MCCLC Staff

PRESCHOOL TEACHERS

Stacey Woods | 1st Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: Stacey has been working in the education field for over 25 years. She has earned a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood, and is currently licensed by the state of North Carolina K-6. Teaching Philosophy: You cannot be who you do not believe yourself to be....Believe in yourself! Favorite thing about kids: Kids are brilliantly open and imaginative. They are seedlings loaded with the ability and potential to do anything. I love watching kids learn about and navigate the world. Also, they make me laugh often! What I love about teaching at WBNS: I love teaching at WBNS because I love my team... a dynamic group of educators who are working together to create an authentic, holistic experience and education for our students. I also love the close connection and collaboration that we have with the students and their families. Plus the the setting is fantastic :)




Paul Mundy | Elementary & Middle School Physical Education Teacher


Education & Experience: I have coached youth sports for 13 years from kindergarten to 8th graders. I have also coached Madison Middle School girls basketball team for a year. I have been at Woodson Branch for the past 2 years teaching the physical education classes and assisting in 5th/ 6th grade specials. Teaching Philosophy: Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.... Shah Rukh Khan Favorite thing about kids: Joy, resiliency Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Getting to hang out with kids...




Kati Puglisi | Elementary SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience: Kati Puglisi has been working with children of all ages, in many different settings, for over 15 years. She ran her own home-based preschool, organized several after-school programs and summer camps, and has been a substitute teacher for many different schools. Her expertise and experience is mostly earth-based, including organic farming and permaculture, animal care & wellness, herbal medicine and plant ID. She is artistic and loves to create with children. She has three sons who were primarily homeschooled during their early education, five cats and four dogs. Her favorite topics to teach are Outdoor Education and Art. Teaching Philosophy: Kids learn best through playful experiences. What I love about teaching at WBNS: The freedom! I love having access to 30 acres of beautiful forest or the choice of several different buildings to teach in and around. Also, the staff and the administration! Favorite thing about kids: They know how to have FUN!




Cassandra Lewis | Animal Science Agriculture Teacher


Education & Experience: I have a BA in Anthropology/Geology from SIUC and have taken several graduate level classes in City Planning and Geographical Informational Systems. I love maps, old bones and interpretating how people preceding written history lived and how their history can be seen on and within the landscape on which we now live. I worked as an Archaeological field/lab technician and attended graduate school in Columbus, OH before moving to Marshall in 2002. After moving to Marshall, I started a small farm raising dairy goats, chickens, and ducks. I grew produce for farmers markets, baked for local businesses and made handmade paper from excess produce plant fibers. I began my teaching career at HSCLC in the after school program in 2009. I continued my path with HSCLC for many years and taught in many capacities while there including: teaching with Ms. Lou in transitional kindergarten, summer camp counselor, and after school teacher. When WBNS opened its doors, I gladly signed on as the Agriculture Specials Teacher and Livestock Coordinator, adding goats, rabbits and chickens to the school grounds. Teaching Philosophy: For me teaching is not showing a child how to do something, that’s training; but inspiring children to teach themselves is invaluable. Acknowledging and uplifting every student's potential to learn as well as their potential to teach is a value I hold high for myself. I value the belief that educating children outdoors through nature is an irreplaceable experience that all children deserve. The popular bumper sticker says it simply, “Children grow better outside.” “As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews Favorite thing about kids: Their inquisitive and curious minds and how they naturally interpret the world through play.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Having the freedom to explore and experiment with an assortment of multi-sensory teaching strategies and beinq able to teach within our natural outdoor world. And working with an amazing group of teachers and families also makes teaching at WBNS exceptional!




