Teachers & Staff

Early Childhood Program

Keith Barron

Assistant Curriculum Coordinator

Lead Teacher, Roots (PreK/K)

Keith spends his days in the school house working alongside the Roots in our early childhood program.  He loves the excitement in helping children develop projects and challenging their play; however, nothing gives him more joy that listening to the children create stories and guiding them in acting them out.  Working alongside Christin, Keith developed and continually refines the curriculum for Solid Ground School as the Assistant Curriculum Coordinator.

Keith graduated from Ohio University with a BA in Early Childhood Education, followed by a MA in Reading Education. Since Keith has been an early childhood educator for over fifteen years.  From his earliest experiences in education, he was drawn to the idea of researching children and how they make connections with their world.  Hoping to share this passion, Keith has presented at professional conferences at the local and national levels. He has spoken as a keynote and featured speaker on topics from school gardens and Reggio Emilia study group facilitation to integrating superheroes and storytelling into the curriculum.  He has also earned a certificate of completion in a reading instruction course aligned with the International Dyslexia Association's Knowledge and Practice Standards for the Teaching of Reading and completed additional professional development in gold standard project-based learning.

Matt Johnson

Early Childhood Specialist

Lead Teacher, Shoots (grades 1/2)

Matt serves as the Lead Teacher for our Shoots in the Early Childhood Program.  He has a diverse background in the field of education and enjoys challenging children to think critically while building on their strengths and self esteem. Matt believes that children who are intrinsically motivated to learn through interest based projects are empowered to apply their learning in more relevant and meaningful ways. He is also a major proponent of place based education and the ways in which engaging children in their communities and the natural world can positively impact their perception of the human condition.

Matt holds a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Ohio University, and a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Denver. Matt began his career in education teaching kindergarten through third grade in an inner city school in Denver, Colorado. There, he was introduced to the wonders of diversity while working with a population comprised mostly of second language learners, refugees and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. After seven years, Matt and his family moved back to Athens, Ohio where he taught at the Ohio University Child Development Center for over four years before joining Solid Ground School.  He has also earned a certificate of completion in a reading instruction course aligned with the International Dyslexia Association's Knowledge and Practice Standards for the Teaching of Reading and completed additional professional development in gold standard project-based learning.

Matt brings an abundance of outdoor experience to the farm in addition to his teaching skills. He has backpacked and skied hundreds of miles in the mountains of Colorado, and even ran sled dogs in the Oregon wilderness for a time. His passion for the outdoors compliments his love of learning and he enjoys introducing children to the wonders and knowledge of the world around them.

Middle Childhood Program

Betti (Claire) Calhoun

Lead Teacher, Saplings (grades 3/4)

English Language Arts (ELA) and Science Specialist, Middle Childhood Program (grades 3-6)

Betti spends her day working on English Language Arts (ELA) in small groups with all of our middle childhood students, integrating science into project work for all middle grade students.  She is additionally the Lead Teacher for our Saplings, serving as their primary family contact and organizing their individual portfolios.  Betti loves to apply her up-to-date training in ELA and reading to support students by meeting them wherever they are in their literacy journey. She is also equally excited by the opportunity to use the students' interests and her experience in outdoor education to create engaging cross-curricular projects rooted in a sense of place and environmental stewardship.

Prior to joining the faculty at Solid Ground School, Betti taught 4th grade ELA and science at Amesville Elementary School, 6th grade science at Maysville Middle School, and 4th grade writing at Nelsonville-York Elementary.  She additionally served as an Outdoor Educator for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and an Edible Schoolyard Teacher at Community Food Initiatives.  She graduated Cum Laude with her Bachelor's Degree in Middle Childhood Education from Rio Grande University, and later earned her math endorsement at Ohio University.  She is licensed as a Middle Childhood Teacher and has endorsements in ELA, science, and math.  She additionally has an Associate’s Degree in Natural and Historical Interpretation from Hocking College and has completed additional training in reading instruction and phonics.

Maddy Kennedy

Lead Teacher, Saplings (grades 5/6)

Math and Social Studies Specialist, Middle Childhood Program (grades 3-6)

Maddy works daily with all our middle grade students, focusing on small group math instruction and incorporating social studies into project-based learning. She is additionally the Lead Teacher for our Branches, serving as their primary family contact and organizing their individual portfolios. As an educator, Maddy embraces a teaching philosophy rooted in creativity, student-centered learning, and the belief that education is a collaborative journey between students and teachers. Her primary goal is to foster a classroom environment that cultivates curiosity, empowers students, and ensures their individual needs and interests are at the forefront of her lesson planning.

