RTP/Durham Staff

Amber Huston
K4 – RTP/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!

Kelly Baker
First Grade – RTP/Durham

Kelly is so thrilled to join the HLA staff this year as a first grade teacher! She is originally from Nashville, TN, but has spent the majority of her adult life in North Carolina. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Clemson University, and shortly after moved to Wake Forest, NC, where she met her husband, Matt, who serves as a Discipleship Pastor at a local church. Married now for ten years, they now have 3 amazing kids, ages 8, 5, and 2.

Kelly has always had a passion for working with children, and has done so in various capacities since graduating college. She has worked as a preschool teacher, an elementary school teaching assistant, and has spent the past 5 years working as an online teacher. It has been Kelly’s long time dream to pursue her own teaching license, and is so excited that God has opened up the door for this dream to start becoming a reality this fall, as she will begin pursuing her Masters of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education at NC State University. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to utilize her teaching skills as a teacher at HLA this year, and is so excited to partner with parents as they raise their children to love and follow Jesus. 
Beth Trygar
Second Grade – RTP/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.

Donna Bingen
Third Grade – RTP/Durham

Donna is excited to be joining the HLA staff as the third-grade teacher at the Durham campus! Donna lives in Morrisville with her husband Chance and two boys, Max and Jack. They are members of Genesis United Methodist Church. Donna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University. She is also a registered instructor with the Institute of Excellence in Writing. She loves studying theology and is currently pursuing a certificate in Biblical Studies and Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In her spare time, she also enjoys bible study, reading and walking her two dogs, Sally and Lucy. Before joining HLA, Donna tutored in the Deerstream Learning Center community for seven years where she enjoyed working with students of all ages teaching history and science. She loves teaching her students that our wonderful creator God loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them.  She hopes to inspire her students to love the Lord as much as she does and also develop a lifelong love of learning. She feels very blessed and honored to be a part of the third-grade teaching team at HLA. 


Emma Kate Acuna
Fifth Grade – RTP/Durham

Emma Kate Acuna is excited to be joining the HLA staff as the 5th grade teacher at the Durham Campus! This is her first year teaching! Emma Kate and her husband, Caleb, just moved to North Carolina in July 2019 from Wichita Falls, TX. They moved here to begin Master’s degrees at Southeastern Seminary. They both hope that God sends them to live overseas as Career Missionaries, one day. Caleb and Emma Kate began to deeply understand God’s heart for the nations while they were in college. Emma Kate was able to spend 2 Christmases in East Asia. While serving university students, God planted in her heart a desire to teach English in a country that is closed to the gospel.

Before moving to NC, Caleb and Emma Kate were Campus Missionary Interns with the Baptist Student Ministry at Midwestern State University. They spent their time reaching college students, training them how to share the gospel with words, and mobilizing them to reach the world. Emma Kate graduated from Midwestern State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. They are glad to to be in this area and apart of the HLA family!

Hannah Ferguson
Fifth Grade – RTP/Durham

Hannah Ferguson is excited to join the HLA Staff this year. This opportunity was clearly orchestrated by the Lord as she felt Him calling her to continue to do what she loves, teaching, while also spending more time at home with her young sons, Ezra and Jude. She and her husband Josh met at UNC Chapel Hill and have lived in Durham and Chapel Hill since graduating. They have attended The Summit Church – Chapel Hill Campus where Hannah serves on the worship team and Josh works with college students. For the past six years, Hannah taught third and fourth grade in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. Teaching fifth grade will be a fun learning adventure and she cannot wait to get to know all of the wonderful HLA families and students!

Heidi Reid
Sixth Grade – RTP/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.

Selina Murrell
Bible and Personal Finance – RTP/Durham

Selina’s personal motto is: Every day is an adventure! Modeling this reality of new life in Christ is her mission at Heritage Leadership Academy. As part of HLA’s Middle School Team, Selina teaches Financial Literacy from a biblical worldview.  She inspires students to invest their time, talents, and treasures in ways that attract people to Christ.

Selina is married to Steve, calling Durham home for the past nineteen years. Murrell family adventures have included: homeschooling their two children, Machaela (19) and Steve (15) connecting with neighbors through prayer walks and community dinners, and serving the Bull City as community-minded, active members of their church in East Durham. They LOVE the National Bible Bee competition and have participated as a family for nine years. A city planner by training, Selina graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning (2001) and with 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)

Sunny Yang
MS/HS Elective teacher + Student Support Specialist –  RTP/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.

Nate Claggett
Leadership + Logic  –  RTP/Durham

God saved me at a very young age, and I am SO thankful for that! In my middle school and early high school years I began to take my parents’ faith more seriously as my own. Among others, God used my school teachers to help me discover that God made me for ministry, serving his church. After finishing Bible College in 2009 I went on to serve in different local church ministry jobs in New Hampshire and then Virginia where I also taught Worldview & Apologetics, and Hermeneutics & Evangelism at a University Model High School similar to HLA. In 2017, my family and I relocated to North Carolina so I could focus on my M.Div. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which I completed in 2021. Now, I am working with a team to plant a new church in Raleigh.