Brittany Deesing | 3rd & 4th Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I have always been interested in science, the arts, and working with children. When I first began college, I wasn't sure how I could incorporate my top three passions into one promising career. Throughout my college journey, starting at a community college, then Warren Wilson, and then graduating from UNC Asheville, I found joy in tutoring my peers, helping them understand concepts and gain confidence within themselves. I interned for UNCA, starting a campus-wide recycling/composting campaign study, where success was statistically measured, and recycling/composting efforts were at an all time high. After I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, I went to Asheville GreenWorks, an environmental non-profit in Asheville, where I helped create fun games, lessons, and projects to actively teach elementary students about recycling and composting. I was also the theatrical "Compost Queen", with a homemade fruit crown and cape, and would visit schools inspiring kids to care about their environmental impact. I was getting closer to finding what I was looking for. Then, I met Debbie at Woodson Branch for originally a discussion about composting. The moment I stepped onto the property, I had an epiphany, and the discussion became an interview. I soon after began my teacher assistant position with the 3rd and 4th grade. I fell in love with the kids, the school, the whole community, and the hands on creative, yet scientific teaching philosophy of Woodson Branch. The following year, a lead teacher position for 3rd and 4th grade was offered to me, and I gladly accepted the opportunity. I finally found what I was looking for all along - a career where I can help kids blossom, not just academically, but also in self confidence, persistence, and social and environmental responsibility, using creativity, science, and my own experiences as tools to teach and inspire our youth. Teaching Philosophy: "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at Woodson Branch is that I am always challenged, and I am always encouraged to be myself. I love a good challenge, and as I overcome them it helps me grow as a teacher, and as a person. This models perseverance and helps build character within my students as well. I am encouraged to use my competitive nature, creativity, problem solving skills, persistence, sensitivity, and love for knowledge as tools to teach my students about academic and life lessons. My favorite part of being a part of this community is the phenomenal support and love I receive. I always feel supported when facing a challenge, and I am so grateful to be part of this family! Favorite thing about kids: My favorite thing about kids is their imagination! As adults, we tend to get wrapped up in our daily challenges and sometimes lose sight of things outside that. Kids brighten life with their imagination, and energize my own creativity. They remind us to live in the moment and cherish life's small moments. I also love their curiosity and excitement towards learning. I think kids inspire me as much as I inspire them.




Amanda Wilder | 2nd Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I worked for five years with a variety of age groups in a preschool/daycare setting, including afterschool care for children up to 12yrs old. While working in the field, I completed many hours of training for Early Childhood Education Certification, including Early Literacy and Mathematics. When I moved to Madison County, I worked as the Children's Librarian in all three branches of the public library. After my children were born, I focused on raising them. I homeschooled my boys up to the fifth grade and was involved in a homeschool co-op, where I participated as a parent teacher. The classes that I taught included Science, History, Writing Workshops, and various art and handworks. After my children were enrolled in public school, I completed the Effective Classroom Management course through AB-Tech. I was hired as the teacher at Little Ivy, a homeschool enrichment cooperative for children ages 5-7. Since the beginning of WBNS, I have served as the second grade teacher. Teaching Philosophy: My basic teaching philosophy is that kids need to use their bodies and minds throughout the day in order to do their best. What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at WBNS is the small size that allows for all of the staff to really know the students and truly support growth for everyone. I also love being outside throughout the day and our dedication to the students having unstructured time in the woods, every day. Favorite thing about kids: My favorite things about children are their playful imaginations and joy in small pleasures.




Naomi Dunn | Elementary Teacher Assistant


Education & Experience: A graduate of Warran Wilson and NC Outwardbound School, Naomi is a Nature Mentor whose focus is to nurture connections with students, develop skills and stewardship, who brings 6+ years of experience in Outdoor and Experiential Education. Teaching Philosophy: Not all children learn the at the same pace or in the same way. Its important to figure out how they learn and what works best for them. Favorite thing about kids: Children are unique, amazing individuals. I have 3 children of my own who have all grown up in the same environment but have very different personalities, dreams and goals. My husband has 3 children as well. All 6 of them have amazing qualities and are as different as can be, but get along well together.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: the sense of community and how we all interact and work together. I love learning right alongside my daughter about agriculture, the history, and the heritage of WNC.




Kate Eckhardt | 1st Grade SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience:

Kate has a Master's Degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University. She has taught preschool, environmental education, kids' yoga, and creative movement for many years. Interspersed with her time teaching, she has worked for several environmental nonprofits, recently running a Farmers' Market in Asheville. She has studied permaculture and herbalism, and has worked on several farms in WNC.

Teaching Philosophy:

"The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning, and living, require." Parker Palmer

Favorite thing about kids:

Their joy & enthusiasm is contagious!

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: TI have found my dream job at WBNS! We have a fabulous school community, and I get to share many of my passions in the realms of farm, arts, and forest with the kids.





