Meet the Preschool Classroom Staff

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Mary Aldridge (Teacher)

I have been teaching for 14 years, 5 with the Primary! Along with teaching in the classroom I have also been an itinerant exceptional education teacher with Mcdowell County Schools. 
I grew up in Old Fort, NC a small town east of Asheville. After high school I moved to Greensboro where I completed my first degree in Marketing and then moved to New York after graduation. I worked with a commercial real estate company until I moved back to Asheville after 3 years and have been here since. Recently I graduated from UNCG again..with a Masters in Birth to Kindergarten. Hurray! 
 
I have a house full of pets....bunny, dog, cat, class guinea pig on the weekend and a 9 year old daughter, Scarlett. I am obsessed with plants and my favorite thing to do is travel and hang out with my kid. 
 
 

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Marilyn Baxter (Instructional Assistant)

My name is Marilyn Baxter and I've worked at Asheville City Preschool for 12 years in various capacities.  Currently I work with ages 3 through 5.  I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from A-B Technical Community College. My hobbies include spending time with family, working in my flower garden, and volunteering with my church.

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Eilidh Bell (Instructional Assistant)

Hi! My name is Eilidh and I have been working with children for 6 years, as an intern and then as a teacher. I love it a lot. Every day is magical and I wouldn't change it for the world! I grew up in Australia and moved to Asheville in 2012 to become an Asheville City Schools graduate, and am now proud to work for the same school system. I look forward to more amazing days with amazing children to come!

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Camilla Bellows (Instructional Assistant)

Hi! My name is Camilla Bellows and I am so excited to be at Asheville Preschool as an Asheville City Schools alum myself. I am passionate about creating an inclusive learning environment that welcomes teachers, students and families to learn, play, and grow together. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies from Furman University and I am currently in graduate school at Appalachian State University pursuing my Birth through Kindergarten licensure. When I am not in the classroom, I can be found going on walks with friends and family, visiting coffee shops, and taking trips to the farmers market!

 

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Lynn Bennett (Teacher)

I have been teaching preschool for almost 29 years now! I have two grown children (boy and girl), a wonderful son-in-law, and a sweet 3 year old grandson. I enjoy walking, spending time with my family,  teaching your wonderful children, and working with an amazing school staff!

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Lisa Bruggeman (Teacher)

Hi, I’m Lisa Bruggeman and I’ve been teaching for 16 years, all of them in preschool at Asheville Primary! I really enjoy teaching children to understand their feelings and how to manage them successfully. I believe teaching social emotional skills is the most important work that I do. It helps prepare the leaders of tomorrow to make the world a better place. I also love to have conversations with young children and try to follow where their mind is going.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Child and Family Development studies at UNC Charlotte and I have my National Boards Certificate in Early Childhood. For the past 14 years, I have also participated in the NC Demonstration Program by serving as a demonstration teacher for other colleagues both across the state and surrounding areas. In my spare time, I love to read or sit on my front porch and listen to my windchimes. Pre-Covid times, I would be with friends watching my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes rock the football field :)

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Tara (Effingham) Howell (Teacher)

Hi! This is the start of my 11th year teaching preschool and my 5th year at Jones! I love this age group! I am expecting my first child, a boy, in October. Some of my favorite things to do are work out, spend time outdoors with my dog, and eat dessert! 
 

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Porshia Finley (Instructional Assistant)

Ms. Porshia has been an instructional assistant with the Preschool program for an amazing 21 years! She has two children and one sweet new grandson. She enjoys spending time with her family, working on DIY projects, and teaching young children. 

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Christine Gehlhausen (Teacher)

I’m in my fourth year of teaching with Asheville City Preschool. I have had the privilege of working with young children for 10 years in a variety of roles. In addition to teaching preschool,  I have also provided child care to infants and toddlers and taught ballet and tap dance lessons to children in preschool and elementary. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts from Ball State University and hold a North Carolina Birth-Kindergarten teaching license from Western Carolina University. I was born and raised in Indiana but I moved to Asheville after graduating from college and I’ve enjoyed living here for over 10 years. In my free time I love being outdoors, working on craft projects, going to see live music, reading, running and practicing yoga. On the weekends you can often find me hiking with friends and my sweet rescue dog, Cedar. 

