Faculty and Staff

Jessica Gilway, Director

Traveler. Dancer. Diver. Crafter. Hiker. Biker. Talker. Life-long learner. Teacher. Wife. Pet-lover. Friend. All of these describe the many facets, loves and pass times of this small town girl from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. From a young age, Jessica was always a scientist at heart. Her scientific endeavors involved worm colonies, driveway ponds explorations, compost piles, dumpster diving, and forest adventures. Jessica’s other love is writing. Still to this day she loves to share a good story with family and friends. Being from a small town encouraged Jessica to strike out and find what the Dixie Chicks called “Wide Open Spaces”. Her search for these open spaces took her to California, New Mexico, and Bolivia, before landing her gently at Two Rivers Community School in Boone. Through her travels and her studies, she learned Spanish which led her to meet her wonderful husband Michael, a life-long companion for her continued adventures. Jessica’s life goals include: visiting all fifty states, traveling on every continent, diving in the Galapagos Islands, and growing her own food on a farm with chickens and goats and her wonderful dog Inca chasing the other animals. Her favorite quote is “Not all who wander are lost.” Jessica loves to adventure and marvels at the wonderful discoveries she has made in her many local and global wanderings.

Jessica also loves to learn. Her undergraduate studies focused on environmental science, Spanish and international relations. She earned her teaching licensure and master’s degree from the University of New Mexico where she focused on science education and bilingual education at the elementary level. She is currently enrolled at Appalachian State in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Jessica taught at two different outdoor education schools and she taught fifth grade for eight years. Her last teaching position was in middle school science and Spanish. Jessica loves working with children to help them strive for their dreams. Being a life-long learner herself, she reminds her students to reach for the moon because even if they miss they’ll land among the stars.

Beth Vossen

Beth Vossen has been both the voice and the face of Two Rivers Community School. She has been the Administrative Assistant at TRCS since the first year of operation, August of 2005. She brings energy, humor and a commitment to honor the needs of others who pass through the doors of TRCS.

Beth is married to Glenn Randle, a local artist and they live in the Bethel Community and are the proud parents of Savanna a 9th grader at Watauga High School. Beth enjoys swimming and jet skiing on Lake Norman, being with family and working together with Glenn to finish building their craftsman style home.

_MG_9131Vicki Meléndez Krueger (Founding Teacher) (pronounced Creeger)

Vicki was born in Ceiba, Puerto Rico and her first language was Spanish. She learned English when she went to school. Vicki had the calling to be a teacher ever since she was in fourth grade. She has been teaching Kindergarten at Two Rivers since the school’s beginning in 2005. She also provides early morning care. She acquired her B. A. in Elementary Education from Columbia College in South Carolina and has worked the past 20 years with children in diverse settings to include teaching Children’s Choir, Melodee Bells and Sunday School, teaching English Language Learners as a tutor at her church on Monday nights, at a Jewish Day school, as a teacher at Harmony School in Columbia South Carolina, a nanny, as a teaching assistant in summer school, translator, Dedicated Aide (Shadow) & Paraprofessional in Department of Defense Schools. Vicki loves her family! She and her husband Steve have four grown daughters, Stephanie Rae, Hilary Kay, Valerie Mae and Kimberly Fay, four sons-in-law, and three granddaughters. Vicki is a member and Deacon of Boone First Presbyterian Church and enjoys leading worship, singing in the Praise and Worship band and singing in the Chancel Choir. She loves the ocean (Especially in Vieques, Puerto Rico where her family is from) and loves the color yellow.

_MG_9127Ryan Elliott

Ryan, or “the bug guy” is a nature lover through and through. He grew up in Waynesboro, Virginia, where he spent much of his time cycling in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ryan has always loved working with kids. He got his start as a counselor and assistant director at Camp Blue Ridge, where he worked throughout his college career at the University of Virginia. When he’s not working, Ryan is outside pursuing new or old hobbies – cycling, rock-climbing, kayaking, cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, hunting, or maybe even riding his mountain unicycle. He believes in the idea that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just improper clothing! Ryan is the kindergarten teaching assistant and After School Director.

