Our Staff

 

Administration

Crim Bassett - Director of Human Relations and Operations
Crim Bassett grew up in Gainesville, Georgia where she attended the University of Georgia and gained a BS in Child and Family Development.  She has made Western North Carolina her home for the past 30 years. She joined MDCS in 2011 and is currently one of the three Co-Directors.  As the Co-Director of Human Relations and Operations, she strives to work with the employees and families to provide open communication between each other. It is important to her to make families feel comfortable and a part of MDCS. She enjoys meeting new families as well as seeing familiar faces.  Crim ...
Billie Clemens - Director of Teaching and Learning
Billie Clemens joined Mountain Discovery with 36 years of teaching experience as a history educator. Her passion for history, and for encouraging kids to challenge themselves led her to work with the Advanced Placement United States History program including serving on the Test Development Committee for the national exam, and leadership roles at the AP Reading.  Along with teaching, Billie served as the Director of the Gifted and Talented program for Swain County Schools and as a mentor to new teachers. Additionally, she taught aspiring history teachers at Western Carolina University.     As a Co-Director and Director of Teaching and Learning, ...
Tracy Wharton - Director of Student Services and Accountability
Tracy Wharton joins Mountain Discovery Charter School with over 16 years of experience in education. Her career in education began as a middle school math teacher. Varied experiences have afforded her the opportunity to work in diverse settings and grade levels from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Such opportunities included a Day Treatment setting that provided instruction in all content areas to at-risk students in 6th – 12th grades, an inclusion teacher with high school students,  and a Program Specialist and Behavior Specialist at the district level for the Exceptional Children’s Department. As the Director of Student Services and Accountability, Tracy ...
Carter Petty - CFO
Carter came to MDCS with a varied background. He obtained both a B.A. in English and an M.F.A. in Technical Theatre and Design from the University of Georgia and went on to work in professional theater.  He segued from theater to blacksmithing and spent the next ten years as the sole proprietor of his custom metalworking business. He became involved with the creation of MDCS in February, 2001 serving on both the committee that wrote the charter application and the founding board that began the process of making the application a reality. He stepped in to serve as co-director in ...
Lisa Monnat  - Administrative Assistant and Afterschool Coordinator
Lisa grew up as an Army Brat following her Dad’s military career. Her family settled in Alabama where she attended Troy University obtaining her B.S. in Marketing and her Masters in Business Administration. After graduation, she and her husband, Tony, travelled the United States with his Air Force career eventually retiring and settling here in WNC. They have 3 kids all who have attended MDCS. They enjoy being outdoors, biking, fishing, hiking, and kayaking as often as they can. She is excited to be a part of the MDCS family and to help educate the emerging generations ...
Amy Jo Harvey - Behavior Specialist
Amy Jo is from Minnesota and graduated with a BSW from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She loves going back home each summer to see family and spend time in the beautiful lakes of this area! Shortly after college Amy Jo was in Peace Corps-Thailand working with children in rural health and traveling for several years. She has about 20 years experience working with children through teaching, mental health, Juvenile Justice and behavioral intervention. Amy's favorite part of her school day is getting hugs and smiles from kids and her favorite part of the after school day is swimming at Deep ...
Micheal Crew - Technology and Transportation Coordinator
Micheal is a father to Aaliyah and Ethan, both students at MDCS. He has been a Swain County resident for over 20 years and has been involved with MDCS in various aspects. He started as a bus driver in the mornings and then would go to his full-time job at Harrah's Cherokee Casino as a table games dealer. In 2021, Micheal left his job at Harrah's, after 10 years, to join MDCS full time as the Title I teacher and Tech. In 2022, he worked as an EC assistant and took on Technology and Transportation Director. This year Micheal will ...

