Mountain Sun Community Welcomes New Staff
Last updated 8/24/2020 at 3pm
Mountain Sun Community School welcomed four new staff members at the start of the 2020-2021 school year: Anne Nicoletti as primary lead teacher and kindergarten teacher, Anna Heard as primary assistant teacher, Sara Schmidt as communications coordinator, and Caroline Safford as all school assistant.
Nicoletti brings nearly two decades of Montessori experience with her to Mountain Sun. She holds a primary (age 3-6) Montessori diploma from the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and earned a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Florida. Most recently, Anne was a primary lead guide at the Atlanta Montessori International School for 8 years, where she was inspired by the diverse cultural community there.
"I love teaching because I get to experience and nurture spontaneous acts of kindness, caring and joy that blossom when children belong to a school community that encourages their curiosities, interests and connections with the outdoors," said Nicoletti. "And I love seeing how their confidence builds as they help teach others what they know."
Heard graduated from Brevard College through the WLEE (Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education) program. Working as a teacher's assistant, Anna developed a passion for teaching and alternative education. This passion grew through her work with several local youth development programs and summer camps.
"I enjoy teaching because I love the spark that kids get when their curiosity is peaked. Being a part of Montessori and MSCS brings me joy because the kids get to choose what they are interested in, explore subjects, and learn through nature in a way that gets them excited about learning!" said Heard.
Schmidt is a native of Western North Carolina and has worked as an outdoor education professional in the camp industry for the past decade. She holds a BA in broadcast journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and eagerly seeks out opportunities for continued professional development, including the upcoming VISION Transylvania class. She is passionate about youth development through connection with nature.
"As a new mom, I am already thinking about the education that will be the best fit for my child," said Schmidt. "Learning that is inspired by the outdoors and combined with mindfulness practices are skills we could all benefit from with more use. I am so glad that Mountain Sun exists as an option in our community and I am excited to be a part of it."
Safford has dedicated her career to nature conservation and she feels that her own education perfectly aligns with the mission of Mountain Sun: a balance of thoughtful, direct instruction and experiential learning. She graduated from Brevard College with a BS in biology and with an ecology minor, and completed internships with The Nature Conservancy and The Appalachian Wildlife Refuge. She thrives working with children, most recently at Carolina Mountain Naturalist in Mills River, where she developed programming for small groups and shared her love of studying and recording wildlife.
"I teach because these children are our future," said Safford. "I want to teach future generations to care about our environment and other people and to help them better understand themselves, others, the world and their place in it. I like to think I am changing the world, one kid at a time."
Classes began on Monday, Aug. 10.
Mountain Sun Community School is a nonprofit 501c3 independent school in Brevard. Mountain Sun serves children ages 3 through middle school and combines Montessori education with outdoor exploration, artistic creativity, and community service. Visit http://mountainsunschool.org/ or call (828) 885-2555 for more information.