MEET OUR STAFF

The Learning Community School | baloyra enrique

ENRIQUE BALOYRA
Math/Science Teacher

Enrique is excited to become a member of the TLC family! He grew up in Chapel Hill, where he was a state champion swimmer. After graduating from the University of Miami, where he majored in anthropology and minored in history, he went on an archaeological dig in the French Périgord and saw the Caves of Lascaux in person. A thirteen-year veteran math teacher, he’s committed to creating memorable lessons that are experiences in critical thinking, the senses, and movement. Enrique has lived in Spain, Italy, and Germany and speaks several languages. 

The Learning Community School | baumgartner holly 1

HOLLY BAUMGARTNER
Community Director

Holly’s family became a part of the TLC family when her daughter entered 1st grade in the fall of 1999. Holly became an employee of the school in the fall of 2004 when her son entered Kindergarten, and has been on staff ever since. While her children have long since graduated TLC, Holly enjoys remaining in community with people dedicated to raising good human beings. Much of her time is spent managing business operations.
Holly enjoys backpacking and caving, and is a long-time member of the Green Grass Cloggers.

The Learning Community School | bird david

DAVID BIRD
8th Lead Teacher; 6/7/8 Language Arts;
6/7/8 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.

The Learning Community School | bittner hughey jeni

JENI BITTNER-HUGHEY
Orton Gillingham Teacher

Jeni is a passionate and warm educator with an empathetic approach to teaching and learning—seeking to understand her students to best meet their needs. She brings a wealth of experience and has worked with students of all ages from babies to adults.  Jeni has taught in a wide variety of settings: international schools, pre-school​s​, yoga centers, parent-child programs,​​English as a Second Language, and through social justice. 

Teaching in an international school in Indonesia created a unique perspective that she brings with her into the classroom as well as her daily life. Her approach to teaching is at its core reflective, constructivist, and through a growth mindset. As a lifelong learner herself, she seeks understanding of her students and her content through compassion and curiosity. Jeni holds a Master’s Degree in Education, and years of experience in meeting the needs of students with language-based learning differences, as well as second language learners. When not in the classroom, Jeni enjoys spending time in nature, and experiencing other cultures and perspectives through travel, dance, art, literature, and in meeting new friends of all ages. She is mom to a teen girl and one amazing, world-traveled, super-cat named Anzo. 
The Learning Community School | boone ramsee

RAMSEE BOONE
Music Instructor

Ramsee was born in North Carolina and her family (mom, dad and two brothers) made many relocations until they ended up back in Huntersville, NC After she graduated high school in Huntersville, she went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University while working retail part-time and nannying. Ramsee’s education at IU propelled her to continue with her passions for both music and childcare which led her to The Learning Community School. She is looking forward to meeting and greeting you all!

The Learning Community School | connell brookie

BROOKIE CONNELL
4/5 Lead Math and Science Teacher

Brookie is joining our team after living abroad in Costa Rica for the last decade. During this time, she helped open a new elementary school, design curriculum, and teach grades K-3 using a bilingual language structure. She also spent many years during this time teaching in an online environment. As a Georgia native, she spent her first five years teaching 5th grade in the Atlanta Public School classroom before making the move. This has given Brookie a rich and diverse background that she is excited to bring back to the classroom at TLC. 

Brookie is energetic, passionate, and knowledgeable. She has earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. In her classroom you might see students engaged in learning projects, delving into science experiments or integrating math into real-life situations. She has a love of learning and seeing the joy and spark of her students puts a huge smile on her face. 

In her free time, you will find her spending time in nature hiking and camping. She enjoys having a good book in one hand and a cup of joe in the other. 

The Learning Community School | cote theresa

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 beloved cats.

The Learning Community School | cunningham martha 3

MARTHA CUNNINGHAM
Head of School

Martha is excited to begin her journey as TLC’s new head of school. Bringing her broad experience in education, she’s looking forward to leading the next chapter in TLC’s growth.

Martha comes to TLC with over 17 years of experience in education. Working in different types of independent schools, in many different roles, she has a perspective that is focused on ensuring that a TLC education is supportive and nurturing to every child. She is enthusiastic about experiential learning and its benefit to students on their journey of growth.