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_MG_9125Bridget Jeskewich

Bridget is very excited to be Two Rivers new first grade teacher. She comes to us with a diverse geographic and career background. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she left her southern home soon after graduating from the University of Tennessee to explore the U.S. She experienced life “out West” in such inspiring places as: Wyoming, Montana, Arizona and Utah.

After teaching preschool at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, she realized teaching was what she was meant to do and returned to school, to attain her teaching credentials, at Northern Arizona University.  She taught in Winslow, Arizona, just off the Navajo reservation, before moving to Springdale, Utah to be a full time Mom and live in the middle of an organic apple orchard, on a 2,000 acre ranch! Most recently, Bridget taught 5th grade at an International Baccalaureate World School on the coast of NC, and just returned from her own expeditionary learning experience with the NC Educators of Excellence Educator Institute in Belize, Central America. She is mom to Isabella (6th grade) and Maizie (3rd grade), both students at TRCS.

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Sandi Henry

Sandi supports the 1st grade class. Sandi Henry graduated from Central Michigan University with a BA in Elementary School Education and Art Education. She taught third grade at Bath Elementary School for four years before moving to Boone. She taught art at Appalachian Christian School for 18 years two days a week. She has written four art project books that were published by Ideals Publishing Company. She is a wife and mom to four children. She is an artist and an avid gardener. Sandi is currently working as a teacher assistant in first grade at TRCS.

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_MG_9361Serene Solinski

Serene is excited to offer her skills and dedication as a 1-on1 teacher in 1st grade. She has been an active member and steady witness to the growth and achievements of TRCS since 2005. Serene is a proud ‘Founding Parent’ of three awesome Otters. Along side her love for community and education, Serene is WILD about plants! She is often found ‘lost’ in her garden, deep in the forest or engaged in sharing her botanical enthusiasm.

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Ali Zick

Ali teaches second grade at TRCS. She is a New England native and grew up near the coast.  She has a degree in Elementary Education from Radford University.  After two years of teaching outdoor education in both Californina and Maine, she moved to Boone to teach at Two Rivers.  She sought out the school and was attracted to it because of the emphasis on experiential learning.  She applies many of the practices she learned within her outdoor education experience to her classroom teaching each day.  Away from the classroom, she enjoys being outside and active.

Mimi Archer

Mimi has been with TRCS since the beginning. She started out as a volunteer in various classrooms as needed. She was hired as a Kindergarten assistant teacher working with Mrs. Vicki. Mimi graduated from the Kinder classroom (after three years) and moved to the multi-age classroom. Currently she is working in the second and third grades which is a pleasure because this means she is lucky enough to be working with some of these children since Kindergarten!

Mimi is a wife and mother. Zack in high school and Zoa in 8th grade at TRCS. You might not have known this about Mimi, but she loves acting and was in a lot of plays in high school and college. She also likes to be near water of any kind! Tennis is another love of hers! Tennis anyone???

Lindsay Carroll

Lindsay is so excited to teach third grade and join the Two Rivers Community. She a proud North Carolina native who grew up as a beach girl and city girl in Wrightsville Beach and Charlotte.  She went to a tiny work study college in Asheville, North Carolina where she discovered her love for children and science.  She has traveled and worked as a naturalist, environmental educator, pottery instructor, and organic farmer. Recently, she spent 8 years teaching as an Associate Teacher at another Expeditionary Learning school called Evergreen Community Charter while earning her teaching license.  The path that led Lindsay here includes a lot of hard work and a little serendipity.  She loves travelling, hiking, fishing, dancing to live music, singing and pretending she can play guitar.

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Dani Destiche

Ms. Dani is the 3rd grade TA and Garden Coordinator. She graduated from Georgia College and State University with a bachelors in Outdoor Education and a concentration in Therapeutic Use of Adventure. Since graduating, Dani has worked in the fields of outdoor and environmental education, and enjoys teaching children in and about the natural world. She found her connection to Two Rivers through  summers spent working as a counselor at Buffalo Cove. Dani continues to find meaning at Two Rivers; she loves supporting Ms. Lindsay Carroll and working with students in the garden. She is truly honored to be a part of the Two Rivers community.

