K4 – Durham
Amber holds a Masters in Library Science from the University of South Carolina and a BS in Education from Anderson University. She taught and tutored children of many different grade levels in the public school setting before becoming a children’s librarian. Amber and her husband Kevin have two children of their own and are foster parents through Durham County. They are an active family that spends most of their time on the baseball field coaching and cheering for their kids’ travel teams, hiking in local parks, traveling to visit family, and exploring new places. After working at Durham County Library for ten years, Amber left her job in 2020 in order to spend more time with her family and homeschool her kids. When Eli was offered a seat at HLA, it was an answer to prayer. She is so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community that teaches our children not just a love for learning but also a love for Christ. During Eli’s first year at HLA, Amber worked at the school as a teaching assistant for 6th grade and subbed in many different classrooms throughout the year. She is excited about teaching pre-K and can’t wait to share her love of reading and exploration with her students!
Kindergarten – Durham
First Grade- Durham
Jacky and her husband Andy have three wonderful children: Harrison, Harmony, and Lincoln, who all attend Heritage Leadership Academy. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and worked as a nurse educator and registered nurse in oncology and hospice care. It was as a nurse educator that Jacky first fell in love with teaching others. Called to non-vocational ministry, Jacky and Andy invested a year on mission in California for training in evangelism and discipleship. At the conclusion of the program, Andy’s job relocated them to Sacramento, CA and then to Durham, NC, where they have lived for the past five years. Before joining Heritage, Jacky homeschooled her children from Kindergarten through 4th grade and tutored in a Classical Conversations community. Most recently, Jacky served as the Girls Ministries Coordinator for her church with a focus on curriculum development and mentor-based leadership. Jacky’s own love of learning is contagious, and she takes great joy in seeing what God is doing in and through each child. She feels it is a blessing and an honor to be part of the 1st grade teaching team at Heritage.
Second Grade – Durham
Beth holds a BS in Education from Covenant College and has taught and tutored at various grade levels in Christian and public elementary and middle schools. Originally from Wilmington, DE, she has lived in several states in the Southeast. Before moving to Chapel Hill, Beth served as Children’s Ministry Director and oversaw a Christian camp where her family lived for 13 years in the Nature Coast of Florida. Beth and her husband Eddie have two zany children, Tad and Jefferson, who attend HLA. They are members of Waypoint Church and can often be found there. Hiking in state parks, baking, listening to podcasts and reading are activities she enjoys. Beth is honored to teach second grade. She is curious, and delights in sharing her love and awe of the Creator with her students. Beth sees each as an image bearer of Jesus and finds joy in partnering with parents to teach them about their world while pointing them to their Savior.
Third Grade – Durham
Michelle Zhu grew up in a small town in northeast Oklahoma. She was introduced to the Gospel as a preteen as she attended Awanas at the local First Baptist Church. For several years she struggled with the truth of a loving God who would send his son to redeem her from sin. Through the love of the church members investing in her life and the drawing of the Holy Spirit she placed her faith in Christ at the age of 13 as the Way, the Truth and the Life. She grew up and was discipled by her church family into a leader in her youth group and learned to truly love to study the Bible and apply it to every area of life. Receiving scholarships to Northeastern State University, she got her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with the intent of becoming a teacher overseas as a platform for sharing the Gospel among people groups with little access to the Good News. After graduating in December of 2014 with her degree she worked for 5 months as a full-time substitute in her local school system. In July of 2015, her church family sent her out as a mid-term missionary with the International Mission Board to live in Central Asia where she helped homeschool 7 missionary kids on her team and served alongside career missionaries in her city until July of 2017. In August of 2017 she moved to Wake Forest to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to get her masters degree in Christian Marriage, Family and Individual Counseling with the intention of returning overseas with the IMB as a member care counselor. After graduating in December of 2020, she worked for 6 months in a preschool, working as a teacher for a two year old classroom before joining the HLA 3rd grade team. Michelle met her husband, Michael, while attending a small group in their church and got married in 2019. They live together in Wake Forest where they attend Richland Creek Community Church. They both have a deep passion and love for serving children to grow up to know Christ as Lord.
Fourth Grade – Durham
Caitlin graduated from Averett University with a BS in Elementary Education and minors in English and History. Following graduation, she taught in an elementary public school for three years and served in various children outreach ministries. She spent her summers participating in mission trips where she shared the Gospel and taught English in other countries. During this time, she earned her MA in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2019, she married Daniel, and they moved south of Raleigh where she was a Children’s and Families Ministry Coordinator at Coats Baptist Church for two years. Over the past year, Daniel and Caitlin have welcomed their first son, and moved to Wake Forest to further pursue education at Southeastern Seminary. She is excited to return to the classroom and cannot wait to meet all the HLA families!