KINDERGARTEN TEACHERS

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS

1ST - 4TH GRADE

Stacey Woods | 1st Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: Stacey has been working in the education field for over 25 years. She has earned a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood, and is currently licensed by the state of North Carolina K-6. Teaching Philosophy: You cannot be who you do not believe yourself to be....Believe in yourself! Favorite thing about kids: Kids are brilliantly open and imaginative. They are seedlings loaded with the ability and potential to do anything. I love watching kids learn about and navigate the world. Also, they make me laugh often! What I love about teaching at WBNS: I love teaching at WBNS because I love my team... a dynamic group of educators who are working together to create an authentic, holistic experience and education for our students. I also love the close connection and collaboration that we have with the students and their families. Plus the the setting is fantastic :)




Paul Mundy | Elementary & Middle School Physical Education Teacher


Education & Experience: I have coached youth sports for 13 years from kindergarten to 8th graders. I have also coached Madison Middle School girls basketball team for a year. I have been at Woodson Branch for the past 2 years teaching the physical education classes and assisting in 5th/ 6th grade specials. Teaching Philosophy: Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.... Shah Rukh Khan Favorite thing about kids: Joy, resiliency Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Getting to hang out with kids...




Kati Puglisi | Elementary SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience: Kati Puglisi has been working with children of all ages, in many different settings, for over 15 years. She ran her own home-based preschool, organized several after-school programs and summer camps, and has been a substitute teacher for many different schools. Her expertise and experience is mostly earth-based, including organic farming and permaculture, animal care & wellness, herbal medicine and plant ID. She is artistic and loves to create with children. She has three sons who were primarily homeschooled during their early education, five cats and four dogs. Her favorite topics to teach are Outdoor Education and Art. Teaching Philosophy: Kids learn best through playful experiences. What I love about teaching at WBNS: The freedom! I love having access to 30 acres of beautiful forest or the choice of several different buildings to teach in and around. Also, the staff and the administration! Favorite thing about kids: They know how to have FUN!




Cassandra Lewis | Animal Science Agriculture Teacher


Education & Experience: I have a BA in Anthropology/Geology from SIUC and have taken several graduate level classes in City Planning and Geographical Informational Systems. I love maps, old bones and interpretating how people preceding written history lived and how their history can be seen on and within the landscape on which we now live. I worked as an Archaeological field/lab technician and attended graduate school in Columbus, OH before moving to Marshall in 2002. After moving to Marshall, I started a small farm raising dairy goats, chickens, and ducks. I grew produce for farmers markets, baked for local businesses and made handmade paper from excess produce plant fibers. I began my teaching career at HSCLC in the after school program in 2009. I continued my path with HSCLC for many years and taught in many capacities while there including: teaching with Ms. Lou in transitional kindergarten, summer camp counselor, and after school teacher. When WBNS opened its doors, I gladly signed on as the Agriculture Specials Teacher and Livestock Coordinator, adding goats, rabbits and chickens to the school grounds. Teaching Philosophy: For me teaching is not showing a child how to do something, that’s training; but inspiring children to teach themselves is invaluable. Acknowledging and uplifting every student's potential to learn as well as their potential to teach is a value I hold high for myself. I value the belief that educating children outdoors through nature is an irreplaceable experience that all children deserve. The popular bumper sticker says it simply, “Children grow better outside.” “As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews Favorite thing about kids: Their inquisitive and curious minds and how they naturally interpret the world through play.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Having the freedom to explore and experiment with an assortment of multi-sensory teaching strategies and beinq able to teach within our natural outdoor world. And working with an amazing group of teachers and families also makes teaching at WBNS exceptional!




