Director of Finance
Prior to moving to Asheville, Jen was the office manager of the family funeral home business in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Other interests include travel, camping, music, herbalism, knitting and cooking.
Elementary School Program Director, First and Second Grade Teacher
In the summer of 2014, Robin and her family packed up all of their belongings and moved to North Carolina in search of a more natural life.
Robin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Akron in Early Childhood Education, which included Pre-K through 3rd grade age students. After teaching for a few years, she took time off to be with her two daughters, Ella and Julia. While Robin was home with her girls, she finished her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on reading. When both of her children entered school, Robin returned to the classroom as a founding teacher for a new charter school in Los Angeles. She also worked in an inner-city school in South Los Angeles before moving to Asheville.
In Robin’s class, students become authors, readers, inventors, and entrepreneurs! Her systems help create self-awareness and inner regulation and in keeping with the Essential Learning Skills and the Integral Process of Research and Reflection. She also leads centering to help students connect with their internal world.
For Robin, the most exciting part of teaching at Odyssey is the way that students integrate their subject studies within broader thematic investigations. Every year we learn about cultures, ecology and do amazing projects and IRPs! It is also wonderful to have the space to teach the whole child. We have class meetings to discuss topics that are important to students like understanding each other’s feelings and needs or simply how to share the swings at recess.
High School Homeroom & English Teacher
Gabriel Johnson completed a B.F.A in Literature at UNC-A in 2001. As a young man, Gabe 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, Gabe 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, Gabe loves playing card and board games, hiking, playing guitar, biking, and gardening. He is especially excited to be a part of the Odyssey community, connecting with the students, staff and parents of this exceptional institution, and has been teaching at Odyssey School since 2012.
Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Shirley Rotolo has been teaching for over twenty-five years and has been part of the Odyssey community since 2012. 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.
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Administrative Advisor, Music Teacher
River brings to Odyssey his rich and extensive experience as a multi-percussionist, composer, and educator. Born in Montreal, Canada to Armenian-Egyptian parents, he received his Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory in 1989. For over 25 years, River has been performing internationally with such groups as the BBC Concert Orchestra, New Music Consort, Grammy and Oscar winning composer Tan Dun, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Talujon Percussion Quartet, Chuck Berry, and Ziggy Marley/Gipsy Kings project. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and new music festivals throughout the U.S.
River has performed in concert halls in New York, Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, Rome, Sydney, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, London, and has recorded on over 150 albums and film soundtracks. In 1994, River sold all possessions, left civilization, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalaya Mountains. This immersion in nature initiated intense research and experimentation into the physiological effect of sound on brainwave states.
In addition to working with Odyssey students in small, advanced classes and with older students on recording and album production, River also runs Asheville Rhythm and conducts rhythm and sound exploration workshops throughout the country. Visit him at www.ShareTheDrum.com.
Megan McCarter Martell
Megan McCarter Martell has been involved in teaching in classrooms for many years, beginning as an apprentice teacher with the SummerBridge program, now called Breakthrough Miami: an educational outreach program designed to empower students to become dynamic and successful learners, leaders and teachers. Her pathway from that first summer of teaching has meandered through a wide range of classrooms across the world, including preschool through adult education. Megan has been teaching at Odyssey since 2011, and co-leading the school since 2014, and has centered her work, both in the classroom and as an administrator, on fostering community relationships, programming partnerships, and leadership in professional learning communities.
Megan studied Creative Writing and Child Development at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, as well as Literature and Language at UNC-Asheville; she holds several professional licenses in teaching. Along with her love of art, mountains, and word play, a love of learning itself feeds her love of teaching; she is driven by her desire “to guide students and educators in their interaction with the satiating world of learning, to unlock their ultimate potential to discover through engaging research, reflection, and design, to understand, process, analyze, question, innovate, and communicate… In other words, to create brave and positive change in this vast and ever-growing world.”
High School Ceramics Instructor
At Odyssey, Lydia is also a preschool team teacher. She 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.”