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/hers)
Co-Clerk, 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 second 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 and carpentry, hiking, and cooking. He’s excited to support AMS students 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.
Christina is from Winston-Salem, NC, but spent many summers and holidays in the Celo Community with family and working at and attending Camp Celo. Before coming to AMS, Christina worked as an admissions counselor at University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she recruited high school, college, and graduate students. She is a studio artist currently focusing in contemporary jewelry and blacksmithing and has spent the last decade teaching art and movement to children at arts centers across North Carolina. She especially enjoys incorporating teaching methods from Reggio Emilia and Montessori. She studied sculpture, dance, glassblowing, and metals at VCU, spent a year in Italy studying metals, enameling, and Italian Renaissance art history, took many classes at Penland in sculpture, iron, and metals, and generally has a hard time sticking to just one medium or interest. She loves living in the mountains so close to the South Toe River and beautiful backpacking trails.
Middle School memory: During my middle school years I took ballet five days a week and spent every summer in a ballet summer intensive. In 9th grade, I did not get accepted to a ballet school and I was crushed. It took me many years to realize that I had not “wasted” 15 years training for a career I would not pursue – I now know that my time as a dancer has influenced every part of my life and my current art practice.
Born in Asheville, Lena grew up in New Delhi, India and Chapel Hill, NC. Before AMS, she taught in after school programs, and worked as a research analyst at Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. At AMS, Lena feels like she’s found a place that embraces the independence, curiosity and energy of adolescents. In between foraging for mushrooms, tubing down the river, and throwing a frisbee with students, Lena teaches math and personal growth classes.
Middle School Memory: I moved schools in the middle of sixth grade. On my first day as a new student, a bee stung me on the eyelid. Later in math class, my eye swollen shut, I answered a question using both the words “numerator” and “denominator” and quickly became “that bee girl who really likes math.”
Jake has enjoyed working with teens outdoors since 2010. He has been at AMS for nine years and had many roles including 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. “I love 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, I enjoy 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.
After graduating college, Lucia stayed in New Hampshire for another six months to run an outdoor program in the White Mountains. Since then, she has found various ways to nurture her passion for experiential education and working with young people, including running a teen leadership and service trip to New Zealand, teaching a semester for gap year students across Eastern Asia, and running environmental science and team building programs in the Berkshire Mountains. In her spare time, she loves hiking, playing frisbee, cooking, petting dogs, and writing, and she loves working with middle schoolers because of how excited they are to develop and explore their passions.
Middle school memory: When I was thirteen, I read a book about Julia Butterfly Hill, an environmental activist who lived in a California redwood tree for over two years to protest deforestation. I thought that was awesome, and I wanted to imitate her experience in her honor. I unfortunately didn’t have two years to spare because of school and such, and my neighborhood in Connecticut lacked California redwoods, so instead I spent 24 hours in a Dogwood tree in my friend’s backyard. I set up a “ground crew” consisting of five friends who threw snacks up to me, and spent pretty much the whole time reading. It wasn’t quite Julia Butterfly Hill’s experience, but I did feel pretty cool.
Meg is going into their second 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!
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 bring their love of food and food systems to the role of kitchen coordinator in their second 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.
Adam Alexander (he/him/his)
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.
While in school, Will spent their time working on a bio-dynamic farm in the Celo area (Green Toe Ground Farm) and being outside as much as possible. After college, they relocated to New York for an AmeriCorps position with New York State parks and have continued to do work with invasive species management and restoration in the area. They are excited to return to Western North Carolina and begin working with Arthur Morgan School. In their free-time Will enjoys yoga, skateboarding, playing music, and cooking.
Middle School Memory: I remember my English teacher reading us “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. She acted out everything as she read and really brought the tale to life. Anytime I’m in a room with yellow walls I think back to that story.
Jude is from central Virginia originally, but has spent time living in Los Angeles as well as Western North Carolina while attending Warren Wilson in Swannanoa. Jude is so thrilled to continue to be part of a community dedicated to living and learning together. They have two lovely cats named Monty and Rue. They are passionate about cooking and spent a few months after graduating running a business making Indian food at farmer’s markets. Their other hobbies and interests include film making, writing, biking, gardening, and reading. They are so excited to get to formally begin their teaching journey at AMS this year!
Middle school memory: I was home-schooled as a middle-schooler and completed all my coursework independently online. Because I didn’t spend any time in a “real” classroom, a lot of what I learned during 7th-9th grade was learned instead through experience. After helping my grandma in her garden for a while, I decided to design and build my own greenhouse and raised beds with my Dad’s help. Unfortunately, my plans were faulty — my greenhouse fell over in a storm, and we accidentally built my raised bed in the shade of our backyard trees — but I learned a lot about carpentry through this project, and gained a super valuable, hands-on experience.
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 and grows a large assortment of flowers, fruit vines, bushes, and trees 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.