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.

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, andspending time with her family.

Erin Van Note

Director of Development

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.

Jennifer Hermance

Elementary Coordinator / 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.

Angie Shorb-Neilsen

Lead Teacher - Upper Elementary

Angie Shorb-Neilsen joins the SVMS teaching team this year as our Upper Elementary teacher. She comes to us from White Rock Montessori School in Dallas, Texas where she has been teaching in the Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms for the last 16 years. She brings a depth of experience not only in the Montessori curriculum and classroom structure, but also in Art & Design, Natural Outdoor Playgrounds and creating positive classroom culture. Angie has strong skills in working with students struggling academically while also guiding a high achieving students to move forward as far and as fast as they can and want to go academically. She was hand picked to be begin her Montessori training 16 years ago, and then chosen again 6 years ago to begin and grow the Upper Elementary program at her school. She is looking forward to bringing her experience, love for collaboration, and skills to the western North Carolina area and is especially excited about the the art in this region. Her daughter, a junior in college, is also a fan of these mountains and enjoys visiting this area. Welcome Angie!

Kristy Beaver

Lead Teacher - Children's House

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.

Kat Poe

Assistant Teacher - Children's House

Kat began working at SVMS in the fall of 2013.  Her daughter, Lucy is a long-time student at SVMS and has gone through the Children’s House program and is now in the Elementary program. In those years she became increasingly more involved with the SVMS programs. She has served many positions at SVMS including after-care teacher, assistant teacher in the preschool program and Art teacher for the Elementary program. Kat has also been active through organizing volunteer work days at the school. She attended Haywood Community College, Penland school of Craft, and A-B Tech, where she concentrated on multimedia sculpture and ceramics. Kat has spent most of her 10+ years in WNC studying organic gardening in Barnardsville, NC with an amazing gardener and floral designer, Eve Davis. She lives in Black Mountain with her husband Sloan, daughter Lucy, and their two rescued dogs, Rosey and Foxy. Some of her favorite things to do are gardening, dancing, and creative thinking.

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.

Veronica Morecraft

Assistant Teacher - Children's House

Veronica joins the SVMS teaching team this year as an assistant teacher in the Children’s House. She has delighted in working with children for 21 years. She worked for 10 years as an in-home childcare provider with children ages newborn to 13, and has worked as a Montessori teacher with both the toddler and 3-6 age groups for the last 11 years. Veronica has a deep love for children and the Montessori Philosophy. She has her AMS Early Childhood 3-6 training from The Princeton Center for Teacher Education, in Princeton, N.J. and is working towards her credential. She has an Early Childhood Credential from Laguna Technical College, in Laguna, C.A. and a certificate from the Adult Waldorf Program from Sunbridge Institute, in Spring Valley N.Y. Veronica also holds an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Sage Colleges, in Albany, N.Y. Veronica grew up in Woodstock, N.Y and has relocated to North Carolina from Wisconsin. She is thrilled to be in the mountains, excited to call North Carolina, and Swannanoa Valley Montessori School home! Veronica enjoys smelling the roses at the Biltmore gardens, outdoor activities, yoga, Feldenkrais, animals, listening to live music, and spending time with friends and family. Welcome Veronica!

Peggy Sisk

After-care Teacher

Peggy’s passion of working with children began about three years ago as a volunteer at Black Mountain Primary School.  Her work there included regular classroom, as well as special needs groups of children.  She also helps out in the children’s class at her church.  She graduated from Owen High School in 2013 and is currently enrolled at AB-Tech, working towards a degree in Early Childhood Education.  Currently, Peggy has her Early Childhood teaching credentials. Her leisure activities include time with friends and family, vacations at the beach and playing board games. Peggy has been the after-care teacher at SVMS for the last two years.

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