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Inspiring our students to reach their highest potential as free-thinking, creative human beings who have a lifelong love of learning.

Roots has a home in the Pleasant Green community of Durham, NC

The Pleasant Green United Methodist Church, an important anchor institution of this rural area, has opened its doors to the Roots kids. In addition to a charming classroom space, which is home base for its well-established and highly respected Afterschool, Summer Camp, and VBS programs, the church facility has:

  • 19 acres of beautifully groomed outdoor space 

  • wooded hiking trail

  • large, open, grassy field space ideal for group field games

  • small traditional playground space shaded by historic trees

  • wide, paved driveways and large parking lots perfect for easy traffic flow

  • a visionary leadership team of dedicated volunteers, headed by the dynamic Pastor Laura (she's great fun - kids love her upbeat energy!) 



Letter from the Founder

The Journey Has Just Begun…

Thanks to the gift of dyslexia, which has brought so many wonderful people into our lives, my only child is now 16; here is the story of her journey with dyslexia, in her own words: Building Words Together, by Zoë Jones

So, our family schooling journey has been both circuitous and deeply rewarding. It definitely didn’t look typical or normal and has often felt uncomfortably out of sync with the mainstream. When learning went virtual in Spring 2020, it was clear that school delivered from a screen didn’t work well for our family. My stomach churning with apprehension, I took the leap and started homeschooling a teenager. I had no idea what I was doing. 

Roots was born out of my concern that this kid with no siblings who lived in a rural area had now abruptly lost all her community and peers. How does a teenager plunged into homeschooling not feel completely isolated? I am a voracious researcher, and trying to make sense of the vast landscape of homeschool resources overwhelmed me. It was very confusing and discouraging. 

My husband and I thought there might be an opportunity to support other families going through a similar process, and to create a community for our daughter, as well. Inadvertently, Roots was born. At the time, I had no idea that Roots was a microschool, and that this was happening all over the country. Laura Thompson, visionary pastor of the Pleasant Green United Methodist church, believes that churches are anchor institutions of rural communities. I can’t imagine a more tranquil, exciting place to start a Not-School than the PG UMC. Roots is so fortunate to be located at this place. I am deeply grateful for the incredible welcome the church community has shown to Roots. The biggest issue with microschools, once they get established, is that there aren’t enough spots in them for the children who need to attend. The Pleasant Green community is truly blessed to have a microschool for its kids who need different alternatives, and this would not be possible without the church, which has generously shared all aspects of its beautiful land and facilities. So here we are, stepping out in faith to see where the journey takes Roots. We don’t know yet. Our family has been chronic school hoppers for a variety of reasons, dipping our toe in a wide range of exciting educational approaches and solutions - neighborhood co-ops, arts preschool, Montessori, public elementary school, a K-12 private school that serves kids with learning disabilities, online public school, a rigorous college prep private school, unschooling, and homeschooling. Our family finally decided that “schooling” needs to shift as seasons of life shift. We aren’t looking through the rigid, proscribed K-12 lens anymore. Our local area is richly blessed with excellent public/charter and private schools, as well as an incredibly robust homeschool community; I still love every school my daughter attended and often recommend them. Homeschooling is also a fantastic option, especially in this area. Roots is not intended to mimic any of those well-established and successful institutions. Roots is something different. I did not anticipate starting on this path; as it unfolds, it is clear that the journey has just begun. If you relate to any of this, and are curious, please feel free to set up a free discovery call so we can talk live. ~ Kristin



Kristin M. Jones

Biography coming shortly.

Judith Kuegler

Judith was born in Germany to German parents, but grew up among tribal communities in Nepal and Papua New Guinea. Her interest in creating art began at a very early age and is profoundly influenced by her multicultural upbringing. After attending Art College in Germany she moved to the US to continue her studies in art and psychology. Judith works as an artist and teacher with special interest in global women’s issues, multiculturalism, and anthropology. She has taught in many places around the world and is excited to explore and expand her teaching repertoire as the lead teacher at Roots. Judith brings a rich life tapestry to Roots and we are thrilled to have her on our team! 

Eric Hanson

Eric was born and raised in Durham, NC and was always curious about how things were made and why they worked. He loved to be outdoors and didn’t have a desire to hit the books to find answers to his questions. As a jet engine mechanic in the Marines, he realized that if he could understand the concept of how something worked through experience, the math and science languages made more sense and suddenly did not seem so far out of reach.

