Ryn comes to Solstice East with twenty years of experience as a teacher and academic leader in therapeutic, public, and independent schools across the country. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University and her M.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Tennessee. Her passion for creating engaging, student-centered learning environments led to her role as the founding Academic Dean and Dean of Faculty at The Bay School of San Francisco, an innovative, college preparatory school in California. The core of her work as an educator has always been about empowering students and supporting them in becoming their best selves. This philosophy drew her to Solstice East and she is thrilled to be a part of this community.
Director of Learning Services
Jessica Stewart, B.A, M.ED
Jessica graduated with honors from Brevard College with her B.A. in English and an emphasis in secondary education. She is currently pursuing her M.Ed. in special education from Western Carolina University. She has experience teaching in a therapeutic residential setting. This setting is where she fully realized her passion for teaching diverse learners. She has also worked for the Autism Society of Western North Carolina teaching community skills to children on the autism spectrum. When not teaching, she enjoys reading and collecting records.
Assistant Academic Director, Mathematics Teacher
Dan Coleman, B.S.
Dan Coleman, a Western North Carolina native, received his B.A. in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 2009 with University Honors and Departmental Distinction. As a licensed math instructor and a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, Dan has spent his professional career working with youth in therapeutic education environments. He enjoys music, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the great outdoors. As a passionate educator, promoting diversity in the mathematical community, Dan came to Solstice East with many ideas for developing a classroom setting that inspires young women to become thoroughly engaged in science and mathematics.
Sarah Matulich, B.A., QMHP
Sarah graduated from North Carolina Wesleyan College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Justice Studies. She is a native of Buffalo, NY who moved to North Carolina to be with her family and attend college. Before Solstice East, Sarah has worked at the autism society and worked with male adolescents at a therapeutic boarding school. In Sarah’s free time, she loves to play lacrosse and soccer. and explore the many delights Asheville has to offer. She is currently going to a bootcamp class and enjoys being outside. She enjoys spending quality time with family, friends and her two cats.
MacKenzie Hand M.S.T
Greetings and salutations. I am MacKenzie Hand, the English teacher for all levels at Timbersong Academy! I am a New Yorknative, having earned my Master’s in the Science of Teaching from SUNY Plattsburgh in upstate New York. After earning my teaching certificate, I moved to Philadelphia, PA where I taught 7th grade Language Arts at a middle school in the Kingsessing neighborhood. I come to Timbersong with an enthusiasm for ELA that is tough to match, and I hope to share that passion and energy with all my students in a safe and nurturing environment, where we can explore humanity and hone our abilities as effective communicators! When I am not busy immersing myself in all the joys of teaching, I am probably busy rambling about J.R.R. Tolkien’s collected works, writing music, or working on bicycles (my second passion, I’ve been a organizing/managing local shops and volunteer cycling workspaces as a mechanic for nearly ten years now). I am thrilled to be living in the city of Asheville, alongside my partner Juliya and our dog, Piper.
Nikki Shoneman, BA
Nikki has a BA. in Fine Arts from UC Santa Cruz with a focus in painting and drawing and was honored as a California Art Scholar. She exhibits, teaches, performs and offers workshops in California and North Carolina, where she relocated in 2012. She has been oil painting since the age of eight and continues to explore and express through photography, painting, drawing, and ceramics. Her inspiration comes from her deep connection to nature and using art as a deep mindfulness practice. She conveys those sensitivities through many different media. She is the founder and past director as well as art facilitator for MOVE, a non-profit art organization providing alternatives ways to at-risk youth in the bay area. Now in North Carolina, Nikki continues to offer art classes and loves teaching at Timbersong Academy.
Carol Sowers, M.Ed.
Carol comes to Solstice East after moving to Asheville a little over a year ago from Washington D.C. There she taught IB History and was an Assistant Principal at the Islamic Saudi Academy. Carol has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and a Master’s of Education Degree with a focus on Curriculum and Instruction. Carol has broad experience in education, having taught ESL and IB History, served as a Dorm Parent, and worked as an Autism Paraprofessional. All of these experiences have informed her educational philosophy and strengthened her love of education. When not at school, Carol enjoys exploring the Asheville area, reading, playing with her Star Wars themed kittens, and spending time with her friends and family.
Musical Arts Teacher
Dustin moved to Asheville from Central Pennsylvania in late 2016 and brings a wealth of experience in both mental health and music education. Dustin began touring as a professional musician at age 17 playing with various Blues acts around the east coast and midwest. After six years as an Aerospace Propulsion Engineer in the U.S. Air Force, Dustin began working in direct care in both inpatient and residential treatment settings while teaching individual instrument lessons as well as classes in music history and marketing at both the secondary and collegiate level.. During this time, Dustin also founded the punk band With The Punches and toured nationally and internationally for five years. Dustin currently splits time between Timbersong and building custom guitars
Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design; Science Teacher
Sara Camuso, B.S. Ed. Secondary Education, Biology
Sara Camuso, while not a WNC native, has been in the Asheville area for nearly 10 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, specializing in Biology from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Prior to teaching, she also received a Bachelor’s degree in Turfgrass Science from The Pennsylvania State University and was the previous field manager for the Asheville Tourists baseball team. Sara has experience as both a classroom instructor as well as leading out of the classroom learning experiences such as education seminars and public science conventions. Aside from her role as Science Teacher, Sara works with the current faculty in her role as the Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design to create multidisciplinary learning experiences. Sara is currently pursuing her M.Ed. in Instructional Design. In her free time, Sara enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, and whitewater kayaking, as well as sharing her passion for the outdoors.
Michael grew up in the small town of Pine Island, MN and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied Biology and Environmental Science. As he was completing university, he wasn’t sure what to do with his life, so he joined the Peace Corps and became a math and science teacher in Sierra Leone. The two years spent in West Africa were life-changing, and helped form him into the teacher he is today. Upon returning to the U.S. he has taught both math and/or science in California, Massachusetts, and in North Carolina. He loves working at Timbersong Academy and using his diverse experiences to help the students succeed.
Mark Wonnacott is originally from Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. He earned a BA in philosophy and political science from McKendree University, a Master’s in communication from the University of Central Missouri, and finished PhD coursework in communication at the University of Kansas. His experience translating complex concepts to broad audiences lead him to teaching, and he as been at private high schools since arriving in western North Carolina five years ago. His favorite part of teaching is the relationship building that accompanies it, which is a primary motivation for him to come to Timbersong. When not in the classroom, Mark enjoys cooking, writing dystopian science fiction, and hiking with his dogs Barley and Kili.