4th and 5th Grade Teacher, Odyssey Wellness Coach
As an elementary teacher at Odyssey, Samata has the training, vision, and enthusiasm that are hallmarks of the school’s spirit. She believe that childhood is a time of creativity and joy, and also a time to learn self-discipline and empowerment. Samata infuses her students’ days with these elements through song and kirtan, yoga, centering, and goal-setting, and takes care that the children practice speaking from the heart center of power.
As a professional musician and co-founder of Sangita Devi Kirtan, a kirtan group that meets weekly to share in devotional sacred music, Samata has a deep understanding of the power of heart-centered communication. She brings the magic of childhood alive, and is thrilled to have found resonance at Odyssey.
After receiving a BA in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College, Samata studied education in India, with the plan of opening a mind-body-spirit oriented school for children. Later, she returned to work as a first grade teacher’s assistant at Hall Fletcher Elementary School and initially came to OCS as a pre-school and after-school program instructor. Samata taught first grade for six years and is in her second year co-teaching 4th and 5th grade.
4th and 5th Grade Teacher
Cat knew when she was four years old that she wanted to be a teacher. After receiving her B.A. in Outdoor Leadership from Warren Wilson College, she traveled the country and worked as a field teacher, naturalist, and program coordinator at outdoor centers and camps in Texas, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Her favorite moments during that time happened when she got to be present with children as they connected with big ideas about ecosystems and deepened their relationships with the natural world.
After so many years of working seasonal jobs, Cat felt ready to make the transition into the classroom where she could develop richer, more meaningful long-term relationships with her students. She went back to school and got her M.Ed. in Elementary Education, focusing on Integrated Learning and Environmental Education, from Antioch University New England. Upon graduating, she immediately came home to Asheville and took a position teaching third grade at Evergreen, where she taught for three years. Cat is thrilled to be making the transition to Odyssey and feels inspired by the collaborative learning community here.
Coming from a family of English professors and writers, Cat has been a bookworm all her life and always says if she wasn’t a teacher, she’d be a librarian. Literacy and literature are important parts of her life, both personally and professionally, and she finds great joy both in reading to children and helping them cultivate their own relationship with language, literature, and the printed word.
When she’s not teaching or curled up with her nose in a book, Cat can be found working in her garden, knitting, trail running, mountain biking, singing with the Wild Asheville Community Chorus, or playing with her sweet 6-year-old rescue dog, Jenny.