High School Faculty


Gabe Johnson

High School Homeroom & English Teacher

Gabriel Johnson completed a B.F.A in Literature at UNC-A in 2001. As a young man, Gabriel pursued his love of literature in the form of songwriting, by founding and performing in several bands and musical projects here in the US, and also in Dublin, Ireland where he lived after college. As a teacher, Gabriel believes that learning control of language is essential for navigating the modern world. He also believes that learning to appreciate literature is one of the most rewarding endeavors a person can pursue.

When he’s not reading, Gabriel loves exploring the natural world, hiking, playing guitar, biking and gardening. He is especially excited to be a part of the Odyssey community and loves connecting with the students, staff and parents of this exceptional institution. This is his fourth year.


Dr. Andrew Saldino, PhD

High School Coordinator & Social Studies Teacher

Andrew grew up in San Diego before venturing off to the University of Notre Dame to study Philosophy, Theology, and Literature in a Great Books Program. Upon graduation, he taught high school as a Mercy Corps volunteer on the Navajo Reservation, and then returned to school to get a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Syracuse University. He worked as a Lecturer at Clemson University and an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Lees-McRae College in beautiful Boone, NC. While in Boone, he created the most ecologically progressive subdivision in the region and then went on to pursue an AMI Montessori Adolescent training.

Andrew’s “constant goal is to facilitate first class academic progress by the students.”  He is a self-described “voracious lifelong reader and learner,” and he says, “This pursuit of personal growth is what I communicate to my students. I prepare students for academic success because achievement in academia is ingrained in my bones. Beyond that objective, however, lies the realm of what really matters–life’s higher aims; and my deeper purpose as a teacher will always be to awaken this pursuit of a beautiful life in my students. My best moments as a teacher involve helping students work through the emotional issues that hold the keys to their development as stable, balanced, and fulfilled human beings.”


Minal Sonigra

High School Homeroom and Mathematics Teacher

Minal was born and raised in India, where she found her love of mathematics. After working as a tutor for High school mathematics and science students, Minal discovered her passion of teaching.

In 2002, Minal continued to pursue her dream after moving to the United States. She began teaching in Orange County in Florida, and then around 9 years ago, she and her family moved to Asheville. In parallel to raising two kids, she earned her teaching license and second mathematics degree from UNCA in 2014.

Minal strongly believes that we all acquire knowledge and reasoning through a diversity of experiences and interactions in our lives. Therefore, in order to provide education with deeper meaning, her students engage real life applications through hands-on activities and projects, and are guided on a journey beyond the classroom walls. Minal’s teaching style is an inquiry-based approach in which students are encouraged to think critically, collaboratively and independently.

Personally, Minal likes to do yoga and meditation. She also likes to go on long hikes with her family. Cooking different dishes from different cultures is another of her passions!


Andrew Rabin

High School Homeroom & Science Teacher

Andrew Rabin has recently moved to Asheville from Boston. He has taught high school science since 2001. In previous career incarnations he was a wildlife biologist studying owls in the desert southwest, an assistant director of an environmental education camp for NY city public school kids, and the head chef of a French restaurant in Tucson, Arizona. Andrew attended Earlham College for an undergraduate degree in Biology, Prescott College in Arizona for his teaching licence, and has recently completed a Masters of Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University in Massachusetts. He is a lifelong learner and is passionate about science as a means of understanding the world around us. While teaching in Boston, Andrew created a democratic science classroom as part of an action research project for his Masters degree.
His interests include spending time with his family, bird watching, cycling, playing the banjo, gardening and playing Ultimate Frisbee. He is the proud owner of a pair of fifteen year old Ball Pythons. Andrew has visited and/or lived in 45 different states, but is very happy to call Asheville and Odyssey home.


Mason Cooley

High School Design Teacher

Mason Cooley completed his MFA degree in 2000 from Art Center College of Design in CA. His exhibition career started in Los Angeles where he exhibited with various small independent galleries, including, exhibiting in Europe. During those formative years after graduate school he also pursued teaching and started to develop a project-based learning model that borrowed not only from the arts, but the sciences, as well as design. On a generative level, much of learning has its roots in the broader environment, thus, through teaching Mason hopes to facilitate the complex ways living organisms like ourselves understand and reflect the many systems and structures around us. It is with this more holistic approach that art and design are seen as transdisciplinary mediums and thus help illuminate the often subtle yet powerful ways our artistic expressions are integrated in the natural-cultural environment.

Growing up in Southern California in the 1970s meant that much of that landscape was being converted over to masterplanned tract housing which illustrated a stark contrast between the natural environment and the built environment. However, through junior bicycle racing those environments became less monolithic and were instead transformed by the bicycle being able to traverse and connect different parts of the city. Today, cycling is still an important feature of Mason’s life and building bamboo bicycle frames has highlighted those deeper connections between mobility, design, the environment and teaching.

3 years ago Mason Cooley moved with his wife from Los Angeles to Asheville to pursue their small custom furniture making company located in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Over the past 11 years he has taught full-time and part-time at various universities and colleges including, The Professional Crafts Program at Haywood Community College in NC, Art Center College of Design in CA, University of Southern California, California State University Long Beach, as well as having given various artist talks and presentations.


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

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