Blue Mountain School

Upcoming Events

April 14, 2014 - April 18, 2014
Spring Break

April 17, 2014 07:00 - 10:00
Together in Concert: Jim Scott & James Durst

April 22, 2014 01:00 - 03:00
Earth Day: All-School Work Day

April 25, 2014
ES: Snow Make-Up Day

May 14, 2014 06:30 - 08:30
Board Meeting

May 16, 2014
ES: Snow Make-Up Day

May 21, 2014 03:30 - 04:30
End-of-Year All-School Meeting

May 26, 2014
Memorial Day

May 29, 2014 09:00 - 12:30
Half Day

May 29, 2014 11:30 - 01:30
End-of-Year Celebration & Potluck

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Teachers and Staff

Elementary School Director


Shelly Emmett

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.

High School Director

Joe Klein

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and a long term practitioner of mindfulness meditation, yoga and Chinese internal martial arts. As the founder of and lead teacher for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) I have run transformative retreats for teens and college students as well as for parents and professionals who work with youth. I have over 20 years’ experience working with youth as an educator, counselor and soccer coach. My main goal in working with teens is to help them become more aware of the depths of who they are and to feel fully supported in developing the unique talents and gifts they bring to the world. In my role as the Director for Blue Mountain High School, I am dedicated to creating a learning environment where teens feel a sense of connection and belonging with each other and with the places and people in this community that nurture their growth. I will make sure all teens feel welcome and supported in pursuing their academic interests at a pace that matches and challenges their skills and temperament. In addition to facilitating community building activities and leading a weekly Great Books Seminar, I will provide bi-monthly advising sessions for each student.

High School Lead Teacher

Ezekiel Fugate

Ezekiel graduated with highest distinction from the University of Virginia, earning degrees in civil/environmental engineering and mathematics, and completed an M.S. degree in environmental engineering at Yale University. Ezekiel has worked on a number of water, agriculture, and natural resource projects in places such as Cameroon, Guatemala, and Hawaii. Most recently, he served as the lead teacher of environmental science, physics, pre-calculus, independent research, Spanish, and physical activity at the Renaissance High School in Charlottesville. He has also provided private tutoring for middle and high school students in algebra, pre-calculus, calculus, and chemistry. Ezekiel is Wilderness First Aid certified and an RYT-registered yoga instructor in addition to being a licensed permaculture designer, an avid wild crafter, and a perennial plant propagation enthusiast.

Early Childhood


Stefi Schafer

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.

Ashley Morales

I am first and foremost a mother to my two sweet children, Lula and Sully. I am also a teacher, and have spent the last 19 years of my life working in various preschool classroom environments such as Reggio Emilio and Montessori, as well as more traditional classrooms. This work comes easily and joyfully to me, as I truly love children and have a great deal of respect for them. I love the emergent curriculum model of Blue Mountain, and I look forward to the possibilities of teaching in a way that really puts the child’s interests and ideas at the forefront. I believe my diverse background in preschool environments will be a huge asset to the classroom.

In addition to teaching preschool, I am a grower, and devote much of my time to my garden endeavors. It is important for me to provide pure food for my family, and I enjoy canning and preserving the food I grow just as much as I enjoy growing it!

I have a BS in anthropology and sociology with a minor in African studies, and my life experiences include working as a field manager to an environmental group and as a farm manager to Floyd EcoVillage. I backpacked all over Europe, Central America and the United States, finally settling in Northern California for a couple years before moving back to Virginia, which is my home state. I knew I wanted to raise my children in the mountains here, which is where I was raised as well.  I feel blessed to be putting down roots here in this community and for the lovely opportunity to be a teacher at Blue Mountain School.

Early Learning

Hari Berzins

I'm happy to be at Blue Mountain School where freedom to throw the lesson plan out the window gives me great flexibility to work with these kids to build relationships which will lead to growth and deep learning about self and community.

I live in a tiny house in Floyd with my husband, Karl, and our two kids, Ella and Archer. My background as a public school teacher, business owner, and writer help me to guide these students in their own discoveries. I focus on class building, modeling clear communication, and inspiring curiosity. l look forward to seeing what we make together this year!

Lower Elementary

Jenni Heartway

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 been focusing on outdoor experiences with young children for the past three years, both as an Early School Science teacher and as a Forest Kindergarten instructor.

I have an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Intervention.  I recently 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 children, Cedar and Wren, my husband, Perrin, and our dogs, Ralph and Poppy.

Middle Elementary


Miranda Altice

I've always loved the sciences. Creating a blend with this and my background in education, work experience, and worldly travel, I have found my life path to be in education. I was born in south Florida, and grew up mainly in the Carolinas. College brought me back to Florida to pursue degrees in Biology and Journalism. During this time I became certified as a Vinyasa Flow yoga instructor, and eventually in prenatal and children's yoga. After finishing my Journalism degree in England, I had my first rite of passage traveling Europe, the Pacific Islands, and Australia solo for a few months. I felt such a bond to Australia that a few years later I finished a master’s qualifier in Natural Medicine in New South Wales. I am currently working on my doctorate in Natural Medicine.

Education has always been a large part of my life, so in 2006 after leaving Australia I began training in Montessori pre-primary and elementary education. Since then, my path has been dedicated to holistic education ranging from lead teaching in Montessori environments, science and nature interpretation for primary and elementary children, traveling children’s yoga instructor, teen yoga instructor, and organic gardening teacher for young ages.

