Durham Staff

IMG_6156Paula Malek

Paula comes from a long line of educators. Her mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather were all teachers. She grew up in Pennsylvania and received a BS in Elementary Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has taught Kindergarten, pre-Kindergarten, and served as the coordinator of a program for preschoolers with special needs.

Paula moved to Chapel Hill in 1990 and began graduate school at University of North Carolina. While studying for her masters degree in early childhood, she supervised student teachers in a variety of educational settings. Additionally, she participated in several research projects in the area of cost and quality of early childhood programs.

After the birth of her fourth child she made the decision to stay home and live and learn with her growing family. Now Paula is thrilled to channel her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for working with young children at Our PlayHouse. In her free time Paula enjoys baking, running marathons, quilting, watching the Steelers, and spending time with her family.

Cindy Adams (photo coming soon)

Cindy is a Durham native with over 20 year in the field of Early Childhood Education.  She has worked with children from infancy up to five years old in the preschool setting. Cindy joined Our PlayHouse Preschool in 2013 as a substitute. In 2016 she accepted a position as a classroom teacher in Sprout House.

In her spare time Cindy enjoys reading, decorating, walking, bingo, spending time with her family.

IMG_4912Wendy Turner

Wendy received a BA in sociology from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. The highlight of her college experience was the year spent studying abroad in Avignon, France. She discovered her love of working with young children during her first job as a counselor at a French immersion camp in Napa Valley, California. She continued teaching in a variety of settings in the Bay Area, Boston, and North Carolina before moving back to her roots in Maine.

In Maine, Wendy worked as a developmental therapist and found her passion for teaching preschool age children. She continued in the Early Childhood field as the director at a preschool in Bar Harbor, Maine. At the University of Maine in 2003, while taking Master’s level classes, she was introduced to the Project Approach, emergent curriculum, and Reggio Emilia philosophies and has been drawn to them ever since. Wanting to escape the long winters in Maine, Wendy relocated to Raleigh in 2009 where she has been teaching children ages 2-4 at a private preschool. In her free time, Wendy enjoys creative arts and nature explorations with her  daughter, visiting local parks, museums, and events, and taking family trips to the beach.

Zoe Castellino (photo coming soon)

Zoe grew up in North Carolina and first began working with children with her mom in her in-home childcare. Later, she worked as a camp counselor and sailing instructor for young girls on the coast during her summer breaks. After graduating from Appalachian State University with degree in Art and a minor in Sustainable Development, Zoe sought opportunities that allowed her to work creatively and engage meaningfully with members of her community. She continued to promote the visual arts as a gallery ambassador and also prepared and served artful food made from local ingredients at an organic, vegan kitchen.

Eager to travel west, Zoe and her fiancé moved to Colorado and then married shortly after. She worked as a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool teacher with toddlers and two year olds. While teaching in Breckenridge, CO, Zoe completed courses in Early Childhood Education at the local college and earned her Early Childhood Professional Credential. Zoe feels a deep-seated commitment to teaching children through Reggio-inspired practices and supporting active learning environments for children that encourage their experimentation, imagination, and relationship development. Zoe enjoys practicing yoga, biking, and camping.

jordan Jordan Jones

Jordan is excited to be back in her native North Carolina after five years in chilly Vermont, where she attended Middlebury College and majored in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in costume design. Through her experiences as a nanny and camp counselor, Jordan discovered a love of working with young children; additionally, as a graduate of ten years of Montessori education, she feels deeply in tune with the child-centric focus and experiential learning style of Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.

She is a fan of art-based learning, dancing in the rain, kid-friendly science projects and making up silly songs. While she has worked with children of many ages, Jordan particularly enjoys the challenges and delights of early childhood education and is thrilled to be joining the OPH community. When not in the classroom, Jordan can be found sketching, painting, cuddling her cat Oryx, or reading voraciously.

IMG_4858Caitlyn Case-Cohen
Caitlyn grew up in Hillsborough in a family of teachers before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota to attend Macalester College. There she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies and began working in preschools. Inspired by the independence, creativity, and total joy of preschool-aged children, she moved to Colorado to complete the Montessori certification for ages 3-5 in Boulder. She has been working in Montessori classrooms for six years, most recently leading a classroom in downtown Denver.
Caitlyn loves fostering a classroom community that is full of creative expression, social and emotional learning, and empowerment for children to take care of themselves and each other. She loves the foundation her Montessori background has given her and is excited to delve into the project-based approach of Reggio-inspired education, which has inspired her since visiting Boulder Journey School last year. She is also excited to be back home near her family in North Carolina, along with her husband Kenneth and their cat Ghost. When she’s not at school, you can usually find her reading good novels, playing ukulele, or cooking delicious meals.

Jesa_0057aJesa Rae Richards

Jesa Rae is a visual artist with an inquiry-based, playful approach to art integrated education. She received her BFA from Columbia College Chicago, where her passion for arts education allowed her to delve into a wide variety of artistic mediums, study child development, and connect with the Reggio Emilia approach. Jesa Rae has worked with children for over fifteen years as a nanny, has partnered with social justice organizations to bring arts workshops to children in Chicago, and was a lead teacher and program director at a community arts center in Minneapolis.

Locally, she has worked as an arts educator with a number of organizations in Durham, including the Durham Arts Council, Durham Public Schools, and The Scrap Exchange. Though she enjoys working with students of all ages, her heart lies in early education, where play, art, and learning are interwoven with abundant magic.

