Our Team

becky-friend

Becky brings to Pioneer Springs her 20 years of experience as an educator with endorsements in English, administration and the superintendency.  In addition, she has received her doctorate in educational leadership. She has spent time in both traditional public and charter schools, from teacher to principal to board of directors.  Becky is enthusiastic to grow and learn each day and is proud to be a member of the Pioneer Springs community. There are many, many things Becky contributes to our Pioneer Family … Continue reading

erin-mcdonald

In addition to her role as co-founder of Pioneer Springs, Erin is the Founding Director of Advancement and Community and has returned to her role as the PE teacher! A former runner, Erin has participated in numerous Run for Your Life events, two marathons with Team in Training, the Mud Run at Rural Hill Farms, and most recently the Ramblin’ Rose Women’s sprint Triathlon. Erin holds both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University … Continue reading

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Randolph is a musician, potter, and writer living in Cornelius, NC. In addition to being a Pioneer Springs co-founder, he takes active roles in the classrooms as Pioneer Springs’ ceramics teacher and Founding Director of Facilities. He has served as the school’s music teacher for the first two years and is currently back in the saddle and teaching Kindergarten music. Randolph has taught classes at the Community Arts Project for ceramics for teens and adults in addition to teaching youth summer camps … Continue reading

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Living abroad has shaped the way Mary Mix teaches, whether it’s the children of diplomats in Moldova or her students at Pioneer Springs Community School. “We moved a lot growing up, and that hasn’t changed now that I have a family of my own,” says Mix, who taught for two years in Moldova while her husband was stationed at the U.S. embassy there. “It’s important that we think globally and incorporate our whole world into our educational experience. The Basic School philosophy we … Continue reading

susan-montague

Susan Montague is a gifted artist whose work has been featured in numerous individual and group shows. But one of her greatest artistic gifts has proven to be the ability to inspire the next generation of artists and creative thinkers.  Susan began teaching art through her involvement with the Children’s Schoolhouse in Huntersville, where she was impressed with a philosophy that stressed the artistic process above the finished product. According to Susan, “I didn’t know teaching children would become my vocation, but when I … Continue reading

Meredith Luber 1

“The trees, the chickens, the laughter, the songs, the eager faces of the students brimming with excitement to learn, and the love and passion radiating from the founders and the staff. The first time I stepped foot on the grounds at Pioneer Springs, I was overwhelmed with the spirit of Pioneer Springs, as I felt hope, pure wonder, joy and a sense of coming home, which grounds both my children and myself. Our family has thrived at Pioneer Springs, and our experiences … Continue reading

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Annie came to Pioneer Springs because she “loved the philosophy and the approach toward children, families, and education.” Annie has a Masters in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her private practice, Firmly Rooted Counseling and Consulting, is located in Davidson and she continues to see clients there while also offering her services to our Pioneer students on a part-time basis. Annie was born and raised in Davidson and while she has lived in Asheville, Athens (Georgia), and even … Continue reading

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Sharon is a sincere and gentle soul.  Before becoming a part of the Pioneer family almost two year ago, she wore many different hats. As a mother of 4 children, Sharon has always loved teaching and guiding children. She practices getting the point across to the students with kindness. With 21 grand children she get lots of practice even when she isn’t at Pioneer Springs. Sharon’s leadership roles have ranged from the president of the children’s group in her church,  a teacher … Continue reading

heidi-magi

Heidi seemed to naturally slide into her role as an Associate Teacher at Pioneer Springs. Since her daughter started at Pioneer Springs during the 2014-2015 school year, Heidi has been an active volunteer and substitute teacher for our community. If there was a need, she was willing to step in and help out. When asked why she chose Pioneer Springs, Heidi said that she “loves the emphasis on the whole child and the nature education.” Heidi attended the University of Arizona where … Continue reading

kelley-hood

“I love Pioneer Springs’ different approach to learning, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” when asked why she teaches at Pioneer Springs.  Kelly received her Elementary Education Degree K-6 from Appalachian State University, and previously taught 1st Grade Paraprofessional at Forsyth Academy, a National Heritage Academy in Winston Salem, and 1st Grade teacher at Cornerstone Charter Academy in Greensboro. Kelley shares her inspiration and source of passion in her teaching, “ I grew up with ADD and a learning … Continue reading

shelli-stewart

When asked why she joined Pioneer Springs, Shelli said, “It felt so right! I love the concepts, I love the freedom that the children are given and the independence. It’s refreshing.” Shelli has lived in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana, but for the last 10+ years, she and her family have called Charlotte home. Shelli and her husband, Shane, have 4 children ranging from middle school age to college. In her time away from school, Shelli and her family are active members … Continue reading

