Leesville Staff Directory Links

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LES Principal, Mr. Cohen

Phone: 919-870-4200


Degrees and Certifications:

MSA, UNC Chapel Hill

Ari Cohen

email address: acohen

It is hard to believe that I am entering into my TENTH year as the Principal here at Leesville Rd. Elementary School.  It has been a terrific honor to serve as the leader for this community throughout the past decade and while the past two and a half years have been the most challenging of my professional life, I can honestly say that I have still looked forward to coming to work each day.  Ms. Lay and I always say that the worst and most difficult days at LES are still better than the best days anywhere else. 

Leesville is a special community.  There are not many school environments (and especially in a public school system) where the school’s staff, students and families maintain access and contact with one another from Kindergarten all the way through their graduation from High School.  In fact, resuming our “Senior Walk” tradition of the graduating HS Seniors marching in their caps and gowns through the halls of LES this year allowed me to congratulate those HS Seniors who were in 4th Grade when I first arrived at Leesville Elementary.  What a thrill to see, firsthand, what the effort and love from the LES staff contributed to accomplishing. 

To share a bit about my path that led me to Leesville Rd. Elementary School, I joined Teach for America as a 1995 Corps Member. TFA sent me out to Compton, California, where I taught first grade for five years at Thomas Jefferson ES. Once my first class of students completed their 5th grade year, I moved back home to NYC, where I taught first grade for another two years at PS 189 in Washington Heights.  

During my second year, I determined that I wanted a broader impact on school operations, which led me to the NC Principal Fellows and the Masters in School Administration Program and UNC-CH. 

Following my internship at Forest View Elementary in Durham, I became the Assistant Principal at Southwest ES.  After one and a half years as AP and five and a half years as Principal, my family and I moved to Paris, France, where I spent two years leading the Pre-K through 8th Grade Program at Marymount International School. 

As my family and I made our plans to return to North Carolina, I was fortunate to land here in the Leesville community. 

This year is not just a celebration that we are nearing the end of the pandemic.  This year, Leesville Rd. Elementary School is celebrating our 30th year serving the Leesville community.  Between the commitment, experience, continuity and excellence among our faculty and staff and the bright, curious, empathetic students and families, we have no doubt that this will absolutely be our best and most successful year yet!  The PRIDE Starts Here Leesville!  

LES Assistant Principal, Mrs. Lay

Phone: 919-870-4200


Degrees and Certifications:

MSA, UNC Chapel Hill

Jodi Lay

email address: jlay

My name is Jodi Lay and I am proud and thankful to be your Assistant Principal at Leesville Elementary.

I am originally from western Pennsylvania (Go Steelers!).  I completed my undergraduate degree in Science Education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  I taught Middle and High School science classes in both Virginia and Florida before moving to North Carolina in January of 1998.  I spent the next 15 years teaching middle school science at Leesville, West Cary, and Lufkin Road Middle Schools.  During that time I earned my National Board Certification and my Master's Degree in Science Education from East Carolina University.

I completed my Master's Degree in School Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.  Mr. Cohen and the staff at Leesville Elementary invited me to join the school community in January of 2014, and I immediately accepted the role of Assistant Principal.  I was excited to arrive at Leesville Elementary on my first day of work and that excitement has never faded.  Anyone who knows me will tell you, "Mrs. Lay LOVES her Leesville Community".

My husband Hal and I love to travel, to learn about new cultures, and to spend time with family.  We love to see Leesville Elementary family when we are out and about in the area, so if you see us, make sure to say "Hello!".