Maddy graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor of Science in K-8 Elementary Education and a minor in K-12 Art Education. During her undergraduate studies, she spent her time as both an art teaching intern, as well as a math and reading intervention specialist for K-5th grade students. She has additionally taught fine arts and other creative/inquiry based electives at both the middle school and high school levels. During her time with middle school, she primarily worked with 6th grade students in classes that covered challenging math content, fine arts, creative based writing, and learning about the “world of work”, teaching life skills and various career paths. With a background in fine arts teaching, Maddy enjoys finding new ways to integrate hands-on, creative-based learning in every subject she teaches.

Special Teachers & Support Staff

Christin Butler 

Executive Director, Co-Founder

One of the co-founders of the school, Christin oversees all things related to learning, teaching, and organizational development at Solid Ground.  While she is often found organizing curriculum and coordinating school growth and initiatives with the Board of Directors, it is working directly with children that grounds her most.  She can often be found in the classrooms providing additional one-on-one and small group support to students who need it.

Christin's previous work as a teacher has spanned the age range and the globe, and she has worked with students from age 2 to 65 in 3 different countries.  She graduated summa cum laude with an MA in Foreign and Second Language Education from Ohio State University, has a CELTA certificate from Cambridge University, and a B.A in English with a minor in Spanish from Indiana University, where she also spent a semester studying abroad at The National University of Costa Rica.  She has continued her education with coursework at Ohio University in curriculum design and child development, as well as professional development in gold standard project-based learning.  She has also earned a certificate of completion in a reading instruction course aligned with the International Dyslexia Association's Knowledge and Practice Standards for the Teaching of Reading.  She additionally won the 2023 Community Sustainability Recognition Award from OU’s Office of Sustainability for her work at Solid Ground School.

An avid, life-long learner, Christin seeks to support a strong sense of community at Solid Ground and to promote the value of nature and creativity for the human spirit more broadly.

Weston Lombard

Nature/Entrepreneurship Teacher, Co-founder

A co-founder of the school and our Nature & Entreprenuership teacher, Weston facilitates hands-on project work and outdoor experiences that engage students directly with the natural environment and our local economy.  In creating the rich outdoor environment at the farm, he has invited engagement with nature and outdoor recreation for students and visitors alike.

After graduating from business school in 2005, Weston turned his passions for sustainable agriculture, outdoor adventure, and youth education into a series of youth education programs.  He then teamed up with other youth educators to start Rising Appalachian Warriors (RAW) summer camp in 2011, and has overseen its growth from a single weekend camp into a nine-week outdoor education and adventure program for the past several years.  His independent research and writing is featured at agriculture and sustainable conferences and events around the state.  For this work as well as his present role as the Youth Coordinator at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, and past roles as the Director of Ohio Brew Week, and the Local Foods Sector Leader for the Winding Road, he was awarded the Rural Action Sustainable Livelihood Award. He additionally won the 2023 Community Sustainability Recognition Award from OU’s Office of Sustainability for his work at Solid Ground School.

Weston continues to work on his broader mission to inspire appreciation for the outdoors and encourage sustainable participation with nature.

Sofia Motelka

Full-time Americorps

Sofia is a full-time Americorps dedicated to supporting Solid Ground School and RAW camp full-time!  At school, she works closely with Christin to teach “Nature & Community,” in which students explore the farm and work to build community and prepare for school events, as well as provide additional helping hands in the classroom. She is a Cleveland native who graduated this past May from Ohio University with a degree in biology and a certificate in environmental studies. She has grown up with a passion for animals and our planet, and recently discovered her love of working with children so she is very excited to be joining the Solid Ground and Rising Appalachia team as a Rural Action Americorps member! Sofia is most looking forward to connecting with the kids, educating about the environment, and exploring all Solid Ground has to offer. In her free time she loves reading, hiking, and enjoying a Chai Latte at Donkey Coffee.

Heather Hively

Administrative Assistant

Heather came to the school as a parent of 2 Solid Ground School students.  Heather is your source for all things payment-related!  She provides invaluable administrative support to Solid Ground School.  

She graduated Cum Laude from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. She has worked as an accountant, record store owner, and substitute teacher. She has lived in Athens since 2013 and spent the last few years as a homeschooling parent and as an Administrative Specialist in the Office of Inclusion at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Medicine.

She enjoys reading, visiting museums, and spending time with her friends and family.