AMS is a staff run school. Full time staff members share equal responsibility and compensation, no matter how long they have worked here. While we don’t have a head of school, we do have clerks. This role serves as a liaison to our parents and board. They also guide staff to think about the bigger picture when making decisions in our consensus based staff meetings.
We Are All Teachers
Most staff members have multiple positions: they can be houseparents, trip leaders, cooks, and fill one of the many coordinator positions all at once. One role we all fill is teaching. Whether it’s math class, a garden internship, or an elective, all full time staff (and most of our part time ones) teach students in some capacity. This structure allows students to recognize that everyone’s work is equally important and that we all have something to give.
Rebecca Zeldin (she/her)
Co-Clerk, Academic Coordinator, Language Arts and Spanish Teacher
MA in Philosophy and Education, Columbia University
BA in Spanish Literature, Haverford College
Rebecca’s first teaching experiences were in college, as a summer volunteer in elementary school classrooms in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Since then, she’s taught at a residential school for young adults with developmental disabilities and at a progressive school in Philadelphia, where she taught Spanish, English, Philosophy, and sundry other topics to middle school students. Including a stint in graduate school, she’s been in education for over ten years; she can hardly imagine any way she’d rather spend her workday than as a teacher. At AMS, Rebecca cherishes the consensus-driven adult community, the closeness with the kids, and the informality of the culture. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, wandering, reading, playing board games, chatting, and playing sports non-competitively.
Middle school memory: I had this incredible eighth grade English teacher. To my thirteen-year-old self, he appeared an ambassador of another world, a world in which words and ideas ranked more highly than TV shows, soccer practice, or most any of the other activities I was taken with in those days. So enthusiastic was this teacher about discussing books with us that he would sometimes bounce up and down with exhilaration. By the end of the day, his shirt would be streaked with chalk and sweat. I fell in love with many things at once that year–books, ideas, discussion, and indeed teaching itself. All this time later, who I am and what I’m doing can be traced back to the world my eighth grade English teacher first showed me.
Kyle is so excited to be starting his third year at AMS. In the past he has been lucky enough to work with kids of various ages in Connecticut, Alaska, and New Hampshire in positions focused largely on natural education and mentorship in the outdoors. He enjoys natural sciences, tide pools, woodworking, hiking, and cooking. He’s excited to support AMS students as they learn, grow, and explore the world around them.
Middle school memory: In sixth grade, my language arts teacher used candy to motivate us to learn new vocabulary words, which I took very seriously. I had a lot of jolly ranchers that year.
Meg is going into their third year at Arthur Morgan School. Before working at AMS, they worked as a SNAP case manager at a youth-oriented social service nonprofit. They love collaborative, participant-driven communities where people get to figure out how they want to live and learn together. When Meg’s not sharing food and conversation, you might find them reading, making music, or recruiting friends for a movie night.
Middle-school memory: I was home-schooled as a middle schooler! I remember schooling being a lot less rooted in conversation and relationship, which was a loss, but this did make space for a lot of self-directed reading!
This is Natalie’s eighth year at AMS, and her first in the admissions office. She has been a house parent, teacher (of everything except math), and academic coordinator. Before coming to AMS she worked at Penland School of Craft and taught art in after school programs. In her spare time she enjoys being outdoors, crafting, and reading. She loves working with middle schoolers because they are at the age when they begin to delve wholeheartedly into the work of figuring out who they are, what they stand for, and what makes them unique as people.
This is Jake’s tenth year at AMS. He has held many roles including clerk, houseparent, teacher, academic advisor, maintenance coordinator, and outdoor coordinator. Before coming to AMS, he worked on a farm and as a rock-climbing guide for campers in Shenandoah Valley, VA. Being in the woods, especially when it’s with students, is where he’s happiest. He loves how eager middle schoolers can be to explore questions of themselves and others, getting to the root of what matters and what role they can play in shaping the world. In working with them, he enjoys striving to make that an adventure.
Middle school memory: At age 13, I tended to be pretty serious and uncomfortable with making mistakes. In 7th grade, had a teacher who encouraged us to write on the walls, examine found objects on the side of the road, and speak our poetry out loud. She taught me to keep finding ways to play, and that really opened the world up for me.