When not in the classroom, Jesa Rae can be found in her vegetable garden, traveling or hiking with her partner and puppy, or in her studio working on a children’s book about a little girl who plants a magical garden in her bedroom with the sounds she collects from the city.

Kaitlin Caini (photo coming soon)

Kaitlin grew up in Florida, where she attended the University of Florida and received her Bachelor’s in Psychology. She moved to Durham in September 2016 and began working for Our PlayHouse that October as a substitute. During the summer of 2017 she loved working full time as a camp teacher in Cedar House. Kaitlin loves watching the children be inspired in the classroom and has decided to continue her education in Early Childhood.

Kaitlin‘s hobbies include reading and brush calligraphy. She can also be found on the weekends relaxing with her partner and their dog, Stella.


josh Rodgers
Josh Rodgers

Josh Rodgers has been involved with early childhood education since 2001. He has served as a floater for early childhood programs, taught pre-k and Kindergarten for six years, and served as both an after-school and camp program director.  He continues to be a camp director for Congressional Camps’ 3-5-year old program since 2007.

Josh believes in the importance of project-based learning, natural environment exposure, and managed-risk experiences that grow children’s independence and self-development. A former theater major,  he also delights in integrating children’s literature and music into the classroom’s learning atmosphere. He believes each child learns and grows uniquely, and supports independent education that focuses on children as individuals.

During his downtime, Josh enjoys reading, cooking, theater performances, and spending time with his partner, Kevin, and their dog Lily. With a large love for his family, he also travels back to the Northern Virginia/DC area regularly to visit his parents, young niece, and many siblings.

Oriana DeCelles (photo coming soon)

Oriana Campanelli DeCelles is a licensed clinical social worker dedicated to family health and social justice. Originally from Rhode Island, Oriana lived in Cape Town, South Africa with her husband and two children for seven years before moving to Durham in 2016. Oriana holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from University of Vermont and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Smith College School for Social Work. Oriana began working as a substitute at Our PlayHouse Preschool in 2016 before joining the OPH staff for the 2017-18 school year.

For the past fifteen years, Oriana has worked with children in a variety of settings, including non-formal, sport-based education in the Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Ethiopia, as well as school-based therapy, environmental education, and intensive home-based family therapy with parent training.  Oriana is passionate about Reggio-inspired learning, and feels grateful to work with the wonderful community of OPH Durham.

Kelsie Wilber (photo coming soon)

Kelsie Wilber was homeschooled from grades 1 to 6, attended public middle and high school and graduated from Pepperdine University in California. After receiving a B.A. in International Studies, Kelsie ventured to Bahrain and Turkey and taught Kindergarten, Grade 2 and Grade 3. She has always enjoyed working with children and gravitated towards a career in education. While reflecting on her own differentiated schooling and through her experiences as a teacher, she started to understand the significance of early childhood education and how it can impact someone’s life and development.
During her time teaching art, Kelsie gravitated toward Reggio Emilia and was inspired to see her students play and transform the materials and themselves. She is committed to learning and growing with the children she is with and is eager to explore the Reggio Emilia style of teaching at Our Playhouse. In her free time Kelsie likes to hang out with friends, hike, read, run, create, sing, play guitar, and mostly spend precious time with her daughter.

Kaitlin Caini (photo coming soon)

Kaitlin grew up in Florida, where she attended the University of Florida and received her Bachelor’s in Psychology. She moved to Durham in September 2016 and began working for Our PlayHouse that October as a substitute. During the summer of 2017 she loved working full time as a camp teacher in Cedar House. Kaitlin loves watching the children be inspired in the classroom and has decided to continue her education in Early Childhood.

Kaitlin‘s hobbies include reading and brush calligraphy. She can also be found on the weekends relaxing with her partner and their dog, Stella.



oph-4Danielle Clark, Director

Danielle earned a Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York and her Bachelors in Psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She worked in private preschools in New York City and a public preschool in Falls Church City, Virginia. Danielle has extensive experience in child development, mentoring teachers and curricular development. She started at Our PlayHouse as a parent in the Chapel Hill school.  Danielle also was a member of the Our PlayHouse board and served on the auction committee.

Danielle is inspired by the Reggio philosophy and loves the project-based approach to education. She is passionate about creating hands on learning environments for both her students and the staff to inquire and explore to further their understanding of the world. She believes early childhood education should be about wonder, creativity, imagination, and discovery.

When not at Our PlayHouse Danielle spends her time with her husband and their two children. They enjoy family trips to museums, local hikes, and trying new flavors at Maple View Farms.


Maddi Sullivan, Assistant Director

Maddi is a mother to Ollie, 6, an educator, a doula, an artist and most of all a lifelong learner. Originally from New York and Florida she moved to Durham in October 2014 with her family after 16 years in the Pacific Northwest.

Maddi has 10 years of professional experience working within the field of science/outdoor education as a mentor, educator and program coordinator. She received a BS in Nutrition through Bastyr University in Seattle, and a graduate degree in Science Education through the University of Washington. In her free time you can find Maddi hiking along the Eno River, biking around town, working in her garden, or some other form of playing outside.

IMG_9719Danielle Sunde

Danielle lives in Chapel Hill with her husband and four boys. She is passionate about children being children. Danielle and her family enjoy food, books, and traveling as a family.