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Tuffy 2025

Tuffy ’25 COHORT FELLOWS             

Tuffy ’25 Cohort Fellows

Crystal Boyd
Sponsoring District: Warren

Crystal Boyd earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle Grades Education, a Master of Library Science degree, Master of Arts degree in School Counseling and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from North Carolina Central University. She began her career as a science teacher at Warren County Middle School, where she worked as a 6th grade teacher and later as the school’s media coordinator. Over the past three years, Crystal has been serving as a school counselor in Warren County with Warren New Tech High School being her primary place of employment. Crystal has been given the honor of serving as an NC State Kenan Fellow for the 2013-2014 academic year. She has previously held positions as the chairperson of the Leadership Team, the chairperson of the School Improvement Team, and a member of the MTSS team. Crystal can be reached at

Hilary Bunch-Johnson
Sponsoring District: Alamance-Burlington

Hilary Bunch-Johnson earned a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Mars Hill University and received a Master’s in Special Education from Liberty University. Hilary began her career as a substitute and EC Paraprofessional. After realizing her passion for working with students with disabilities, she actively pursued a licensure in the area of special education in the area of severe-profound disabilities. Once licensed, she began teaching in an elementary special education classroom for students receiving instruction using the NC Extended Content Standards for 10 years. She currently serves as an EC Program Facilitator for Elementary Adapted Curriculum classrooms in Alamance-Burlington School System. In addition to her role as a EC Program Facilitator, Hilary serves as a District Autism Support team member and a trainer for the NC Communication and De-escalation Intervention for the district. Hilary can be reached at

​Drew Cardwell​
Sponsoring District: Warren

Drew Cardwell graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Sociology and Ethnic Studies. She then joined Teach For America and taught High School Math for three years in Warren County, where she coached volleyball, served on the School Improvement Team, and led as Math Department Chair. Drew then worked in International Education, coordinating Chinese foreign-exchange students in the Raleigh/Durham area. Realizing her career goals aligned with public education, she re-entered the classroom, teaching Middle School Math for three years in Granville County. She is currently a MTSS Instructional Coach in Warren County. Drew can be reached at

Regina Harris
Sponsoring District: Granville

Regina Harris earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from NC State University. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. She has been an active member of her school’s School Improvement Team for the past seven years. Regina is also a North Carolina Legislated Performance recipient for Fourth and Fifth Grade Reading. Regina holds a Mentor Certification and is also a certified CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) instructor. Regina is now an active participant of the North Carolina Instructional Leader Academy (NCILA). Regina can be reached at

Shelby Levisky
Sponsoring District: Granville

Shelby Levisky earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from York College of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb University. She is also licensed to teach English as a Second Language in grades K–12. She taught elementary students for 10 years before transitioning to the roles of Curriculum Coach and Reading Specialist in the 2022–2023 school year. In 2022, Shelby was recognized as Teacher of the Year. She has served as a member of the School Improvement Team, data team, various other committees, and as a Beginning Teacher Mentor. Shelby has planned and implemented many school-wide initiatives to promote student growth and achievement. Shelby can be reached at

Connor McKeithan
Sponsoring District: Franklin

Connor McKeithan, a NCLA Fellow, earned his undergraduate degree in Health and Physical Education from East Carolina University. In August of 2020, he taught K-5 Physical Education at Fox Road Elementary School in Wake County. While at Fox Road, Connor served on the MTSS committee as well as participated on the Equity team. During this time Connor also coached baseball at Millbrook High School. Connor currently serves as a Health and Physical Education teacher and Physical Education and Team Sports at Franklinton High School in Franklin County. Additionally, he serves on the School Improvement Team, the FHS Cares Campaign, and is a varsity baseball coach. Connor can be reached at

​Abigail Oliver​
Sponsoring District: Alamance-Burlington

Abigail Oliver earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 2019 from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a concentration in Communications. Abigail is an active participant in her grade level PLC’s, a 2022-23 SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) participant, a member of the PBIS committee, and a member of the Safety Committee. Abigail took part in updating the science curriculum pathways for the 2020-2021 school year. Abigail teaches second grade at Sylvan Elementary in Alamance-Burlington School System. Abigail can be reached at

Marissa Saxon
Sponsoring District: Durham

Marissa Saxon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Language & Literature from the University of South Carolina-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC. In 2018, Marissa joined Teach for America in Eastern North Carolina. She began her teaching career as a 3rd grade teacher at Northeast Elementary School in Lenoir County. Marissa then taught 5th grade in Durham County Schools at Parkwood Elementary School. She has previously served on the PBIS Committee at Parkwood. Currently, Marissa is a 2nd grade teacher and math team leader at Parkwood Elementary. Marissa can be reached at

Emily Simler
Sponsoring District: Durham

Emily Simler earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with a minor in History from Elon University. She earned a Master of Arts in Literacy Education and a Master of Education in Sociology and Education with a Educational Policy concentration, both from Teachers College, Columbia University. After working for two years for the nonprofit Harlem Children’s Zone as a Literacy Curriculum Coach, Emily entered the New York City Department of Education as a Middle School ELA Teacher and Literacy Instructional Coach for P.S. 149, Sojourner Truth School in Harlem. In 2020, Emily moved to Durham and began teaching at Hillandale Elementary as a 4th grade teacher. During the 2022-2023 school year, Emily served as the Grade Level Chair and the School Improvement Team Chair. In the 2023-2024 school year, Emily will change roles at Hillandale as she loops with her class to 5th Grade. Emily can be reached at