Pre-K Teachers

Courtney Fincher

PreK 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.

T.K. Young

PreK Team Teacher

T.K. holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in early-childhood education. She has been a teacher for the past 5 years and feels very fortunate to be able to facilitate so much learning and developing with children. She is looking forward to a great year ahead!

When she’s not working, she enjoys hiking and going on adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She was born and raised in Asheville, but feels like there’s always a new trail or waterfall to explore! She also enjoys doing yoga to add some calmness and peace to her busy days.

Pana Columbus

PreK Team Teacher and High School Drama Teacher
Pana Columbus is thrilled to be nurturing and supporting the youngest members of Odyssey’s community in Pre-K. She has been working with children for decades including as the director of Pebble Theater, the children’s theater branch of her professional theater ensemble, Circle of Stones. Pana believes that through imaginative play, theater games and the power of story, children develop a true sense of self. They come to know their intuitive, unique natures which grounds them in who they are in relation to the world.

Pana started her career in theater as an actress for ten years in New York and in ensemble theaters around the country, working with directors including Apollo Dukakis, Gene Hackman, Diane Paulus and Paul Sills. Her favorite roles include Puck in Midsummer night’s Dream, Nina in The Sea Gull and Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Pana then traveled for four years on three continents studying the use of ritual in different cultures.  In 2004, she founded Circle of Stones Ritual Theater Ensemble, where she served as Producing Artistic Director for eleven years. The organization’s mission was to catalyze and inspire positive community transformations using the performing arts. For example, her award-winning production, The New Earth, performed at the Zoellner Arts Center, catalyzed the creation of Seven Generations, a green charter school in Emmaus, PA. In addition to teaching at Odyssey, Pana writes and directs plays for Under One Sky Village Foundation, a local non-profit serving and supporting youth in foster care.

Pana is delighted to be teaching high school drama at Odyssey!

Janell Cooper

PreK Team Teacher

Janell Cooper has over 15 years of experience working with children. In fact, her mother ran an in-home childcare center in California where she grew up! Janell holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, a minor in religious studies, and a certificate in early childhood education. She believes teaching provides her with the opportunity to further her learning and understanding of the human experience. She hopes to help facilitate a safe space for young children to explore their environment, develop an understanding of their emotions and learn how to navigate social situations. These vital skills and practices lay the foundation for future academic learning as well as simply being a grounded, secure, global citizen.

In her free time, Janell loves to hike, read, take pictures, practice yoga and travel! She feels particularly connected to the Yucatan region of Mexico and has spent a considerable amount of time there. In fact, she is the Chair of the Valladolid, Asheville Sister City, which is an amazing relationship between Asheville and Valladolid, Mexico.

Lydia Hearne

PreK Team Teacher & After School Ceramics Instructor

Lydia Hearne teaches in the pre-kindergarten class at Odyssey and also offers middle and 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.

Rob Williams

PreK Team Teacher

Rob Williams has been an educator since 2012, working in pre-kindergarten classrooms for nearly five of those years. He is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

Rob believes that honoring each child’s whole self is essential to unlocking their potential. To do this he offers his genuine presence and a curiosity of whats alive for them. In the classroom, he encourages his students to express themselves fully, and welcomes the entire spectrum of emotions, thoughts, movements and desires to be expressed. Outside of the classroom, Rob enjoys expressing himself through visual art, dance, song, meditation, gardening and exploring the local wilderness. He is overjoyed to be a part of the Odyssey Community!

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

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