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_MG_9137 (1)Lindsay Scarborough

Lindsay is the 4th grade teacher. She is a local whose many trails have led her into the classroom once again. Lindsay has taught general music, band, and chorus for 5 years at a K-8 school, been a substitute for 2 years, and was the 3rd grade teaching assistant last year. With a propensity for the arts and finer crafts she is grateful for her lack of boredom and wishes there were more hours in the day to both seek and share knowledge.

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Natalie Oransky

Natalie found her passion when she started teaching 4th grade at TRCS seven years ago (she switched to 5th grade last year). She became interested in reading early on because she was an avid reader but her younger brother struggled with reading. Natalie wanted to understand the processes behind reading, so she studied cognitive psychology as an undergraduate and in graduate school. Eventually she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology with a minor in Developmental Psychology and went on to teach adjunct at ASU for 13 years. During all of those years Natalie knew that she wasn’t in the “right” place but didn’t quite know how to make a change. For years, close friends had told her that she should teach young children. In 2006, she made a radical change and became a teaching assistant at TRCS and hasn’t looked back once!

When not teaching, grading or planning lessons Natalie likes to spend time with her husband and teenaged daughter. She enjoys photography, scrapbooking, cooking and watching sappy movies that make her cry.

_MG_9349Adam Berk

Adam Berk teaches 6th grade at Two Rivers. He grew up outside of Chicago, Illinois, and while there will always be a special place in his heart for Chicago Style pizza, hot dogs without catsup, and all Chicago sports teams (except the Cubs), he has always felt a pull towards the mountains. After high school, he moved to Colorado and then Alaska for college. After graduating from Alaska Pacific University in 2007 with a degree in Outdoor Studies and a minor in Education, he came back to the Lower 48 where he and his now wife settled for a time in Salt Lake City, Utah where they worked as field staff for a wilderness therapy program and found time to ski, climb, hike, and camp across much of Utah, Idaho, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming. Adam moved to Boone in 2010 and there’s no place in North Carolina he’d rather be. After working at Grandfather Home for Children for one year, Adam decided to attend Appalachian State University to earn his teaching license in elementary education. He completed his student teaching in Watauga county in Fall, 2013 and joined the Two Rivers Community School team in January, 2014.

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_MG_9354Clinton Byers

Clinton  is the new math and science teacher at Two Rivers Community School. He is a North Carolina native, a graduate of Appalachian State University, and an Honorably Discharged veteran of the Gulf War. For the past eleven years, he has taught primarily biology at the high school level, but also earth science and physics. Prior to starting his professional teaching carrier, Clint worked in experiential outdoor education at various camps including: Camp Bud Schiele, Camp Buck Toms, and Camp Broadstone. These camp experiences allowed him the opportunity to work with middle school age children. Clint says, “It was these young minds which first got me excited about education and teaching. Coming to TRCS, in many ways, feels like returning to my roots.” Clint is truly committed to this school and its approach to teaching and learning; not only as a teacher but also as a parent.

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_MG_9135Kelly Lynn

Kelly teaches Middle School Humanities. Kelly began teaching middle schoolers in 2005 after graduating from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. She has worked with children in a variety of settings from classrooms to summer camps since the 1990s. She has taught all four academic subjects and all three middle school grades in various combinations. She has worked in private, public, and charter schools, and homeschooled her oldest child.

Kelly came to the Mountains in 2005 following a childhood dream. She fell in love with these mountains as a young girl and vowed to herself that one day she would live here. After living here for eight years, there is still no place she would rather be.

Kelly enjoys spinning, knitting, and crocheting, reading, playing flute, making cheese and yogurt, cooking and baking bread, growing vegetables, camping, horseback riding, and walking in the woods. She lives in Ashe County with her husband and two sons.

