Jake Silver (he/him/his)
Clerk, Maintenance Coordinator, Houseparent
BA in Philosophy, St. Mary’s College
Jake has enjoyed working with teens outdoors since 2010. He has been at AMS for six years and had many roles including houseparent, teacher, academic advisor, Maintenance Coordinator, and Outdoor Coordinator. In his second year as Clerk, he will be chairing our Personnel Committee and be ever present to our parent’s needs and concerns.
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.
Isaiah Miller (he/him/his, they/them/theirs)
Assistant Clerk, Kitchen Coordinator, Spanish Teacher
BA in Art & Archaeology, Princeton University
Isaiah is beginning his fifth year at AMS. Past roles he has filled include Clerk, teacher, houseparent, academic advisor, and Technology Coordinator. Although he will be working part time this year, as Assistant Clerk, Isaiah will ensuring that students receive the care and attention they deserve while also being available to any parent concerns that come up along the way.
Most of all about AMS, Isaiah enjoys playing games, baking tasty treats, and connecting with students. “I love talking to students about their feelings and asking probing questions about life. Sometimes it’s all eye-rolls and groans, and other times it gets pretty real.”
Middle school memory: When I was in middle school, I hated learning Spanish. I was afraid of saying the wrong words in class, messing up the grammar, or just making a fool of myself. It was only later that I came to understand making mistakes and wading through awkwardness offer some of the best moments for learning.
Nicholas Maldonado (he/him/his)
Assistant Clerk, Recruitment and Admissions Coordinator
BS in Communications & BA in Media Arts and Design, James Madison University
Nick has been working with teenagers for over 17 years and been part of the AMS community since 2009. He has been Clerk, teacher, academic advisor, houseparent, Maintenance Coordinator and Outdoor Coordinator. As Assistant Clerk, he will handling many of the school’s administrative responsibilities while continuing to keep up the strong relationships he had built with parents and students over the years.
Originally a technical writer designing instruction manuals, Nick quickly realized the corporate world wasn’t for him. After going on an Outward Bound trip, he found his love for simplicity and community and teaching middle schoolers. “They are in that really awkward place where they want to be both a kid and a adult. Its an important time for guidance and support.” This is Nick’s 11th year at AMS.
Middle school memory: I was going to ask a girl to dance at a party, but as I approached her I tripped over my own feet and fell flat on the floor. There was no dancing that night.
Heather Dawes (she/her/hers)
BS in Nursery Crop Production and Landscape Design, Auburn University
Teacher Licensure for Secondary Science and MS Mathematics, UNC Asheville
Non-Profit Management Certification, Duke University
Heather is in her 10th year with AMS. After college, she ran a business and became the outdoor conservation planner for a Florida Water Management District. Two sons and a move to the mountains of NC pulled her into the alternate energy world to become the first executive director for EnergyXchange before eventually coming to AMS. Her position allows her the privilege of using her wide range of experience to enable the idyllic education for students as they are finding their path to adulthood. She loves that middle schoolers are still open to learning. They want to learn and are excited to discover new things.
Middle school memory: Middle school was the break out time in my life thanks to Title IX (’72). I was finally allowed to play sports! My junior high also had a great music program, shop, home economics and fine arts classes. Everyone had to participate in everything. I loved it. It set the stage for the rest of my life.
BSE in Industrial Engineering, University of Michigan
Ward grew up and lived in Michigan until 1979 when he and his family moved to Celo. They joined the AMS community in 1980, with Ward and his wife serving as house parent staff members for 3 years, and their 2 daughters attending and graduating from AMS. After leaving AMS, Ward was a small business owner for many years, working with a variety of nonprofit organizations on IT and financial management. In 2014 he returned to the AMS Finance Office. “While my works doesn’t involve a lot of direct engagement with the kids, I absolutely love being around them, and am constantly charmed by their unique and ever-changing blend of goofiness, mischievousness and loveliness. I also firmly believe that the unusual structure of freedom, personal responsibility and compassion which AMS offers these kids is invaluable in their development of strong and healthy characters”.
Middle school memory: Being de-pantsed by 9th grade bullies in public on the first day of 7th grade – a “tradition” that – believe it or not – was not even punished, let alone prosecuted. I am glad AMS is a safe place where students can be themselves without fear of bullying.
Natalie Monaghan (she/her/hers)
Academic Coordinator, Houseparent
BA in Studio Art, Carleton College
Printmaking Concentration, Penland School of Crafts
This is Natalie’s fourth year at AMS. Over that time, she has been a houseparent and teacher before becoming our current Academic Coordinator. Originally a Midwesterner, she has lived in these mountains for going on eight years. As an artist she works primarily in painting and printmaking. She loves working with middle schoolers, especially in the arts, 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.”
Middle school memory: I remember I had a short-lived obsession with drawing fairies in 7th grade. I encouraged my friends to join me in creating these fantasy creatures. It soon became clear, however, that the world of sweet little fairies I had envisioned was not going to materialize. My friends only wanted to draw monster fairies. Fantasy ruined.