Exceptional Children

Lendy Ayers - EC Coordinator
Lendy is from Graham County, NC where she has spent the majority of her life. She currently lives in Almond with her husband Andy and their German Shepherd Rush. Spending time with her family is her favorite thing to do. She also enjoys activities such as, hiking, mountain biking, camping and fishing.  Lendy is completing her 25th year in education. She received her bachelor's degree in education from Western Carolina University. Her career in education includes teaching Special Education at all grade levels, 7th grade math, 2nd grade and 3rd grade. Lendy is very thankful  to be a part of ...
Tammy Powers - EC Lead Teacher
I am Tammy Powers and I teach Exceptional Children.  I am so excited to be back at MDCS. I have taught since 1988. I have taught Band, Chorus, and Exceptional Children. I began teaching in Buncombe County and moved back home to Bryson City in 2011 with my son and daughter. I have a 28 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My son attended school here at MDCS and graduated from Swain High School in 2018. My daughter attended and graduated from Swain as well in 2014.  I graduated from Swain High School in 1984 and Mars ...
Chloe Plesset - EC Lead Teacher
Hi, my name is Chloe Plesset. I was born in LA, California, but was pretty much raised outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my 3-legged mutt named Roo. We go on long hikes, take trips to the dog park, and chase sunsets! Dogs have always been a great part of my life and I started volunteering/fostering dogs when I was about 12 years old and to this day continue to help where I can. My goal is to contact animal shelters in the area in order to set up teen volunteers for ...
Brittany Morgan - Self Contained  EC Classroom Lead Teacher
"I grew up in these mountains and I love these mountains. We are all extremely lucky to live here together. My passion is kids, it's as simple as that. This school is definitely something special and you can feel that when you're here. As the EC teacher, I have had the privilege of working with some pretty extraordinary kids. My number one goal as a teacher is to promote key life skills to our students such as kindness, independence, empathy, communication, and making connections. I strive for our students to feel safe, comfortable, and engaged in our classroom." Brittany has ...