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Justin Haas

Justin Haas serves TRCS as the Middle School Assistant and After School Program. Justin was born and raised in the cold state of Wisconsin on one dark fall night. He was exposed to the outdoors at an early age which later led him to moving to a colder climate on Lake Superior. There he decided to study Outdoor Education and Psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. One of Justin’s greatest passions in life is teaching students how to utilize their abilities in order to reach their true potential. Throughout the past 10 years of educating, Justin has gained much experience working with a wide range of youth in different capacities and environments, ranging from schools, outdoor education centers, summer camps, adventure companies, and residential treatment centers. After studying adventure based learning in New Zealand and bouncing around the states, Justin landed in North Carolina in the summer of 2010, mainly to live in the mountains but to also be closer to his brother. He started out working for Blue Ridge Learning Centers as a ropes course facilitator along with manufacturing challenge course accessories. When not working, Justin likes to work more, climb, hike, swim in rivers, and jump off stuff in hopes to create new laws of gravity. Most importantly, Justin’s favorite color is Blue!

_MG_9142Kelly Snider

Kelly Snider is Two Rivers’ Art Teacher. She graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2006 with a degree in fine art. She specialized in painting, but learned much about drawing, printmaking, ceramics, fibers, sculpture, and art history. This is her 8th year at TRCS. Some of her favorite projects here at Two Rivers have been the school mural (completed in 2008) and the annual student art shows at The Jones House in Boone. She was born and raised in the Bethel community of Western Watauga County. Kelly plays fiddle in a local old time band, The Sheets Family Band. She and her husband Ian live in Creston, where they grow vegetables and farm with the help of their team of Suffolk Punch draft horses, Jim and Frank.

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 Rachel Wood (Founding Teacher)

Rachel Wood is our Guidance Counselor. She is one of Two Rivers’ founding teachers. In 2004 Rachel graduated from ASU with a degree in Middle Grades Education. Since then she has been working slowly on a Master’s in Professional School Counseling. She loves adventure sports, especially bouldering and snowboarding. If she won the lottery, she would do the following: 1- take some time off to backpack all over the world with her family, stopping at all the countries that are famous for their cheese; 2- come home and do all the work on her house that will probably not get done if she doesn’t win the lottery; 3- hire the Beastie Boys to be the entertainment for a party for her family and friends; 4- put some away for her daughter, Johanna; 5- give the rest away and go back to her normal life, which is pretty awesome without the millions!

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Ms. Rachel’s Counseling page

 Sallie Arnold

Sallie spent her life moving all over the world, never staying anywhere for very long. Finally, she has found a home that she wants to stay in, here in the High Country. Teaching and family therapy have been her callings. She loves both! Children are extremely important to her, but she never realized how important until she had her own. She has 4 children- 3 girls and one boy. Only her youngest, Xander, is still at home and probably always will be. Xander has autism and has opened her eyes to love, patience, family dynamics and alternative methods of teaching and living. On a lighter note, she loves clothes and boots! She thinks that how we present ourselves, both in clothing and attitude, can have a huge impact on our own lives and others. She loves to make days brighter. TRCS has become her home. Working here is a pleasure, because of the students, the staff and the parents. Please feel free to contact her if she can be of help in any way.

 Austin Pack (Founding Teacher)

Born within the throes of civil upheaval in the jungles of Borneo, Coach Pack used his indelible spirit and lightning quick legs to evade capture from tyrants run amok. This, as well as various occurring stories within the Coach Pack mythos, is unfounded and based on scant evidence, mainly the hearsay of his students. This Coach Pack character, of mediocre descent and no useful super powers, has a passion for running, bodyweight exercises, and guiding his students beyond their own perceived limits. He is engaged in constant research and self-experimentation to provide the most up-to-date and functional fitness methods to his classes. His alter ego wears glasses, is obsessed with used book stores and 80’s love songs, and answers quite simply to Austin (or Nitsua).

 Cyndi Rapenske (Founding Teacher)

Cyndi Rapenske was invited by the founding Board of Directors to lead Brain Gym®, a movement- based program that is part of the Two Rivers Community School Charter. Cyndi is licensed by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym International. She has completed over 600 hours of coursework with the Edu-K Foundation including Brain Gym for Children with Special Needs, Brain Gym for Educators, Integration of Infant & Childhood Dynamic and Postural Reflexes, Movement Re-education, and Whole Brain Learning. Cyndi says her best training comes from working with the students. “The students’ ideas, needs, movement patterns and discoveries inspire me to share the activities and concepts of Brain Gym in new ways and with continued awe for how we learn.”

