Alumni in Education Carry School’s Mission Forward

Alumni in Education Carry School’s Mission Forward

Alumni in Education Carry School’s Mission Forward

In their roles as teachers, development officers and admissions staff, these Ravens were inspired by their time here and have extended the school’s mission in their professional lives.

The opportunity to profoundly impact the lives of children has guided many Ravenscroft alumni to the field of education. In their roles as teachers, development officers and admissions staff, these dedicated individuals were inspired by their time at Ravenscroft and have extended its mission in their work with students, faculty and staff at their respective schools. By embodying Ravenscroft’s groundbreaking framework, Lead From Here, they are shaping the learners of today into the change agents of tomorrow.

Here we share the stories of nine Ravenscroft alumni who are shaping and guiding young people by helping them reach their goals and elevating their successes.

Lucy Russell ’16

“Every class lit a fire in me for public service”

Lucy Russell ’16, now teaching at Wells Elementary School

As a public policy major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lucy Russell ’16 was drawn to the work of improving schools and education. During her senior year, she accepted a two-year teaching position with Teach For America, a nonprofit that places nurturing educators in schools serving socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. Russell taught second grade in the Warren County School District during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; in her first year, class was conducted in an online format, with hybrid instruction in the second.

But this challenging start to her career didn’t dissuade Russell from teaching — the experience reaffirmed her desire to work with children. “It is a gift to be able to work with children,” she said. “Every interaction with a child is a chance to build trust and encourage them. It’s so easy to get caught up in a lot of the pressures, but it’s important to remember it’s one moment and one student at a time.”

She now teaches second grade at Wells Elementary School in Wilson, a small town east of Raleigh.

“It’s really special to be part of a school that showcases all of the amazing diversity of our town,” she said. “Second-graders are so loving at this age, but they’re also learning how to become independent and take ownership of their learning. It’s a really cool transition phase to be a part of, and I can really push them to challenge themselves.”

Russell said she was invigorated by Ravenscroft’s courses and instructors. “Every class that I took in social studies just lit a fire in me for public service. These incredibly talented people were teaching challenging classes but still believing in us. It made for a special high school experience, and one that I’m using to help others along the way,” she said.

Anna White ’97

“I was very inspired by my teachers”

Anna White ’97 at her desk at Magellan Charter

Like Russell, Anna White ’97’s interest in social studies and history grew during her time at Ravenscroft. Today, she is a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Raleigh’s Magellan Charter School, the first charter school established in North Carolina.

“I was very inspired by my history teachers, especially Bill Pruden and Mary Beth Immediata. I just loved being in their classrooms and learning from them, and they got me on the path that I eventually took,” she explained. Her senior project in high school, which involved first-graders, stirred her passion to become an educator.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in secondary social studies education from the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, she taught at the Peabody School, an independent school serving academically advanced students in PreK through eighth grade in Charlottesville, Virginia.

White brings to her classroom much of what shaped her as a Raven, such as delivering instructional content through experiential learning.

“My favorite part of teaching is being able to find ways to deliver the content in an exciting way. It’s mostly student-based learning, so we have debates, simulations, experiential exercises and lots of cooperative activities,” she said.

Magellan Charter School and Ravenscroft share many similarities. “The populations who go to each school will likely go to college. Both have a rigorous curriculum. Students are motivated, have supportive families and are willing to learn,” White explained.

She also appreciates the small class sizes afforded at each school. “It’s really manageable and you can get to know the students on a more personal basis. Being part of a smaller community is very supportive,” she said.

Garrett Bird ’12

“I felt called to be that person for the next generation”

Garrett Bird ’12 teaching upper-level math at Norfolk Academy (Photo courtesy of Mike Connors)

Garrett Bird ’12 was so inspired by the purposeful connections he shared with his Ravenscroft instructors that he made a career shift from engineering to education. He teaches high school-level math, physics and engineering at Norfolk Academy, an independent first-through-12th-grade school in Norfolk, Virginia, and is also head coach of its varsity softball team.

Bird credits faculty members Mary Immediata, Philip Kielty, Ann Carroll and Janine Wood for their ability to progress through instructional content while sharing valuable life insight and advice. Longtime math teacher and wrestling coach Ed Durham also made a huge impact on him.

“The ability to form meaningful relationships with students that extend beyond the classroom is something I learned first at Ravenscroft and I try to take with me now in my current occupation,” Bird said. “These relationships molded me to be a better, more thoughtful person. I felt called to be that person for the next generation.”

After graduating with a degree in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, Bird worked for engineering companies in North Dakota and California before traveling to Australia, Africa and Asia. He joined Norfolk Academy in 2019 and received the James B. Massey Excellence in Teaching Award in its Upper School in 2022.

“I love the balance between academia and athletics that’s afforded at an independent school,” he said. “To build trust with a student or a player, it starts with forming a really good relationship with them. When they respect and trust you, they strive to do their best work and rise to the challenge.”

