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New Teachers and Staff Join O’Neal

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Southern Pines – The O’Neal School is excited to have new members of its faculty and staff this school year. In addition to the new leadership of Upper School Director Will Rhem and Director of Athletics and Transportation Services James Franklin, the following have also joined the School.

Alyson Barrett joined the Middle School to provide academic coaching to students.  She holds a B.A. from Columbia College and was a staff sergeant and linguist in the U.S. Army.  Recently, Alyson completed student teaching and a graduate program at UNC-Charlotte, and she has worked with children in health and fitness.

Kathryn Brannan was a part-time member of the mathematics faculty in 2014-15 and has now been hired full time.  A native of the Sandhills, Kathryn holds degrees from NC State University and UNC-Pembroke.  She will teach math in the Upper School and computer classes in the Lower and Middle Schools.

Laura Jackson comes to O’Neal from being an athletic trainer at the University of Miami.  A graduate of Montclair Kimberly Academy and George Washington University, she also served as a trainer while a graduate student in education at Manhattan College.  Laura will teach physical education and be the trainer for all of O’Neal’s athletic teams.

David Lussier has been a music educator in K-12 public and private schools in Massachusetts for 18 years, and has experience in choral, instrumental and musical theater.  He is teaching music in the Lower School and is working to expand O’Neal’s musical offerings.  David holds a bachelors degree in music education from Anna Maria College and a masters in music from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Mr. Lussier takes over for now retired Lower School music teacher, June Gunter.

Amanda Rhem comes to O’Neal from Kents Hill School where she was the World Language Department Chair.  She has a wealth of experience and has taught, coached and advised students as well as supervised dorms.  Mrs. Rhem teaches Spanish and provides academic coaching in the Middle School.  She holds degrees in Spanish from Lander University and Middlebury College and has regularly led student exchange programs.

Kari Smith teaches first grade, taking over for now retired Carole Moody.  Kari is a graduate of the University of Maryland – College Park and taught in the Washington, D.C. suburbs before moving to North Carolina.

Sunny Sowell is the new assistant for Pre-K3 teacher Penny Vest. An O’Neal parent and registered nurse, she brings many qualities essential for the three-year-old class.

“We are fortunate to attract and retain teachers with both excitement and academic expertise in their fields,” comments Head of School John Elmore.  “I am excited to see their contributions to the way in which we educate and develop our students.”

An independent, college preparatory school for pre-kindergarten age 3 through grade 12, O’Neal holds dual accreditations with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Association of Independent Schools(SAIS). It is located on a 40-acre campus in the Sandhills. The School is currently accepting enrollment applications. For more information, contact Alice Droppers, director of admissions at (910) 692-6920 or go to

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