Emma Kate Acuna
Fifth Grade – Durham
Sixth Grade – Durham
Heidi comes to HLA from the beautiful Great Lake State of Michigan where she was born and raised on a small dairy farm. After graduating from Great Lakes Christian College (1992) with a BRE majoring in religion and minors in counseling, business, and education she went onto get her MEd in K-8 education with specialties in middle grades Math & Science at Milligan College in Johnson City Tennessee (1994). After marrying her husband Jonathan in Michigan (1995), they quickly moved south where the weather is warmer and the sun shines more often. They moved to Raleigh two years ago from Marietta, Georgia with their three teenage children, the oldest of which has already headed off to Liberty University, opening a whole new chapter of family life. The youngest (Jorja) started as a 9th grader this year at HLA.
Heidi brings over 25 years of teaching experience to HLA, having taught at both middle and high schools for public, private, and Christian schools, homeschool and homeschool hybrids. One of her greatest joys is watching children learn that their Creator reveals Himself to us through Math and Science and to give students confidence in applying knowledge gained in the world around them.
Middle School Geography & Missions Coordinator – Durham
Selina is married to Steve, calling Durham home for the past fifteen years. Murrell family adventures have included: homeschooling Machaela (15) and Steve (11), launching Steve from homeschool to middle school (2018), connecting with neighbors through prayer walks and community dinners, and serving the city as community-minded, active members of their church in Durham. A city planner by training, Selina graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning (2001) and a heart for building up and blessing people – all who have been created in the image of God to know, love and serve Christ. (Eph. 2:10)
Eastern Hemisphere 7th Grade – Durham
She is certified in NILD Therapy, Level 1 and loves working with individual students to train their brain to strategize and overcome learning barriers. Debbie has also led the children’s worship time at First Baptist Durham and a mother/daughter Bible study for the past 6 years. When she has a free day, you will find her catching up on cleaning the house and playing board games with her kids.
MS/HS Elective teacher + Student Support Specialist – Durham
Sunny Yang believes God’s heartbeat is family. She joined HLA because she is passionate about serving homeschooling families, raising up Kingdom warriors one day at a time! Graduated from Liberty University, Sunny majored in Special Education, Elementary Education, and history. She enjoys living simply with Jesus, soaking up His creation daily.
Leadership + Logic – Durham
MS Math/Science + Spanish Durham
Amanda grew up in Georgia, but seminary brought her to North Carolina. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in international business with minors in Spanish and global studies, Amanda served as a Journeyman in Ethiopia. She is so thankful to have had this opportunity, as it gave her a better understanding of what it is like to live out her faith in a new cultural context. Furthermore, she found it so beautiful to see what God was already doing around the world, drawing people of all backgrounds to Himself!
After returning from Ethiopia, Amanda quickly began her Biblical counseling degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). She hoped to be equipped to proclaim God’s goodness and healing amidst the difficulties and evils that come with living in a fallen world. After graduating, she was en route to Central Asia when she met her wonderful husband, Judd! The two married in January of 2021 and are enjoying the gift of a Christ-centered family.
Throughout Amanda’s experiences in college, Ethiopia, and seminary, she discovered a love for teaching. Whether it be tutoring Statistics to undergraduate students, teaching Spanish at an international school in Addis Ababa, or helping high school students prepare for all subjects covered by the ACT/SAT at Huntington Learning Center, she recognizes the value of a good education. She is thankful that God has opened the door for her to teach at HLA, as she hopes to share her passion for the Gospel with her students while helping them better understand pre-algebra, life science, and Spanish.
Latin – Durham
Anya graduated from Asbury University in Kentucky with a degree in social work and a minor in Spanish. After moving to Raleigh, she taught high school Spanish at North Raleigh Christian Academy from 2011-2014, taking one year of maternity leave to substitute in the elementary, middle, and high school. She transitioned to staying home when her second child was on the way and have spent the last three years caring for our family as well as babysitting for several other families in her home.
Music – Durham
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!
P.E. – Durham
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).
Art – Durham
Kim Elliott was born in raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from California Lutheran University with a Bachelor ‘s Degree in Fine Art. A couple years after graduating college, she met the love of her life, Josh on a missions trip to Guatemala through their church. They have four amazing children: Hannah, Abby, Ben, and Sam. The Lord opened the door for her to teach 1st – 12th grade art at her children’s classical Christian school in Southern California. Then the Lord paved the way for Kim and her family to leave Los Angeles and move to North Carolina. This year, she will be serving at all the HLA campuses (Hope, Summit Apex and Durham) as the art teacher for first through eighth grade students. She couldn’t be more thrilled!