I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
— John Steinbeck


Ashley Wright is a native Tennessean who moved to NC in 2012. She discovered her love for teaching children during her time at "FitCo Kids," a gym for 18 month to 14 year olds. After two years as a youth fitness instructor, Ashley moved to Boone in the winter of 2015. Not long after, she found Mountain Pathways Montessori School (though she feels we found her) and has been a part of our family ever since. She has a passion for music, songwriting, guitar, and percussion. On the weekends, Ashley performs in local band "Earleine."

Lauren Bateman comes to us from environmental education work in the Outer Banks, and a lifetime of helping in her mother’s in-home nursery program.



Sara Drum began working in the 3-6 class at MPS in 1999 after graduating from ASU with a BS in Psychology and a concentration in Child Development, as well as graduating from the Interdisciplinary Studies program offered through Watauga College at ASU. She received her Montessori Certification in her second year at MPS at The Center For Montessori Teacher Education in Raleigh NC. She took off two years in 2013 after the birth of her twin boys and has returned back to work in the Primary East classroom. Her sons are in the other 3-6 class with Ellen. She has seen Mountain Pathways go through a lot of changes over the last 17-plus years and she is always inspired by the constant dedication and love the teachers bring to Mountain Pathways. "It is so wonderful to be a part of such an amazing community and to share the Montessori Philosophy with the incredible children that I have the privilege to teach."

Brian Lynch brings Montessori experience and training in both 3-6 and 6-9 year old age groups.


PRIMARY WEST (3-6 years)

Ellen Lewis attended a Montessori school from the age of 2 through third grade, so when she began working in a primary classroom in Atlanta after a career change in her mid-twenties, it all seemed very familiar.  She was sold on the method and returned to school after assisting in that class for a year. She earned her Master's in Montessori Education at Loyola University and her AMI certification to teach in a primary classroom. She went back to Atlanta and taught for three years. During that time, she met her husband. She took a break from the classroom while her two children were young. Her husband's career brought their family to Boone. Both of their children attended Mountain Pathways, so when Sara approached her to take over for her while she was away on maternity leave it was an easy choice to get back to the classroom. She has loved being back teaching and loves getting to know all the children that pass through Mountain Pathways!

Dianne Finch has been involved with Mountain Pathways as a parent and teacher for eight years.  This will be her third year as the assistant teacher in Primary West. Her background is in social work, with a special interest in meeting the needs of children in the community. "Mountain Pathways has been a wonderful place to watch my children grow a turn into amazing people. It's a special place that I'm happy to be involved in."




Justin Hackler has been teaching in Mountain Pathways’ Lower Elementary (6-9 year-old) program since 2004. He earned his lower elementary Montessori certification in 2006 from the Institute of Advanced Montessori Studies.  Justin graduated from Appalachian State in 1999 with a degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Appropriate Technology.  Prior to joining our staff, Justin worked for several years in the North Carolina public school system and related programs with at-risk youth. He feels that children should be outside everyday to explore the environment around them.

Emmy Welsh graduated from Appalachian State University in May 2015 with a degree in Communication Studies and Sustainable Development, then moved out to Colorado where she worked with a nonprofit as a garden teacher in a rural elementary school. It was there that her passion for education bloomed, and she quickly found her way back to the Blue Ridge Mountains and is thrilled to begin this year at Mountain Pathways as the assistant in the 6-9 classroom. She spends time singing, thinking, playing outdoors and with plants & animals, and cooking up any and all wholesome foods that grow around us & nourish our beings.



Kristy Hackler is the upper elementary (9-12 year-olds) teacher at Mountain Pathways. Originally from the small, rural farming community of Stanley, North Carolina, Kristy attended North Carolina State University to pursue a degree in Landscape Horticulture. After graduation she traveled overseas and lived in Naples, Italy. With a mother and grandmother who were both teachers, Kristy serendipitously ended up assisting at a Montessori school at an international military base called AFSOUTH. It was there that she realized that she truly liked teaching and loved the students. She has been teaching Montessori for over ten years now and continues to discover, learn, and grow along with her students. “The love of learning is an infectious idea that permeates our days both inside and outside the classroom,” says Kristy. “Teaching at Mountain Pathways has been such an enriching and positive experience. I am looking forward to the continuance of watching children grow, learn, and become amazing people because of who they are and what we do.”

Emily Shack has been in Boone since 1997. She attended Appalachian State University and now has 3 children with her husband David. She has spent the almost 10 years involved in childhood education and is in the 9-12 year-old room assisting Mrs. Kristy again this year.


MPMS Director Glenn Grizzard and Matt Alexander share the day in the middle school and the main office, with Matt teaching math and science in the morning while Glenn is in the office, and then swapping hats and chairs as Glenn comes over to do language and social studies for the remainder of the day and Matt takes over the office.


Glenn Grizzard has served as the Director of Mountain Pathways since January of 2007. Glenn holds a B.S. in Social Science Education, and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). He taught public school at a rural Georgia middle school before moving to Boone when his wife began teaching psychology at Appalachian State in 1996. He served as the publisher of The Avery Journal newspaper and the Executive Director of the Avery/Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce before earning his Montessori certification in adolescent education and starting as the 12-15 teacher at Mountain Pathways in 2004. Since Glenn was elevated to administration, the school has steadily grown into the premiere educational alternative in the High Country. Glenn will also be teaching in the renewed middle school program starting inf Fall 2015.

Matt Alexander first started working at Mountain Pathways in 2007 after graduating from ASU with a degree in Sustainable Development. After working several years in the office and in the Upper Elementary he went away for a few years to study Calculus, Differential Equations, Physics and whole lot more. When he came back to MPS in 2016 he was excited to share his love of math and science with the middle school. In addition to teaching math and science, Matt helps Glenn run the day to day operations in the office.