Eric has a degree in mechanical engineeering and work experience testing, designing, and managing electromechanical products. Over the years, and through various mentoring and teaching opportunities in his job, in the Marines, and as an Eagle Scout, Eric realized his true passion is helping to create that “ah-ha” moment for others - when something formerly wondrous and mysterious suddenly makes sense. These skills and passion are what led to the creation of Outdoor STEM Adventures (OSA).

Outdoor STEM Adventures provides the same type of experiences that Eric had in the Marine Corps and in scouting - adventures in which the whole body participates in learning. We go outdoors because every kid has access to the engineering lab we call nature. We focus on STEM because no matter what you want to be when you grow up, understanding how to solve problems, challenge your assumptions, and see wonder in everyday activities is a game changer. Eric’s skills in bringing fun, curiosity, and enrichment to the world of Nature and STEM make him an incredible addition to the Roots Team.

Rebecca Drake-Pelli

Rebecca Drake-Pelli was first introduced to meditation as a child and to yoga during high school. This initiated her deep curiosity and life-long exploration into the practices of self-inquiry through movement, stillness, and breath. Rebecca began teaching yoga in 2000, and continues to teach locally and across the U.S. in studios, classrooms, and for corporate events.

As a somatic based movement artist and teacher, Rebecca is deeply invested in creating and shaping spaces for people to experience, investigate, and respond to themselves and their experience of life through the mind-body movement portal. She draws on her training in modern dance, improvisation, and axis syllabus universal motion principles to create a space where children can explore their intrinsic desire to move. Rebecca’s classes are kind and supportive, challenging in unexpected ways, and inspired by her appreciation of community, relationships, nature, and art. She is passionate and excited to witness children finding comfort in their bodies and in expressing themselves through movement.

Rebecca is a homeschool mom who lives with her husband and twin boys outside of Chapel Hill. Along with teaching creative movement and yoga, she is a Functional Nutritional Therapist and mindfulness teacher.

Gabe Pelli

Gabriel Pelli is a lifelong musician whose interests span across genres, from jazz to old-time; rock and roll to classical. He has played with groups such as Squirrel Nut Zippers, Onyx Club Boys, The Old Ceremony, and Grand Shores, which have taken him across the U.S. and the world. 

Gabe lives outside Chapel Hill with his wife and twin boys. He brings music enrichment to Roots with passion and joy.

Mary Julia Walker

Mary Julia Walker is the family herbalist of Wild Garden Farms. She lives and teaches by the motto “Eat your medicine!”. Whether it’s harvested holy basil from the garden to make pesto or foraged wild roses from the countryside for infused honey, the intersection of medicinal herbs and the wisdom of ancestral eating is what she preaches and what makes her sing. As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, she is always teaching to the whole person, from food to movement to relationships to life experiences, for vitality and wellbeing.

Roni Peterson

Roni was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and moved to Allentown when she was five years old. As a child she enjoyed acting, and she would listen to Broadway musical albums and act out the songs with using her family as her audience.

She graduated college with a degree in speech pathology and audiology with minors in theater and psychology from Long Island University. She worked as a speech therapist in a private institution, the Haven School in Miami, Florida, working with nonverbal residence and her program was chosen to be part of a published book, “language intervention systems”, a catalog of original structured language programs in use in the US.

She got married in 1977 to Kenneth Peterson, and Emmy award winning Director of Photography and started her career in film and video productions. She and her husband owned a post-production facility in Miami but sold it when they moved their family of two sons to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1993 after the devastation caused by hurricane Andrew, damaged their home.

They started their own production company, “Silverlight Productions”, producing corporate image films, commercials, and short films for the government.

Roni began teaching at a private school in Durham in 2011 and continued to teach dramatic arts for 13 years at that school. While there, she developed a dramatic arts curriculum that focused on a place for students to explore their true authenticity, and to build self-esteem.

She is very excited to be part of the Roots family teaching her dramatic arts curriculum.

Netta Edwards

I am Shanella Edwards, a professionally trained chef, future dietitian, and Georgia peach!

I received my bachelors degree in food and nutrition from Meredith College and a culinary degree from the art institute of Atlanta. I love bringing cultural food traditions and nutrition together I have two wonderful kids and an active dog.

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