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Mary Harp is a native North Carolinian. She was born in Lexington and grew up in Charlotte. she has also lived in Raleigh and Winston-Salem. After graduating from The University of the South in Sewanee, TN with a BA in English, Mary returned to Charlotte and received a Masters in the Arts of Teaching in Elementary Education from Queens College.  “I had always planned on a career in teaching but was side-tracked with involvement and loyalty to a family business and then … Continue reading

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For Kate Peterson, connecting with children is the foundation on which everything else she does in the classroom is built. ” I feel so honored every time a child trusts me enough to try. Connecting with each child I teach is very important to me… finding that something that bonds us and lets them know they are loved,” shared Kate. “I am so excited to bring my son, daughter and myself to Pioneer Springs. Pioneer Springs feels like a place that souls … Continue reading

jackie-lee

Jackie is a proud Pioneer parent of a kindergartener and third grader. I began my staff journey with Ms. Kate in her third grade class at the beginning of last year, and I am overjoyed to be back with her full time this year in first grade. I am originally from New Hampshire and spent the majority of my childhood outside exploring and having adventures. It is the kind of experience that I hoped to provide for my own children and I … Continue reading

margaretanne-moose

Margaret Moose grew up in the country outside of a small town in North Carolina. Growing up her family had a garden where they grew most of their own food and spent most days outside enjoying camping, hiking, and canoe trips together as a family. Her upbringing instilled a deep appreciation for the outdoors and nature, as well as a passion for sharing nature with students. Margaret graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.A. in History with … Continue reading

wendy-wilson

Wendy came to Pioneer Springs as an assistant during the 2014-2015 school year. She joined our team because she loved that the outdoors was integrated into so many parts of our school. Wendy also appreciated the fact that her many talents are valued at Pioneer Springs. “They see the things that I can do as a gift and I want to share my creativity with the kids.” But creativity isn’t the only thing that Wendy has to offer!  Wendy grew up in … Continue reading

kara-smith

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn,” Benjamin Franklin.  Pioneer Springs has been a part of Kara’s family for over three years. First as a Pioneer mom, then as an assistant, now as a 2nd grade Lead Teacher, Kara believes that everyday is an opportunity to make connections and to succeed.  “Our environment is rich with creativity and self-expression where children are an integral part of the learning process.” Kara grew up in … Continue reading

don-folz

Don is the son of a retired Air Force Colonel and had the opportunity to live overseas as a child and teen. He graduated high school in Fairfax, Virginia and attended college at George Mason University where he studied Applied Sciences. Don also attended Florida State University where he studied Financial Management and Administration. While briefly working in Irvine, CA and Atlanta, GA, Don has happily called Charlotte, NC home since 1994. Prior to joining the Pioneer Springs team, Don was self-employed as … Continue reading

kat-oneil

Kat was born in Raleigh North Carolina and has lived all over the southeast following her father’s jobs. Her family spent time in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, but eventually found their home in Huntersville. Her son Zephyr is in second grade at Pioneer Springs and truly fell in love with school when he became a Pioneer. Kat and her husband are avid readers and literal tree huggers, “so PSCS is a dream come true for us!” Teaching children about nature and how … Continue reading

sherry-atria

Sherry Atria comes from a long line of educators and has always had a passion to teach children. For the last several years, she has worked first as a volunteer and then as a substitute teacher at Pioneer Springs. She is a mom of a 2nd grader at Pioneer Springs and part of the original group of students to attend PSCS when it became a charter school. The school’s nurturing educational environment, with it’s focus on the whole child, is exactly what … Continue reading

bethany-shoun

“I was first enamored with Pioneer Springs when I stumbled across the website. I was drawn to the holistic focus on student growth, the importance of community, and the emphasis on nature. Visits to the school and talking to students and staff who genuinely loved being Pioneers made me eager to join the team.” One of the reasons Bethany loves teaching is because of her passion for learning. “I’m curious about everything and am always looking for answers to my questions. One … Continue reading

