Our Board of Directors

Heather Mathewson Rainville, President


Heather and her husband Bryan relocated from Baltimore to Pittsboro in 2007 to be closer to family and expand their own to include daughters Katherine and Holbrook. Heather holds a BA from Wellesley College and the University of St. Andrews with a double major in Economics and English as well as an MA from Southern Illinois University. For the past 15 years she has worked for EDS/HP, most recently as a project manager contracted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Both Heather and Bryan telecommute from home offices and enjoy the many challenges of balancing two small children, schedules, and full-time employment.


Elizabeth Wildsmith, Vice President

After many years in Texas, Lizy moved to Chapel Hill in 2008 with her husband, Sam, and two young daughters, Dylan and Elissa. Lizy has a life-long passion for Montessori. Her mother was a Montessori teacher, and she attended Montessori schools from preschool through age 9. Both daughters have attended and thrived at Willow Oak Montessori School (formerly Pittsboro Montessori). She was excited to join the board of Willow Oak Montessori in March of 2012. Lizy has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and currently works (remotely) as a Research Scientist for Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center based in Washington D.C. that studies children at all stages of development.


Stacey Gahagan, Treasurer

Stacey M. Gahagan was a member of the first class of North Carolina Teaching Fellows in 1987. She taught Spanish in Onslow County where she was honored as the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year for Onslow County and in Beaufort County where she was also selected by her school colleagues as Teacher of the Year. Stacey was the founder of Washington Montessori Public Charter School in 2000. As the sole administrator, she served as the Exceptional Children Director, 504 Coordinator, Testing Director, Chief Financial Officer, and Superintendent. She was selected to participate in the Principal Fellows Program, but she opted to pursue a law degree and combine her experience as an educator with passion for the law to serve school systems throughout the state.

Stacey graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina State University in 1991, and with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2012 where she served as Editor in Chief of the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation and was an Honors Writing Scholar. Stacey joined Schwartz & Shaw in 2012 to exclusively practice education law, with an emphasis on issues in special education and charter schools. She recently resigned from Schwartz & Shaw to start her own law firm - The Gahagan Law Firm - representing children with special needs.  She is also an adjunct professor of legal writing at Campbell Law School.

Stacey is married to Mickey Gahagan and is the very proud mother of five Montessori children.


Ashley Frost, Secretary

Ashley has called Chapel Hill home for 30 years. She and her husband Tioga have two children - Mika, a rising 4th year, and Eliza, a rising 1st year at Willow Oak Montessori Charter.  Before having children, Ashley was a self employed garden designer.  She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a concentration in design.  Ashley has been an active member of the PTA at her children’s previous school, particularly in fundraising, for the last 4 years.  Her involvement in that school’s backpack food program, which feeds children in need, has been a fulfilling one.  The Montessori philosophy is new to her family, and they feel lucky to be a part of this community.


Luanne Bannan

Luanne has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2006, and served as the Board President from 2009 to June 2014. Luanne earned her Masters of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1988 and worked full-time as a social worker until 2005 when she chose to embrace parenting and volunteer opportunities following the birth of her son, Zane. She remains licensed as a clinical social worker. Luanne and her husband Eric relocated from Chicago to Pittsboro in 1994 and love living in Chatham County, NC. Luanne enjoys having adventures with her family, dancing Nia and reading.



J Bazemore

J, his wife Meredith, and their daughter Caidence returned to Chapel Hill last summer after living in Boone, NC for two years. Originally arriving in Chapel Hill in 2003, he leveraged his degree in Game Development and began working at UNC first as an application developer and later in a desktop management role working with the Carolina Computing Initiative. He currently works within the Teaching and Learning division of ITS managing the back-end systems for various classroom technology and virtual lab environments. He became familiar with the Montessori philosophy while in Boone, when Caidence attended school at Mountain Pathways Montessori School. The concepts and process have continued to provide “ah-ha” moments for him as he remembers his personal struggles within the more traditional school model of his education. He is a fledgling guitar player, an avid reader, and enjoys designing and building things.


Jake Bonenberger

Jake joined the Board in 2014.  By day, he is a consultant for the healthcare industry.  Jake earned his bachelor’s degree at UNC-Chapel, his MA in clinical psychology at Appalachian St. University, and his MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School.  He has one son enrolled in the Charter School. Beyond volunteering, Jake also enjoys reading, gardening, fishing, and playing ultimate.




Tammy Triglianos

Originally from New Jersey, Tammy moved to North Carolina with her husband James over seven years ago for a "change of pace".  They have two sons, Jack and Nico, who are both at Willow Oak schools - Jack in the Charter School and Nico in the Children's House. Tammy led the Parent Association for the Children’s House for three years before joining the Board. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Columbia University and currently works as an Oncology Nurse Practitioner at The University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital, Chapel Hill.  Her other interests include sewing, cooking, reading, and practicing martial arts under the instruction of her husband.


Meredith Weiss

Meredith Weiss
is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services and Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and adjunct assistant professor at the UNC’s School of Information and Library Science. In addition, she teaches for several online executive MBA and PhD programs across the country.  Meredith earned her bachelor’s degree in human resources from the University of Delaware, has Master of Business Administration and Master of Information Science degrees from North Carolina Central University, holds a Master of Science in instructional tech­nology and certificate in distance learning and administration from East Carolina University’s College of Education, and received a Ph.Din information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. Meredith has two sons enrolled at Willow Oak Montessori - one in the Children's House and one in the Charter School - and is honored to join the team during this exciting time.