Apex Staff

Dawn Frink
Kindergarten – Apex

Dawn is a native North Carolinian and has raised her family in Holly Springs, homeschooling her three children from kindergarten through 12th grade. All have completed or are attending college. She and her husband enjoy their empty nest but also delight in seeing their children serve the Lord and bloom where they’re planted.

After receiving a Master’s degree in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill concentrating on families and children, she turned her focus to education to better meet the individual needs of her own children. That focus blossomed into a tutoring business, Foundations Educational Services, where she specializes in early elementary reading, writing, and math. She also administers the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement annually for homeschooled, public schooled, and private schooled students. Through her interaction with parents who have committed to educating their children, Dawn has found a passion in partnering with families to provide emotional support, practical guidance, and encouragement. Dawn is excited to enter the kindergarten classroom supporting children through their transition into school while laying a solid academic foundation on which to grow.

Karen Doyle
Kindergarten – Apex

Karen is thrilled and feels so blessed to be a part of the amazing staff at Heritage Leadership Academy. She has been married for 19 years and has three wonderful children, ages 15, 13, and 6. She moved with her family to Cary about two years ago from the Florida Keys where they lived for 5 years. Before living in the Keys, they lived in Loveland, CO for 12 years. Karen earned her BS Degree in Psychology with a double minor in elementary and secondary education from Ursinus College.

After graduating from college, she worked in two different adoption agencies both as a birth parent counselor and as the office manager. She says it was a joy to watch families come together and to have the chance to pray with her clients in her different positions. Karen claims her love and passion in life is working with children. Her favorite times during the day are witnessing those ”ah-ha” moments when a child’s eyes light up just as they have learned something new. Karen is so excited about working in a Christian environment and having the opportunity to share not just knowledge but the love of our Savior with the kids! It is her hope and prayer that each child she gets to work with will see Christ in her as she strives to teach and touch their lives for God’s glory.

Anitra Elmore
First Grade – Apex

Anitra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Barat College of DePaul University (Lake Forest, IL) and a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Nova Southeastern University (Las Vegas, NV). She has a diverse teaching background, which includes experience in public school, private Christian school and homeschooling. She excels in classroom discipline and management and maintains an engaging, student-centered learning environment that incorporates multiple learning styles and hands-on discovery.

Anitra became a Christian in high school and has since served the church in teaching ministry, women’s ministry, and administrative support. Whether serving in the church or in the classroom, she maintains a commitment to amplifying the Truth of the Gospel and educating others to live full and purpose-filled lives. Anitra has been married to her husband, Darold for 24 years and they have two children: Annah, 17 and Donovan, 13. They’ve lived in a number of states, including Illinois, Nevada and Louisiana, and they are proud to call North Carolina their home.

Meagan Seymour
First Grade – Apex
Meagan is a teacher at heart and so enjoys the craft of the classroom. She graduated with her BA from Wake Forest University but it was her NC teaching license from NCSU that truly struck a cord in her heart. She taught at two local public high schools for many years before deciding to stay home after the birth of her first born. From that point until now, she has been either teaching for the NC Virtual Public School or at her church in the 1nd and 2nd grade Sunday School class. Meagan‘s youngest son recently began kindergarten and she felt God’s call to return to the classroom. It was with great joy that she joined the HLA family.
Meagan has a  sincere heart for discipling younger generations. She is honored and humbled by the opportunity the Lord has given her to be in the classroom. It is her fervent prayer that the Lord will use her as His servant in the process of growing and nurturing her students. Meagan is wife to Aaron for 16 years and mother to three beautiful, wiley little boys, Collin, Tanner, and Cole. All three of her children attend HLA with her.
Jessica Penley
Second Grade – Apex
Jessica earned her BS in Elementary Education from North Carolina State University. Following graduation, she served as campus field staff with Cru at NC State for about four years before turning her focus back to Elementary Education. She has K-5 teaching experience in both public and private schools, as well as in tutoring settings. When working with children, she is passionate about nurturing each child as a whole, seeking to invest in them not only academically, but also emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
Jessica is wife to Jordan, who is the Mission Director at Vintage Church in Downtown Raleigh. In addition to her commitments to church and teaching, Jessica also directs a dance company that she founded in 2014. She feels honored and blessed to teach and shepherd students at Heritage Leadership Academy!
Amber Ross
Third Grade – Apex

Amber has over eight years of teaching experience, most of those years have been spent teaching third grade for the North Carolina Public Schools System.  She received both her Bachelors and Masters Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education from California Baptist University.  This past year she was recognized as one of the third-grade teachers who ranked in the top 25 percent in the state and in Harnett County for the growth her students showed in the area of reading.  