charissa-harris

My husband recently tried answering a security question on an account of mine and it asked “What is your favorite childhood toy?” He answered “dirt” which is definitely true! I grew up exploring the little but oh so big world around me. I grew up in Clearwater, FL, so the ocean, sand, and sea creatures were such a big part of my connection to nature. I am so happy that I moved to Charlotte because I am now enjoying long walks in … Continue reading

loraine-twiddy

Loraine Twiddy spent 12 years teaching pre school before life changes required her to get a full time job. She spent a year working in after-school and the cafeteria for CMS. She later found a position at a charter school working as an assistant in their EC department. She came to Pioneer Springs as an EC assistant and this year made the switch to become an Associate Teacher. Loraine believes in teaching children respect, responsibility and consequences. She feels strongly that it … Continue reading

michele-rothschild

“Imagination does not become great, until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.” …Maria Montessori I reside in Charlotte, NC with my significant other, Robert and our small menagerie of animals. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my animals, and reading. I have been an educator for the past 26 years, in the public, private and charter sectors. I graduated from Humboldt State University in 1989, and have taught grades K-8, as well as … Continue reading

lynn-curley

Lynn is “Mom” to her 11-year-old son and her 19-year-old niece who live with her in Huntersville. With her dad being a Master Chief in the Navy, Lynn spent her childhood living in beach communities around the world. Among the most interesting places she has lived, Lynn grew up in Iceland, Hawaii, Spain, and Virginia, where she learned to dance the hula, play the ukulele and piano, and speak Spanish. After earning her B.S. degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Information Technology, … Continue reading

chris-simeral

Growing up in Northern Appalachia in rural eastern Ohio, Chris’ playgrounds were the forests, streams, and ponds surrounding his home. Days were spent building forts, exploring creeks, and following animal tracks. As Chris grew older he developed a love of agriculture and animal husbandry raising livestock including goats, sheep, and pigs. Deciding to follow his passion, Chris attended The Ohio State University earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Education and Animal Science. After graduation, Chris served as a 4-H Youth Development Agent … Continue reading

gwen-postle

Gwen is thrilled to join the Pioneer Springs community. She brings with her many years of experience as a music educator and performer. Currently a music instructor at Central Piedmont Community College, Gwen has also taught private piano and brass lessons, band and elementary general music in both the US and UK. Gwen received a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance from Washington State University and a Master of Arts in Community Music from the University of York (England). Originally from the … Continue reading

lydia-thomas

Lydia was born to Southern roots in the beautiful city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her families doubled by the time she was 4 years old, meeting her stepmom and then soon-to-be stepdad. She claims her biggest role in life (so far), started at 7 when she met her first of three little siblings. Her role as a “Big Sister” has only multiplied now that her brother and two sisters are 17, 16 and 12! Lydia grew up in Charlotte with her siblings … Continue reading

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Janine grew up in Fort Lauderdale Florida where she spent her entire childhood outdoors. She learned how to swim at age 3 and spent every weekend boating, snorkeling and camping with her family. Her parents are insatiable travelers and took her everywhere with them. They had a cabin in North Carolina and spent every school break hiking and rafting in the mountains which made her fall in love with the state. When she turned 18 she moved up to Chapel Hill while … Continue reading

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Rachel Larkin is excited to be on the first grade team for her tenth year of teaching! She is from Connecticut and was raised by two naval officers. Rachel attended Ithaca College and majored in English, minored in Art History and Classical Studies and received her Masters in Childhood Education. Her mom had a huge influence on her education and what she loves to do. Rachel plays many instruments and speaks multiple languages. She LOVES drawing, reading, baseball and animals. She also … Continue reading

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Sandy Dixon enjoys nurturing a child’s sense of wonder and appreciates how that is celebrated at Pioneer Springs. She brings over thirty years of teaching experience, with the past eighteen years as a teacher/director at a nature museum in New York. She and her husband moved to North Carolina recently and they are enjoying the beauty, diversity and of course warmer weather that Charlotte offers . She brought her passion for connecting children to nature to the Charlotte area by joining the … Continue reading