Brittany Deesing | 3rd & 4th Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I have always been interested in science, the arts, and working with children. When I first began college, I wasn't sure how I could incorporate my top three passions into one promising career. Throughout my college journey, starting at a community college, then Warren Wilson, and then graduating from UNC Asheville, I found joy in tutoring my peers, helping them understand concepts and gain confidence within themselves. I interned for UNCA, starting a campus-wide recycling/composting campaign study, where success was statistically measured, and recycling/composting efforts were at an all time high. After I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, I went to Asheville GreenWorks, an environmental non-profit in Asheville, where I helped create fun games, lessons, and projects to actively teach elementary students about recycling and composting. I was also the theatrical "Compost Queen", with a homemade fruit crown and cape, and would visit schools inspiring kids to care about their environmental impact. I was getting closer to finding what I was looking for. Then, I met Debbie at Woodson Branch for originally a discussion about composting. The moment I stepped onto the property, I had an epiphany, and the discussion became an interview. I soon after began my teacher assistant position with the 3rd and 4th grade. I fell in love with the kids, the school, the whole community, and the hands on creative, yet scientific teaching philosophy of Woodson Branch. The following year, a lead teacher position for 3rd and 4th grade was offered to me, and I gladly accepted the opportunity. I finally found what I was looking for all along - a career where I can help kids blossom, not just academically, but also in self confidence, persistence, and social and environmental responsibility, using creativity, science, and my own experiences as tools to teach and inspire our youth. Teaching Philosophy: "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at Woodson Branch is that I am always challenged, and I am always encouraged to be myself. I love a good challenge, and as I overcome them it helps me grow as a teacher, and as a person. This models perseverance and helps build character within my students as well. I am encouraged to use my competitive nature, creativity, problem solving skills, persistence, sensitivity, and love for knowledge as tools to teach my students about academic and life lessons. My favorite part of being a part of this community is the phenomenal support and love I receive. I always feel supported when facing a challenge, and I am so grateful to be part of this family! Favorite thing about kids: My favorite thing about kids is their imagination! As adults, we tend to get wrapped up in our daily challenges and sometimes lose sight of things outside that. Kids brighten life with their imagination, and energize my own creativity. They remind us to live in the moment and cherish life's small moments. I also love their curiosity and excitement towards learning. I think kids inspire me as much as I inspire them.




Amanda Wilder | 2nd Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I worked for five years with a variety of age groups in a preschool/daycare setting, including afterschool care for children up to 12yrs old. While working in the field, I completed many hours of training for Early Childhood Education Certification, including Early Literacy and Mathematics. When I moved to Madison County, I worked as the Children's Librarian in all three branches of the public library. After my children were born, I focused on raising them. I homeschooled my boys up to the fifth grade and was involved in a homeschool co-op, where I participated as a parent teacher. The classes that I taught included Science, History, Writing Workshops, and various art and handworks. After my children were enrolled in public school, I completed the Effective Classroom Management course through AB-Tech. I was hired as the teacher at Little Ivy, a homeschool enrichment cooperative for children ages 5-7. Since the beginning of WBNS, I have served as the second grade teacher. Teaching Philosophy: My basic teaching philosophy is that kids need to use their bodies and minds throughout the day in order to do their best. What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at WBNS is the small size that allows for all of the staff to really know the students and truly support growth for everyone. I also love being outside throughout the day and our dedication to the students having unstructured time in the woods, every day. Favorite thing about kids: My favorite things about children are their playful imaginations and joy in small pleasures.




Naomi Dunn | Elementary Teacher Assistant


Education & Experience: A graduate of Warran Wilson and NC Outwardbound School, Naomi is a Nature Mentor whose focus is to nurture connections with students, develop skills and stewardship, who brings 6+ years of experience in Outdoor and Experiential Education. Teaching Philosophy: Not all children learn the at the same pace or in the same way. Its important to figure out how they learn and what works best for them. Favorite thing about kids: Children are unique, amazing individuals. I have 3 children of my own who have all grown up in the same environment but have very different personalities, dreams and goals. My husband has 3 children as well. All 6 of them have amazing qualities and are as different as can be, but get along well together.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: the sense of community and how we all interact and work together. I love learning right alongside my daughter about agriculture, the history, and the heritage of WNC.




Kate Eckhardt | 1st Grade SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience:

Kate has a Master's Degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University. She has taught preschool, environmental education, kids' yoga, and creative movement for many years. Interspersed with her time teaching, she has worked for several environmental nonprofits, recently running a Farmers' Market in Asheville. She has studied permaculture and herbalism, and has worked on several farms in WNC.

Teaching Philosophy:

"The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning, and living, require." Parker Palmer

Favorite thing about kids:

Their joy & enthusiasm is contagious!

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: TI have found my dream job at WBNS! We have a fabulous school community, and I get to share many of my passions in the realms of farm, arts, and forest with the kids.





Stacey Woods | 1st Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: Stacey has been working in the education field for over 25 years. She has earned a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Early Childhood, and is currently licensed by the state of North Carolina K-6. Teaching Philosophy: You cannot be who you do not believe yourself to be....Believe in yourself! Favorite thing about kids: Kids are brilliantly open and imaginative. They are seedlings loaded with the ability and potential to do anything. I love watching kids learn about and navigate the world. Also, they make me laugh often! What I love about teaching at WBNS: I love teaching at WBNS because I love my team... a dynamic group of educators who are working together to create an authentic, holistic experience and education for our students. I also love the close connection and collaboration that we have with the students and their families. Plus the the setting is fantastic :)




Paul Mundy | Elementary & Middle School Physical Education Teacher


Education & Experience: I have coached youth sports for 13 years from kindergarten to 8th graders. I have also coached Madison Middle School girls basketball team for a year. I have been at Woodson Branch for the past 2 years teaching the physical education classes and assisting in 5th/ 6th grade specials. Teaching Philosophy: Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.... Shah Rukh Khan Favorite thing about kids: Joy, resiliency Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Getting to hang out with kids...