She believes that as an educator, she has an awesome responsibility to guide young minds and help shape their learning.  She hopes to inspire each student to have a love for life-long learning. She desires to partner with parents in helping teach responsibility, accountability, to encourage creativity, and facilitate critical thinking.  “Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew.  Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. (Deut 32:2).”

Kim Porter
Third Grade – Apex

Kim has lived in the Fuquay-Varina/Holly Springs area since getting married in 2004.  Her husband is Jeremy and they two daughters.  Kim graduated from NC State in 2004 earning a BS in Mathematics Education.  She taught math at Cary High School and was a 1st grade TA at Green Hope Elementary before becoming a homeschool mom.  Along with teaching classes at co-ops and tutoring high school math students, she has homeschooled her two children for the last 8 years. 

Through homeschooling, she was able to teach (and learn!) from a God-centered perspective, which created an excitement and love for learning in her.  Kim hopes to instill a passion for learning in her students because learning about the world around us helps us to know our Creator!  Kim loves Jesus and is thankful for the opportunity to be used by Him through teaching at HLA.

Kori Spangler
Fourth Grade – Apex

Kori received her B.A. in Christian education from Gardner-Webb University, the same place where she met and married her husband of fifteen years. She received her M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and spent years teaching in both public and private school settings. After adopting their two middle children from the Democratic Republic of Congo, she made the decision to homeschool to have more time together as a family. After loving her experience as an HLA parent last year, she determined to pursue a classroom teaching position for the 2018-2019 school year. Kori has traveled around the world with various mission organizations training teachers and being deeply impacted by the cultures she has experienced. Her greatest blessings include parenting her six children, volunteering at Mercy Hill Church where her husband serves as part of the pastoral staff, and teaching her classroom of children here at HLA.

Lauren Brady
Fourth Grade – Apex
Lauren earned her BA in Religion from Meredith College along with her K-6 certification. She also has a minor in History. After graduating, she taught 4th grade at a local elementary school for five years.
At becoming a mother, she left teaching and returned home for a while. As her children got older, she fell in love with the idea of Jesus being in her children’s textbooks as they learned, so when her children were school age, she homeschooled them for 4 years. Her family began at Heritage the first year it opened. Heritage has been a great alternative option for her family and she feels right at home in the 4th grade.
Susan Ruark
Fifth Grade – Apex

Susan recently moved to Pittsboro from New Mexico, but she has spent most of her life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There she taught everything from 3rd grade through college level classes, mostly at Christian schools, but also public schools and colleges. Her areas of  special interest are history and reading.

She loves to sing, as well as fellowship with other women in small groups and bible studies. She is a historical re-enactor, representing colonial women from the 1600’s. Book clubs, reading voraciously, art, gardening, traveling, antiquing, yard sales, and her little dog, Cricket, keep her very busy! She is so excited about starting a new school, making new friends, learning from one another, supporting one another, and serving God in His new Heritage Leadership Academy.

Chris Cockerham
Omnibus, Logic, & Life Science – Apex
After growing up in the northern Virginia area, Chris moved to North Carolina to attend UNC Chapel Hill where he studied Biology. While in school, Chris found two great things: his wife Jenni and a heart for young people. Over the past 22 years, Chris has served at the Cary YMCA as a Teen Director, as the area director for Young Life in the Wake County area, as a campus pastor for Hope Community Church and now serves as the College Director for Young Life at NC State University and Meredith College.
Chris brings his passion and energy for loving God and others into the classroom hoping to inspire others to love learning and discovering the beauty and intricacies of God’s world. When he is not teaching he loves walking his dogs with his wife, playing with his kids, reading, being active, laughing, nice slow dinners and watching comedies. He has always considered the chance to teach kids one of the greatest honors of his life.
Ursula Fagerstrom
Composition, Fundamentals of Math, Creative Writing, and Earth Science – Apex

Originally from the Emerald Coast in Florida, Ursula’s first job aspiration was to be a journalist so that people could “know the truth and the truth would set you free” (John 8:32). Following that dream, she attended the University of Missouri, earning a Bachelor’s in Journalism, and began working at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington, as a sports copy editor and designer, as well as a freelance reporter covering Christian music. At the same time she served as a volunteer youth ministry worker at Our Savior’s Baptist Church in Federal Way, Washington.