Cyndi’s experiences include working 15 years in Outdoor Education, facilitating adults and children in adventure programs, challenge courses, team building, and primitive living skills. She was a trainer and builder for Alpine Towers International for 9 of those years. Cyndi has co-instructed several courses at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

Cyndi loves swimming in her pond, farming sustainably, participating in Aboriginal Studies Programs at the Schiele Museum of Natural History, hiking, and being a lifelong learner of the natural world.

 _MG_9108Joy Schlagal

Joy Schlagal is Two Rivers’ Reading Specialist and Testing Coordinator. She has a Master’s in Reading and a B.A. in Anthropology/Archaeology, both from the University of Virginia. She is also certified to teach Permaculture Design, and for a year was a teacher in a nationwide NASA program that encouraged underserved children to pursue careers in the sciences. She taught as adjunct faculty for six years at Appalachian State and for one year at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. For four years she taught high risk teens in a residential treatment center and was a Title I teacher before she came to Two Rivers. She is one of the co-authors of Houghton Mifflin’s English, the first K-8 text book series to teach the process approach to writing. She has sold two children’s stories to magazines and her writing has placed in several contests. She has also written a book and numerous short stories that all live in a cardboard box in her downstairs bedroom. A variety of past experiences makes for plenty of stories to tell, including work experience in a donut shop, a tire factory, the law library at U.Va., and a short stint as an EMT. She started one of the first certified organic farms in Watauga County and spent happy years milking goats, raising lambs and her three children, and selling eggs far and wide. In her past life (that means when she was younger), she jumped into a quarry full of garbage to save a drowning dog (he lived to be fifteen), chopped all her own firewood, and ran a five minute mile. She started doing yoga in high school, long before it was fashionable (“You’re going to get stuck like that,” her mother said.). Joy inherited her love of housekeeping, gardening, flowers, the natural world, and her green thumb from her mother; and her love of music from her father, who took her to a Hank Williams movie and then bought her first guitar, and later a mandolin. Joy has always loved reading and books, books, books. She knows that teaching children to read, many of whom believed they would never be able to read, is the greatest gift on earth!

_MG_9120 Joanna Betts

Joanna Betts is Two Rivers’ Exceptional Children Teacher and after-school director. Joanna graduated from Appalachian State University in 2005 with a B.S. in special education and a minor in psychology. She worked at Grandfather Home for Children as a cottage worker and Grandfather Academy as the behavioral therapist before she joined Two Rivers in 2007. Ms. Jo as she is referred to by the students is from the Charlotte area originally, she came up to go to school and has never looked back. Ms. Jo enjoys being with friends, family and her two very energetic dogs.

William Stoudt

William Stoudt is part of the After School Program at Two Rivers Community School. He was born in Montrose, Minnesota and moved with his family at the age of twelve to Boone, North Carolina. He attended Hardin Park Elementary School and graduated from Watauga High School in 2010. In addition to his job at Two Rivers, he works with his father doing various construction jobs around town. He enjoys spending his free time outdoors fishing and hiking.

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_MG_9133Senorita Maria

Señorita María is the K-8 Spanish teacher. She is a resident of Sugar Grove, NC and has been in this area all of her life. She attended Cove Creek elementary, Watauga High School, and then went on to Appalachian State University to receive her B.S. in Spanish Education with a minor in teaching English as a Second Language. She has firsthand experience with the Spanish language as her mother, and half of her family, is from Monterrey, Mexico, a large metropolitan area, which she has visited various times throughout her life. Although María does not consider herself very athletic, in her free time she does enjoy playing tennis and swimming. She is thrilled to be a part of the Two Rivers Community and to be able to share her passion for the Spanish language with her students.

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Additional Support Staff and Contractors

Anne Vilen: ELS School Designer

Kathy Triplett: Speech Therapist

Heather Tweedie: Occupational Therapy

Nicole Shoychid: School Psychologist