Amy Blanchard, Durham Discovery Teacher

Amy holds a master’s degree in early education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.  During graduate school, she found herself drawn to the Reggio Emilia model of early learning, and she saw first-hand the ways that relevant curriculum and home-like environments engaged young students. She committed herself to following NAEYC’s best practices in her teaching and creating classroom communities where all learners feel valuable, included, safe, and heard. She believes in teaching early literacy and math skills by following a student-driven, project-based curriculum.

Amy was a stays-with-children-mother for five years and has an additional six years of experience working with young children. She and her family moved to NC from New Jersey in August of 2015. They love living in south Durham! Amy considers herself a “maker” and spends her free time sewing in her studio. She is very excited to be a part of the Discovery Room!

Shelley Buisson, Chatham (Instrumental Music, World Languages)

Shelley lives on 9 acres just outside of Pittsboro. Originally from Ontario, Canada, she has lived in many places in Ontario, Germany, Quebec and France before coming to the Raleigh area 12 years ago. She began her adult life as a French and German teacher, raised three children to adulthood in three different countries and now is a full time music instructor and licensed Kindermusik educator with a passion for knitting and other crafty things, permaculture and sustainable, intentional living.

Lorri Cole, Durham (Spanish, Explorations & Launchpad)
While growing up in a small town in rural NC, Lorri fell in love with the idea of learning about new cultures and the greater world around her. She combined this interest in cultures with a passion for language, and studied Spanish Language and International Studies at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. Lorri now makes an effort to experience new cultures as frequently as possible, and has visited various parts of Europe and lived periodically in Central and South America.
Lorri is also a CrossFit Level One Trainer and believes in trying to embody total physical, mental, social and emotional wellness on a daily basis. In her free time, she enjoys getting outdoors and dabbling in various art forms. She is very excited to be part of the family at DFS and to work with students to develop cultural and wellness skills!

Charlotte Dungan, Durham (Multi-age Teacher)

Charlotte is the Executive Director of DFS but chooses to teach a few classes each quarter to stay connected to students in all levels, offer parent education, and enjoy a bit of time in the classroom sharing her passion for a variety of subjects.  Charlotte has an Ed.M. in Learning and Teaching from Harvard University. She is a certified teacher in the State of Massachusetts and holds a lapsed certificate for preschool education in the State of Ohio. She has been a homeschooling parent since 2008.  She believes in a tailored education for every learner, and encourages adults to continue their own learning journeys throughout the lifespan.

Lyle Estill, Chatham (Apprenticeship in Wood, Glass and Metalworking)

Lyle Estill is a metal sculptor, author, and entrepreneur who will be the “industrial arts” teacher at his shop in Moncure for the fall semester of 2017.  Summer Shop currently has metal, wood, and fused glass capabilities. Lyle has been a regular teacher at Emerson Waldorf in Orange County, and has lectured widely on sustainability issues at universities throughout the country.  He has never “taught shop” before, but is willing to give it a try because he is a fan of Dimensions Family School and is keenly interested in seeing its Moncure campus successfully launch.

Pam Fleischauer, Chatham (The Forest School, Discovery – Wondertime)

Pam has worked in a multi-aged Montessori classroom for the past five years after five years at home with her son. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health and a teaching certification from The University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill as well as her primary Montessori certification from The College of New Rochelle in New York. Pam believes in the importance of a prepared environment, “following the child,” and peace education. She is eager to develop The Forest School at the Chatham campus, which will engage discovery-age students’ sense of wonder and stewardship through semi-structured/unstructured days on the 150 acre farm and garden “playground.”   Originally from Michigan, Pam moved down to North Carolina in 1998. Her interests outside of teaching include kayaking, ukulele, birds and all things ART. Pam lives in the woods just outside of Pittsboro with her husband and son.

Michael I. Gosman, Durham

Michael is a graduate of Western Maryland College (now McDaniel University), with a major in English and a minor in Education; he did PhD work in English, Comparative Literature, and Italian at Indiana University, as well as completed diploma and certificate programs in Acting and Directing at the National Shakespeare Conservatory (NYC) and the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC). He has nearly twenty years of high school and middle school classroom teaching experience in the USA, and another nearly ten years of university, college, and junior college classroom teaching experience in Japan.

Over the course of his career, he has won numerous local, state, and several national awards for excellence and innovation in teaching, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dating back to the late 1970s, he was one of the original classroom teachers who helped develop the test specifications (and the accompanying curriculum) for the standardized testing and evaluation of writing in the public schools, as well as a long-time consultant to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) on other professional topics such as instructional design, teacher training, and certification. In 1989, in recognition of his contributions to the MSDE, he was the recipient of a MSDE departmental Commendation.

In his free time, as “Micheal Akutagawa”, he is a radio DJ at WXDU 88.7 FM (Duke University) and the curator of the station’s weekly jazz program. He has also read and performed his creative work onstage at clubs and performance spaces in Tokyo, New York City, the Research Triangle, NC area, and in many other college and university towns in the USA. He and his wife, Yoko, have two grown children, and a grandson.

