A born and bred storyteller, Mary Virginia fills the days of her students with mythic lessons taken from folktale and legend. Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s work describing the cultural basis of the hero’s journey through myth and folklore, she believes it is through learning ancient stories that truths of personal power, justice, and interpersonal understanding are embodied. Mary Virginia is a founding teacher and was instrumental in creating (and continues to be instrumental in holding) the vision for Odyssey’s unique approach to education.
Mary Virginia passionately enjoys teaching at Odyssey, guiding her young students to see purpose and meaning in their academic lessons, celebrating their shifts in understanding, and helping them learn how to manage their energies, through imaginative play, social skills and the developmental tasks related to academics.
A graduate of Loyola College of Maryland (Bachelor of Elementary Education) with graduate-level work in special education, Mary Virginia has also earned a Masters of Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State and a Masters of Library and Information Science from UNCG. In 2011, she completed a post-master’s level CASE (Advanced Study in Education) degree from the Notre Dame of Maryland University.
Shirley Rotolo has been teaching for the last 18 years and has been part of the Odyssey community for almost seven years. Shirley has several degrees in early education and is a graduate of Western Carolina University. She has been involved in diversity programs such as Building Bridges and Cultural Competence Awareness, and has also taken the Young Hispanic Dual Language Learners Achievement class. Shirley is also an accomplished visual artist with a particular interest in Chinese painting.
Although originally raised in New York City, Shirley has an international background and speaks several languages. Shirley loves to share her experiences from living and traveling in France, Italy, Amsterdam, Montreal, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands in the classroom! In fact, she also teaches French to students from Pre-K through third grade in after school!
In her spare time Shirley loves to explore the different lakes and mountains of Western Carolina with her family. She is an avid reader and reads everything from the classics to fantasy, biographies to sci-fi.
Shirley loves working with kindergarten students and looks forward to sharing her rich, diverse background with them through a calm, effective environment that allows student to learn, explore, and develop.