Diane Jackson

Office Administrator

Diane has been an educator in public schools for 33 years, and she is happy to be a part of the staff at SVMS! Most recently, she has tutored children privately at the Huntington Learning Center. Diane worked as a lead teacher in summer schools for 5 years, and as a worker at a home daycare.  She holds a NC teaching certificate and graduated magna cum laude from Western Carolina University with a BSEd.  Diane served on the committee that started the Terrific Kid Program at Black Mountain Primary school.  This was the creation of a program that went not only to be used in the United States but is still in use internationally.  She served on the School Improvement Team at BMP for 10 years and as the teacher member on the board of the BMP PTO. Diane was also on the committee that established the Crisis Response Team for Black Mountain Primary and as the teacher representative on the Owen District Advisory Board. Diane lives with her adult son in Black Mountain, in a house ruled by 3 cats.  She enjoys reading, visiting with her large extended family, and is an active member of the congregation of the Church of the Redeemer in Asheville.

Erin Van Note

Head of School

Erin is a graduate from the University of Georgia with a degree in Education and Business Administration. Originally from Athens, GA, she is the mother of 3 girls who have all attended SVMS. Erin is very passionate about education, the Montessori method in particular, and enjoys being a part of the weekly Writer’s Workshop in the Elementary classroom. She has been serving SVMS for the past 7 years, first on the Board of Directors and now as a member of a dedicated administrative team. Additionally, she does product development and marketing for an educational consulting company in Georgia that specializes in writing curriculum for grades K-12. Erin and her family have lived in the Black Mountain area since 2003, and they currently live on a small farm and raise chickens, goats and vegetables.

Kristy Beaver

Elementary Coordinator & Student Support

Kristy has been involved in education for over 20 years as a Title 1 Reading Specialist, a private tutor, a Montessori preschool teacher, and a Montessori Lower Elementary teacher.  Her college degree is in psychology, with a NC K-6 teaching license. As a reading specialist, she has a K-12 reading license from UNCA. Kristy has the AMS 3 – 6 Montessori certification and joined SVMS as a primary teacher in 2007. She received Orton-Gillinaham training in 2014, a multi-sensory, kinesthetic, and phonics based approach to teaching reading, and is excited about incorporating this training into the classroom. Kristy has 2 daughters, one in high school and another in college. Her daughters keep her busy driving them to and attending horseback and martial arts events. Kristy and her husband of 20+ years like to camp and hang out with friends. She loves to read, cook and explore new places with her family and take naps with her dog, Kate.

Bertica Spencer

Children's House Coordinator


Ali DuFault

Lead Teacher - Children's House

Ali started working at SVMS in 2012 as the PE  and Art teacher in the Elementary program. Ali has her AMS Early Childhood Credential at CMTENC for ages 3-6. She studied Art at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL, and worked as a realtor for seven years before having children. Ali is the mother of two children who are currently students at SVMS. She and her husband, Cory, own a recycled lighting company called GLOW828. Their art is displayed at local business in the area and on Etsy. Ali enjoys running barefoot and decorating is one of her passions.

Karen Lawing

Assistant Teacher - Children's House


Rachael Pratt

Lead Teacher - Children's House

Rachael holds a Montessori certification for the Primary level through the Association Montessori Internationale, which she obtained from the International Montessori Training Institute in Atlanta, GA.  She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with a focus on Kindergarten through 6th grade from the University of Alabama.  Rachael has experienced a diverse range of schools as a lead Montessori Guide for the past six years.  She is deeply committed to peacefully educating children while nourishing harmony with the natural world and within the global community.  Rachael moved from Atlanta to Black Mountain in June with her wife and two happy pups.  She is excited to become more connected with the community, and absolutely adores the mountains that she now calls home.

Charlotte Sullivan

Assistant Teacher - Children's House


Rachael Pratt

Floater & After Care Teacher - Children's House


Jennifer Hermance

Lead Teacher - Lower Elementary

Jen was introduced to Montessori education when her children began attending Montessori school at age 3. She holds a B.A. degree in Elementary Education and AMS Elementary Montessori Certification.  Since 2005, Jen has been an Elementary Montessori guide, and she started at SVMS in 2009. Jen lives in Black Mountain with her two children (former SVMS students) and husband where they enjoy the outdoors–fishing, canoeing, camping, and music.

Stefanie Wielkopolan

Assistant Teacher - Lower Elementary

Stefanie is a graduate of Western Michigan University where she earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. She has been writing poetry since middle school, and in 2008 went on to earn her M.F.A. in Poetry at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. For the past 8 years, she has taught English and Creative Writing to students from the elementary level through the college level at various schools in Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 2015, she moved to Black Mountain and joined the SVMS team as Jen’s assistant in the Elementary classroom.  Since then she has developed a deep appreciation for the Montessori method and is eager to learn even more.  In her spare time, Stef likes to write, spend time with her husband, explore her new home, and read any poetry or non-fiction books she can find.

Atina Guidetti

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary

Atina Guidetti is working on her Masters in Montessori Elementary Education at Lander University and has a Bachelors in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina, Wilmigton. She fell in love with our school during an observation and we are fortunate that she wants to do her year long internship here at our school. Atina is described as having a warm, approachable personality, being proactive in her communication with parents, and displaying a deep passion for her job. She has also been described as “one of the most caring, articulate and promising young professionals.” Atina brings experience with both young and Elementary aged children as well as her Elementary education and commitment. Welcome to the SVMS family, Atina!

Christina Ruiz

Assistant Teacher - Upper Elementary


Katie Hanning


Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Montana in Botany, and experience in Collaborative Leadership, Conflict Resolution, Human Resources, Expeditionary Learning, and Finances. She joined SVMS first as a parent and her three daughters all attended SVMS over the years. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Katie and her husband have been a part of the Black Mountain community since 2000. Katie’s passions include hiking, gardening, reading, and spending time with her family.

Stephanie Sulzman

Art Teacher - Elementary


Joseph Hart

Physical Education Teacher - Elementary


Darrien Thorstad

Music Teacher - Children's House & Elementary


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