Knowing how crucial and exciting these years are for both parents and students alike, I am excited to be a part of the HLA community. I fully expect to see awesome things as we grow and learn together!

I currently live in Wake Forest with my MUCH better half, Laura, and our two crazy, little girls (both of whom attend HLA). If I can find any leisure time, I enjoy the outdoors, ultimate frisbee, baseball, my dog, music, YouTube, grilling, coffee and reading.

Anya Butcher
Spanish and Kindergarten – RTP/Durham
Anya is wife to Jonathan and mother to Josiah, Lydia, and Micah. They have lived in Raleigh since 2011 and are members of the Summit Church, where they have served in the children’s ministry, small group leadership, and other volunteering. Besides Spanish language and culture, she has studied Latin, German, and sign language, and she always loves learning about other cultures and times. In her spare time she enjoys baking, quilting, and playing the piano.

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.

Katye Wood
Music – RTP/Durham
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!

Kim Elliott
Art – RTP/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!

Jay Helms
Physical Education – RTP/Durham and North Raleigh

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).

Deborah Hendricks
7th/8th Grade ELA – RTP/Durham and North Raleigh

Deborah has been married to her husband, Ryan, for 10 years now, and they have two boys together, ages 6 and 3. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Ministry from Liberty University and spent several years working in youth ministry with her husband before leaving to attend Southeastern. After having their first son, Deborah chose to stay home to raise her children. Now that her oldest is in school and her husband works from home to help with the youngest, she has decided to step out and pursue her dreams of teaching that the Lord has placed on her heart.

While growing up with an English teacher as a father made her despise grammar as a child, English has become something that she loves as an adult after seeing the beauty of what understanding the intricacies of language can draw out. She began to see these intricacies first laid out in studying scripture in a New Testament class during her first semester in college. This sparked a love of the scriptures in her, and she chose to pursue a degree that helped her gain an even greater understanding of the richness that can be found within them. Now, with a better understanding of the beauty of both language and scripture, her desire is to pursue teaching with the hopes of inspiring others to see and enjoy them as well.

David Foster
Math – RTP/Durham and North Raleigh

David is a native of Raleigh and is excited to join the HLA family! David’s teaching career began with Teach for America, where he taught in the inner-city schools of New Orleans. It was one of the most challenging experiences of his life but one that he loved. After finishing his teaching stint in Louisiana, David went to Greenville, SC to teach and reconnect with many of his college friends. (He graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC.) After teaching for four years in the area, David returned to Raleigh to get his Masters in Education from NC State University. Since then, David his taught in all different types of schools – charter, public, and private. He is excited to bring his experiences as a Math teacher to HLA as well as share his faith, something that isn’t always possible in the public domain.

Outside of school, you can find David on different construction sites throughout the Triangle. Since the beginning of COVID, David took a risk and fulfilled a dream to flip houses, or make ugly homes into desirable places to live. He continues to do this type of work in addition to teaching. At home, David enjoys spending time with his wife, two boys – Benjamin (2) and Caleb (one month), getting outside, working out, and trying to get some sleep when he can!

Joe Rabiega
Middle School and High School History and Science – RTP/Durham and North Raleigh

Joe Rabiega is excited to join HLA this year as an Earth Science and Cultural Geography middle school teacher. He is a father of 5 daughters and has been married to his wife Tiffany for 20 years. God, family, teaching, and running are his main joys in life. Prior to being led to Christian education, Joe spent 20 years providing counseling services to those struggling with various personal and life-related issues. Approximately 3 years ago, Joe’s personal and professional life experienced a spiritual revival that led to a renewed sense of purpose and direction. He began substituting and coaching running at a K-12 Christian school and decided to pursue Christian education with a passion. Already having a BS and MA in Psychology, Joe  enrolled at Liberty University and earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a History concentration in 2020. His love of the Lord and desire to follow His direction, led Joe to continue his education by completing a Graduate Certificate in Biblical Studies in 2021, also from Liberty.

David Talbert
Formations – RTP/Durham

David and his wife (Katie) are from Alabama but have lived in the Triangle since 2009. He has two son currently attending HLA and a daughter who can’t wait to be big and start school like her brothers.

David received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Auburn University and practiced for nine years before going to work full time at The Summit Church. He has a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching Biblical Foundations at the Durham campus of HLA, he also serves as the Small Groups Pastor for The Summit Church.

Hope Hucks
Kindergarten – RTP/Durham
Hope is a native of NC but has lived in multiple states and countries. She and her husband, George, have enjoyed traveling overseas on various missions trips. Hope graduated from Southern Wesleyan University with degrees in Elementary Education and Bible. She began her teaching career in the public school setting, then chose to stay home with her kids. After homeschooling grades kindergarten through sixth grade, God opened the door for her children, Emily, Elijah & Ryland, to attend HLA. During their first year at HLA, Hope substituted in almost every grade level and fell in love with HLA’s staff and families. She feels so blessed to be a part of the team as HLA-Durham’s kindergarten teacher, and to have the opportunity to partner with parents as they teach their little ones about how God created them, loves them, and is always with them.