New Teacher Profiles


August 21, 2017

Katerina Canter

School and grade: Rosman Middle and High School Band, grades 6-12

Hometown: High Point, N.C. I received my undergraduate degree in music education from Mars Hill University. I’m finishing my master’s in music education at Converse College. Prior to Rosman, I was the interim band director at Bethel Middle School in Waynesville and an English teacher in Szombathely, Hungary.

Teaching background: Music has always been an integral part of my life, but my experiences in middle and high school band led me to a career as a music educator. I was given many leadership opportunities throughout middle and high school to tutor younger band students and fell in love with helping others achieve a goal.

Personal profile: I have a beagle/Australian cattle dog mix named Sadie and a 5-month-old kitten named Lasagna. I like Thai and Indian cuisine, Eastern European folk music, Harry Potter, Isabel Allende novels and documentaries on people from around the world. I love to travel, camp and backpack when I can. I also enjoy playing board games and working puzzles.


Leigh Hyett

School and grade: Brevard Elementary, 2nd grade

Hometown: I am from Hartsville, S.C. I attended Appalachian State University. I started my second year of teaching at Brevard Elementary, went to Haywood County and am very excited to be returning to Brevard Elementary.

Teaching background: My mother, father, aunt and grandmother were all teachers. My grandmother and aunt taught in elementary school, and I loved helping them get their classrooms ready for the new year.

Personal profile: I’m married to Ross Hyett. I have two children, Davis Clare Hyett and Evan Hyett. Both attended Brevard Elementary and graduated from Brevard High School. Davis Clare has a daughter named Eloise who is almost 3, so I’m a grandmother. I have a poodle named Peach and a Siamese cat named Betty Pearl. I love sushi and ice cream, reading, especially thrillers and Southern drama. Right now, I’m enjoying the soundtrack to the Broadway play “Hamilton,” and I like to binge watch series on Netflix. I love living in the mountains but have to see the ocean several times a year. I enjoy reading, walking and knitting. I’m so excited to return to Transylvania County. I’m sure I’ll be seeing many familiar faces.


Margaret Carter Joseph

School and grade: T.C. Henderson, 5th grade

Hometown: I am from Greenville, Miss., but spent most of my youth in New Orleans, La. I attended Macalester College for my undergraduate degree and Harvard University for my master’s in education. I was the director of a small after-school and summer academic enrichment and remediation program in my hometown that served rising 6th-8th grade students. In the last few years, I worked for TCS as an ESL teacher.

Teaching background: I realized I wanted to teach while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa. My official job was to teach primary health to the adults in my community, but children were always at my house. I quickly found myself supplementing the four short hours they spent at school. I loved it. I am excited to teach 5th grade having spent several years working with rising 6th grade students in Mississippi.

Personal profile: My husband and I have been married for 21 years and have two wonderful daughters whom we are very proud of. We also have three dogs, two cats and a fish named Dog. I love all food from Louisiana having grown up with the world’s best south Louisiana cook — my mom. I love just about all movies and can talk endlessly about them, especially the funny ones. I have a very eclectic mix of books. I love young adult and youth authors from Kate DiCamillo to J.K. Rowling and Jerry Spinelli. My favorite author for adults is Dave Eggers. I am crazy for just about any creature in nature — the ones with two legs, four and wings. I also love to trail run with my dog and husband and to hike with my family. I enjoy gardening, but only vegetables and herbs. I have never been very good with flowering plants and shrubs. Actually, I tend to kill them and my husband has to take over. I am really excited to be working for TCS again and especially T.C. Henderson. As a STEM school, I believe we will have so many opportunities for fun and enriching applied learning.


Kelsey Perley

School and grade: Brevard Elementary School, 4th Grade Language Arts, Social Studies

Hometown: Originally from Mount Airy, N.C. Attended undergraduate school at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., and graduate school at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill. I previously taught for four years at North Windy Ridge Intermediate School in Buncombe County.

Teaching background: In high school, I completed several different internships in elementary schools and knew that I wanted to teach one day.

Personal profile: I just got married in June. My husband, Brad, works at Brevard College as the cycling coach, and I have a crazy pup named Kahdi. We love living in the Brevard community. It’s rare to see me without a Dr. Pepper in my hand. It’s my version of coffee and it keeps me going. I love all things Harry Potter and my favorite food is pizza. I love to be outside. I go Hiking with my husband and dog often, and sometimes we go mountain Biking. I also love watching “Fixer Upper” on HGTV. I’m so excited for the new school year and to be at BES.


Mandy Elaine Blake

School and grade: Davidson River School, School Counselor

Hometown: I am originally from Rome, Ga., and I’ve lived in WNC for over 13 years. I moved to these beautiful mountains straight out of undergrad for my first wilderness therapy job. I received a B.S. in counseling/psychology from Toccoa Falls College. I have more than five years experience working in wilderness therapy. I love being outside and I am a firm believer in the healing power of nature and simplicity. I have an additional five-plus years of experience working for community mental health organizations in various positions, including family therapy. I have spent the past three years splitting my time between completing my master’s in school counseling at Western Carolina University, Wilderness therapy and working in school settings. I worked on my internship at DRS in 2015-2016 and fell in love with the school of opportunities. Then, I was fortunate enough to be hired on as the part-time school counselor at T.C. Henderson, but, unfortunately, the grant was not renewed for that position, so I have returned to my beloved foundation in the TCS system, Davidson River. I am beyond excited to join the amazing, caring team at DRS.

Teaching background: I started my master’s program four years ago after spending quite a few years working in wilderness therapy and community mental health. I have discovered that I love having the opportunity to really believe in young people and support them in recognizing their strengths and embracing the fact that they can be in control of their destinies, if they choose to do something about it. I chose to pursue work in the school system because I strongly believe education equals opportunity. Each student learns in their own manner and my goal is to find those students who have not had success in learning in a traditional school setting due to learning differences, environmental circumstances or whatever sort of challenges life has sent their way and help them figure out how to get excited about learning something that is relevant to their journey and help them find hope for their futures.

