Mari Ohta is the Director of The Children's Garden and is responsible for all aspects of The Children's Garden. Mari is also the lead teacher. Her duties include: planning the rhythm of the day, week, month and year. Each day has a rhythm that allows the children a balance between self-guided play and teacher-guided activities.  Each week has a rhythm; we have a different table project and walk for each day of the week. Each month has its place in the season, which is celebrated through our nature table, song, story and our experiences in nature. Throughout the year, we celebrate the seasons and certain cultural festivals so that the children can begin to sense the turning of the year as well as come to know their culture and other cultures more closely. Birthdays are also celebrated. Other duties by teachers include, but are not limited to: welcoming the children and parents upon arrival; guiding children to suitable activities: stepping in when additional guidance and direction are needed; encouraging and helping to initiate play and creative activities; providing snack; cleaning up; washing dishes; overseeing toileting, potty training and diaper care; sweeping and cleaning the classrooms; reporting any pertinent information to parent/grandparents/guardians.

Mari Ohta - Lead Teacher and Director - graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1993.  Since then Mari has devoted herself to the care and education of children, her own and the many children she has taken care of over the last 20 years.  Mari's artistic talents are many and include origami, clay modeling, drawing, singing, playing the piano, gardening, and cooking.  Mari has LifeWays North America Early Childhood Certificate and NC Early Childhood Administrator's License and has worked with The Children's Garden since 2005.

Lucy Lodge -Founder - graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Education degree specializing in science and outdoor education.  Upon beginning her own family, she became more interested in early childhood education and founded the preschool in 2002.  She has a certificate in Early Childhood Education from Haywood Community College, NC Early Childhood Administrator's License, and a Masters Degree in Special Education from Western Carolina University.



Rachel Lewis- Assistant Teacher and Substitute Lead Teacher- graduated from The College of Charleston in 2000 with a BS in Elementary Education. She also graduated from The University of Georgia in 2005 with an MA in Education Psychology/Applied Cognition and Development and then a MEd in Special Education, with her teaching certification, in 2009 from Georgia Southern University. She worked for 3 years as a Special Education highschool teacher. She loves working with children of all ages and has experience with younger children from her work in Headstart, student teaching, and as a camp counselor.

She has family roots in Burnsville community and she also loved being a camper at Camp Celo. Her daughter graduated from Children’s Garden in May 2017. Rachel has been working since 2013.

Ryan Milt - Photo and Video Documenter, Assistant Teacher-  Offers gentle and sincere guidance to children. He documents seasonal events to capture the essence of the program.  He shares his love of nature and expert knowledge in mycology to children. His daughter graduated from Children’s Garden in May 2018. Ryan has been working at preschool since 2015.

Shelby Hodge - Assistant Teacher - Brings such a beautiful aura of peace to the busy preschool environment. She offers tremendous knowledge and experience with outdoors and shares the passion with the children. Shelby is accompanied by her 1 year old daughter, Soli. Shelby started working in the fall 2018.

Hadasah Michael - Substitute Assistant Teacher- Shares her joyful singing and her creativity to the preschool. She has been working since 2015.

Tayloranne Finch - Substitute Assistant Teacher- Shares uplifting spirit and gentle guidance with children. She brings gifts of artistic sense and musical talent. She has been working at preschool since spring 2016.