Pre-K Teachers

Courtney Fincher

Preschool Director and Team Teacher

Courtney Fincher is the Director of the Odyssey Pre-Kindergarten program. She values the opportunity to nurture children through the rapid growth of early childhood. She believes it is never too early to instill the concepts of self knowing, communication, compassion, and community.

She strives to support the children in her care in developing self-confidence in balance with interdependence. It is her goal that children leaving her class will have a core understanding of themselves and the skills that will serve them in every aspect of life. Courtney values working in a school where children can experience the developmental spectrum from early childhood through high school.

Courtney holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of West Virginia and has extended her coursework in the field of Early Education. She carries her love of service, psychology, and healing arts into her relationships with the children. In harmony with the Odyssey vision, she sees a bright future for the children she teaches today, and looks forward to seeing what will happen as this special community grows.

Courtney is engaged with the Early Education Community in a variety of ways.  She serves on The AB Tech advisory committee for their Early Education program, is a NEXT Emerging Leader participant, and a graduate of the Early Childcare Directors Institute.  In 2015 she was awarded the National Recognition for Childcare Excellence.

Shirley Rotolo

Preschool Team Teacher

Shirley has her degrees in Early Education and Birth to Kindergarten, and has years of experience working with children. When she’s not at Odyssey, she loves gardening, painting, reading, and writing poetry. “As part of the Odyssey family, I’m very excited by all the creativity and family-oriented environment.” She believes that children should be nurtured, and have every opportunity to explore, create, and self express.

Lydia Hearne

Preschool Team Teacher & Ceramics Instructor

Lydia Hearne teaches in the pre-kindergarten class at Odyssey and also offers high school ceramics classes. She grew up in the mountains outside of Asheville, where she spent much of her childhood exploring nature, expressing her love of nature through art, and being with her family. She brings her passions for the natural world, for family, and for the beauty and creativity of childhood, to her work at Odyssey Community School.  She says of her experience, “I loved my childhood, and I believe that every child deserves a happy, safe environment to explore their own sense of self, of creativity, and space to figure out how to interact with others in this life.”

Lydia attended Earlham College, in Indiana, where she received her BA in Fine Art, with a focus in Ceramics. She later completed Haywood Community College’s program in Professional Crafts. “It feels very natural for me to be here at Odyssey,” says Lydia, “and to be able to feed the two main passions in my life, having the opportunity to work with young children and also to work in clay, offering others the chance to explore such an amazing and captivating medium.

Lenny McCoy

Preschool Team Teacher

Lenny’s entry into the field of early childhood education came as no surprise to her or to those who know her well. She has always loved spending time with children and has worked with them in many capacities though out her adult life. Her deep passion for teaching did not come into focus however, until her studies in other areas lead her to it. Lenny received her degrees first in cultural anthropology, from Appalachian State University, and then in holistic midwifery a few years later. After working briefly in both areas, she decided to pursue her deepest joy- spending time with, encouraging, and supporting young children’s development.

In 2014 Lenny moved from Asheville to New York to study early childhood education at Bank Street College of Education and, upon graduating with her masters degree in the spring of 2016, she moved back home, full of enthusiasm and ready to serve the children and families of her community. Lenny spent her childhood immersed in the natural world and very much in awe of it. She has found that her ability to tap into and encourage children’s sense of wonder is one of her greatest tools as an early childhood educator and is something that brings her great joy and inspiration.

Outside of teaching children, Lenny’s greatest love is travel, and she has had the opportunity to live, work, and play all over the world, including teaching in both Fiji and New Zealand. Lenny also enjoys practicing yoga, reading, gardening, dancing, playing music, painting, being in nature, running, hiking, riding her bike, caring for animals, and spending time with her family.

Derek Towle

Preschool Team Teacher

Derek Towle has worked in lived in Asheville for the better part of the past 14 years and has worked in
human services for the past ten years. He’s spent the last handful of years working with homeless
families and individuals. Derek has a two year old daughter named Maya who he enjoys taking out to
the mountains every chance he gets.

Derek has B.A. in Literature with a concentration in creative writing from UNC-Asheville. He has four
years of experience working with children in a variety of behavioral health settings. Odyssey felt like the
right fit for Derek because he loves the boundless curiosity children possess. He cannot imagine a better
way to spend his time than to facilitate their explorations.

Grayson Morris

Preschool Team Teacher

Grayson Morris moved to Asheville 13 years ago to get a B.A. in Ethics and Social Institutions from UNCA. Since then she has lived in Thailand, Washington state, and Los Angeles, but she keeps coming back! She is a puppeteer and multi-disciplinary performer who just finished touring her one woman show. She co-founded Asheville’s giant puppet collective, Street Creature, which teaches people how to build their own giant, parade-style puppets.

Grayson has a lateral entry teaching license in ESL and has worked as a teacher assistant at Isaac Dickson and on the reading team at Woodfin Elementary. She also works as a teaching artist with Asheville City Schools and other organizations. She loves kids so much! She is thankful to kids for reminding us every day how to be more fun.

Preparing students, families, and educators to lead the 21st century with an authentic sense of self.

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