The Learning Community School l Asheville, NC l 828.686.3080
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The Staff

Katherine Murphy

Executive Director

Katherine began her life at TLC in the fall of 2000 as a classroom teacher for grades 3/4. She is now the school's Executive Director but still enjoys leading a few middle school math classes.  Ms. Katherine’s classroom is a multi-sensory, hands-on educational experience for all students. Math is taught through the use of manipulatives, games, and movement lessons. Katherine helps her students to create a rich, inquiry-based classroom, allowing each student to become fully engaged and enthusiastic about learning.

Holly Baumgartner

Director of Administration

Holly's family became a part of the TLC community when her daughter entered 1st grade in the fall of 1999. Both her children have now graduated from TLC. Holly became an employee of the school in the fall of 2004, and has been keeping the TLC office running smoothly ever since. Much of her time is spent taking care of financial accounts. She communicates with families each and every day to ensure that everyone has what they need, when they need it! Holly has two children, both of whom are TLC graduates.

Lupe Perez

Administrative Assistant

Lupe began his life at TLC in the fall of 2012 as a TLC parent, with children in grades 6, 4, 1. He is now the school's Office Coordinator, and enjoys interacting and supporting the TLC staff/family community. Lupe has a BA in Theatre/K-12 Education, and has also served active duty in the US Army. Lupe and his husband Monroe have been in the Asheville area for 27 years, and currently live in Swannanoa. They have 1 child (a TLC alumnus) in high school, and two children here at TLC.

Theresa Cote

K/8 Arts Integration

Theresa Cote has been a member of the TLC community since 2000 when her son, Max, entered Kindergarten. She volunteered with and then headed up the art program for many years before becoming a school employee. She also started TLC’s after-school art club. She has begun integrating art with the rest of the curriculum, which has been a major success. She continues to look for ways to add more art opportunities into TLC’s daily routine. Additionally, Ms. Theresa has designed, produced, and coordinated the costumes for all the musicals. You can check out some of her amazing handiwork on the “school musical” link. 

In her spare time, Theresa enjoys working own art projects, with a current focus on surface design. She lives in Swannanoa with her kitten, Marlow, her chinchilla, Bun Bun, and her son, Max.

Mitzi Prendergast

K/1 Lead Teacher

Mitzi has been the lead kindergarten and first grade teacher at TLC since the fall of 2001. She has four children and her youngest is a graduate of The Learning Community School. She loves teaching our youngest students to read. Mitzi has participated in many professional development classes and workshops for both Writer's and Reader's Workshop as well as specific phonics and reading programs. She completed training in the multi-sensory based Orton-Gillingham language education program and is excited to have so many fun and solid strategies to bring to the K/1 classroom.

Karis Roberts

K/1 Junior Teacher

Karis is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina. She moved to Asheville for college and fell in love with the community. While attending college, Karis had a variety of part time jobs. She took pictures for Eliada Homes, taught Sunday School at the Unitarian Church and led an after school social group for students K-12 with autism. After receiving a B.A. in Psychology, Karis went on to help open and teach at The Magic Attic Preschool. In her free time she loves to play outdoors with her puppy and tell jokes.

Cody Hughey

2/3 Lead Teacher

Ms. Cody completed her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in 2002 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and moved back home to the mountains of Asheville to start her teaching career while simultaneously earning multiple yoga certifications. Ms. Cody immediately enjoyed the lively and varied environment at TLC since joining the community in 2012, which has pushed her to stretch herself in new ways each school year. TLC provides an engaging teaching environment by supporting innovative learning experiences for both students and teachers as learners, and is a great fit for her both personally and professionally. In her spare time, Ms. Cody enjoys spending time hiking and climbing waterfalls with her husband and daughter, and exploring all of the wonders of nature.

Brandon Betz

K/8 Music;

Brandon is thrilled to be at TLC! A graduate of Kent State University's Music Education program, Brandon is passionate about music and the ways in which it encourages us to grow, form community, and express ourselves. In addition to teaching music, he will also be leading canoeing as well as driving the school bus! Mr. Brandon comes to us from Ohio and he enjoys hiking, reading books, cultural studies, creating new recipes, knitting, skiing, and puns.