Kati Puglisi | Elementary SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience: Kati Puglisi has been working with children of all ages, in many different settings, for over 15 years. She ran her own home-based preschool, organized several after-school programs and summer camps, and has been a substitute teacher for many different schools. Her expertise and experience is mostly earth-based, including organic farming and permaculture, animal care & wellness, herbal medicine and plant ID. She is artistic and loves to create with children. She has three sons who were primarily homeschooled during their early education, five cats and four dogs. Her favorite topics to teach are Outdoor Education and Art. Teaching Philosophy: Kids learn best through playful experiences. What I love about teaching at WBNS: The freedom! I love having access to 30 acres of beautiful forest or the choice of several different buildings to teach in and around. Also, the staff and the administration! Favorite thing about kids: They know how to have FUN!




Cassandra Lewis | Animal Science Agriculture Teacher


Education & Experience: I have a BA in Anthropology/Geology from SIUC and have taken several graduate level classes in City Planning and Geographical Informational Systems. I love maps, old bones and interpretating how people preceding written history lived and how their history can be seen on and within the landscape on which we now live. I worked as an Archaeological field/lab technician and attended graduate school in Columbus, OH before moving to Marshall in 2002. After moving to Marshall, I started a small farm raising dairy goats, chickens, and ducks. I grew produce for farmers markets, baked for local businesses and made handmade paper from excess produce plant fibers. I began my teaching career at HSCLC in the after school program in 2009. I continued my path with HSCLC for many years and taught in many capacities while there including: teaching with Ms. Lou in transitional kindergarten, summer camp counselor, and after school teacher. When WBNS opened its doors, I gladly signed on as the Agriculture Specials Teacher and Livestock Coordinator, adding goats, rabbits and chickens to the school grounds. Teaching Philosophy: For me teaching is not showing a child how to do something, that’s training; but inspiring children to teach themselves is invaluable. Acknowledging and uplifting every student's potential to learn as well as their potential to teach is a value I hold high for myself. I value the belief that educating children outdoors through nature is an irreplaceable experience that all children deserve. The popular bumper sticker says it simply, “Children grow better outside.” “As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unselfconsciously to the soughing of the trees.” Valerie Andrews Favorite thing about kids: Their inquisitive and curious minds and how they naturally interpret the world through play.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Having the freedom to explore and experiment with an assortment of multi-sensory teaching strategies and beinq able to teach within our natural outdoor world. And working with an amazing group of teachers and families also makes teaching at WBNS exceptional!




Brittany Deesing | 3rd & 4th Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I have always been interested in science, the arts, and working with children. When I first began college, I wasn't sure how I could incorporate my top three passions into one promising career. Throughout my college journey, starting at a community college, then Warren Wilson, and then graduating from UNC Asheville, I found joy in tutoring my peers, helping them understand concepts and gain confidence within themselves. I interned for UNCA, starting a campus-wide recycling/composting campaign study, where success was statistically measured, and recycling/composting efforts were at an all time high. After I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, I went to Asheville GreenWorks, an environmental non-profit in Asheville, where I helped create fun games, lessons, and projects to actively teach elementary students about recycling and composting. I was also the theatrical "Compost Queen", with a homemade fruit crown and cape, and would visit schools inspiring kids to care about their environmental impact. I was getting closer to finding what I was looking for. Then, I met Debbie at Woodson Branch for originally a discussion about composting. The moment I stepped onto the property, I had an epiphany, and the discussion became an interview. I soon after began my teacher assistant position with the 3rd and 4th grade. I fell in love with the kids, the school, the whole community, and the hands on creative, yet scientific teaching philosophy of Woodson Branch. The following year, a lead teacher position for 3rd and 4th grade was offered to me, and I gladly accepted the opportunity. I finally found what I was looking for all along - a career where I can help kids blossom, not just academically, but also in self confidence, persistence, and social and environmental responsibility, using creativity, science, and my own experiences as tools to teach and inspire our youth. Teaching Philosophy: "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at Woodson Branch is that I am always challenged, and I am always encouraged to be myself. I love a good challenge, and as I overcome them it helps me grow as a teacher, and as a person. This models perseverance and helps build character within my students as well. I am encouraged to use my competitive nature, creativity, problem solving skills, persistence, sensitivity, and love for knowledge as tools to teach my students about academic and life lessons. My favorite part of being a part of this community is the phenomenal support and love I receive. I always feel supported when facing a challenge, and I am so grateful to be part of this family! Favorite thing about kids: My favorite thing about kids is their imagination! As adults, we tend to get wrapped up in our daily challenges and sometimes lose sight of things outside that. Kids brighten life with their imagination, and energize my own creativity. They remind us to live in the moment and cherish life's small moments. I also love their curiosity and excitement towards learning. I think kids inspire me as much as I inspire them.




