Meet our High School Faculty/Staff


Mr. Reaves joins SBHS with over 20 years of experience as a Principal at both the middle and high school levels. He was most recently Principal at Winterville Charter Academy in Winterville, N.C., where he helped boost the school’s enrollment, improve their state report card grade and performance composite and reduced teacher attrition.

His career includes roles as Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services at Craven County Schools as well as Principal at Springfield Middle School and Beddingfield High School. Reaves was named Wilson County Schools “Principal of the Year” in 2008, and went on to lead Beddingfield to a North Carolina School of Distinction designation for the 2010-11 and 2011- 12 school years, reaching a school performance composite of over 88%.


Dr. JoAnne Woodard is the founder and executive director
of Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education. She is the driving force behind the school’s unique arts-based curriculum, its culturally-diverse faculty and student body, and its study abroad program which sends students to countries like China, India, Africa and Australia. A native of Wilson, Dr. Woodard has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bennett College (1969) and a masters and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (1975).


Sandeep Aggarwal serves as the Assistant Director and Dean of Business, Technology, and Cultural Affairs at Sallie B. Howard. He received a bachelor’s degree in business studies from the University of Delhi in India in 1995 before going on to attain his M.B.A. from Himachal Pradesh University, a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kashmir, and mostly recently a Master of School Administration degree from East Carolina University in 2018. He has 24 years of experience in the worlds of education, international business, technology, and finance, including as a successful international business owner, and first began working with Sallie B. Howard in 2004.



Kimberly Hines, Dean of Student Services, is a Wilson, NC native who has been with Sallie B. Howard since 2001. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, she began working at IBM in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina before joining Sallie B. Howard as a first grade teacher. She received a Master’s in Teaching and Learning with Technology from Ashford University in 2012.


Ms. Deloatch comes to us from Eastern Carolina with both government and charter school experience as an office administrator. She is a lover of people, physical fitness, music of all genres, healthy, clean eating and traveling abroad which has enhanced her cultural perspectives and fortified her appreciation for the human spirit.


Joyce Best – Science

Ms. Best has 18 years of experience teaching chemistry, physics and physical science. She taught chemistry at Fike High School before transitioning to administration. Ms. Best was Wilson County “Teacher of the Year” in 2008 and a runner-up for North Carolina “Teacher of the Year.” She served as Assistant Principal at Beddingfield High School and as Principal of Forest Hills Middle School. She was Principal of Asheville High School and retired from that position in 2016. Ms. Best holds an undergraduate degree in nursing, a BS and certificate in Science Education and a MEd in Educational Leadership.

Rhonda Meszaros - English

After eighteen years in public education, Rhonda Meszaros is delighted to join the innovative team at Sallie B. Howard High School as an English teacher and instructional coach. Mrs. Meszaros has served in a variety of educational roles, including International Baccalaureate coordinator, school improvement coach, and instructional technology facilitator. However, her greatest passion is in the classroom with students, having taught all levels of English from 6th-12th grade as well as IB and AP. A nationally certified teacher, Mrs. Meszaros was the 2009 district teacher of the year for Wilson County Schools and has been featured by McREL for her work. She looks forward to building relationships with her students and inspiring them to see the transformative power of literature to connect us as global citizens.


Students call me Mr. West for short. I graduated from Averett University with a Bachelors in History and Political Science and a minor in Mathematics. I have been teaching Math for 3 years. I thoroughly enjoy making Math fun. I love to involve sports and music into our work while learning. I played basketball, soccer, tennis and ran cross country during my time in college. I look to bring out the best mathematician in each student by improving their critical thinking skills, number sense, and overall interest in the subject. There is math everywhere and anyone can become a great mathematician if they put their mind to it. I am excited to meet everyone and make Sallie B. Howard High School a great success!


I’m excited to teach English at Sallie B. Howard! This is my fourth year teaching; I’ve spent the last three years at Durham Public Schools. I grew up in Granville County. I’m a 2016 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s in English and Hispanic Linguistics. I also earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Duke University in 2017 as a Durham Teaching Fellow. Education is something I’ve always been drawn to. My passion is helping students develop their perspective on the world and their expression of their beliefs. My hope is that students leave my classroom with a heightened ability to ask the hard questions. I believe my job is to help students learn how to question the world around them, figure out what they can do to make it better, and express their views and opinions to varied audiences.


Mr. Almerino is an award-winning physical science teacher with nearly 20 years of experience of teaching middle and high school science all over the world. He joins Sallie B. Howard from Wayne County Public Schools’ Goldsboro High School, where he was named “Beginning Teacher of the Year 2020.” His students have won multiple awards at state and regional science fairs across the state. Almerino holds a Master’s in Education with a concentration in Chemistry Education from the University of the Philippines.


Mr. Joseph has taught middle school History at Sallie B. Howard for 13 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History with a Minor in Elementary Education from Saint Augustine College. In addition to teaching, Joseph is a College and Career Instructor and Director of the SBH After School Arts Academy. A native of New Jersey, Joseph has over two decades of experience working in the arts and performing in step teams and as a dancer, singer and rapper. He has written 10 plays that have been performed across North Carolina, including at NC State, UNC Chapel and Duke Energy Center in Raleigh.


Debra Pegram joins Sallie B. Howard after 30 years as a teacher and athletic coach at Beddingfield High School. She is a 1990 graduate of North Carolina Wesleyan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. She started working at Beddingfield right out of college as a Math teacher, and went on to coach volleyball and girls basketball, leading her teams to numerous conference titles and state championships. She chaired the Health and P.E. department at Beddingfield for 27 years.