Wanting to merge the two vocations, she earned an English major and a Master’s in Teaching at the University of Washington to become an English Language Arts teacher.  She married her husband, Eric, in 2004 and they have three children – one boy and twin girls. She enjoys reading, traveling – she’s visited 47 of the 50 states (airports don’t count) – learning to cook new allergy-friendly creations for dinner and a movie themed family nights, and cheering on her children at sporting events or cheering with them watching American Ninja Warrior.

Kelly Frazier
Omnibus & Logic – Apex

After leaving her lifetime home on the farm in upper South Carolina and following the advice of her family, Kelly studied business in college despite her desire to become a teacher. She worked in a computer software company for twelve years on both domestic and international accounts by both teaching classes and writing manuals as well as other responsibilities. After marrying Joe, she became a stay-at-home mother, which led to homeschooling their children for ten years. Eventually, Kelly became a tutor then director at Classical Conversations for five years, realizing her dream of becoming a teacher after receiving training to teach the Classical Christian model. She led two programs for eighth grade students for a couple of those years. Answering God’s call for their family, the children were enrolled in traditional Christian private schools and Kelly was employed as an eighth grade English teacher. After seven years at Cary Christian School, Kelly joined HLA. In her twelfth year as an eighth-grade teacher, she eagerly leads the students in Omnibus and Logic instruction, exploring God’s loving work through history and literature. Outside of the classroom, Kelly enjoys spending time with her four children and husband. Her photographer daughter recently graduated from college, oldest son is a college senior while her twin sons are off to college for their first year. She can be found knitting, camping, or taking in a movie with her husband in her spare time. Every year promises exciting adventures ahead for Kelly, her family, and her students.

Gregory Soderberg
Biblical Principles of Leaders – Apex

Gregory Soderberg teaches Omnibus I and Logic at HLA – Durham and Biblical Principles of Leadership at HLA – Apex. He has 17 years of teaching experience in classical Christian schools. He has a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture (New St. Andrews College), a M.A. in Church History (University of Pretoria), and is completing a Ph.D. in Historical Theology (Free University of Amsterdam). He also serves as the Academic Dean of LAMP Seminary RDU.

He has published numerous articles and book reviews, and contributed to Omnibus VI: The Modern World, and More Than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe. He has served in a wide range of church ministries and non-profits, ranging from prison ministry to foster care. He and his wife Cynthia have five rambunctious children and the entire family serves with Safe Families for Children.

Katye Wood
Music – Apex

Growing up in a musical family Katye was able to take both piano and violin lessons as well as performing with several choirs and in many musicals. It helped develop a deep love of learning music and being a part of group performances. She was able to continue that learning at Taylor University, in Upland Indiana, where she studied Music Education and Communications Studies.

After Taylor Katye interned in youth ministry at a church, worked as house staff in a therapeutic boarding school, and taught preschool for ten years, as well as teaching private piano, voice, and violin lessons for the last 20 years and various week long music camps. She is so excited to go back to her first love of teaching music in the classroom where she is passionate about helping students learn about themselves and their world through the lens of music and giving them the tools to be life long music makers and music enjoyers!

Jay Helms
Physical Education – Apex

Jay is a local product, having grown up in Cary. From an early age, he had a sense that some of his best gifts lie in teaching. After getting a Civil Engineering degree in college, he earned a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY. He then served as a pastor in the eastern half of North Carolina in the United Methodist Church for 15 years. Most recently, he was worked with Networks Basketball and the YMCA of the Triangle to coaching teach over 1,200 young athletes of all ages and skill-levels.

Some of the books that have informed Jay’s life journey over the last half-decade are “Love Does” by Bob Goff, “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck, “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge and “The Underground Railroad” by William Still. Additionally, he enjoys road trips and videography. When you see him, ask him about the time he flew his drone over Beverly Hills. 
His favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Jay met his wife Carla in college. Together they have four children, Anna (15), David (13), James (11), and Roger (1).