Ashley Imani, Durham Foundations Teacher

Ashley Imani is a  baby-wearing mama of a cool two year old little boy and pursuing a BSW in Social Work. She grew up in Durham and loves to spend her free time downtown supporting Durham. This includes supporting local businesses, eating international food, and going to live shows and open mics for local artists. She has 10+ years experience working in childcare for non-profits, and hopes to somedays start a non-profit for literacy skills in Durham.
In her free time when she’s not running after her two-year-old, she enjoys cooking healthy meals (especially quinoa + avocado), learning about other cultures, binge-watching Harry Potter, camping, hiking, and song-writing. She is super excited to be a part of of the DFS family and looks forward to teaching the Foundations class!

Stuart Jeckel, Chatham Director (Multi-age Teacher)

Stuart has taught math, science, technology, and Spanish over the past 10 years for the Khan Academy, Northern High School in Durham, and the Chapel Hill Institute for Cultural and Language Education. He also worked as a linguistics teaching fellow and educational researcher studying the role of self-motivation in computer science education at Harvard University, where he earned his Master of Education. His website,, includes math instructional videos and examples of his work in teaching and research.

Chef Njathi Kabui, Chatham (Farming Programs, World History & the Anthropology of Change)

Chef Njathi Kabui is an organic chef, food activist, farmer and social commentator. He was born in Kenya to a family that deeply involved in the struggle for independence. He moved to the U.S to attend college and studied Political Science and Philosophy  for his undergraduate. He later attended graduate school at University of Memphis where he obtained a dual masters in  Medical Anthropology and Urban Anthropology.

He has been featured by major magazines and newspaper. He makes regular social commentary on food and social issues in his country via and TV interviews. He has lectured in many universities such as Duke University, U.C Berkley, Appalachia State and Johnson C. Smith University. He currently lives in a community in Moncure, North Carolina where along with Sparkroot Farms runs an African Farm growing organic vegetables and some animals. Sparkroot Farms conducts workshops on indigenous wisdom and sustainability.  

Christopher Luna, Durham (Civics, Literature, Humanities, Religion, History, Philosophy)

Christopher is a doctoral student studying modern religion at Duke University. He specializes in modern religions in America, including issues related to science and religion, new religious movements, and immigrant religions; but he is also broadly trained in the histories of Buddhism and Christianity. Before moving to Durham, Christopher received his Masters Degree from Harvard and his Bachelors Degree from Hampshire College, where he studied history, philosophy, and education. He has been teaching for several years.

Jay Norton, Chatham (Archery, Engineering, Jr. Woodshop)

Jay’s interest in permaculture began on a hydroponic farm where he learned the business side of farming.  After an internship with the USDA – Agriculture Research Service and several months volunteering with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), Jay completed a Permaculture Design Course.

Now as the current Farm Manager at SparkRoot Farm in Pittsboro, NC, he is implementing Holistic Land Management techniques to establish a productive food system. Top priorities of the operation are maintaining and building soil health and minimizing impacts on the local ecosystem.

Jay strongly believes: “The most effective way to ensure a bright future is to invest in the soil and the youth.” That is why he is excited to partner with Dimensions Family School to provide opportunities for young people to engage with the land.

Aisha Sanders, Durham (Wondertime Teacher)

Aisha holds a B.A. in International and Area Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has more than 20 years experience working with ages 0-18 years in teaching and administrative roles. Aisha’s diverse experience includes multi-age classrooms, varying learning abilities, and public and private schools, including familiarity with Montessori and nature enrichment programs.  She homeschooled her now adult children for several years. Aisha is also extremely passionate about sustainable agriculture, local arts, and building community and spends much of her free time volunteering.

Brock Sayre, Durham (Physics, Dungeons & Dragons)

Brock currently works for WebAssign, an educational technology company, where he fixes math and physics questions. He previously tutored at the Sylvan Learning Center, mostly focused on ACT prep, math homework, study skills, and accelerated reading. Graduating from Indiana University – Bloomington, while he was getting his BS in physics he taught the elementary education physics labs, and while he was getting his BS in mathematics he was a TA in the Tae Kwon Do program. He has been DMing D&D games for 25 years, and never goes anywhere without his dice.

Risa Sayre, Durham (Differential Equations and Python)

Risa works as a contractor at the EPA National Center for Computational Toxicology building databases and writing script to help researchers assess how chemicals affect the human body. She has her BS in environmental science with a focal area in environmental engineering from NC State. Some of her academic accomplishments include participating in the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program, being part of a first place team at the regional AMATYC math competition, presenting at a national symposium on climate change and public health, and winning the State Energy Conference poster competition with my research on water use in electricity generation. Her proudest accomplishment, though, is being mom to two great kids.


Celena Urquia, Durham (OWL Sexuality Education)

Celena has a M.Ed. in Counseling & Development from George Mason University.She is a homeschooling mom to two children, ages 9 & 11.  Her professional background is in school counseling and mental health therapy, including extensive work with children impacted by family domestic violence. She has been passionate about sexuality education & sexual abuse prevention since undergraduate school, and during her time as a counselor and therapist, facilitated numerous educational groups for children and teens, with topics ranging from divorce, body safety, anger management, & family relationships.

Community Partners

DFS also utilizes select community partners and paid teachers for classes that are not available within our parent community. Most or all of these partnerships allow DFS families to utilize programming at discounted rates.

Crossfit Durham – offering fitness classes to middle and high school students

HappyMess Art Studio offers drawing and mixed media art classes

Dale Baker, drummer and founder of Durham Drum Lessons – offering drumming to the DFS community

YMCA of Downtown Durham – currently developing athletic programs for 2017