Mirela Risden is a middle and high school science instructor with decades of research and clinical experience in biology, chemistry, and genetics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and an MS degree from the University for Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture in Bucharest, Romania, where she studied genetics. She worked as a laboratory scientist and statistician for the National Institute for Agriculture Paris-Grignon in France. Ms. Risden earned her teaching certification from NC State University in 2008 and began teaching soon after in both Wake County and Nash County Public Schools. A native of Romania, Ms. Risden enjoys horses, the theatre and the ocean. She has traveled to 45 countries (and counting) so far.


After 7 years teaching in public high school, Brandi Simonof will begin her 8th year by returning to her passion of biotechnology at Sallie B Howard. Brandi has four years of industry experience as an analytical chemist in pharmaceuticals and as a protein analyst for a leading company focused on genetically modified crops. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Biotechnology. A Texas native, Brandi spent 10 years in the United States Air Force and traveled to places such as Panama, Spain, and Qatar. She has called North Carolina her home since 1999. During her career, Brandi secured a relationship with NC State University promoting bio-sustainability for future generations and creating hands-on lab opportunities for students, which she will continue at Sallie B Howard. As someone who did not have a traditional path from high school to college, Brandi is looking forward to the opportunity to mold young science minds to discover their calling and secure their path to a bright future.


Alepha Foster has taught dance at Sallie B. Howard School for the past fourteen years. She is a graduate of East Carolina University with a B.F.A. in Dance Education. Ms. Foster is an instructor of jazz with choreography experience in hip-hop and lyrical as well. She is also the founder of the annual SBH Dance Festival, the school’s largest and long-running arts event showcasing a variety of dance styles. Ms. Foster is the advisor for the SBH Junior Chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.


Michelle Moran was born and raised in Bel Air, MD. She relocated to Raleigh, NC after graduating from East Carolina University with a degree in Dance Education. She has been teaching at Sallie B. Howard School of the Arts and Education since 2012, specializing in ballet, though she enjoys all styles. She is also a member of Dance Masters of America. In addition to teaching, she enjoys choreography and being a dance competition circuit judge.


Yaqshaan Medan teaches Modern Dance at SBH High School. A Philadelphia native with over 20 years of experience in Dance, he holds a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Yaqshaan’s career includes work with Dance Theatre X, Philadelphia Opera Company, The Rock School, Nevada Ballet, Norwegian Cruise Line, and the Las Vegas Classic “Jubilee!” He’s choreographed for Youth America Grand Prix and the North Carolina Museum of History’s “Celebration of Movement Inspired by Ernie Barnes.” Yaqshaan has held positions with the Charlotte Ballet, UNC-Greensboro and Winston Salem State University, and currently serves as the Jazz Director & Artistic Director of the 3D Jazz Project with the Cary Ballet Conservatory.


Al Strong is Chair of the Music Dept at SBH High School. A native of Washington, D.C., Strong is a trumpeter, arranger, composer and recording artist who’s performed with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Branford Marsalis. He is a graduate of the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from North Carolina Central University and a Master’s in Jazz Performance / Pedagogy from Northern Illinois University. Strong is co- founder of the jazz non-profit, the Art of Cool Project, which has spawned the popular Art of Cool Music Festival in Durham, N.C. and the stArt of Cool summer camp. A staple on the jazz performance scene, Strong most recently served as a jazz studies adjunct professor at NCCU.


Mavis Poole is an award-winning vocalist, composer, arranger, bandleader and educator who teaches Vocal Music at SBH High School. A classically-trained vocalist with over 20 years of teaching experience, Poole holds a B.A. in Music Education and a Bachelor’s of Music degree with a concentration in Jazz Vocal Studies from North Carolina Central University. In 2011, she earned a Master’s in Music from Queens College in New York City. She has performed and shared the stage with Lauryn Hill, 9th Wonder, Prince & NPG, Gladys Knight and many more.


Diana Torres, Dean of the Arts and Humanities Department, has been teaching Dance, Drama, and the Theatre Arts since 1992. She obtained a BFA in Theatre Arts in 1990 from the National University of Fine Arts in Mexico City, Mexico, before going on to teach and perform for the stage and film in both Mexico and the U.S. She joined Sallie B. Howard in 2001 as a teacher and was awarded the first Lynn Wright Professional Teaching Grant from the American Association of Theatre Educators in 2011.


Originally from Chicago, Amanda Janson has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing and Stage Management. She worked in New York and other places around the world doing theatre professionally. Amanda taught English as a foreign language in South Korea for 3 years and ran the theatre department at a private school before coming to Sallie B. Howard. She has always loved theatre and lives with her husband and Doberman Pinschers in Goldsboro.


Carrie Nobles has been an Art Teacher at Sallie B. Howard since 2012. Born and raised in Randleman, N.C., she holds a B.A. in Studio Art from North Carolina Central University. She’s completed Art Education courses at High Point University and NC A&T State University, and earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Howard University in 2011. Carrie’s work has been exhibited in North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, and Washington, DC. The Washington Project for the Arts selected her work to be a part of their annual Art Auction, “Select 2011.” In 2012, she was selected by artist/juror John Bankston to present her work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art for “Under the Influence: 30 Americans.” More recently, she contributed to the Wilson Downtown Development Corporation’s public art project “Artsy Alley.”


Natasha Smith is a West Virginia native who is new to North Carolina. She is a National Board Certified Teacher with ten years of experience in teaching Visual Arts. Natasha holds a Bachelor’s degree in pre-K through adult Art Education and a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology. Outside of the school environment, she has been a dancer since the age of three and is very active in community theatre from acting to choreographing to prop and costume design.
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