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Teachers and Staff



Shelly Fox

My background is in community-based and school-based counseling. With its foundation in human development, counseling is essentially about bearing witness to the change process in ourselves and those with whom we work. Serendipitously, Blue Mountain School’s model of Contemplative Progressive education is also grounded in values and practices that facilitate change and growth, and the model asks that everyone in our school community—parents, students, and teachers—support each other as we learn and grow from our experiences. I cannot imagine a better opportunity to bring my counseling background into practice in a daily way, than to be working at Blue Mountain School, facilitating change, growth, and learning in our students and in myself and our staff.

I am happy to be focusing my attention and energy to co-create (on a foundation that already has been established by those who came before) a small-scale educational system that fosters the development of loving human relationships, self-awareness, and self-efficacy—all of which are things that kids (and all of us!) need to be at peace in the world.

Classroom Teachers


Stefi Schafer - Early Childhood

I am a native of Germany, and I settled in the New River Valley nearly 20 years ago. I found my true Heimat right here in Floyd. I have a degree in early childhood development and education from New River Community College, and I have been working in the early childhood field for about 15 years with various age groups. While my training is valuable, my experience as a teacher and as the mother of a college-bound daughter and two grown sons has taught me a lot about children that the textbooks left out. I strongly believe that children are capable collaborators in their own learning process: children are people, too! They deserve respectful and caring adults to guide them on their journey as they learn about themselves and others, and the world around them.

In addition to teaching, I also am an active member of the Floyd Humane Society and provide foster care for puppies and dogs.

Tammie Sarver - Early Elementary & Forest Kindergarten

I’ve been teaching in and out of the classroom for nearly 25 years ago.  I’ve worked as a preschool teacher and an art studio teacher, I've managed a Creative ReUse Center, and I taught and learned in my own Homeschooling environment with my children and a few others. I find my greatest inspirations come from the environment around me—in nature, through non-traditional materials, the arts and especially through the beautiful wonder of early childhood.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech, with minors in Education and Psychology, and I just completed a Masters Certificate in Emergent Inquiry from East Tennessee State University. I’ve been inspired by philosophers like Dewey, Vygotsky, Paley and especially the philosophies of Reggio Emilia. I am especially proud to have traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy for training. In reflecting on my educational philosophies, I feel I’ve been a constructivist educator my entire adult life.

I believe learning grows best in a nurturing environment where everyone feels secure in expressing our unique gifts, where aesthetics and peace are emphasized, and where community and social development are the foundation for all good learning. I strive to create a learning environment where children feel valued, respected, and honored for their unique insights in a place where they are given the space to express their curiosity and explore their answers.

When I am away from my classroom, I love spending time with my family, hiking, gardening, writing, cooking and being with my 3 dogs. I have 5 children, Eva Rose, here at Blue Mountain School; Jeremiah, Elias, Emily Grace and Sarah. My husband, Eric, is an Endangered Species Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Most recently in my free time I have been volunteering with a local group to support families and young children in a nearby county.  I’ve been going through the many steps of putting Little Friendly Libraries in deserving communities to help get books into homes that may not have access to them. I have also spent part of my summer volunteering with an art studio at a free lunch program in the same county. If anyone has any great books you would like to share with deserving readers you can share them with me!

I look forward to learning, laughing and growing with everyone at Blue Mountain School this year!

Jenni Heartway - Early Learning & Forest Kindergarten

My passion is educating young learners using emergent curriculum and project based learning. I began my training as a Foxfire Certified teacher and have continued my love of learning that spirals from student interests, since that time. I truly enjoy helping students develop literacy skills in an authentic, meaningful manner, and scaffolding children’s play to create learning experiences. I have taught in a variety of settings; public schools, private schools, internationally and most recently in a Forest Kindergarten. This will be my 17th year in the classroom.

I am a licensed Birth through Sixth grade teacher and have an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. My Masters Degree is in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support. I have completed my North Carolina Environmental Educator’s Certification, and look forward to sharing my love of the outdoors with my students.

When I'm not in the classroom you can find me in the woods with my family and our dogs. My children attend Blue Mountain, and my husband, Perrin works as a holistic veterinarian.

Anna Nation - Early Learning (on maternity leave)

Community-based education and place-based education has inspired me and guided me since childhood. I was lucky enough to attend the Friends School of Minnesota as a child. Spending my formative years in a community which honors childhood, considers children as active and valuable contributors to their community, and one which wove peace studies, social justice, and environmental justice into the curriculum has had tremendous impact on my life and the paths I have chosen. I'm passionate about sharing space, thinking collaboratively, and finding joy with children and all members of the educational community I am apart of. I love helping children discover what excites them about their world and supporting them in keeping and deepening their connection to the natural world.

I hold a Bachelors of Arts in East Asian Studies from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. For the past five years I've worked in various Montessori schools and have gained experience in both the public and private sectors of education. I hold a international Montessori teaching certification for ages 2.5-6 and have worked most recently in a nature and organic-based Montessori school in Blacksburg. 
Outside of teaching I spend my time with my son, Malachai, and my partner, Zach, and we are looking forward to welcoming our second child this spring. My family loves to travel and we spend as much time as possible looking for new places to explore and new bodies of water to play in.

