun, nurturing, and positive environment.


Rachel Woods is the owner and lead teacher of Dragonfly Nature Programs LLC, where she designs and teaches nature studies for young people. She feels tremendously blessed to provide the monthly science specials for Hayes Barton United Methodist Preschool as well as more than a dozen other schools in the Triangle. She learned to love the natural world in the redwood forests of the Northern California coast, where she grew up. A graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UNC Chapel Hill, Rachel taught high school science for 13 years prior to earning her NC Environmental Educator’s certificate where she studied the natural flora and fauna of NC. Rachel uses her past experiences to inform her programming with an aim to share the passion she has for the natural world with her young learners. Rachel is raising two fantastic young men with her husband Mark. While they find themselves happy at the NC coast, they find home in the NC mountains where they fly fish, mountain bike, hike and bird. Outside of work and home life, Rachel advocates for local environmental protections, knowing the well-being of our community is directly connected to the health of our environment.


Chris Gower Hahner is our Lego Learning Instructor. She grew up in Pennsylvania and holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Delaware. She was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and served on both active duty and in the reserves. She received her Master’s degree in Education and has been a part of the Wake County Public School System ever since. Chris believes in the power of connecting with others; she fosters curiosity and a love of learning as her students explore our world. During the past twelve years, she has been blessed with incredible opportunities and experiences at A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary and Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary; she was also recognized as a Diane Kent Parker First Year Teacher, Teacher of the Year, and WCPSS district finalist.  She has served as a classroom teacher, department lead, LEGO Education consultant, curriculum coach and magnet coordinator. Chris’s proudest titles are wife and Mom. Chris and Ryan have two daughters, Teagan, a recent graduate of HBUMP, and Renn, a current student at HBUMP. Chris loves new adventures with family and friends, volunteering, college sports, the St. Louis Cardinals, traveling, cooking, and reading.

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