Our Staff

 

Administration

Carter Petty - Interim Director
Carter comes 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. Before coming to MDCS, he worked in professional theatre and then for 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 October, 2003 and has been a ...
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Tracy Wharton - Interim Assistant Director & EC Coordinator
Tracy Wharton joins Mountain Discovery Charter School with over 10 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 various settings and grade levels from kindergarten through twelfth grade. After several years teaching math, she had the opportunity to work in a Day Treatment setting providing instruction in all content areas to at-risk students in 6th - 12th grades. This experience guided her toward pursuing a career shift to Exceptional Children's Services. Tracy spent two years working as inclusion teacher with high school ...
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Crim Bassett - Operations Manager
Crim grew up in North Georgia where she attended the University of Georgia and gained a BS in Child and Family Development. In 1996, she and her husband Jeff moved to the North Carolina Mountains to start their business, Bee Global Studio. For the past 16 years they have owned and operated a working studio gallery nestled in Stecoah Valley where they craft and market candles, ornaments, lamps and many other creations, all made from pure beeswax. They also maintain a bee farm where they harvest many types of honey. Crim has had much experience multitasking where she co- managed ...
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Amy Jo Harvey - Interventionist
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 ...
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Lisa Monnat  - Office Assistant
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 ...
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Billie Clemens - Instructional Coach
Billie Clemens joins 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 has served as the Director of the Gifted and Talented program for Swain County Schools and as a mentor to new teachers.  In addition to her work with current teachers, she also teaches aspiring history teachers at Western Carolina University ...
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Exceptional Children

Emily Herndon - EC Teacher
Emily joins Mountain Discovery Charter School with over 10 years of experience as a classroom teacher and is looking forward to her new role in the Exceptional Children’s Department. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with a concentration in History in 2007. Her love of the outdoors, nature, and philosophy of education match perfectly with MDCS. “I am eager to continue my teaching and learning career in such a warm and inviting environment.” In her free time, Emily enjoys reading, cooking and traveling. She has visited many different ...
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Tracy Wharton - Interim Assistant Director & EC Coordinator
Tracy Wharton joins Mountain Discovery Charter School with over 10 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 various settings and grade levels from kindergarten through twelfth grade. After several years teaching math, she had the opportunity to work in a Day Treatment setting providing instruction in all content areas to at-risk students in 6th - 12th grades. This experience guided her toward pursuing a career shift to Exceptional Children's Services. Tracy spent two years working as inclusion teacher with high school ...
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Sarah Mwaniki - EC Teacher
Sarah Mwaniki My name is Ms. Mwaniki and I am thrilled to begin the year with you at Mountain Discovery Charter School. I am from Asheville and have lived in Sylva for the past 13 years. I am married and have a one year old daughter named Betty. She is a very happy and active child! I moved to Sylva in 2008 to attend Western Carolina University and graduated in 2012. My Bachelor’s Degree is in Sociology. During my Junior year of college, I studied abroad in Kenya and learned about the educational system,culture, and people. During my experience in ...
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Sarah Rave
Sarah Rave Sarah began working as an EC Assistant in 2008 and has held a variety of positions since that time including Classroom Assistant, Middle School ELA/SS teacher, IT Manager, and more. Sarah loves being part of the MDCS learning community and is an enthusiastic lifelong learner. She lives in Sylva with her husband and a plethora of dogs and cats ...
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Teachers