Shelly Sherman - Middle Elementary

I began my teaching career in Mesa (AZ) Public Schools as a kindergarten and first grade classroom teacher. The school to which I was first assigned sat on the edge of the Pima Indian Reservation where many of my students lived. The experience of working with a culture different from mine was invaluable to me as a young teacher. 

When I started my family, I chose to stay home with my children to facilitate their learning. My husband and I unschooled our three children for 20 years. This afforded me many opportunities to explore a variety of educational approaches as my children learned and grew developmentally. This experience formed and influenced the educational philosophies that I hold as an educator today. 
When my children successfully left home to start their adult lives I began a journey back into the public school system. These experiences included working as a literacy aid, SOL remediation coach, pre-school teacher, first grade teacher, second grade teacher and third grade teacher. My work in these different education positions solidified and validated my own educational philosophies and made it impossible, in good conscience, for me to return to the high stakes, test-centric public education environment this year.
There are so many things that make BMS attractive to me as an educator. The whole-child approach BMS practices appeals to my own educational philosophies and aligns with my most formative experiences in education. I am interested in the contemplative curriculum and how children respond and interact with it. I am excited about having a small class so that I can get to know the children and get to work with them on a deeper level than in my past experiences. I love the physical environment; the indoor and outdoor spaces. I am excited to be able to consider each child’s development and interests when addressing individual needs. 
The benefits of working in the BMS environment include the many opportunities to practice what I believe is the best way to educate children. I also see many opportunities for me to learn and grow at BMS.

Holly Haworth - Upper Elementary

I am very happy to be beginning my second year at Blue Mountain School! I believe in nurturing the natural gifts of each student by encouraging them to explore their interests and follow their passions. I aim to engage young learners as active participants in their own process of becoming while I serve to guide them by sparking their curiosity about the world and offering my own insight and experience. My approach to education is holistic; I seek to explore the connections between all fields of study and to prompt students to make connections and think big. I seek to foster respect for all living things and to emphasize the individual’s connection to the greater whole. I believe in bioregional education and a consideration of one’s home ground. I am a deep believer in place-based learning that engages students directly with the world in which they live.

I was an Americorps VISTA volunteer in the small mountain town of Ruidoso, New Mexico, where I practiced environmental education in collaboration with educators on the Mescalero Apache reservation. I worked as an organic farmer in northern New Mexico and on the Mexican Gray Wolf reintroduction in the Gila National Forest, for the Center for Biological Diversity. I have worked as an activist and educator in the coal fields of Tennessee and for two years edited a newspaper about the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. I earned a certificate as a Southern Appalachian Naturalist at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute in 2014. I have a master’s degree in creative writing from Hollins University, where I was a Jackson Fellow. Last year I was the Artist-in-Residence at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I am a recipient of the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism. I am a writer and journalist. My work appears at Orion, Parabola,, NPR’s OnBeing blog, the Oxford American, Earth Island Journal, and VQR. I am currently at work on a collection of essays titled Trees that Sing Like Water.  
Angie Barrett - Early Childhood Co-Teacher

Enrichment Programs


Sarah McCarthy, Yoga and PE

I am an artist and mother who has loves being part of the community in Floyd. I have been practicing yoga and meditation for over fifteen years and received my children's yoga teacher certification from the Asheville Yoga Center. In my classes, I encourage students to look within themselves and learn more about their world through yoga, meditation, and cooperative games. I love to experience the calming, grounding effect that yoga and mindfulness have on myself and my students. I practice Zen meditation and participate in silent and family retreats at Great Tree Zen Center in Asheville, NC.


Lore Deighan, Art & Forest Kindergarten

A Floyd native gone for many years, I have been happily settled back in this wonderful community since 2008. I am an artist, mostly working in painting, with a degree in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. I am very passionate about the arts and have worked with many children in after-school art programs both in Richmond and here in Floyd. Teaching was not something I originally set out to do, rather it is a path that seemed to unfold before me. I communicate well with children and love sharing my passion and enthusiasm for art with them. I bring myself as an artist to the classroom, teaching from that place of passion and connection to the subject, encouraging each child's potential to thrive through creativity and exploration. I am also a mother of two wonderful young children and am very thankful for the role Blue Mountain School plays in both their life and in mine. 

Jagadisha, Contemplative Studies

Jagadisha has been involved with the contemplative arts for over 30 years. He practices and teaches Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound, an ancient form of Classical Indian Music. He is a lover of bonsai, the art of tea, cooking, and simple, mindful living. As well as teaching at BMS, Jagadisha teaches environmental education and team building at Apple Ridge Farm, a local non-profit organization.

Corey Avellar, Drama

Kari Kovick, Early Childhood and Early Learning Music

Haley Leopold, Upper Elementary & Middle School Math and Chess Club

Office Staff

Carol Volker, Office Manager

I have been working as the school's office manager since May 2011. My professional background is in technical communication, office administration, and research sponsored programs administration.















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