Shaun Gerson

Owner / Head of School

Shaun discovered the Montessori philosophy in 1997 at York College of Pennsylvania, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology. From there, he immediately sought out Montessori education as a career and received his Elementary I certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education (CMTE) in New York. The following summers , Shaun held the positions of a support staff member and presenter at CMTE/NY.  He spent 5 years in Baltimore, Maryland teaching in accredited Montessori schools.

Shaun Gerson has over 13 years of Montessori education experience and is very familiar with the establishment, operation and maintenance of a Montessori school.  Currently, Shaun is the Administrator/Head of School of MESA.  He has also held the role of a teacher/educator/ presenter for the Elementary program of the Montessori Teacher Training Center in Raleigh (CMTE/NC). On his own time, he and his wife Jessica enjoy all that the mountains of Western North Carolina have to offer with their two children.


Jessica Gerson

Head of School / Program Administrator

Montessori education is dear to Miss Jess’ heart.  She began her career in Montessori in 2000 while living in her home state of Michigan.  It was during the 4 years at Dearborn Heights Montessori School that she gained invaluable experience working with a diverse population of children ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.  She received her Early Childhood AMS Certification at the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/NY in 2004.  By way of Baltimore, Jess continued her successful career as a 3-6 directress when she moved to Asheville, NC.  She spent 5 years teaching with the wonderful community of Asheville Montessori School and is happy to share her 12 years of pre-primary (3-6) experience with the students of MESA.

Miss Jess & her husband Shaun have two beautiful children; Amelia & Levi.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, watching her children grow and change, crafting, and enjoying all the beauty of Asheville.


Henry Blackford

Upper Elementary Classroom Director, Music Teacher

Henry is originally from Boone, NC.  He graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Anthropology.  He has experience working with children at Camp Celo in Burnsville, NC.  As a child, Henry attended a Montessori school for his elementary years.  He has been familiar with the Montessori curriculum for a long time and decided to pursue a career in education.  In the summer of 2009, Henry attended the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Raleigh, NC.  He completed his Student Teaching year with MESA under Mr. Shaun as his supervising teacher.  He went on to continue his training and has received  his Lower Elementary (6-9) and his Upper Elementary (9-12) certifications from the American Montessori Society via CMTE/NC.

Henry brings a wealth of knowledge to MESA, including his fluency of the Spanish language as well as his musical talents.  He has lived, traveled and studied abroad in Central and South America.  Henry enjoys being outdoors in the mountains for hiking, biking and running.  He lives in N. Asheville with his wife, Georgette and their daughters, Sylvia & Miriam.


Helen-Mary Cowart

Lower Elementary Classroom Directress

helenmary-150x150Originally from Canton, NC Miss Helen Mary returned to the mountains from Dallas, Texas in 2008.

She has taught English in one shape or form since 1992. It all began when she went to China to teach. It was a great experience when she spent 4 years teaching English and learning the Chinese language. Since then she has taught English at the community college level and for the past eight years has taught and trained teachers in the public school system.

Helen Mary has a Bachelor of Science in Textile Science with a minor in Marketing and a Masters in English and Linguistics.  She received her Lower Elementary (6-9) certification from the American Montessori Society via the Center for Montessori Teacher Education, NC.  When not working with children,  she loves to work in her yard, mountain bike and also once in a while get into her weaving projects.


Helen Nicholls

Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher

helen-150x150Helen Nicholls first discovered Montessori while searching for a school for her two children in Chapel Hill. She was hooked and soon became a regular substitute at her children’s school, embracing every chance she could to observe and learn.
Since 2009, Helen has worked as a teacher’s assistant in both primary and elementary classrooms. She also teaches PE. When her family made the move to Asheville in 2012, she was thrilled to find such a wonderful community at MESA.

Helen is a Texas native and a veteran broadcast journalist. She has covered medical and science news on both local and national levels. Over the years, she developed a passion for informal science education and is actively involved in efforts to promote the public understanding of health and science. Helen is a guest lecturer and an advisory board member at the University of North Carolina’s Medical and Science Journalism program.

When she’s not in the classroom, Helen loves exploring the mountains and hanging out with her family and dog Daisy.


Amber Webster

Lower Elementary Assistant Teacher

amber-150x150Amber Webster grew up in Hendersonville, NC on her family’s apple farm. After graduating from Hendersonville High School she was selected as a Rotary International Scholar and moved to Budapest, Hungary to play in the Youth Symphony. She returned to the U.S. to major in music and horticulture at North Carolina State University. During university, Amber studied and lived abroad in England, Sweden, South Africa & the Carribean.

After university she went to Ecuador with the Peace Corps where she worked in communities teaching sustainable agriculture and yoga, mostly to children and young adults. Amber then moved to Bolivia to continue her work in agriculture and also to teach English. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2008 she began looking into teaching programs and in 2009 she started her pre-primary Montessori teacher training at the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Training Institute in Adrian, Michigan. She taught in Montessori schools in Ann Arbor, MI from 2009 until moving back to the Asheville area in 2012. She’s held positions as a horticulturalist at the Arboretum and the Biltmore Estate, and loves combining teaching and gardening. Outside of school, she and her husband have their own cider business, and she enjoys yoga, art, dance, travel, swimming and being outdoors.