Children's House Faculty 

Julie Killian, Lead Teacher and Director of Admissions & Scheduling

Julie pursued her certification as a Montessori teacher because she enjoys being part of the peaceful, independent environment that is a Montessori classroom. As the mother of two daughters, she enjoys sharing the benefits of a Montessori education with all children. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts from Appalachian State University and holds the Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society. Julie has been teaching at Willow Oak Montessori since the fall of 2008. She lives in Pittsboro with her husband Matt and daughters Isabel and Mary Helen.

Veda Puglia
, Lead Teacher 

Veda joined Willow Oak Montessori Children's House in the Fall of 2013. She received her American Montessori Society-Early Childhood associate certification from the Montessori Training Institute of New Jersey. Veda pursued her Montessori training because she loves working with children. She feels privileged to witness their independence and joy of learning on a daily basis. Veda holds an Associate of Arts degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta, where she studied photography. Veda also attended Queens College in Charlotte, NC.Veda moved into the Briar Chapel neighborhood in 2010 and loves living in Chatham County. She has an adult son, Nicholas.

Christine Reed
, Teacher Assistant 

Christine joined Willow Oak Montessori in August 2009. After moving to Chapel Hill over 20 years ago, Christine began raising a family while working at the University of North Carolina. Christine's children attended Montessori Community School in Durham for nine years. During that time, she volunteered in many positions, including as a member of the parent board and as a substitute teacher. Miss Christine enjoys devoting her energy to sharing the experience of a Montessori classroom with other children alongside Miss Julie. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband Michael, son Lucas, and daughter Kaitlyn.

Kirsten Bair

Kirsten Bair, Teacher Assistant

Kirsten joins the Children’s House in the Fall of 2017. She is looking forward to working alongside Ms. Veda and spending her days with young, creative minds. Kirsten has been lucky enough to see Willow Oak Montessori grow from the very beginning. She has been a regular volunteer and substitute teacher for Willow Oak Montessori since 2007. Kirsten attended Montessori school herself and is a firm believer of the Montessori philosophy. Kirsten grew up in Minnesota and spent her summers visiting grandparents in North Carolina. After graduating high school, she left the cold winters behind and happily moved to North Carolina. Kirsten is a part-time student at Eastern Carolina University working on her studies in Birth to Kindergarten Special Education. Kirsten lives in Pittsboro with her husband and three children.

Carrie Boone
, Music Teacher

Carrie comes to Willow Oak via a circuitous professional path that has always included music in some way. After earning a Masters in Music Therapy from Lesley University in Massachusetts, she worked as a music therapist for several years before moving to North Carolina to pursue graduate studies in musicology at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition to her clinical work as a music therapist, she has spent many years teaching music privately, specializing in helping children with a wide range of needs and abilities discover the profound delights of music-making. Most recently, she has started a series of group music classes in Pittsboro for young children and their families, which she co-leads with her ethnomusicologist husband and considerable input from their two enthusiastically musical children. Carrie is excited about the chance to help develop a strong music program at Willow Oak, and looks forward to witnessing students discover the ways in which music and musicianship can support their academic, social, and humanistic endeavors. 

Administration & Staff

Pete Rubinas
, Head of School

Pete Rubinas became our Head of School in July 2009. Prior to that time, he had been our Treasurer and a member of our Board of Directors. Pete, who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems and Sociology from the University of Notre Dame, spent over nine years as an internal control auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers before resigning to become a stay-at-home dad for two and a half years. Pete and his wife Tara relocated to North Carolina in 2005 and have lived in Chatham County with their four children – Charlie, Patrick, Senorina, and Severina – since 2006. After just a few years living here, they can't imagine living anywhere else. Pete is passionate about the Montessori philosophy and is very excited about the opportunity to help the Willow Oak Montessori community realize its greatest potential in the coming years.

Luanne Bannan
, Assistant Head of School

Luanne became the Assistant Head of School at Willow Oak Montessori Children's House in January 2016. Previously, Luanne was a long-standing member of Willow Oak Montessori's Board of Directors from 2006 to 2015. 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, and has always had a special place in her heart for connecting with children and families. 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, creating with Zentangle art, and reading.

Melissa Frey
, Business Manager

Originally from the Northeast, Melissa Frey has been living in Chatham County since 1993. Her two children, Tucker and Ava Marinne are native North Carolinians, and she can hardly believe they are young adults already! After earning a BA in Family Studies from Syracuse University and Messiah College, and being home with her young family, Melissa was the Founding Board President, Project Manager and Marketing/Owner Services Manager of Chatham Marketplace, our local co-op grocery from 2003-08. Gravitating towards new and growing endeavors, she has been involved in various projects including The Plenty local currency, Company Shops Market in Burlington, and administrative work with the former Community Independent School. Melissa is actively involved in the community, having served on a variety of non-profit boards and engaged in ongoing volunteer work, all while making as much time as possible for organic gardening, biking, and power walking. Melissa has been with Willow Oak Montessori, first as Board Vice President, since 2011 and is pleased to be a part of this exciting time of expansion.

Magali Garcia
, Office Administrator

A native of Piura, Peru, Magali Garcia recently moved to North Carolina from Reno, Nevada to be near family. Magali holds an Associate of Art degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Public Relations. She most recently worked as an Afterschool Program Site Coordinator for the Washoe County School District in Nevada. Magali’s passion is working with children and families to help prepare students for their future. She believes that the formative years of education are crucial for their success. Outside of education, Magali enjoys swimming, hiking, and dancing, as well as exploring different countries and their cultures. She also plans to start working on her MBA degree with an emphasis in Project Management while working at Willow Oak.