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Miriam Keeter (Instructional Assistant)

Ms. Miriam is about to begin her 5th year as instructional assistant in Preschool. She has three grown-up children and two granddaughters. When she’s not at school she loves spending time with her kids, reading, working on her house, and playing with her cats. 

 
 

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Elisa Klingel (Teacher)

Elisa is a native of NC and has lived in Asheville for 23 years. She has a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a Birth to Kindergarten Licensure Degree from Western Carolina University. This will be Elisa’s 13th year teaching preschoolers. She loves kayaking and camping with her husband, their 2 boys, and friends.

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Maria Malone (Teacher)

Hi, I'm Ms. Maria. I have been a preschool teacher for over 12  years. I have a B. S. in University Studies and a B. A. in Family Studies, both from The University of New Mexico. I received my B-K add-on Teaching License from Western Carolina University.

Some of my favorite non-work things to do include: hiking, watching/playing soccer,  jumping into the ocean, and spending time with friends and family.

 

 
 

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Mishaunta McMillan (Instructional Assistant)

Hello all, I'm Mishaunta.

I have worked at the preschool for 22 years and I have enjoyed teaching young children and watching them discover and learn the world around them.
 
 

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Lauren Parker (Instructional Assistant)

Hi, I’m Ms Lauren.  I have worked in various early childhood education programs for over 12 years and have worked as an Instructional Assistant within the preschool program at Asheville Primary School for seven years.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Administration.  I have two children, both middle schoolers.  In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, traveling, and gardening.

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Melody Sentelle (Teacher)

Hi! I'm Melody Sentelle. I have recently moved to these beautiful mountains from Charlotte. I taught public preschool for the Charlotte- Mecklenburg School Systemfor 8 years.  This is my first year teaching with Asheville City Schools and I am loving every minute! I live with my husband, Sam, and our 2 cats, Nettles and Walnut. I love to spend my free time hiking, kayaking, and painting with watercolor. I am also studying and learning how to create with stained glass! 

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Adriana (Ana) Sparkman (Teacher)

Hi, my name is Ana Sparkman and this is my 5th year teaching preschool for Asheville City Schools.  I decided to get my Birth-Kindergarten teaching degree from WCU after participating as a parent teacher in my son’s cooperative play school.  I realized that I loved spending my day with young children and wanted to make teaching my career.  I moved to West Asheville 17 years ago from Atlanta and feel grateful to work in a school that serves the children and families in my neighborhood. 

I am the mother of  a son (13) and a daughter (9).  When not at work I enjoy cooking, reading, traveling, and playing in our beautiful mountains with my family, friends, and dogs.  

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Maura Thompson (Instructional Assistant)

I’m almost in my 10th year at Asheville City Preschool. I have a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Montreat College. I’ve worked with children from a young age and have a passion to see them achieve new goals. Love seeing them smile and excited about new things! In my free time I enjoy running and doing CrossFit. I love reading too. I also like being out in our wonderful mountains! I have a older sister who moved back from Japan and now closer to NC! She has 2 kids who I love to spend time with! 

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Andrew Watson (Instructional Assistant)

Hi there! I'm Andrew and I've been working at the preschool as an Instructional Assistant for six years now. I love what I do! Working with children of this age is so rewarding and fun. When I'm not at school I enjoy doing various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking with my dog Bailey.

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Paula Weaver

Hi! My name is Paula and I’ve been teaching young children for 30 years. I am a graduate of Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. I’ve taught kindergarten and first grade but spent half of my career teaching preschoolers at Asheville City Schools Preschool. Previously I was the Teaching and Learning Coordinator for our program and will be going back into the classroom this year due to budget cuts.

My husband Gary and I are “Empty Nesters” and we live in Fletcher. I have 2 daughters. Katie is 20 and lives in Hendersonville and Brianna is 25 living in Raleigh. In my spare time I enjoy making many types of crafts, going to the beach and occasionally joining my husband on his hunting trips in Georgia. I love my job and sharing my joy of teaching with the students and families in our program. I believe that LOVE is the best motivator for learning and growth.

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Gina Woody (Asheville High CTE Teacher)

Hi, I am Gina Woody, I have worked in the child care field for 33 years. I have worked in the Asheville City Schools for 20 years. I am the teacher at Asheville High Child Care Center. My husband and I just had our first grandbaby. I love spending time with my family, friends, and church family.  

My favorite quote is from Dr. Suess: “So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Teaching preschoolers is my joy - I love it!