Meet the Consultants

Lighthouse Educational Services has a heart for children. From special needs students to those who excel academically, our consultants work to create a positive, individualized testing experience.  Below, each of our WJ-IV testing consultants shares a bit of her heart with you. (Our consultants are independent contractors.)

Donna Annis: B.A. English,  Certified Orton-Gillingam and Linda-Mood Bell tutor
between Garner and Clayton
annisdonna553 {at}

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My name is Donna Annis and I have been a consultant with Lighthouse Educational Services for 17 years. I have a B.A. in English from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I am a trained Orton-Gillingham instructor. I have homeschooled all six of my children, four of whom have gone on to obtain higher degrees at universities in our area. I am currently homeschooling our adopted daughter from China, as well as two of my grandchildren. We have been afforded the opportunity to impact and direct the lives of our children and the many others that God has sent to our home, each in the unique way that best meets their needs. Our family has found that, although homeschooling has its difficulties and challenges, the rewards are far greater.

Ginny Raynor Brown:  B.A. Psychology and Art
ginnybrownLES {at}

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I attended Wake Forest University where I achieved a B.A. in Art and Psychology. My husband, Jimmy, and I , have three daughters who have all been homeschooled K-12. As of May 2015, two will graduate from college and the youngest will graduate from high school.

As a testing consultant with Lighthouse, I enjoy working with children and making them feel comfortable to help them do their best work. I want to help the parents, too, by giving any advice or help in any area they need. In my opinion, the WJ-IV is the most personal and thorough achievement tests I enjoy administering it.

Jill Buhler: M.S., CCC-SLP
jillbuhlerLES {at}

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I was raised in rural Illinois and graduated with a B.S. and Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) from Purdue University. I started my SLP career at a public K-8 school then moved on to a Veterans’ Home. After the birth of my first child, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom and eventually a homeschooler for 15 years. My second of three daughters is dyslexic. School was one of her, and my, biggest challenges. To meet her needs I became proficient in the Lindamood Bell programs, Great Leaps and other phonemic awareness and visual tracking strategies.  Today, she is a confident, engaging young lady. I think she and I would agree that homeschooling made the biggest difference. Our family hosted 9 Korean exchange students and I often would tutor them by Skype when they returned to Korea. I love teaching English as a Second Language and our family is blessed with many Korean friends. Now I am enjoying testing with Lighthouse Educational Services and maintaining my connection with the homeschool community. I also enjoy tutoring struggling readers using the Lindamood Bell and Barton Reading systems.

Lisa Durham:  B.S. Special Education, Certified Barton Tutor
between Garner and Willow Spring
lisa {at}

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My teaching career began in the public school system as a special education teacher. After a number of years in the classroom, I was hired by the Governor’s Office of Education. It was during this time, that homeschooling became legal in North Carolina. As it was initially regulated through the Governor’s Office, I had a front row seat and was able to watch homeschooling in North Carolina grow from a few brave families in the 1980’s to the explosion of growth we’ve seen in recent years.

I joined that growing movement in the 1990’s and homeschooled our three children over a span of fifteen years. During that time we were involved in numerous homeschool groups and co-ops. Since I had experience with testing as a public school teacher, I generally organized our homeschool group’s achievement testing. In this role, I often helped parents interpret test results and choose curricula for areas that needed remediation. It was an easy transition for me when I was asked to become a testing consultant with Lighthouse Educational Services in 2010.

When our homeschooling years were over, I had the opportunity to continue working with the homeschool community through Lighthouse. Since I have a passion for teaching reading and helping students who struggle with learning, I became certified in an Orton-Gillingham based reading program. Today, I have a full tutoring schedule. I am extremely thankful that we had the opportunity to homeschool our children, and now I am doing something that I love and am very passionate about, teaching children with dyslexia to read, and helping homeschoolers with their testing needs.

Serena Manning:  M.Ed. Special Education, Administrator of the Tests of Cognitive Abilities
info {at}

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I graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate and graduate degrees, both in the field of special education.  As a former special education teacher, I worked with students of all ages and ability levels.  I quit teaching to stay home with my two daughters, started working for Lighthouse Educational Services, and within a few years, decided to join the ranks of homeschoolers.  Homeschooling my two daughters, one in elementary and one in middle-school, has been the most challenging and blessed job I have ever had.  Administering the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (and also Tests of Cognitive Abilities) gives me the opportunity to encourage other homeschool parents and provide strategies for children with learning struggles.

Three years ago, our Director, Sherry Hemingway began to mentor me to one day assume her role.  In December 2014, Sherry went to be with the Lord.  It was an honor and a privilege to work closely with Sherry these past years.   I strive to daily model her gracious spirit, compassion, and concern for others.   Sherry’s legacy lives on as all of the Lighthouse consultants carry the torch of this ministry.  All of the Lighthouse consultants will continue to provide quality achievement and cognitive testing, as well as offer support and encouragement as you direct your child’s education.

Carol Polischak: B.A. English
between Clayton and Garner
mscarolLES {at}

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I am a veteran homeschool mom of two adult children, an academic tutor, as well as a testing consultant for Lighthouse Educational Services. I graduated with honors from NC State University with a B.A. degree in English.

Prior to homeschooling my children, I taught classes for a group of homeschooled, high school students. That was sixteen years ago. Since that time, I have taught numerous classes, privately tutored many students, and provided testing services for hundreds of families. I enjoy connecting with and encouraging my students and their parents, both inside and outside of the classroom.

I currently reside in Wake County between Clayton and Garner with my husband John, two college-age children, and four dogs. In addition to my testing schedule, I continues to provide tutoring services and small classes for homeschooled students.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6


Karen Wickersham: B.S. Business Management, pursued additional degree in Elementary Education
northwest of Durham, near Eno River State Park

I graduated from Meredith College with a B.S. in Business Management and pursued an additional degree in Elementary Education. I love working with children. The majority of my adult life I have worked with children in many capacities: teaching elementary school in public and private school settings, being the Nursery Director at my church, founding a co-op, participating in multiple co-ops, teaching Sunday school, and homeschooling my own children. I am also on the board of Deerstream Learning Center where 3 of my children attend class once a week. I live in Durham with my husband and four children, 3 boys and 1 girl. We have homeschooled for 8 years.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to homeschool my children. Not every day is fun or easy, but the good definitely outweighs the difficult and bad.  Discipling and teaching children is the most important job that we have as parents and I am honored to have that role in my children’s lives and in other children’s lives. I look forward to connecting with students and parents on a personal level. I love seeing a child “get it” and feel confident in their God-given abilities, no matter what level they are on.

*Lighthouse Educational Services consultants are contract employees.