Anna White Hosea ’98

“We’re definitely changing lives”

Anna White Hosea ’98, at left, with colleague Kirsten Monroe at the Gibbons Gala

Anna White Hosea ’98’s desire to serve others began in her youth, when she was a member of Ravenscroft’s Key Club and volunteered with Summer Bridge, a program serving under-resourced youth. Today, as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Parent Giving at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, Hosea continues that pursuit through stewardship of major gifts and fundraising for the school’s endowment and special projects. She’s also involved with strategic planning initiatives and supporting the Head of School.

“Development is about building relationships. I’ve always been curious about people and their lives, what their experience is with private schools or philanthropy. Every parent wants the best opportunities for their child,” she said.

Hosea’s role intersects not only with families but also with teachers and coaches. Much of her efforts benefit the school’s educational and athletic programs. “To be that tiny connector between our teachers, our students and our parents and then helping to provide the resources for what we’re doing, that makes me feel happy,” she said.

Prior to joining Cardinal Gibbons in 2020, Hosea worked in institutional development for independent schools in Virginia and Maryland and also at Ravenscroft, where she was instrumental in the Embrace Possibility campaign. That campaign helped fund, in perpetuity, Ravenscroft’s groundbreaking Lead From Here framework and other strategic priorities. “We developed some great relationships with school leadership. They were really pulled together in a way that brought in some significant and important gifts for the school,” she said.

“Every place I’ve ever worked, I’ve cared deeply about the mission, which has been strong and impactful,” she added. “We’re not saving lives, but we’re definitely changing lives.”

Sophia Armstrong Cole ’11

“We have the most impact in the relationships we build”

Sophia Armstrong Cole ’11 demonstrating a ligamentous stress test with Josh Shepherd ’24 and other students in Sports Medicine II

Hosea is not the only Raven who has returned to serve their alma mater. As Ravenscroft’s head athletic trainer, Sophia Armstrong Cole ’11 oversees a program that provides the school’s student-athletes with preventative services, emergency care and support in rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Along with trainers Mike Rice and Sean Thomas, Cole oversees all of the games played during its active athletic seasons.

“My job is a cross between a physical therapist and a paramedic. We have athletes in seventh grade through twelfth grade, so there’s a lot of education that we do about how to take care of yourself, a lot of coaching through first injuries. My favorite part of the job is getting to know the athletes, working with them through an injury and seeing them go back onto the field,” she said. In the rare instances when students sustain a serious injury, Cole and her team communicate with their advisors and teachers not only about their physical health but also their emotional well-being.

In addition to her athletic duties, Cole teaches Middle School health and Upper School Sports Medicine II and III. She said teaching these courses is important to her, as the content guides Ravens in the best ways to care for themselves. In fact, it was an Upper School sports medicine class taught by legendary Ravenscroft trainer Michelle Piette that stoked her enthusiasm for the field. She received a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from UNC-Chapel Hill, followed by a master of arts in health teacher education from East Carolina University in 2017. Rejoining Ravenscroft as an athletic trainer was her “dream job.”

“We have the most impact in the relationships we make with our students and the trust that they have in us as medical providers,” she said. “We educate them so that when something does go wrong, they feel comfortable turning to us.”

Jordy Baende ’14

“I love being a champion of the kids”

Jordy Baende ’14 with Biology students Scott Hayworth ’26 and Elijah Deifer ’26

Born and raised in Belgium, Upper School science teacher Jordy Baende ’14 moved to the United States when he was 13, first living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before relocating to Raleigh, where he spent his last two years of high school at Ravenscroft. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Elon University and embarking on a graduate certificate at UNC-Chapel Hill, he made his way back to Ravenscroft where, as a substitute teacher, he established a rapport with students. Soon after, Baende was hired full-time to teach biology, physics, forensic science and marine science in the Upper School. He is also a coach for the junior varsity soccer and varsity wrestling teams.

Connecting with young people and providing them the tools to succeed is what Baende finds most fulfilling. “I love being a champion of the kids and giving them the work ethic and skills that go beyond the content,” he said. “The kids who tell me they didn’t do well in science in the past are consistently excelling in my classroom. Boosting their confidence is my favorite thing to do.”

His enjoyment watching students grow stems from his own experience as a Raven. “The first teacher I had that looked to the students was Aaron Sundstrom [now Head of Upper School]. He was willing to see past your grade and had a routine of making his students feel seen and heard,” he explained. “It’s my goal to communicate openly with mine.”

Baende graduated just before Ravenscroft established Lead From Here schoolwide, yet he views it as vital in shaping tomorrow’s leaders. “I tell the kids it’s real. I’ve learned to set myself apart from others as a leader in my community, and I am able to bring people together and work with anyone,” he said. “Those are all things that we’re teaching the kids.”