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Selden is more than thrilled to be part of the Pioneer Springs community! Although a Virginia native, Selden has traveled and lived in quite a few places. In 2014, she received her Master of Teaching degree from the University of Tennessee – the place where she also spent four years as an undergraduate student (GO VOLS). After graduation, Selden took a job down in Honduras, Central America where she taught 5th and 6th grades. New opportunities led her to Charlotte, NC where … Continue reading

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A friend introduced me to Pioneer Springs while she was looking to find a new school for her son. I was excited by the school’s philosophy of empowering students through a holistic approach to curriculum and the focus on the natural world. I was thrilled and wanted to learn more and after further research knew it would be a place I could enjoy guiding and facilitating young children to become self-confident and independent learners. This year I am very happy to join … Continue reading

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Molly is originally from snowy Buffalo, NY. She started her love for adventure at a very young age. Molly’s family would spend quality time skiing/snowboarding together during the long winter months. When the sun finally came out in summer, her parents packed Molly and her three siblings in the family station wagon and traveled the entire United States. She continued her path by working with many incredible people at the United Cerebral Palsy Association and later with a major financial institution. The … Continue reading

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Emily is a proud parent of a 3rd grader, Eli. She is excited to begin her first year at Pioneer Springs as an Associate Teacher to Miss Kate in the 2nd grade. This is her family’s second year in Charlotte as recent residents from Cincinnati, OH. She has a background in Culinary Arts, and is a certified fitness instructor. When they were moving to Charlotte, her sister, who has been a Davis Lake resident for 17 years, was the one who suggested … Continue reading

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Mr. Robert currently serves as a 5th grade lead teacher at Pioneer Springs Community School and comes with over fifteen years of teaching experience on various levels. Robert was born and raised in Queens New York. He completed his undergraduate studies at Empire State College receiving Bachelors of Art Degree’s in Human Services and Historical Studies.He also earned his Masters of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary located in Wilberforce and a Masters of Education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Robert previously taught … Continue reading

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Caroline graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in Special Education. She was born and raised in Charlotte North Carolina and now lives in Huntersville. Growing up, Caroline loved spending time outdoors and staying active by exploring the greenway, hiking and camping in Pisgah National Forest every summer, and playing various sports. Today, Caroline still has a love for the outdoors and staying active. Recently, Caroline traveled to South Africa with her siblings where she hiked, and experienced the country’s beautiful … Continue reading

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Mary Hannah grew up in rural Statesville, NC in a house flanked by woods and a corn field. Her free time was spent reading books or exploring in the woods, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to pick wild blackberries, mulberries, or persimmons as snacks on her excursions. Her family had a “pet” raccoon named Bill, and she would bring baby rabbits inside that she found in the fields around her home. She studied Child Development and Family Studies at UNC Chapel … Continue reading

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Becoming a part of a school that encourages the connection to the natural world seemed like a logical step for Gail, once she found that this school existed! Prior to teaching at Pioneer Springs Community School, Gail has served as an Exceptional Children’s Teacher and Speech-Language Pathologist in a variety of settings, including private and public schools, the Head of School for a private school that serves children with social communication deficits, and as an Educational Tutor and Consultant in her private … Continue reading

Emily Gilligan is both thrilled and proud to be part of the Pioneer Springs Community School Team. She is very excited to work with your child on either reading or math skills, both through inclusion and/or small group pull out. Just a little bit of her background: she grew up in Riverdale, New York and graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Soon after that she obtained my Master’s Degree in Special Education with a Concentration in … Continue reading

Lisa Madden has been a Pioneer Springs parent since 2011. She has teamed with Erin to lead a summer camp session, volunteered with wings, substituted, and now has on her First Grade Team hat. Lisa lives in Charlotte with her husband, Chris, 6th grader, Kathryn, and kitty cat, Suzie. She is passionate about children’s books, trees, fireflies and naps.

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Ms. Cindy M. Friday  is a licensed professional counselor, as well as a licensed school counselor and has been been in education the last decade serving in the role as a high school counselor.  Cindy will be the Student Support Services Coordinator at Pioneer Springs.. She received her Ed.S, and M.A., in Mental Health Counseling from Gardner-Webb University, her B.A. in Psychology from Queens University. Cindy is a member of American Counseling Association. Prior to her career move to counseling and education, … Continue reading