Aren grew up in Durham, North Carolina with a lifelong love for the southern Appalachian mountains. They feel most alive when growing and cooking food for people, singing old time and southern gospel music, dancing, and working in community toward a more just world. Before coming to AMS, Aren worked as a community organizer, a farmhand, and a camp counselor at a Quaker camp in the Shenandoah valley. Aren is excited to continue bringing their love of food and food systems to the role of kitchen coordinator in their third year at AMS.
Middle School Memory: Once, on a middle school field trip to the Smoky Mountains, I was playing in a creek and looked up to find myself face to face with a black bear! We were both a bit startled. We had a moment of intense eye contact before slowly moving in a circle to let each other pass. I credit that bear with teaching me that, when dancing with a partner, the most important things are to watch, listen, and not step on each others’ toes.
Maintenance and Technology Coordinator, Math and Language Arts Teacher
MA in Philosophy and Education, Columbia University
BA Philosophy and BS Psychology, Viterbo University
Adam is a curious young man from Wisconsin who moved out east for graduate school. His academic training is in philosophy, so he’s had a variety of jobs in IT, teaching, and manual trades. He enjoys frisbee, board games, photography, woodworking, gardening, and mechanical projects, as well as working with young people. As a child, Adam spent much of his time daydreaming about hypothetical societies and wishing he was an astronaut.
Middle school memory: Once I was given an assignment to write an autobiographical statement. I procrastinated and procrastinated until I thought no one remembered I was asked to do it. Then I learned someone wrote my autobiography for me. I was given the option to replace it with my own story, but decided to leave it as was. They did a pretty good job of impersonating me.
Arden grew up in the South and is elated to move back to the mountains after graduating college in Wooster, Ohio. Her time in Wooster taught her to treasure opportunities for experiential learning. She enjoys listening to stories (and telling them!), knitting, making popcorn, meeting bugs, and learning fun facts.
Middle school memory: In eighth grade, I invented an animal called a “snorse,” a combination snake-horse. Drawing them on the back of every assignment I got became my “thing” from then on, so every paper I turned in or took home that year also contained a loving portrayal of my creation. I hoped my peers would also get excited about inventing new animals, but the idea never caught on.
Sulli(van) is starting his first year at AMS. He grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, trying to be friends with everybody he could. He realized this was exhausting and unrealistic, and learned to appreciate close connections to people and communities that meant more. Before AMS he has worked on a backcountry trail crew in New Mexico, learning to cooperate with difficult situations, exhausting days, and a family of people who may or may not get along. More importantly, Sulli has worked at Joann Fabrics. His hobbies include writing, sewing, drawing, ping ponging, swimming, rock climbing, singing, and many more little activities.
Middle school memory: I’d spend a lot of my free time at school exploring unlocked doors, sneaking around, and finding little places that not a lot of other students would ever know about. I think that translated into my love of discovering niche places in the world that stay more untouched by the crowds.
Sam, a South Carolina native, is amped to embark on his first year with Arthur Morgan School. He’s excited to be back in Southern Appalachia after two seasons of leading whitewater and backpacking trips in the desert of Utah with the Colorado Outward Bound School. He enjoys spending time in the woods, finding new swimming holes and whitewater kayaking.
Middle school memory: When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with Clemson football. All I wanted to talk about was how the game had gone that weekend. I don’t think most kids knew what to do with me!
Dakota is pumped to start his first year at Arthur Morgan School. He has lived all over, but has called North Carolina home for the past 15 years. Before starting his journey at AMS he was living in the Celo area, just on the other side of the South Toe River. While living in the area he worked at the local Spruce Pine Montessori School as well as slinging pizza at the local hangout Homeplace. When he wasn’t working in town he was helping out at Green Toe Ground, a local farm run by past AMS staff. He feels most alive when sharing his love for the Southern Appalachians and everything it has to offer with others! His hobbies include hiking, woodworking, growing food, talking to his neighbors, and just living life to the fullest.
Middle school memory: I was pretty schooled out by the time I made it middle school. I always wanted to be anywhere but school. That was until middle school band! My teacher would show up to school an hour before he had to be there and he invited all his students to practice and get private lessons and I was all about that! I showed up early everyday for more than two years! To this day middle school was the only time I showed up early to school!
