Fighting economic ignorance has been my passion for 30+ years. As a business owner and mortgage broker, I was shocked by the general public’s unfamiliarity with basic economic principles. Economics education was always my focus when helping my clients. For more than two decades (1983 – 2005), I served as the mortgage expert and as a regular guest on "Money Talk," a radio talk show in North Carolina that educated the public regarding financial matters.
Upon further investigation, I learned that very few high schools teach economic theory. I set out to make a difference, starting with my children's school. I volunteered to teach micro- and macroeconomics. I ended up teaching there for nine years.
In the wider community I coached the middle school and varsity golf teams at Cresset Christian Academy, and served as chairperson of Fletcher's Chapel United Methodist Church as well as on the board of directors at the Durham Chamber of Commerce. In 1999 the chamber recognized me as Microbusiness Person of the Year, after being runner-up in 1998.
Now, through Higher Rock Education, I look forward to making a difference in the lives of students beyond my local community. In partnership with my daughter, I am taking my mission to the world. It is indeed one of my greatest blessings to be able to work with my daughter in building a business to serve a need for which I have such great passion. But all my efforts would be impossible without the continuous support and love of my wife, Sandra.
I am a Durham, North Carolina native who has a real love for people and education! I received my bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University (Go Wolfpack!) in 2008. In May 2009, I married my high school sweetheart, Tyler Strayhorn, and went to work at BASF doing agricultural research.
However, my long-term goals were not to stay at a large corporation. After watching my dad successfully run his own mortgage company for almost 30 years, I developed a love for small business and a desire to one day pursue starting a company of my own. My dad was always an inspiration to me in the way he treated his customers and how he used his work as a means to give back to his community both inside and outside of the office. I, too, wanted the flexibility to be able to serve in that same capacity.
I was also taught at a very young age the importance of economics education, and was a benefactor of one of my dad’s courses taught at the private school that I attended. Along with my father, I recognized the need for quality economics education, and saw a solution in online learning. Together, we decided to build Higher Rock, beginning in January 2011. I thoroughly enjoy my time at Higher Rock, and am excited to be a part of something that I truly believe will enhance the lives of others.
My passions in life include loving and serving Jesus Christ, teaching 3- to 4-year-olds at my church, riding horses, sewing and quilting, and hiking in the mountains of NC with my husband and our dog, Lila.
Ricky Mill was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1944. After graduating from high school, he entered the University of Georgia. He played basketball for Georgia and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business. While a student there, Ricky was part of a group of athletes that started Campus Crusade at Georgia. After graduating he joined the staff of Campus Crusade and worked with college students on the campus of U.C. Berkeley. After playing on the first Athletes in Action basketball team, he worked with students at UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, and Duke. Ricky, along with several other staff members, started the Campus Crusade ministries on the campuses in North Carolina. He later attended Dallas Theological Seminary and Briarwood Seminary in Birmingham, Alabama, where he taught Church History. Ricky was ordained in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and has served congregations in that denomination as well as in the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Church. He currently serves as a Pastoral Care pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ricky and his wife, Annette, have three adult children, a daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and two granddaughters.
Ben Quinn is a certified business coach and public speaker who helps organizations generate more profits, hire, retain, and motivate excellent employees, and reduce the hours they have to work in their business. Ben began his career as a high school AP biology teacher at a private, Christ-centered, college preparatory school in California.
As an entrepreneur Ben has launched and grown companies since 1997, through various sales, marketing, project management and finance roles. Ben has worked one-on-one with more than 75 businesses throughout North Carolina in industries spanning retail, restaurant, professional services, professional trades, real estate, marketing/advertising, health & wellness, IT consulting, legal, and financial services.
Ben Quinn is a graduate of Stanford University and is a Leadership Fellow and has an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
For more information see www.FarmBlue.com.
Luke Russ is an insurance agent with Capital Insurance and Financial Services. As a broker, he represents over a dozen different insurance carriers specializing in Auto, Home, Life and Health Insurance products. As a former teacher, Luke prides himself on not only excellent service and individual counseling, but also on making insurance easier for all of his clients to understand. Luke has won numerous sales awards throughout his career, working with hundreds of individuals year after year. As their insurance needs change, Luke is continually there to guide them in the right direction.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Luke now lives in Raleigh where he enjoys playing hockey and golf, and spending time with his lovable Great Dane, Blue.
Mike Sharples began his career in the financial industry in 1993, working for a national brokerage firm. Early on he recognized the need for complete, non-biased financial advice, rather than just selling products. Pursuing that higher standard has driven Mike throughout his career. In 1996 Mike passed the board examination to qualify for the financial professional designation of CFP. With the attitude of a problem solver and a strong belief in service excellence, Mike earned a spot among the top five percent of advisers within his former firm. Because of Mike’s success he was asked to train advisers at every level and to run one of the largest offices in the country, managing many hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
By 2010 Mike realized he wanted to present a wider range of investment choices for clients than were available through the brokerage firm. He decided to form his own firm: MKS Wealth Management. Along with a commitment to finding superior strategies for his clients, Mike developed financial planning tools and a variety of investment platforms that he tailors to fit each client. He continues to pursue the pinnacle of financial education and expertise.
Mike holds both a bachelor's and master's degree from Michigan State University.
Higher Rock Education
1911 Hillandale Road
Durham, NC 27705
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