I am very passionate about teaching, and I am so excited to be a part of Blue Mountain School and the Floyd community. In my classrooms, I always begin with a broad scope of the whole universe (in science, literally!) while often interweaving subjects to show how everything is ultimately connected. I believe in visualizations and hands-on, manipulative activities within the classroom to inspire creativity, movement, and peaceful social interaction within an academic framework. I want my students to look at the universe and the environment with awe and respect while also building the confidence to create their own theories. These children are the future!

During my free time I love being outdoors with my sweet husband Jason and my happy, high-spirited three-year-old daughter, Simone. We love exploring, “creek stomping," canoeing, gardening, and making our own wine. On very quiet days I love sewing, reading, practicing Reiki and yoga, making herbal concoctions, and just “being.”

Upper Elementary and Middle School

Inge Terrill

After spending the past ten years in the field of education, Inge Terrill joins Blue Mountain School as the Science teacher for the upper elementary class.  Inge has worked at BMS before.  From 2002-2004, she was the school's Office Manager/Director.  Then in 2004-2005, she taught the Middle School class at BMS and from 2010-2011, she taught the 2nd-4th grade class at BMS.  From 2004 to present, she has been homeschooling her daughters and teaching at various summer camps.  She is also currently the Environmental Education Coordinator at Apple Ridge Farm in Check.  Inge has a Bachelor of Arts in General Biology with an emphasis in plant taxonomy.  She also has a Masters of Environmental Science with an emphasis in plant ecology.  She is looking forward to having a great year with the upper elementary class exploring the world of Science!

Brien Egan

I have always dreamed of creating a place like Blue Mountain School, and it made me ecstatic to see that it is already here and that now I can be a part of its community. I come to you as a recovering public school special education teacher where I taught in Virginia Beach for 7 years working with children with disabilities in grades 3-8. I have a degree in psychology with a minor in special education and an ED/SLD (emotional disabilities/ specific learning disabilities) teaching certification for grades K-12, as well as a History certification for grades 6-12. While I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and enriching the lives of my students over the years, I am very grateful and excited to be a part of such an amazing place here in Floyd.

I have created and been the sponsor for the EnviroClub and have been running an organic teaching garden at schools for 6 years now. I have taught in many different settings and have a lot of experience teaching kids how to deal with emotional as well as learning difficulties and how to overcome them, often with alternative methods (EFT [emotional freedom technique], Conscious Discipline, breath work/visualization exercises, brain gym, qi gong, yoga, tai chi, etc.) I have created and run a spiritual summer day camp at a local unity church in Chesapeake for 5 years as well which also incorporated the previously mentioned methods as well as integrating a holistic view on spirituality and quantum physics concepts along with leadership and creativity training.

I worked for the A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) and the Edgar Cayce Center as a youth group sponsor/mentor for a couple of years working with high school students as well as for the Unity Renaissance Church where I run my camp. I have worked in the alternative middle school here for a year and a half as a long term substitute and the permanent substitute as well as at a boy's home for run-aways and estranged families (Seton House). I also worked as an SOL tutor at a high school here working with students who were at-risk and had failed previously. I've attended workshops on mindfulness, the Silva method, foraging, sustainability and many other spiritual, holistic, and environmental topics. I am also an Essene minister, a certified hypnotherapist and a reiki and karuna reiki master. I have been teaching and practicing reiki and karuna reiki for 10 years now.

Elementary School 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

I am a Floyd native, gone for many years but happy to be back with my partner Justin and three-year-old son, Milo. You might recognize me from the Floyd Farmers Market, where I sell for Good Food Good People, or from the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, where I often volunteer in the Hayloft Gallery.  I am a painter and majored in Painting and Printmaking at 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.

Virginia Klara, Literacy

I have lived happily in Floyd County since 1982. Long before having children of my own, I participated in community workdays and fundraising events for the building of Blue Mountain School because I believe an independent, alternative school is an great asset for the community and a truly precious choice for our area families.

My participation as a parent at Blue Mountain began in 1992 when my now 22-year-old son, Ian, entered pre-school. Two years later my daughter, Laurel, now 19, gladly followed her brother to Blue Mountain. As a young parent, I appreciated that there was a local school where my children could progress gradually from the security of home to the greater world. I especially valued the nurturing support and the recognition of the individuality of each child provided at Blue Mountain.

I wanted to be involved in my children's education so for many years I was 'class parent.' I also served on the School Council/Board and on the fundraising, maintenance, publicity, hiring and curriculum committees. I got my first taste of teaching youngsters as a substitute teacher and assistant art teacher at BMS. When my children and their classmates were learning how to read, I volunteered in their classes as a reading tutor. Since then, I have taught many children, from pre-readers to college applicants, reading and writing.

My formal education includes a BS in Horticulture and certification as a Master Naturalist from Virginia Tech. In 2011, I earned a Masters of Liberal Studies from Hollins University; my studies focused on language and literacy acquisition. I have taught English to adult immigrants through Refugee and immigration Services and Literacy Volunteers. I now tutor students independently under the company name of Good English. I also work for Good Food/Good People at farmers markets and the Greens Garage.

Jagadisha Rotella, 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.

Katie Wells, Creative Expression

Corey Avellar, Friday Enrichment Program

Office Manager

Carol Volker

I moved to Floyd County in 2006, and a year later my daughter was born. I knew from the start that I wanted our family to be part of the Blue Mountain School Community. 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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