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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.