Mary is starting her first year at AMS. Mary grew up in Georgia but considers Alabama to be home. Before AMS, she worked as an outdoor teacher, where she took students on educational hikes, taught environmental classes, and helped students overcome their fears on the ropes course. In her free time, Mary enjoys reading, hiking, painting, baking, and finding hole-in-the-wall cafes.
Middle school memory: The height of my love for reading began in middle school. I would finish books in a few days or less. Almost every week I’d have a different book in hand. I’d read any time I could, especially at the end or beginning of a class. It got to the point where if I was on the edge of a cliffhanger, I would read while walking in the hallways between classes. Somehow, I never ran into anyone else. I’m not sure whether to equate that to my skill of walking while reading or to everyone else moving out of the way. Either way, I’m grateful I never bumped into anyone.
Middle school memory: During middle school, I was known as the ‘Nature Ranger’ by my marching bandmates, due to my affinity for wildlife and inability to allow anyone to harm stray insects that made their way into our band room or onto our practice field.
Aleshia was raised in Burnsville, North Carolina. As a native of Burnsville, she took for granted the beauty of the mountains and all they offer, but as an adult found new appreciation for the Blue Ridge Mountains and could not imagine a more picturesque scenery to call home. She lives with her 10-year-old son, Malaki, 4 cats, and one dog (aptly named Stray) who wandered inside one day and became a permanent fixture. She has worked in a variety of jobs but always desired to work for an entity which exists for the greater good. She is excited to take on the role of bookkeeper at Arthur Morgan where students grow, learn, and participate in a supportive community.
Middle School Memory: Middle school consisted of trying to fit in where I thought I belonged and discovering my own unique personality did not fit the mold. There’s also a time I rode a horse upside down… first time I’d ever ridden one. I could feel the saddle slipping each time he would go off trail to graze but didn’t want to say anything to make everyone stop, finally the entire saddle slid over the side leaving me upside down, stuck in the stirrups. Terror does not begin to describe the feeling. Luckily, I was kindly saved by a ranch hand, and lived to tell this story.
Bethany is originally from Middlebury, Vermont, but has lived in western North Carolina for over 25 years. She is a member of Celo Community and she and her husband have a house down the road with a big garden. Bethany began working at the Extension Office with the 4-H after-school program, and then stayed home to raise and homeschool their three kids. When they were old enough, they each attended AMS for 7th, 8th and 9th grades, learning not only math and social studies, but sheep shearing, hiking, canoeing, caving, how to build a pizza oven, wash dishes and chop wood. Friday nights brought nights-out students and boisterous conversation around the dinner table. Bethany began bookkeeping for Celo Community and then for Carolina Morning, a small nearby business that makes meditation cushions. She loves to be part of this school community that gives so much to adolescents.
Middle school memory: I tend to call my junior high years the dark years. Life was full of insecurities, unspoken rules and social hierarchy. Fitting in was a constant struggle, and the knock off rugby with plastic buttons my Mom bought at an outlet store, rather than the name brand one with cool rubber buttons, didn’t cut it. Not to mention needing an alligator on my shirt, the right kind of Docksiders, and my backpack slug over only one shoulder. One silver lining was learning to juggle. I also joined band and learned how to play the trumpet and loved it. Not only that, but I started listening to music, tuning my radio to the top 40 and falling asleep to Duran Duran, Cindy Lauper, the Eurythmics, George Michael and singing Purple Rain in my dreams.
Kathlene comes to AMS after working twenty years in the music event business (mostly directing large music festivals) and then eleven years for the American Cancer Society within a combination fundraising and public health positions where she managed all of the western North Carolina and southwest Virginia territories for the ACS. She grew up in Charlotte, NC but has been living in western North Carolina for 32 years. She and her family have been living within the Celo Community since 2001. She is a parent of an AMS alumnus (07′ to 09′). In addition to raising two sons, she now raises chickens, bees and grows a large assortment of flowers, grapes and berries in her family’s garden.
Middle school memory: My fondest memories of middle school are that of riding horses and hanging out at the horse barn in my neighborhood with my friends. We mucked out stalls and bathed the horses after a day of jumping horse fences and trail rides. I enjoyed being around the animals more than anything else I could have been doing during those years. To this day, my love of horses carries over into anything with four legs, fur or feathers. Luckily, I get to visit with a variety of critters at any given time at AMS!
Arthur Morgan School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or preference, gender identity or expression, marital status, economic status, or disability.