Martha has worked in independent schools in Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. and is excited to make Western North Carolina her new home. She and her family are enjoying exploring the mountains and culture of the area.

The Learning Community School | curtis gabriela

GABRIELLA CURTIS
2/3 Classroom Assistant; After School Care

The Learning Community School | fleming ben

BEN FLEMING
Outdoor Education Instructor

Ben joined the TLC community along with two of his three sons as the Outdoor Education Teacher. He grew up on the coast of SC and loved escaping to the mountains on family camping trips as a kid. Those trips led to work in WNC as a whitewater canoe program leader and environmental education instructor. 

Ben went further afield as a classroom teacher in Cali, Colombia and kayak instructor and raft guide in Ecuador. On his return to the US Ben was program director at a Florida non-profit working in Central America and the Caribbean.

Since arriving in Asheville Ben has devoted his time to raising three boys. He has held a variety of volunteer positions including soccer coach and Cub Scout Den leader. He looks forward to getting outdoors and active with the TLC community.

The Learning Community School | fredericks savannah

SAVANNAH FREDERICKS
After School Care

Savannah studies Outdoor Leadership just down the road from TLC at Warren Wilson College. She enjoys spending time adventuring outdoors on local trails and cycling around Asheville, often in search of good cafés and bakeries! In 2019, Savannah completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and in 2021, she hiked a majority of the Pacific Crest Trail. Savannah has worked with TLC as an outdoor education intern, after school care, and summer camp counselor. Savannah is excited to work with kiddos in Nature Club during the Spring of 2023!

The Learning Community School | geran sean

SEAN GERAN
K-8 PE Teacher

Sean is originally from a small town in New Jersey, but has been living in Asheville since 2007. He received his Master’s in Teaching from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. He has worked with children for the past decade as a math/reading specialist, coach, and most recently as a Physical Education teacher. He enjoys leading games and fitness activities that promote inclusion, respect for others, and personal expression. Sean believes strongly in the role of movement in the role of child development and overall well being. In his spare time he enjoys strumming his guitar, hiking, crosswords, and playing Ultimate Frisbee.
The Learning Community School | headen reggie 2

REGGIE HEADEN
4/5 Classroom Assistant

Reggie Headen is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. He has starred on Broadway at Town Hall’s “Rising Stars” and has done children’s theatre for Two Bean’s Production of  “Jack Sprat”.  After relocating to Western NC in 2018, he has been focusing on helping others become what calls  a “fully embodied singer”, at his shows and in private lessons. Reggie is excited to join TLC  as a teaching assistant. He looks forward to being a part of the many creative ways we all can learn.

The Learning Community School | hibbert crystal

CRYSTAL HIBBERT
K/1 Classroom Assistant

Crystal is originally from sunny South Florida and moved to Asheville after visiting a friend. She knew in her heart this was home.  

Crystal is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. In her spare time, she lives out her passion to support families in the community.

Since moving to Asheville, Crystal is developing an appreciation and love for nature, enjoys hiking all the mountains have to offer. 

The Learning Community School | jacobs robin

ROBIN JACOBS
Office Manager

Robin joined the TLC community in the fall of 2012 as a TLC parent, with children in grades 1 and 4.  She began volunteering in the office and classroom, and then served on the TLC Board as a parent member from 2014 to 2017, and enjoyed serving as Facilities Committee Chair and working on TLC policy during that time.  Robin joined the TLC staff the fall of 2017 as a P.E. Teacher and Special Projects Coordinator. She has served on the silent auction committee since going the TLC Community and has served as organizer since.  Robin is an avid fitness geek with a background in playing and coaching soccer, is a black sash in ShaoLin Kung Fu and enjoys teaching Kung Fu and self-defense classes. She is an attorney and practiced locally with Pisgah Legal Services focusing on public benefits, disability and Medicaid services law, before taking a break from law.  In her spare time, Robin hangs out with her family — artist husband Fox, two amazing kids Fox and Jesse, and sweet puppy dog Panda.

