Meet the 2021-2022 Preschool Classroom Staff

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Christine Gehlhausen (301)

I’m in my fourth year of teaching with Asheville City Preschool. I have had the privilege of working with young children for 10 years in a variety of roles. In addition to teaching preschool,  I have also provided child care to infants and toddlers and taught ballet and tap dance lessons to children in preschool and elementary. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Arts from Ball State University and hold a North Carolina Birth-Kindergarten teaching license from Western Carolina University. I was born and raised in Indiana but I moved to Asheville after graduating from college and I’ve enjoyed living here for over 10 years. In my free time I love being outdoors, working on craft projects, going to see live music, reading, running and practicing yoga. On the weekends you can often find me hiking with friends and my sweet rescue dog, Cedar. 

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Andrew Watson (301)

Hi there! I'm Andrew and I've been working at the preschool as an Instructional Assistant for six years now. I love what I do! Working with children of this age is so rewarding and fun. When I'm not at school I enjoy doing various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking with my dog Bailey.

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Lynn Bennett (302)

I have been teaching preschool for almost 29 years now! I have two grown children (boy and girl), a wonderful son-in-law, and a sweet 3 year old grandson. I enjoy walking, spending time with my family,  teaching your wonderful children, and working with an amazing school staff!

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Mishaunta McMillan (302)

Hello all, I'm Mishaunta.

I have worked at the preschool for 22 years and I have enjoyed teaching young children and watching them discover and learn the world around them.
 
 

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Lisa Bruggeman (304)

Hi, I’m Lisa Bruggeman and I’ve been teaching for 16 years, all of them in preschool at Asheville Primary! I really enjoy teaching children to understand their feelings and how to manage them successfully. I believe teaching social emotional skills is the most important work that I do. It helps prepare the leaders of tomorrow to make the world a better place. I also love to have conversations with young children and try to follow where their mind is going.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Child and Family Development studies at UNC Charlotte and I have my National Boards Certificate in Early Childhood. For the past 14 years, I have also participated in the NC Demonstration Program by serving as a demonstration teacher for other colleagues both across the state and surrounding areas. In my spare time, I love to read or sit on my front porch and listen to my windchimes. Pre-Covid times, I would be with friends watching my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes rock the football field :)

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Shirley Jones (304)

Mrs. Shirley is about to begin her 4th year as instructional assistant in Preschool at Asheville Primary School.  Almost have completed my certification in Early Childhood. I have a LPN diploma, Bachelor's in Business Administration and Association in Business Computer Programming.  I am married and have a grown son with a grandson.  Children are a blessing and I would love to know that I have helped guide your child and made an impact on your child's educational and social development. 

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Gina Woody (305)

Hi, I am Gina Woody, I have worked in the child care field for 33 years. I have worked in the Asheville City Schools for 20 years. I am the teacher at Asheville High Child Care Center. My husband and I just had our first grandbaby. I love spending time with my family, friends, and church family.  

My favorite quote is from Dr. Suess: “So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Teaching preschoolers is my joy - I love it!

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Lauren Parker (305)

Hi, I’m Ms Lauren.  I have worked in various early childhood education programs for over 12 years and have worked as an Instructional Assistant within the preschool program at Asheville Primary School for seven years.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Administration.  I have two children, both middle schoolers.  In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, traveling, and gardening.

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Adriana (Ana) Sparkman (306)

Hi, my name is Ana Sparkman and this is my 5th year teaching preschool for Asheville City Schools.  I decided to get my Birth-Kindergarten teaching degree from WCU after participating as a parent teacher in my son’s cooperative play school.  I realized that I loved spending my day with young children and wanted to make teaching my career.  I moved to West Asheville 17 years ago from Atlanta and feel grateful to work in a school that serves the children and families in my neighborhood. 

I am the mother of  a son (13) and a daughter (9).  When not at work I enjoy cooking, reading, traveling, and playing in our beautiful mountains with my family, friends, and dogs.  

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Marilyn Baxter (306)

My name is Marilyn Baxter and I've worked at Asheville City Preschool for 12 years in various capacities.  Currently I work with ages 3 through 5.  I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from A-B Technical Community College. My hobbies include spending time with family, working in my flower garden, and volunteering with my church.

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Maura Thompson (306)

I’m almost in my 10th year at Asheville City Preschool. I have a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Montreat College. I’ve worked with children from a young age and have a passion to see them achieve new goals. Love seeing them smile and excited about new things! In my free time I enjoy running and doing CrossFit. I love reading too. I also like being out in our wonderful mountains! I have a older sister who moved back from Japan and now closer to NC! She has 2 kids who I love to spend time with! 

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Mary Aldridge (307)

I have been teaching for 14 years, 5 with the Primary! Along with teaching in the classroom I have also been an itinerant exceptional education teacher with Mcdowell County Schools. 
I grew up in Old Fort, NC a small town east of Asheville. After high school I moved to Greensboro where I completed my first degree in Marketing and then moved to New York after graduation. I worked with a commercial real estate company until I moved back to Asheville after 3 years and have been here since. Recently I graduated from UNCG again..with a Masters in Birth to Kindergarten. Hurray! 
 
