Our Staff

Smiling scholars.jpg

The diverse group that comprises the Rise & Shine staff is united in our shared passion for educating and inspiring young people. A belief that every child deserves an equal chance to learn, to explore, and to blossom drives everything we do. Each day brings a fresh excitement that's reflected in our scholars' faces as they make new discoveries and experience the joy of learning.

R&S Program Director


As Program Director, I am grateful that God has allowed me to return to the place where I grew up and, by working with the children here, to and give back what so many before me worked so hard to give to me and others of my generation. Prior to my employment here at Rise & Shine, I served in the United States Army for over 30 years. In my current role, I assess needs, coordinate activities with the Executive Director and other staff, and ensure that program objectives are met. As well, I devote a great deal of time to collaborating with other community-based organizations, meeting with school officials, and creating innovative initiatives that will help our scholars in life.  

R&S Office Manager


I have been a part of Rise & Shine for many years. My grandchildren attend the program, so I get multiple perspectives on the impact of our program daily! I continue to be drawn to my work here because of the value of the program to the local community. I'm responsible for maintaining financial records for Rise & Shine, and I have the great pleasure of seeing our wonderful volunteers each day when they walk through the door. As a long-time resident, I know our community well, which allows me to try to ensure that all voices are heard.

R&S Site Coordinator

Michele Weston, Site Coordinator

After attending college and working in digital services for 30 years, I returned to my native Brevard and began working with Rise & Shine in 2015. My primary role is to assist the Program Director in addressing our scholars' educational needs. Initially I supervised our middle school and high school students, and today I work with youngsters from kindergarten through fifth grade. I love and enjoy them all!

R&S Guided Reading Specialist

Laura Leatherwood, Reading Specialist

I joined the Rise & Shine Program in the fall of 2016, after having taught Exceptional Children's classes at Pisgah Forest Elementary School for 28 years. As a Guided Reading Specialist, I enjoy working with the scholars and helping them increase their reading skills through the exploration of rich literature. Our small group Guided Reading sessions give the scholars an opportunity to share their own experiences as well as gain knowledge from the other scholars in the group. I hope that I can instill a love of reading in our children so that they can be successful in every stage in their lives.

R&S Assistant Program Director


As part of the Brevard College Teacher Licensure Program, I first got involved with Rise & Shine as a work-study student assisting with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities. Four years later, Iā€™m now teaching middle school science at Brevard Academy and spending my afternoons and summers with the Rise & Shine Level 3 Scholars. As Assistant Program Director, I am responsible for making sure that the day runs smoothly and that the scholars are having positive experiences while learning.



Rise & Shine/Neighbors In Ministry board members work tirelessly, devoting countless hours toward sustaining and growing our remarkable program. We supply vision, set and adopt policies, and direct our skilled and dedicated staff. We take pride in our unwavering commitment in the face of many challenges, and believe this has allowed Rise & Shine to produce exceptional results.

This is my way of changing the world
— Ruth Lentz
Rise & Shine Board.jpg

SEATED, left to right:
Carol Dugger, Secretary
Judy Griffin, President

STANDING, left to right:
Julia Gray, Assistant Treasurer
Kayla Cermak, Treasurer
Barbara Grimm
Maureen Copelof, Vice President
Tommy Kilgore
Julie Heinitsh
Rev. Ruth Peters