Specialists

Art

Ms. Barbara Balchunas

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Ms. Barbara Balchunas

I am a graduate of Parsons the New School of Design with a BFA Degree in Fashion Design. After working in New York City as an Assistant Designer, I turned to free-lance design of bridal gowns, evening wear and eventually dance costume. This enabled me to work from home and with my husband Jim while raising our three children Adam, David and Juliana. In 2000, I embarked on a new career as an art teacher.

Since then, I have taught on the elementary/middle school and college levels in both the Fine Arts and Fashion Departments. In 2016, North Carolina became our home! When not in the classroom, I enjoy gardening and working creatively in watercolor and acrylic.

Physical Education

Mr. Nick Braxton

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Mr. Nick Braxton

I am so excited to become a Buccaneer! I graduated in May 2018 with a BS in Physical Education from East Carolina University. I got married this past summer and we have been living in Greenville. My wife is also a graduate from ECU and now works as a pediatric nurse. I grew up in Fuquay-Varina, and am a proud graduate of Fuquay-Varina High School. We are excited to be moving back to Wake County!

I've always wanted to be an elementary school PE teacher, so I am excited to be joining Buckhorn Creek Elementary! I think it's important to teach the skills of sports and physical activities at a young age, so children can find sports/activities they enjoy. I look forward to helping them find fun ways they can be healthy and active. 

When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with family, watching and playing sports, going on trips to new places, and playing with our puppy, Chipper. Go Pirates, go Bucs!

Guidance Counselor

Ms. Susan Rhodes

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Ms. Susan Rhodes

Counselor's Cove Website

My name is Susan Rhodes and I am excited to help students and parents navigate the seas as the school counselor at Buckhorn Creek. After graduating with a B.S degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 1990, I taught 3rd and 4th grades at Morrisville Elementary School. In 2001, I obtained my Master’s degree in School Counseling from UNC Chapel Hill (although I am a huge Duke fan) and in 2008 I received my National Board Certification in counseling. I always enjoy new challenges and recently taught ESL students in middle school! 

My husband is also a teacher in Wake County.  We both grew up in North Carolina and enjoy exploring the mountains and beaches with our 3 sons and watching them play all sorts of sports (especially baseball)!  I look forward to a wonderful year at Buckhorn Creek.

Ms. Savannah Ray

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Ms. Savannah Ray

My name is Savannah Ray and I am excited to be one of the counselors at Buckhorn Creek Elementary. I graduated from N.C. State University with a B.A. degree in Psychology and then obtained my Master's degree in School Counseling at Liberty University in 2017, I also received my National Board Certification in Counseling in 2018. I am excited to be at Buckhorn Creek, it's going to be a great year! 

Media Center

Ms. Dawn Vinson

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Ms. Dawn Vinson

My name is Dawn Vinson and I am excited to be the Library/Media Coordinator this year! I live in Johnston County with my husband and 3 kids. My youngest is starting middle school, my middle child will be a junior in high school, and my oldest just started his freshman year at Fayetteville State University with a football scholarship. In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, and going to the beach or pool.

I have been teaching in Wake County for 18 years, at Farmington Woods, Lincoln Heights, Underwood, and now Buckhorn Creek. I have taught all elementary grades except 4th grade. My mission is to make school fun and I have a passion for technology integration. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for learning and creating with our students and staff. 

Ms. Alyssa Putt

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Ms. Alyssa Putt

Hello! My name is Alyssa Putt and I am immensely excited to work with the students and staff at Buckhorn Creek this year. I am a native North Carolinian and a graduate of NC State University. Before joining the Buckhorn Creek crew, I taught sixth grade English Language Arts in Durham for four years, and in the fall of 2018 I began working toward my Master’s in Library Science. I’m looking forward to assisting all Buccaneers as they navigate our media center and develop their information literacy skills.

I live in Durham with my dog, Kona, and a plethora of plants. When I’m not at school, I enjoy gardening, hiking, and of course reading. 

Music

Mr. Marshall Sweet

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Mr. Marshall Sweet

Hello! My name is Marshall Sweet and I’m excited to be the music teacher at Buckhorn Creek. I am a Raleigh native and a graduate from WCPSS. I earned my Bachelor of the Arts in music education from UNC-Charlotte, and started working for WCPSS in 2015 as a music teacher.

Outside of school I am usually playing and performing music, primarily on trombone, but I also like to play a variety of instruments for my students too whenever I can. My favorite composers include Mahler, Gliere, and Bernstein, but I also listen to many different genres/artists and I encourage my students to do the same. 

Ms. Nadine Tirpak

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Ms. Nadine Tirpak

Hi! My name is Nadine Tirpak. I am so excited to be joining the Buckhorn Creek Buccaneers. I knew from an early age (kindergarten) I wanted to be a teacher.  Learning is something I enjoy doing and in turn I love to share with children and adults. I received my B.A. in English Education from Wilkes University in Pa. Most recently I completed my M.A. in Executive Leadership at Gardner-Webb University.

I have lived in North Carolina since 2011. I moved from New Jersey with my husband, 2 children and 3 cats. I have added a dog since living here.  I have been teaching special education for the last 7 years and I have enjoyed it so much. My new adventure as an interventionist and specials teacher is an exciting opportunity I look forward to.

In my free time I can be found cheering on my daughter and the Middle Creek HS color guard or my son and WCU’s marching band. I also love to read, cook, bake, and watch TV.