Amanda Wilder | 2nd Grade Teacher


Education & Experience: I worked for five years with a variety of age groups in a preschool/daycare setting, including afterschool care for children up to 12yrs old. While working in the field, I completed many hours of training for Early Childhood Education Certification, including Early Literacy and Mathematics. When I moved to Madison County, I worked as the Children's Librarian in all three branches of the public library. After my children were born, I focused on raising them. I homeschooled my boys up to the fifth grade and was involved in a homeschool co-op, where I participated as a parent teacher. The classes that I taught included Science, History, Writing Workshops, and various art and handworks. After my children were enrolled in public school, I completed the Effective Classroom Management course through AB-Tech. I was hired as the teacher at Little Ivy, a homeschool enrichment cooperative for children ages 5-7. Since the beginning of WBNS, I have served as the second grade teacher. Teaching Philosophy: My basic teaching philosophy is that kids need to use their bodies and minds throughout the day in order to do their best. What I love about teaching at WBNS:
My favorite thing about teaching at WBNS is the small size that allows for all of the staff to really know the students and truly support growth for everyone. I also love being outside throughout the day and our dedication to the students having unstructured time in the woods, every day. Favorite thing about kids: My favorite things about children are their playful imaginations and joy in small pleasures.




Naomi Dunn | Elementary Teacher Assistant


Education & Experience: A graduate of Warran Wilson and NC Outwardbound School, Naomi is a Nature Mentor whose focus is to nurture connections with students, develop skills and stewardship, who brings 6+ years of experience in Outdoor and Experiential Education. Teaching Philosophy: Not all children learn the at the same pace or in the same way. Its important to figure out how they learn and what works best for them. Favorite thing about kids: Children are unique, amazing individuals. I have 3 children of my own who have all grown up in the same environment but have very different personalities, dreams and goals. My husband has 3 children as well. All 6 of them have amazing qualities and are as different as can be, but get along well together.

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: the sense of community and how we all interact and work together. I love learning right alongside my daughter about agriculture, the history, and the heritage of WNC.




Kate Eckhardt | 1st Grade SPECIALS Teacher


Education & Experience:

Kate has a Master's Degree in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University. She has taught preschool, environmental education, kids' yoga, and creative movement for many years. Interspersed with her time teaching, she has worked for several environmental nonprofits, recently running a Farmers' Market in Asheville. She has studied permaculture and herbalism, and has worked on several farms in WNC.

Teaching Philosophy:

"The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning, and living, require." Parker Palmer

Favorite thing about kids:

Their joy & enthusiasm is contagious!

Favorite thing about working at WBNS: TI have found my dream job at WBNS! We have a fabulous school community, and I get to share many of my passions in the realms of farm, arts, and forest with the kids.





ELEMENTARY TEACHERS
(1ST - 5TH)

MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS

5TH - 8TH GRADE

SUPPORT STAFF

Josey Gironda Dixon | Middle School ELA Teacher


Education & Experience: My first memories of wanting to teach can be traced back to my early years when I was being home-schooled by my family on a farm on the outskirts of Hot Springs, North Carolina. My experiences being home-schooled gave me a deep appreciation for experimental and hands-on learning, as well as a love for the arts, creative education, and nature-based learning experiences. I received my Bachelor's degree in English Language Arts while studying at the University of North Carolina Asheville. While at UNCA, I also received my teaching license and graduated as a highly qualified educator in English Language Arts and am currently certified in grades 6th through 12th. I completed my student teaching at Madison County Early College and am now a happy member of the Woodson Branch family. As an educator, my passion lies in building personal relationships with students and the collaborative exploration of language and the literary world. Teaching Philosophy: "A child does not care how much you know until they know how much you care."
- Theodore Rosevelt Favorite thing about kids: My favorite thing about kids is watching their confidence in themselves grow as they gain new experiences and understanding. Favorite thing about working at WBNS: My favorite thing about teaching at Woodson Branch is creativity and flexibility that is threaded throughout the entire curriculum.