K-5 STEAM Assistant
Melissa Doughty Melissa is thrilled to join the MDCS crew as the assistant for 5th grade. After several moves from NC, FL, GA, and KY, it is nice to be back in NC. Melissa grew up in eastern NC and attended college at WCU. Her husband, David, teaches middle school science at MDCS, and both of their daughters attend school here as well. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in geology from WCU and a lifetime of interest in plants and horticulture from growing up in a family plant nursery business. Melissa enjoys learning about the natural world, and ...
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K-5 Reading Assistant
Betty MacAvoy 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 ...
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K-5 Math Assistant
Lisa Murphy Lisa received her BS in Elementary Education in 2017. She loves guiding students through inquiry and investigations of science and social studies through the use of technology, games, and project-based learning. She would like every child to know that they have a purpose in life and can be successful in their quest to be responsible for their own learning. Lisa currently has four dogs, Harley, Jake, Bella, and Gihli (Cherokee for dog), her cat Smoky, four chickens, and one horse. In the near future, she hopes to open 3D’s Christian Youth Center and Family Campground and to care ...
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Kindergarten Assistant
Melissa Ellersick Melissa is excited to embark on an exciting adventure in the Kindergarten class. She has worked at the Dora Reed Child Care Center and has her Early Childhood Credential. She also graduated with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management, specializing in Outdoor Leadership. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, snuggling with her four cats, and teaching her kids ages 5 and 4 about nature. She also loves hiking, cookouts, campfires, Netflix, and fostering Kittens for Catman2 ...
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Music Teacher
Songbird Burkey 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 has toured 19 countries and earned an international reputation as an authentic voice for Roots Music and Cultural Arts. Songbird is deeply committed to the preservation and continuation of traditional knowledge and the vital role it plays in health, healing, and well-being. She worked for the Cherokee Historical Association for 5 years as a Historian, Heritage Arts Crafter, Assistant Music Director and ...
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Kindergarten Teacher
Jessica Ray Jessica grew up in Morganton N.C. She is the youngest of three siblings and the only girl. Jessica moved away to attend college at Western Carolina University and ended up falling in love with the Western North Carolina area. She is a recent graduate with a degree in inclusive education. Jessica is able to teach general education, special education, as well as severe and profound disabilities. Jessica will be teaching K-3 max resource EC students. Her senior year at Western, Jessica did her internship at Mountain Discovery Charter School. She split her time in half with the EC ...
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First Grade Teacher
Jennifer Harbers Jennifer relocated to Bryson City from California with her son, Rowan, in 2019. Jennifer moved here to be closer to family and start a new chapter in her life. She has over 20 years of teaching experience and has been involved in many facets of the education profession. She has had experience teaching preschool, directing an autism department, teaching in villages of children in Nicaragua, leading surf camps, and teaching in a children’s department in a zoo, just to name a few! Jennifer has a teaching credential, as well as a masters degree in education. She truly loves ...
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Second Grade Teacher
Nicole Zmuda Nicole was born and raised in Bryson City, North Carolina. She attended Mountain Discovery Charter School as a student in 4th, 5th, and 8th grades. During this time, she decided she would one day become a teacher and give back to the students at MDCS. Nicole attended college at Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University from 2011-2015 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, as well as a minor in Psychology. Nicole began her teaching career at Swain West Elementary in 2016, where she worked for two years as a second grade teacher. She also ...
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Third Grade Teacher
Alexandra Nichols Alexandra grew up on the southern coast of Massachusetts and she is very excited to begin life here in the mountains as she wants to learn everything she can about hiking, camping, and kayaking. Alexandra grew up playing viola and piano and has played in many different orchestras. Her biggest passion, however, is teaching! Experiencing those "aha!" and "lightbulb" moments with students bring her the most joy. She is overjoyed to be working closely with the fantastic team of teachers here at Mountain Discovery to deeply develop her pedagogy. Alexandra received both her B.A. in Psychology and M.A.T ...
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Fourth Grade Teacher
Londa Bohl Increased responsibility. What a wonderful year fourth grade is. The foundation for many life skills can be introduced in fourth grade as students take on more responsibility for their own learning and behavior. They began to look at time management skills and how to complete assignments in a way that works to their advantage. At this age, students bring a sense of wonder and excitement to their study of the world. As fourth graders, our students are experimenting with ways to handle the new responsibilities and freedoms of being an older child. They are also learning about and ...
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Fifth Grade Teacher
Valerie Feathers Dr. Valerie Feathers joins Mountain Discovery Charter School with a varied educational background. A native of Elizabethton, Tennessee, Valerie grew up in the mountains and loved the outdoors. She attended East Tennessee State University and graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology as well as Foreign Languages. She decided to expand her horizons and moved to Louisiana where she attended Louisiana State University. Here, she received a M.A. in Anthropology as well as a PhD in Anthropology and Geography with a concentration in Archaeology. Yes, she’s an archaeologist! Her area of focus is Mesoamerican archaeology at a remote underwater ...
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Middle School - Language Arts & Social Studies
Preparing to Navigate Our Changing World Angie Danforth Exploring Our World At Mountain Discovery, we take an interdisciplinary approach to Language Arts and Social Studies in our middle school program. While grammar and writing mechanics are certainly taught and emphasized, our Social Studies curriculum is fully integrated into the Language Arts curriculum and provides meaningful opportunities for reading and writing. The combined Language Arts/Social Studies curriculum is designed to meet state and Common Core standards through active engagement, collaboration and hands on learning. Students are encourages to make meaningful connections between content and their personal knowledge and experiences. One of ...
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Middle School - Math & PE
Math Math in the MDCS middle school puts a strong focus on the “nuts and bolts.” As a teacher, I believe it is important for all students to have a strong math base. Having the opportunity to mold mathematical minds for three consecutive years helps fill in any weaknesses that a student may have. They leave here with all the tools to be successful math students and everyday users of math for the rest of their lives. Daily the students learn through structure and routines. This helps the students gain confidence in their abilities. We agree that practice makes perfect ...
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Middle School - Science
The Middle School Science Program at Mountain Discovery Charter School takes directly into account the State of North Carolina's science standards. Doing this, though, doesn't have to translate into teaching to the test. Curricular field trips are a critical part of Mountain Discovery's implementation of the Expeditionary Learning model. Each year the sixth graders embark on a geology trip in the spring, where concepts learned in the classroom are observed first hand in the field. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and MDCS team up for air quality studies in the spring. Data gathered by the seventh grade on this three-day hike ...
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Art Teacher
Krista Skrede - Art 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 the the Netherlands, where she taught art for 10 years at The American School of The Hague ...
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Afterschool

Amanda Singley - Afterschool Coordinator
Amanda grew up in the Nantahala Gorge in Swain County. She and her husband, Henry, have twin sons, Christian & Christopher, who graduated from MDCS. Amanda has been with MDCS for 10+ years. She loves kids and treats them as her own. Amanda is grateful to be able to spend her evenings at MDCS and absolutely loves being a part of so many children’s lives ...
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Micheal Crew - Bus Driver
Micheal is a father to Aaliyah, a student at Mountain Discovery, and Ethan. He has been a Swain County resident for 21 years and has been involved with MDCS for over two years in various aspects. This year he is joining MDCS as a full-time bus driver and a substitute teacher ...
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Stephen Slagle - Bus Driver
Stephen is a bus driver and substitute teacher at MDCS. He earned an Arts degree from Villanova University as a student athlete and later earned his master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Wilmington University (Delaware). Stephen’s professional life included over 30 years in the Defense & Aerospace industry, primarily in manufacturing. His duties ranged from technician, area supervision, process engineering, and operations management. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, collecting firewood, and motorcycle riding. Stephen and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, are retired in the Bryson City area ...
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Mountain Discovery School