Barbara Kenny

Lead Teacher for Grade 4; Grades 5/8 Social Studies

Barbara moved to Western North Carolina after having grown up in New Jersey and living everywhere from Arizona to Australia. She decided to settle in Asheville because of her love of hiking, mountains, and the vibrant art community. Barbara earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Rutgers University and, after a year of service in AmeriCorps, went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Special Education. Barbara has three years of experience teaching multiple subjects to 5th-8th grade students and is passionate about creating an engaging and nurturing learning environment for her students. Most recently, Barbara spent a year leading young adult backpacking and canoe trips as a Wilderness Therapy Guide. She is looking forward to bringing her enthusiasm for the outdoors to TLC’s Outdoor Education program. Barbara spends most of her free time hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, and enjoying nature. She also really loves traveling, reading, writing, painting and all things creative!

Isabel Winston

5/6 Language Arts Assistant, 4th Grade Humanities Teacher

Isabel is from Wilmington, North Carolina but moved to the mountains in 2009 to study at Appalachian State University.  After graduating from college, she moved to northern Thailand where she ran an English tutoring company, and she taught all subjects to international students for three years.  In the classroom, Isabel focuses on providing a meaningful, diverse, and a hands-on learning experience.  In her spare time she likes to write and illustrate children's books, cook, go camping, work in her garden, hike, play tennis, and play with her beloved cat, Turnip!  She is absolutely ecstatic to be working at TLC!

Tom Tracy

7/8 Language Arts, Musical Director

Tom has been around TLC since his son entered third grade in the fall of 1999. His daughter followed soon after and both children have long since graduated. Tom, however, was not allowed to leave and his graduation is still pending.

Tom received his Bachelor’s of Elementary Education at the University of Georgia where he focused on Children's Literature. Tom received a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University where he worked both in the Elementary Education Department and the Children’s Theatre Department. In Arizona, Tom taught for six years in an inner-city award-winning school where he first discovered the great minds who were working and developing what we all know now as Writer’s and Reader’s Workshops. While his children were attending school, Tom helped bring the Writer’s and Reader’s workshop programs to TLC through staff training and mentoring. Additionally, Tom took on the job of directing the all-school musical.

Tom loves to create an environment where young people can express and explore themselves through their own writing and by delving deep into literature. He works hard to create a safe and rigorous community of writers and readers. He calls on each writer to write what has meaning and purpose to them. “I like to think that a big part of my job is to demystify the act of writing.”

Tom's family is his main passion. He is married to his most excellent partner, Libba,  and he enjoys watching his own children continue to blossom.

David Bird

5/6 and 7/8 Language Arts; 7/8 Spanish

David has taught a variety of subjects in a multitude of environments: from public schools and non-profits to his current position at TLC School. Teaching for more than ten years in traditional public schools left David looking for something more innovative and creative… a place where a student’s individuality is important and vital to learning. He currently teaches language arts, Spanish, and coaches for the Hospitality League teams at school. He has studied abroad in Madrid and travelled through Mexico. He received his National Board certification in Spanish in 2010 and is Orton-Gillingham trained. David’s passion with education begins with the culture inherent in a language; he seeks to create an environment rich with authentic resources and experiences.

Noah Keener

5/8 Math and Science

René Foster

Office Coordinator

A Community Striving For

Personal Growth

Talk it out

Everyone counts

Appreciations, not putdowns

Make it fair

Fostering A Culture Of


  • I feel so grateful for this school. My kids come home happy each day!

    – Alexandra

  • I would like to appreciate Mitzi for her calm, sweet, peaceful, and patient way in the K/1 classroom. She is the best!

    – Kiersten

  • TLC is even more of a home this year than it used to be!


  • We appreciate Kiersten for helping settle the K/1 classroom into their new handwashing routine each morning; John, Dan, and Meggan for helping in the morning carline; and Daisy for her office/recycling/trash support!

    -H and K



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375 Lake Eden Rd
Black Mountain, NC 28711