Dana Stauffer | Middle School Math & Science Teacher


Education & Experience: I earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Vermont and then went on to pursue a Master's Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education from NCSU and a post Baccalaureate certificate in Middle School Science Education from Western Carolina University. Teaching Philosophy: Understanding is never complete, for we can always add more knowledge, another episode, or refine an image or see new links between things we see. Favorite thing about kids: I love working with Middle School aged students. I love their unique and honest perspectives, their ability to turn anything into a joke, and their genuine curiosity about the world around them. I am honored to support them through all of these experiences and the complicated nature of young adulthood. Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Staff, staff, staff and the freedom to be creative and individualistic in my teaching. The campus is pretty darn sweet too!




Marcus Meskil | Middle Math School Teacher


Education & Experience: I am rated as highly qualified in special education and mathematics. I worked several years in the public school system before becoming a teacher at Woodson Branch. While in public education much of my work focused on the exceptional children's program. I was a job coach in high school and behavioral assistant throughout the county before obtaining my teaching licensure. This is my fourth year as a teacher and a majority of those years have now been spent at Woodson Branch teaching middle grades mathematics. Teaching Philosophy: I want every student to feel successful in their own way. This means that my expectations are very much based on the individual and not the class as a whole. I hope that my students can take what they learn in my classroom and apply it to the world around them. This may be evident in other classes or it may be in more practical applications in life. Favorite thing about kids: My favorite thing about a room full of students is the energy and enthusiasum that I can feel. Math can be a scary thing when not approached from the correct pathway. Math should be seen as a journey and I am more of a guide then a teacher. Each student looks at a problem differently and I really enjoy all the varied approaches to a solution. In my class it's not about right or wrong but about understanding how you got there. Favorite thing about working at WBNS: I suppose to answer this questions on a very basic level I would say that my favorite thing about teaching at WBNS is in fact our immersion into the natural world. My favorite thing about having a child who attends the school is knowing that she is getting an education that centers on many of the beliefs I hold to be true.




Pascha Solomon | Middle School Arts Teacher


Education & Experience: She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Forensic Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies. After receiving her degree she ran away with the circus and spent 15 years as a co-creator and producer of customized special event entertainment that combined theater, music and circus. She became involved in education in the 1990’s as a classroom tutor and volunteer for underserved middle school students in San Francisco and worked as the Educational Director at a historical museum in Los Angeles. Her love of teaching and the creativity of young minds led her to create fun interactive after-school enrichment programs in Wizarding, Mythology and Theater. Teaching Philosophy: Pascha brings a love of play and encourages young students to dive deep to explore the beautiful and sometimes messy intricacies of the arts within themselves and as part of a global community. Her lessons are a tapestry of visual, performing, musical and natural art forms that encourage a deeper relationship with the history of our local region, a synchronistic relationship with our natural environment and an empowered development of the uniqueness of self. When not teaching students, she is a facilitator and lecturer, a program developer and counselor with Mountain Wisdom Camps, and owner of Of Wand & Earth in Marshall, NC. Favorite thing about kids: Their endless creativity and problem solving abilities. Favorite thing about working at WBNS: That each child is valued and their voices are listened to by all.




Morgen Yeakley | Middle School Outdoor Education Teacher


Education & Experience: After completing a BA in Psychology, I found my first position in the outdoor industry working at a nature center's ropes course. It was love at first rope up. Over the last twenty-five-plus years, I have thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail; worked as wilderness therapy instructor for multiple special populations; worked as a river guide and canoe/kayak instructor; taught as a Teaching Assistant at UT Knoxville; completed a Masters in Therapeutic Recreation; instructed Outward Bound courses; completed EMT training with an additional wilderness component; ski patrolled; directed camps; taught 1st Aid/CPR; instructed as an adjunct professor at Brevard College, and home-schooled my two kids for several years. I am a certified Leave No Trace Trainer, and have a Wilderness First Responder certification. I continue to choose nature's adventures that are always calling. Now my path has brought me to WBNS to continue sharing the outdoors in a safe, responsible and fun way with young people. See you on the trail! Teaching Philosophy: "It's important to have an end to journey towards, but it's the journey that matters in the end." -Ursula LeGuinn Favorite thing about kids: is watching and cheering them on as they grow as people Favorite thing about working at WBNS: how much we all interact with nature and the elements.