Personal profile: My thoughtful, kind, intelligent 9-year-old boy, Leif, who is sweet 75 percent of the time and, developmentally, appropriately pushing boundaries with me the other 25 percent of the time, live right here in Brevard. Leif will be starting the 4th grade at BES this year. We plan to make Brevard our long-term home. We also live with our sweet kitty, Annie. Leif loves to swim, play tennis, challenge himself with math problems and (much to my dislike, although I have to embrace it some degree) play video games. I enjoy eating all sorts of delicious food, which is one of the great pleasures in life. I am open to trying all sorts of cuisines, as long as they are quality made. I love to read, especially books that help me be the best counselor I can be. A few of my favorite authors include Brené Brown, Daniel Siegle, Amy Cuddy, Susan Cain, Carol Dweck and so many more. I love to discuss the new topics I’m learning about, so please feel free to ask when you see me about. The woods are my happy place. I often enjoy a day alone in the woods, spending time reflecting on the beauty of nature and the wonders of life. This is often the time when my most creative ideas for my work will surface. I also love to read and spend time with my little human. I enjoy board games and good conversations with good folks. I am beyond excited to join the DRS team.


Tenesha Abernethy

School and grade: Pisgah Forest Elementary, K-2 Exceptional Children’s Teacher

Hometown: I was born in Clinton, N.C., and raised in southeastern N.C. In 2003, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in special education, with a concentration in visual arts from the University of North Carolina—Wilmington. Over the next few years, I was able to serve the students of Columbus, Duplin and Pender counties in North Carolina, as well as Manassas, Va. In 2013, I earned my master of arts degree in special education from Grand Canyon University. I am also a licensed yoga instructor, a skill that has proven to be beneficial in my teaching practices for my students. My teaching experience includes 12 years of serving as an exceptional children’s teacher for students pre-k to high school in northern Virginia and southeastern North Carolina.

Teaching background: When I was a child, I wanted to be a dance teacher, a preschool teacher and an artist. What influenced my interest in teaching exceptional children include events from my earlier life through college. While in kindergarten, I learned a family member could not read. I became very passionate about helping this individual learn to read. Fondly, I remember my mother bringing home a chalkboard and chalk to add to my little classroom setup. Today, with the help of the Cape Fear Literacy Council, the dedication of his teachers, and this individual’s determination, he now reads almost fluently. My interest in teaching was again sparked later in life. During my sophomore year in college, I was offered a part-time position in an Adult Day Program. While spending time teaching and interacting with these individuals, I realized special education was the field of teaching that interested me most. At this point, my education goals became driven toward teaching in the field of special education.

Personal profile: I am fortunate to have a supportive and loving husband in Dr. Bryan Abernethy, principal of Brevard High School. We have a precious 2-year-old son named Luke and a Jack Russell named Bebe. One of my favorite activities to partake in is spending time outdoors with my family doing anything (biking, Hiking, swimming) and simply exploring nature and our beautiful surroundings. Another favorite of mine is trying new foods. I consider myself a foodie. In addition, my family and I enjoy going to events that include art, music, dancing and food. My personal interests include painting portraits and still life objects. Mediums I enjoy using include sharpies, pencil, acrylic and oil paints. Upholstery and up-cycling furniture are hobbies that I am very interested in pursuing and learning more about. I also enjoy being active and participating/teaching yoga, Zumba and group fitness classes. I am proud to be of Native American descent and a member of the Coharie Tribe of Sampson County, N.C. My mother was a member of the Coharie Tribe, and my father is a member of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe of Columbus County, N.C. My Native American heritage and upbringing have played an intricate role in the person that I am today.


Cassandra Anna Smatana (Cassie)

School and grade: Brevard High School (9th Grade Girls Health and PE/ Adaptive PE/ Girls Weight Training

Hometown: I was born and raised in Albuquerque, N.M. I went to school in Colby, Kansas, where I played volleyball and got my associates degree. I then moved to Brevard to play volleyball for Brevard College. I graduated in 2012 with a major in criminal justice and a minor in wilderness leadership and experiential education. I graduated with a master’s in teaching for physical education from Lenoir Rhyne University in 2016. I work part time at the Brevard Health and Racquet Club working as the aquatics director. There, I teach and coach swimming while managing the pool facilities and pool staff. I worked at Brevard Academy for a little more than a year where I taught physical education and health to grades K-8.

Teaching background: Growing up, I loved physical education and sports. I used them as healthy outlets in a stressful home-life. Sports helped me get to college. I connected with my PE teachers and coaches and figured that I would help kids to love sports someday, too. After I graduated from Brevard College in 2012, I started a job at Brevard Health and Racquet Club teaching swimming. It was there that I realized I needed to become a teacher. I went back to school and got a master’s degree in teaching for health and PE and I have been teaching ever since. I have a sweet brown dog named Dalilah. I love most foods, especially breakfast foods and fruit. I listen to country and alternative music. My favorite colors are sparkly and turquoise. My favorite books are anything adventurous (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings), while the movies I prefer are anything but a scary or gory movie (I like movies with strong female roles like Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Hunger Games. I also love funny kid movies). Favorite drink is lemonade or water (very seldom a Dr. Pepper). I love adventure, such as mountain Biking, Hiking, running, snowboarding, climbing, swimming, boating. Teaching kids to swim and love sports. I love crafts and art. I love cooking, and hanging out with my friends, family and my pup. I am also learning how to speak Spanish at Western North Carolina Language Institute. I would love to start up a High School Swim Team


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