Rise Academy is blessed with a staff of passionate, highly trained, and experienced educators that joyfully devote themselves to the holistic education of every student. This team is committed to the vision of seeing children, families, and communities RISE to the glory of God.
Duncan received her BA in Elementary Education from Wake Forest University. She taught for 6 years in NC Public Schools. She and her husband Joe have 2 daughters and a son who are all involved at Rise Academy as well. She enjoys reading, traveling, and college basketball.
Joe is the Lead Pastor at Rise Church in Winston-Salem. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from N.C. State University and an MDiv from Capital Seminary. He is married to Duncan Maye and they have 3 children Reese, Elsie Jo, & Amos.
Head of School
Leslie is pursuing her degree in Early Childhood Education. She always had a passion to care for children. Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Fl, Leslie lived in Lynchburg, VA for three years after marriage. She studied at Liberty University and soon after moved to Winston-Salem with her family of four. She has two sons, Elijah and Fenix.
Sandra Wiggins was born in Winston-Salem and always called this city home. She is married to her husband Tom, has two adult daughters and sons-in-law and six grandsons! Sandra has worked in education throughout her career. She has experience in private Christian school and is a retired kindergarten public school teacher from Old Town Elementary. Sandra joined Rise Academy in 2019 as a kindergarten teacher and loves being a part of this school. God has guided her throughout her career and led her to Rise Academy where He is using all those rich experiences for His glory. She never teaches alone as God leads and guides through each day.
My career experiences have all been a part of God’s preparation for my time at Rise Academy. I am honored and thankful for the opportunity to teach and seek to live Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Leah Qualls has been working with children in some capacity for over thirty years. She grew up in southern Illinois and moved to North Carolina in 1998, where she began teaching at South Fork Elementary. There she taught kindergarten and first grade and most recently was able to work in curriculum and instruction with a focus on K-2nd grade. Through her experiences working with children and families at South Fork, God began to give her a vision of a school where children were given a first rate education that included teaching them about Jesus--his love for them, his plan for them, and how they could know him through his word. In August 2018, she was able to retire early from the public school system and become the first teacher at Rise Academy.
1st Grade Teacher
I am so grateful to God for the rich experiences He's given me in working with children and families. Through my work as an educator for over thirty years, I have come to understand some things. All children have the capacity to learn, but things like access to healthcare, socioeconomic status, and access to good nutrition can affect a child's growth. Because of that, they come to school at different starting points. My goal as a teacher is to meet children where they are and provide for them a safe, nurturing environment where they can flourish. I want to teach them to read and write, but also teach them how to get along with others, how to process difficult emotions, how to persevere, because worthwhile things take time and hard work, how to fail and try again, and all along teach them that God is FOR them, that He loves them and has uniquely gifted them, that they are made in His image and that makes them valuable. I am so excited and humbled by this extraordinary opportunity and pray that I am able to steward it well. I cannot wait to see what God does with the students of Rise Academy.
Melissa has a degree in Elementary Education from Texas A&M University with a math minor. She also has training and experience in primary reading instruction. She has taught 6th and 7th grade math/science and 3rd grade math. Melissa has 3 children: Audrey, Mattie, and Nathaniel in 3rd, 7th and 11th grades. She enjoys spending time with family and feeding people.