Kavita has experience as a science instructor and tutor, oral historian, environmental educator and gardener. She was drawn to AMS as a place where experiential work provides the basis for meaningful inquiry. Kavita enjoys hiking, finding mushrooms and wildflowers, running, cooking, board games and gardening. This is her tenth year at AMS. She recently stepped down as Clerk to work part time this year. She has always been a teacher and has been the school’s Kitchen Coordinator. She enjoys working with middle schoolers because she finds them curious and asking the big questions while also being super playful.
Middle school memory: In 7th grade, I had really long hair, down to my waist. The boy behind me in Language Arts used to toss my braids as I tried to pay attention in class. To get even, I ding dong ditched his house. I am appreciative that AMS teaches our students better conflict resolution skills.
Brad Archer (he/him/his)
Social Studies Teacher
MA Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs, American University
BA in Social Studies Education, Northeastern State University
A social studies classroom teacher since 1998, Brad has spent much of the past two decades helping teens understand their own agency in a world desperate for radical solutions to our planet’s myriad human-made problems. Having taught in places as far afield as California’s Mojave Desert and the Ecuadorian Andes, he has never felt more at home than he does here at AMS.
Rebecca Zeldin (she/her/hers)
MA in Philosophy and Education, Columbia University
BA in Spanish Literature, Haverford College
Rebecca is originally from Washington, DC but has spent much of the past fifteen years in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Recently, she spent five years at a progressive school in Philadelphia where she worked as a middle school teacher. There she spent her days hanging out with adolescents—roaming the woods, listening to stories, cleaning up messes, and teaching English, Spanish, and Philosophy. Before that, she spent seven years at a residential school teaching and supporting young adults with developmental disabilities. Rebecca is passionate about both living in community and teaching and is thrilled that AMS allows for both. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys being outside, playing sports non-competitively, reading, talking, and wandering.
Adam Alexander (he/him/his)
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.
Gloria Brooks (she/her/hers, they/them/theirs)
BA in K – 12 Education, Maryland Bible College and Seminary
Gloria loves sharing the connections there are with mathematics and the natural world. Since 2009, she has lead nature based programs both offline and online helping youth immerse themselves in the natural world while integrating core subjects with their experiences in nature. She enjoys hiking, camping, nature photography and watching young people connect with the natural world.
Middle school memory: I attended a private school for grades 7th – 9th in upstate New York. We used core subject booklets called Life Pacs. We students were allowed to go through these self-paced booklets at our own pace. I was able to work fast enough and skip the 8th grade. I was always proud of that accomplishment.
Lena Parker (she/her/hers)
BS in Educational Studies and Data Science, Davidson College
Lena is originally from Chapel Hill, but largely grew up in New Delhi, India. After majoring in Education Studies at Davidson College, 5 years working in after school programs, and 2 years as a research analyst, Lena is beyond excited for her first year at AMS. She particularly loves the curiosity and open mindedness of middle schoolers, and how involved students are in the learning process at AMS. Lena enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, finding the narratives that data can tell, and making pun-filled greeting cards.
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.”
Nathaniel Nelson (he/him/his)
Originally from Los Angeles, Nathaniel studied in Michigan and has since interned with intentional communities in Americus, GA and Spokane, WA. It was in Georgia that he met a contingent from AMS on their 18-Days Trips. He felt captured by the vision of the school and decided to apply. With a background in Christian camps and the desire to be an educator, Nathaniel is excited to explore what he sees as the best of both camp and school life in a community that values diversity in thought and expression. He is especially glad to be part of a fully open and affirming community where young people are encouraged to explore themselves without fear or shame.
Middle school memory: I don’t have many pleasant memories from junior high, but one does stand out: for my 13th birthday my dad set up a scavenger hunt in the construction site that was to be our home. I was homeschooled then, so it was a big deal when several of my friends came who I hadn’t seen in ages. We hunted for clues hidden in the drywall, told stories around the fireplace, slept in tents on the creaky plywood. It was a coming-of-age ceremony, and my birthday present was a life-sized replica of the sword “Sting” from Lord of the Rings, complete with real Elvish script!
Matthew McGuire (he/him/his)
BS in Math and Environmental Studies, Guilford College
Inner Life of the Child in Nature Certificate; Center for Education, Imagination & the Natural World
Matt’s connection to nature was solidified on a 15-day raft trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon when he was 13 years old. Most recently, after earning a postgraduate certificate in nature education, he led students as an Earth Guide for the Center for Education, Imagination & the Natural World. He later worked as the business manager for the same organization, and will continue this work as the AMS bookkeeper in the coming year. This Matt’s fifth year at AMS. In his free time, Matt enjoys taking walks, finding swimming holes, and relaxing – especially with his partner, Sadie, and their children.
Middle school memory: I somehow managed to wet my pants prior to a basketball game, and couldn’t change out of my uniform. I pretended that I had spilled water on my pants, but I’m pretty sure my teammates knew the true story.
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.