Dana Nagle | Middle School Agriculture Teacher


Education & Experience: I studied Environmental Education at Warren Wilson College, graduating in 1999. After college, I designed a garden-based environmental education program for Hall Fletcher Elementary School in Asheville and taught there for 5 years. That program was focused on matching garden lessons with the NC Standard curriculum in science, math, language arts, and social studies. That program is still running 17 years later. At Woodson Branch I find it liberating to work toward the goal of teaching children how to successfully grow food as both an educational end and mean. Teaching Philosophy: Salience is key to learning. Finding out what is personally meaningful to each child and nourishing that passion is something that I am so glad we have the capacity to do at Woodson Branch. Favorite thing about kids: Their sense of wonder and discovery Favorite thing about working at WBNS: Being a part of an educational community that shares the values of wholistic education and living, respect of different learning styles, and respect for all of nature.




Alexis Chaize | Middle School Outdoor Education Teacher


Education & Experience: A wilderness first responder and graduate of Appalachain State University, Alexis (Lexi) brings her 6+ years of experience and extensive knowledge about the great outdoors to the WBNS campus. From geology to recreation managment to wilderness therapy, and risk management we have found us a gem!
Teaching Philosophy: Being a teacher is more than just teaching, we have to take on the roles of an entertainer, educator, big brother, mother, role model, counselor, champion, and a teacher. Favorite thing about kids: How creative and spontaneous they can be! It's amazing to see what the kids do with simple toys, we give them string or sticks and their imaginations run wild. I love to see the joy simple things can bring them. Favorite thing about working at WBNS: How much time we get to spend learning outside! Being on a campus with woods, streams and fields really elevates outdoor education. Talking about topics in the classroom gives the students a good foundation, but going outside and getting our hands dirty keeps the kids engaged and interested in the topics.




Chris Jamison | Social Studies / History & STEAM TEAMS


Education & Experience:

-Earned a Bachelors Degree from University of Virginia in Political Science

-Earning NC state teaching

license from University of North Carolina Charlotte

-Currently teaching middle school social studies at WBNS and Odyssey Community School

Teaching Philosophy:

-instill in children a lover of learning so that they are students for the rest of their lives.

Favorite thing about kids:

-endless fun/energy/questions. Kids are bursting at the seams with the joy of discovery.

What I love about teaching at WBNS:

-the setting really makes you feel at ease and at peace. Such a beautiful place to work.





Josie Mundy| Business Adminstrator


Education & Experience: Josie has an Associates Degree in Educational Sciences for Early Childhood, and has been teaching preschool for 11 years. She also is a Level 2 Administrator and is in her 2nd year of being the Administrator for The Hot Springs Community Preschool. She will be starting her journey to earn her BA in Early Childhood Administration this fall. Teaching Philosophy: "A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” ---Brad Henry Favorite thing about kids: I love the children's spirits. I love that being around them everyday makes me the happiest I've ever been at a job, if you wanna call it that. I love their sense of wonder and imagination. I love when they show their excitment because they acomplished a task or learned something new. I'm thankful that so many parents share their children with me to help them grow and learn in a fun, hands on, experience.




Deborah DeLisle | Founder & School Director


Education & Experience: I earned an Associates of Science in Art & Eengineering from Monroe County Community College in Michigan, and a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood, plus a K-6 teacher license from Western Carolina University. I have completed some graduate work in Early Childhood Adminstration with the University of North Carolina and I am currently working on graduate work in Experiential Learning with Concordia University. I am a grass-roots innovator with a deep love for small town community living and have designed several businesses over the years to help meet the needs of it's people. I have been working with children for over 25 years and plan to do so for at least 25 more! Teaching Philosophy: "Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime" ― lots of people claim this one! Favorite thing about kids: I love the way they dress. Favorite thing about wokring at MCCLC: I am truly in love with this community. In all it's "realness", with our differences, our creativity, our bold bravery and commitment to children, I am continually amazed, inspired, and energized by this project and the people who fuel it.





Support Staff