Teachers

Krista Skrede - Kindergarten Teacher
Krista was born and raised in Wisconsin, in a town right along the Mississippi River. From the time she was little, she knew two things: she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to travel the world. Krista graduated from Winona State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in art education. She also holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Webster University in St. Louis. Soon after graduation, Krista packed her bags and moved to the Netherlands, where she taught art for 10 years at The American School of The Hague. Eventually, she wanted to experience ...
Jennifer Cutler - Second Grade Teacher
Jennifer Cutler holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Sociology from Western Carolina University. Her education, coupled with her 19 years of teaching experience at Swain East Elementary, has provided her with a comprehensive understanding of effective teaching practices and an innate ability to connect with students. With a specialization in teaching second grade, Jennifer brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role.  For Jennifer, teaching is not merely a job; it is a calling that she wholeheartedly embraces. She takes immense pride in fostering a safe and nurturing classroom environment that encourages creativity, ...
Alexandra Nichols - Second Grade Teacher
Alexandra grew up on the southern coast of Massachusetts and received both her B.A. in Psychology and M.A.T degree from a small university just outside of Boston. She loves rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, playing viola & piano, and cuddling with her cats. Alexandra wants to inspire students to develop and maintain positive social relationships and identities, express comfort and tolerance with all people, and relate to people as individuals. She also wants to encourage students to lead their own learning and lead others in learning, and to inquire as scientists and evaluate as mathematicians in their everyday lives. Alexandra is ...
Makayla Deel - Third Grade Teacher
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina just outside of Asheville. I knew that this area was the place for me, and decided to go to Western Carolina University to get my bachelors degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in English and a concentration in Sociology. I completed my internship for the program at MDCS in 1st grade, and fell in love with the unique and creative atmosphere that the school holds. This past Spring, I lived in Berlin, Germany to teach 6th and 8th grade English and Outdoor Education. In my spare time, I love to ...
Steve Augustine - Fourth/Fifth Grade English Language Arts & Social Studies Teacher
Steve is thrilled to embark on a new chapter as a first-year teacher, bringing with him a wealth of experience from the world of business. With a passion for inspiring young minds and fostering growth, Steve is dedicated to creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered. Prior to entering the field of education, Steve has spent 25 years in the Outdoor Industry with a decade as a Whitewater Kayak Instructor and Guide and most recently, the last 15 years as a Sales Representative for the largest manufacturer of paddle sport equipment in the ...
Rebecca Robertson - Fourth/Fifth Grade Math & Science Teacher
Rebecca was born in South Carolina but grew up in Central Florida and spent her summers in “outdoors USA”. She has a B.A. in Psychology and a MEd in Educational Leadership. She enjoys  outdoor activities and discovering new adventures.  She has one son (turning 24 this summer!) and two Australian Shepherds who keep her busy. Rebecca has been teaching for about 12 years and holds a variety of K-12 certifications. While she has taught students every grade level most of her experience is in 5th and 3rd grades. She is passionate about guiding students to meet their full potential and ...
Londa Bohl - Fifth Grade Teacher
Londa Bohl joined our team of teachers in August 2010.  Prior to her arrival at M.D.C.S. Ms. Londa enjoyed a long and successful career as an entrepreneur.  From 1984 to 1996, she owned and operated a chain of small quantity and highly personalized printing boutiques.  Ms. Londa developed her signature operation, Quicker Than Ink, Specialty Printing Boutique, as a franchise company where she built and sold her printing boutiques in the Toronto, and Southern Ontario markets in Canada.  Ms. Londa sold her company and returned home, to Western North Carolina, in 1996, and joined the Merrill Lynch team of Financial ...
Zuzana Montagne - Middle School English Language Arts
Zuzana grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and came to the Smokies for the lakes and the rivers. This summer, she spent much of her time on the Little Tennessee with her 2-year-old daughter, Monika, her husband Michael, and a rotating crew of family and friends. Zuzana is excited to help MDCS middle schoolers grow as readers and writers. Her ELA classes are grounded in the conviction that reading and writing are essential tools for the 21st century—and can be a source of great pleasure. Zuzana’s students will read and discuss books of their choice and develop, draft, ...
Matthew Shirey - Middle School Social Studies
As a kid I spent my time reading books about early American history and Native American culture.  This lifelong interest in culture, history, and society led me to study Anthropology and Sociology in college.  While working on my degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania I worked with AmeriCorps programs that helped me develop a service ethic and a love for teaching and working with children.  About the same time I began to study the craft of blacksmithing.  In the years since I have worked as a professional artisan and teacher.  I have also held various positions providing therapeutic support to ...
Jacqueline Tarver - Middle School Math Teacher
Ms. Jacqui recently relocated to North Carolina with her daughter, and together, they are joining MDCS for the 2023-2024 School Year. With a Master's Degree in Secondary Education Curriculum & Instruction, she brings over 17 years of classroom and administrative experience to her MDCS classroom. Most of her career is composed of work in nonprofits, alternative education settings, and the art world. Ms. Jacqui is passionate about education, art, and the outdoors. From Pensacola, Florida, Ms. Jacqui spent her time out of the classroom raising her daughter and living the "Salt Life" culture, from swimming to surf fishing in the ...
David Doughty - Middle School Science
David Doughty brings Mountain Discovery Charter School a wide range of educational and professional experience. David grew up in central Georgia but attended Western Carolina University graduating with a B.S. in Geology. He then went on to receive a M.S. in geology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After graduating, David worked in Naples, Florida as a coastal geologist specializing in beach management. He then relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he continued working as a geologist before eventually changing careers and forming his own real estate lending company along with his brother. After eight years of successfully running ...
Brook Stillman - PE Teacher
Brook Stillman is a graduate from WCU with a degree in Elementary Education and certification for Middle School math.  She was born and raised in a small town in Upstate NY.  After graduating, she decided to stay in the area and began substituting in Swain county and for MDCS.  She was initially hired at MDCS as a teacher assistant and Title I teacher.  After 2 years, an opening came available to teach Middle School math and she was the woman for the job.   Brook has been with MDCS 19 years.  She has a passion for math and athletics.  In 2006, ...
Betty MacAvoy - K-5 Title I Instructor
Betty is from Coral Gables, Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology. She is retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, Florida where she served veterans for 37 years as a Laboratory Medical Technologist, Supervisor, and Instructor for Nursing Personnel. In 2013, she and her husband Jim relocated to Bryson City, where they made their home in this beautiful section of Western North Carolina. She began working at MDCS as a substitute teacher, tutor, and was the Teacher Assistant in 4th grade, 5th grade, and Middle School. She is currently the Title ...
Melissa Doughty - STEAM Instructor
Melissa is a great fit for our new K-5 STEAM program. From galaxies to tiny insects, your child will learn about the world in which they live. Melissa believes all students are young scientists full of inquiry, ideas and solutions.  Melissa grew up in her family’s horticulture business surrounded by plants and observing the natural world. She also followed her passion for science by obtaining a BS in Geology from Western Carolina University.  These experiences have given her an appreciation for the environment, science and taking learning outside. Building on these experiences, she gets kids involved in environmental stewardship, science ...
Luke Webb - Art Teacher
Mr. Luke is a teacher that values the personal and cultural assets of each student. He strives to make his classroom a safe place for students to grow, learn and explore, academically and artistically. He sees his teaching practice as a small way to try to make the future a more gentle, more peaceful place.  As the son of a studio artist/educator and a Lutheran minister, Mr. Luke was brought up to see living and working as a creative, spiritual process. He was born in Boone, NC and raised in Sylva. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies ...
Songbird Burkey - Cherokee Culture Teacher
Sarah Elizabeth Burkey (Songbird) is a Recording Artist, Songwriter, and Storyteller whose work has been featured on over 17 albums including Door of the Moon, When the Redbuds Bloom, Don’t Die Yet, and Honeysuckle Vine. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Storytelling, Summa Cum Laude from Campbellsville University in 2002.  She has toured in 19 countries and earned an international reputation as an authentic voice for Roots Music and Appalachian culture. Songbird is deeply committed to the continuation of traditional knowledge and the vital role it plays in health, healing, and well-being. She worked for the ...

Mountain Discovery School