Margaret Edwards ’13

“You get to teach them about the world”

Margaret Edwards ’13 leading a Spanish lesson with a third-grade class

Margaret Edwards ’13’s experiences as a Raven, which began in kindergarten, also galvanized her to become an educator. She is the third-through-fifth-grade Spanish teacher in the Lower School.

“I had so many good teachers at Ravenscroft. I liked being able to go back and see my elementary school teachers. I formed relationships with them, and that definitely influenced my desire to be a teacher and be a positive influence for kids,” she said.

Throughout her time as a student at Ravenscroft, Edwards found the Spanish language and culture fascinating. She studied in Spain during her sophomore year, an opportunity that “put my Spanish knowledge to the test.” It also underscored her goal to communicate fluently with people of a different country and culture.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language Teacher Education from North Carolina State University in 2017, Edwards taught English in Santiago, Chile, and Spanish at Buist Academy in Charleston, South Carolina. She rejoined Ravenscroft in 2021.

Teaching young people a world language has remarkable benefits, Edwards explained. “You get to teach them more about the world, about empathy and understanding of other cultures. [Because of my own journey learning Spanish], I can show the kids that it’s possible to become fluent, and that’s encouraging.”

Margaret Mahood Mills ’76

“I want Ravenscroft around for another 50 years”

Margaret Mahood Mills ’76, who as Director of Enrollment Management plays a critical role in the school’s stability and growth 

Director of Enrollment Management Margaret Mahood Mills ’76 leads the Admissions team that recruits and enrolls new students at Ravenscroft, a role she finds highly rewarding.

“The children that we bring into our school community each year we see as future [student] leaders or perhaps participants in the fine arts and sports. Along with them are their parents, who may be future volunteers and perhaps serve as parent leaders in our community,” she said.

Mills is well-versed in representing the school to future and current families, having attended Ravenscroft when it first opened in North Raleigh in the 1970s. Back then, the campus was made up of trailers, with four buildings being constructed by the time she graduated.

“As beautiful as the campus is now, it’s about what happens in a classroom between faculty members and peers, and the engagement and learning that takes place. That’s where the magic is,” Mills explained. She recalls teachers Joan Battle, Bruce Miller and Joe Sam Routh, who she said enjoyed watching young people meet challenges and become better prepared as students.

Recruiting the next generation of Ravens and contributing to the school’s sustainability is paramount to Mills. She’s assisted by several faculty members and student ambassadors who serve on admission committees and host applicant visitors.

“I want Ravenscroft around for another 50 or more years, and if I can contribute in some way to its long-term financial growth and viability, then I will have accomplished what I want. That’s all that I’ve ever cared about,” she said.

Jessie Hale Tesh ’05

“I can still see the same roots and the same traditions”

Jessie Hale Tesh ’05, a Ravenscroft alum, current parent and Admissions staff member 

Working alongside Mills, Lower School admissions coordinator Jessie Hale Tesh ’05 works to recruit and enroll young Ravens. She helps families navigate the admissions process, facilitates tours and hosts events throughout the year, all of which enable her to develop relationships with incoming and current Ravens.

“The work we do is very fulfilling. We’re enrolling the child, but we’re also enrolling the family. I enjoy meeting new families because it’s a reminder of how many good people there are in the world,” she said.

Tesh attended Ravenscroft from kindergarten through 12th grade. Her memories of each division, and the impact made by her teachers, solidified her decision to go into education. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in general education. Years later, following a stint in real estate, she returned to Ravenscroft to work in admissions.

As the mother of two Lower School Ravens — Dylan ’35 and Parker ’31 — Tesh is delighted when alumni begin the admissions process for their own children.

“It’s cool to have a lens as an alumna, a staff member and a parent. It’s special and unique,” she said. “Ravenscroft has always felt like such a community to me. I can still see the same roots and the same traditions, which I love.”

At top, Upper School science teacher and JV boys soccer coach Jordy Baende ’14 helps kindergartener Trudy Liu carry the team’s sign during the Parade of Athletes at the 2022 Fall Pep Rally.

Ann Barnett ’12, Sean Kelly ’11 and Sydnie Schwarz ’16


Other Ravens working in schools and colleges

Math in the Lower School: “Putting kids in the driver’s seat”: Assistant Head of Lower School for Student Learning Erin Clott Cole ’04 (Spring 2023)

Nandi Traywick ’16 Builds Community Through Campus Ministry (Fall 2022)

Alumni Coaching College Sports Share Their Inspiration, Influences and Memories: Bo Andrews ’09, Quinn Billerman ’12, Justin Bradley ’09, Ebony Tanner ’99 and Michael Woodson ’07 (Fall 2021)

Alumni Working in Independent Schools Share Their Stories: Ann Barnett Cousins ’12, Sean Kelly ’11 and Sydnie Schwarz ’16 (Summer 2021)

Alumni Serving in New Roles on Campus Share Their Insights: Dominic Parker ’08, Lindsay Cowher Kelly ’09 and Laura Higginson ’10 (Fall 2020)