I have a house full of pets....bunny, dog, cat, class guinea pig on the weekend and a 9 year old daughter, Scarlett. I am obsessed with plants and my favorite thing to do is travel and hang out with my kid. 
 
 

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Paula Odum (307)

I am originally from Marshall, North Carolina, but I have lived in Asheville since 1980. I have been an instructional assistant for 16 years, 11 of which have been here at the preschool. Obviously I love what I do! I have a daughter named Lori and a grandson, Rowan, who is 15 months old. I enjoy spending time with them as often as I can. My happy place is at the beach, especially Panama City Beach, Florida.

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Juliet Dixon (307)

Hello, my name is Juliet Dixon and I am the aftercare assistant in 307. This is my third year with the Preschool. I have lived in Asheville my whole life. I love going for long hikes and roller skating.  

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Marlo Rosenthal (Exceptional Children's)

My husband and I moved to the Asheville area four years ago from Florida as a semi-retirement move and we love it here!  I am a special education teacher who has taught students grades Prek-4th grade.  I previously lived and taught in south Florida, working in a self-contained preschool autism cluster classroom.  The range of students I worked with included students with mild learning disabilities to students with physical and cognitive disabilities.  I have always loved teaching preschool because I admire the spirit of our young ones who are open to new experiences and letting their imaginations fuel their play!  I’ve taught for almost 20 years and was previously employed in the magazine and media business.  I’ve traveled to and have lived in many different places, including Europe.  I enjoy the beauty of the mountains and spend spare time reading, cooking, gardening, walking and playing with our chihuahua Miko. 

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Maria Malone

Hi, I'm Ms. Maria. I have been a preschool teacher for 12 years. I have a Bachelor's Degree in University Studies and a Bachelors of Arts in Family Studies, both from The University of New Mexico. I received my B-K add-on License from Western Carolina University.
 
When not working, I enjoy all things soccer. I am a soccer fan, a soccer mom, and a soccer player (yes, still!!). My other interests include reading, spending time with my three children (ages 25, 21, and 16) and hiking any and all mountains! I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing, high quality team! I have learned so much from all the teachers and supervisors at Asheville City Preschool! Onward we go.... 

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Alice Prettyman

Hi,  I'm Alice Prettyman, and I'm a Preschool Assistant at Hall Fletcher.  To tell you a little bit about myself, I have a Masters in Early Childhood Education and I love children, music, cats, and taking beautiful hikes outside.  I have a sweet spot for peanut butter and chocolate, and enjoy trying out new recipes on my family.  Playing with kids is always a delight, and I feel like that's what I get to do everyday!  I am very thankful for this opportunity to help shape the hearts and minds of these precious children.  

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Tara Effingham

Hi! This is the start of my 11th year teaching preschool and my 5th year at Jones! I love this age group! I am expecting my first child, a boy, in October. Some of my favorite things to do are work out, spend time outdoors with my dog, and eat dessert! 
 

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Porshia Finley

Ms. Porshia has been an instructional assistant with the Preschool program for an amazing 21 years! She has two children and one sweet new grandson. She enjoys spending time with her family, working on DIY projects, and teaching young children. 

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Miriam Keeter

Ms. Miriam is about to begin her 5th year as instructional assistant in Preschool. She has three grown-up children and two granddaughters. When she’s not at school she loves spending time with her kids, reading, working on her house, and playing with her cats. 

 
 

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Elisa Klingel

Elisa is a native of NC and has lived in Asheville for 23 years. She has a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a Birth to Kindergarten Licensure Degree from Western Carolina University. This will be Elisa’s 13th year teaching preschoolers. She loves kayaking and camping with her husband, their 2 boys, and friends.

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Tammy Lafitte

My name is Tammy Laffitte. I am a native of Asheville, and have lived here my whole life.  I live with my husband and two dogs in Alexander. We have one daughter, named Kendra.  She lives in SC with her husband and my two grandchildren. We have a godson who lives locally.  As a family we enjoy camping, board games, and cooking together. I have worked in Early Childhood education for 18 years, and truly love what I do. 

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Donna Macon

I grew up at the Jersey shore where I raised 3 children and was certified in Early Childhood education as a group teacher.  I gained 26 years experience working with children 3 to 5 years old prior to moving to Asheville in 2013.  I am currently working with the pre-k team at Issac Dickson as an instructional assistant and am happy to have been part of  Asheville City schools for the past 7 years.  My husband and I have children and grandchildren in NJ, Rhode Island, Oregon, Florida and here in Asheville.  Aside from spending time with family, I enjoy traveling, hiking, gardening and reading. Teaching has always been a very rewarding experience for me and there has never been anything else I've wanted to do.