Laura Bennett retired from Athens City Schools in 2014 after a 34 year teaching career in the areas of early childhood and special education. Since retirement, she has served as a volunteer and school garden steward for the Athens Early Learning Center. Laura is a governing board member and study group facilitator for Ohio Voices for Learning, an educational advocacy forum inspired by the world renowned pre-primary programs of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Mara is currently the Director at the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network, where she provides trainings on bullying and violence prevention, bystander intervention, compassionate communication, conflict management, consent, gender stereotypes, media literacy, and peer mediation. An Athens native, she began River Valley Community School in it's inaugural year and credits her experience there with developing personal confidence and strong communication and social skills.
Dr. Margaret King
Dr. Margaret King, Professor Emerita in teacher education and early childhood education, Ohio University. As a faculty Member Ohio University, she has been a teacher educator; an expert in early childhood education; a researcher, writer, and presenter on topics related to developmentally appropriate practice, the education and care of young boys, emotional security and young children, emotional maltreatment in schools, and teacher development. She is committed to preparing teachers who are unconditional, mindful, constructivist, and progressive in their teaching and interactions with children. She is a former primary grade teacher (taught first and second grade) and preschool teacher, the former Director of the Ohio University Child Development Center, the former Director of the Early Childhood Network, a W.K.Kellogg Foundation grant-funded project designed to create an integrated system of early childhood education, and formerly served on the boards of the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the NCATE Board of Examiners, which is now the Council of the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). She has been a member of the Athens Community for 38 years and is the parent of child who attended River Valley Community School from grades K through 6.
Cassie Meek is the Events & Outreach Manager at The Dairy Barn Arts Center, a local of Athens County, and a graduate of its public schools. She has an undergraduate degree from Ohio University in communication and has been a La Leche League leader for 10 years. She has four children, ranging in age from 3 to 11 years old.
Megan Riddlebarger holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, and a pre-k - 3 Ohio Teaching license with a 4-5 endorsement. Megan has lived in Athens, Ohio for 16 years, is the founding owner of Sycamore Run Early Childhood Center, and is the proud mother of a small superhero (Marlon, age 3). As Entrepreneur in Residence at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University, Megan currently provides technical assistance to social enterprises and impact investors.
John Schmieding was one of the founding parents and board members of River Valley Community School and taught there for many years. He was was the director of River Otters Summer Camp and was also a former director and currently Director Emeritus of Athens Area Mediation Service. He used to have a lizard, three turtles and some fiddler crabs.
Molly Schoenhoff is a multidisciplinary artist, designer, educator, homeschooling parent and caregiver with experience in outdoor education and community and public art. Previously she served on the faculty at Ohio University School of Art + Design, Arizona State University, and University of Dayton. In academic settings, she has presented research on progressive studio teaching that affirms the creative intelligence of individuals while cultivating community. She draws inspiration from Maxine Greene, bell hooks, and Ron Miller, among others. She is a member of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children and Serving the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.
Dr. Amy Wolfe
Amy Wolfe holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Early Childhood, a Master's in Child Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University. Her research interest is preschool education and place-based education. She is licensed to teach Preschool- 3rd Grade and Preschool Special Education. She is currently serving as preschool intervention specialist for Athens City Schools. Prior to that, She was faculty at WVU at Parkersburg. She taught at Ohio University's Child Development Center for 6 years where she studied the schools of Reggio Emilia. She attended a study tour to Reggio Emilia in 2003.