The Learning Community School | keener noah

NOAH KEENER
7th Lead Teacher; 6/7/8 Math and Science

Originally from North Georgia and landing in WNC after leaving the northeast, Noah graduated from the University of North Georgia with a B.S. in biology and a minor in chemistry. While his interests are vast, science has always been his passion. He strives to make science and math more meaningful to students by engaging them in the benefits of scientific and mathematic endeavors in all disciplines and throughout life.

He believes there is as much value in failure as there is in success, as both are powerful teaching tools. His classroom is a community where students can talk about science openly and address misconceptions. Noah likes to teach by utilizing a hands-on approach called proof of concept, where investigations into scientific and mathematical principles ultimately lead to exploratory learning that stands to validate often abstract ideas.

When he isn’t teaching, Noah can usually be found playing with his kiddos, hiking, or cycling. 

The Learning Community School | lopez lymaris

LYMARIS LOPEZ
K-5 Spanish Teacher

Lymaris was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico. She graduated from the Bayamón Central University with a Bachelor Degree in Arts of Elementary and licensed by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico. She spent 5 years teaching on the island and also had a small business making sleepwear for private preschools. She moved to the United States in 2017 where she received her child care certification. 

In the classroom, she uses the method of learning by doing along with strategies that facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. She believes that each child is unique and has their own way of learning  
Lymaris enjoys nature and family time. 

The Learning Community School | murphy katherine

KATHERINE MURPHY
Academic Director; 6/7/8 Math

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 Head of School 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.

The Learning Community School | prendergast mitzi

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.

The Learning Community School | swinney kati

KATI SWINNEY
Music Director

Kati Swinney (she/her/hers) has a B.A. in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education from Brevard College and an M.M. in Music Education from the University of NC-Greensboro. She has been teaching music and directing choral ensembles for the past eleven years. Kati currently teaches in the music department at Brevard College and directs the Land of the Sky barbershop chorus.

Kati enjoys running, reading, and playing board games in her free time. She is the proud mother of three wonderful children.

The Learning Community School | tracy tom

TOM TRACY
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’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.

Tom received his Bachelor’s of Elementary Education at the University of Georgia and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education at Arizona State University. While his children were attending TLC, Tom helped introduce the Writing and Reading Workshop programs. He 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. Since being with TLC, Tom also took on the job of directing the all-school musical.

The Learning Community School | tranchina sophie 2

SOPHIE TRANCHINA
K/1 Math and Science

Sophie is thrilled to be joining the TLC family! Originally from Louisiana, Sophie moved to New York City to study Theatre Arts and Art History at Marymount Manhattan College. She later moved to New Jersey where she has spent the past few years teaching Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4, Kindergarten, and music, along with directing the lower school musicals. Sophie is so excited to be calling North Carolina home after years of spending her summers going to camp at Montreat. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her cat, Khaleesi, and go hiking.

The Learning Community School | unguris andy

ANDY UNGURIS
Admissions/Outdoor Education

Andy grew up in a small Wisconsin suburb on the shores of Lake Michigan.  He found an early passion for environmental education and science.  At age 16, he was volunteering and teaching programs at a local Audubon nature center.  Soon after, he studied environmental education and wildlife management at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Andy has taught environmental science to students of all ages, from kindergarten to college.  He has worked in The Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountains, Maine, coastal SC and Western North Carolina. He has a “hands on” approach to science and encourages his students to observe and always ask questions.  He remembers how his mentors helped him and strives to pay it forward.

When not at TLC, you won’t find Andy.  He is in the woods enjoying the wonders of nature.

The Learning Community School | wilbur carly

CARLY WILBUR
2/3 Math and Science Teacher

In her home state of Maryland, Carly worked with young children in a variety of capacities at the Center for Young Children for almost 4 years. It was during this time she discovered her passion for working with young children and completed her Master of Education in Early Childhood Education.
Carly is joining the TLC school after living abroad for the past year. Since her time in her Family Science and Women’s Studies undergraduate programs, Carly has held a strong commitment to anti-racism, decolonization, and cultural competence. She is beyond excited to be using the tools she’s gained during her studies and self-reflection to meet the needs of and grow with all of her learners. 
The Learning Community School | winston isabel

ISABEL WINSTON
2/3 Language Arts 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!