A national benchmark in
Educational excellence through integration of the arts

5-8 Staff

Meet our Fifth through Eighth Grade teachers and teaching assistants.

Heather Tadonnio 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher Artspace Charter School

Heather earned her B.A. in Geology from Bryn Mawr College and completed the teacher licensure program in middle grades science at UNC-Asheville. She began her career as an educator at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC before moving back home to the South to teach at an outdoor school, and later at a therapeutic boarding school. Outside of the classroom she enjoys hiking with her dog Luna, reading and listening to podcasts, making pottery, and volunteering with Asheville’s LGBTQIA+ youth advocacy group. Heather is excited to join ArtSpace’s creative, collaborative community and to form relationships with students and their families!  

Heather Burrows Fifth Grade Social Studies and Language Arts Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: Please contact through email

Heather began working at ArtSpace in 2008 as a Teacher Assistant, and has been teaching her own class since 2009.  She taught seventh grade Language Arts for five years, before becoming the fifth grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.  Heather holds a B.A. in English from Keene State College, in New Hampshire, where she is originally from. Heather holds NC teaching licenses in Middle Grade English Language Arts and Elementary Education.

In 2009, Heather completed a NC Teacher’s Initiative Outward Bound program, where she gained experience with experiential learning and teaching.  In 2015, Heather completed a National Endowment for the Humanities training in Concord, Massachusettes, focusing on the Crossroads of a Revolution, where she gained expertise on the eve of the Revolutionary War.  Heather co-leads the GRITS program, where she fosters a love of science and builds community with girls in grades 5-7.  She is a proud recipient of the AmeriCorps Education award for three years in a row.  In addition to spending time with her family, she enjoys music, exploring the mountains, reading, and yoga.

Cassie Petrilla Fifth Grade Teaching Assistant Artspace Charter School

John Hall Sixth Grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 611

John, a National Board Certified educator, has a long history with ArtSpace, beginning in 2003.  He was the ArtSpace Teacher of the Year in 2008-09, and North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year in 2009-10. He also served on the State Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council in 2010 and 2011. He earned his B.A. in Humanities from Milligan College and has taught for 17 years. A professional entertainer, John enjoys performing in theatre and cabaret in the Asheville area. He also enjoys attending local theatre productions featuring former students, as well as hiking and reading. John has a daughter, Anna Kate, a graduate at Catawba College who has followed in her father’s acting footsteps. 

Kinsey Steere 6th Grade Math and Science Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: Contact through email

Kinsey graduated from Union University in Jackson, TN with a BA in Biblical Languages and a minor in Chemistry before moving to the Asheville/WNC area with her husband.  She earned a BA in Classical Languages from UNC Asheville and completed the teacher’s licensure program while there.  She enjoyed teaching 6th and 7th-grade math, science, and Latin before moving to ArtSpace to teach 6th-grade math and science.
Kinsey has been a lover of the arts since childhood, acting in school theater productions, singing in choirs and ensembles, and taking part in dance classes and groups.  She and her husband have enjoyed living in the mountains of WNC, hiking, and camping with their three dogs, and enjoying food and fun in Asheville with friends.  She is excited to be part of the amazing team at ArtSpace.

Ian Canary-King Seventh and Eighth Grades Social Studies Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 648

Ian holds a B.A. in history from Macalester College and an Master’s of Education in social studies from the University of Minnesota. Over the past seven years he has worked in schools as a teacher, tutor, mentor, and college access coach. He joined the ArtSpace staff in 2014. Outside of school, he enjoys music, reading, and walking his dog along the French Broad River.


Leila Wheless Seventh and Eighth Grade Language Arts Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 643

Leila holds a BA in Comparative English and French Literature from Davidson College and a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary English from Agnes Scott College.  She has taught kindergartners through high school seniors subjects including French, humanities, phonics, creative writing, and martial arts. Leila joined the ArtSpace staff in 2014. Leila loves Shakespearean theater, poetry, long distance running, and bouldering.  Leila also enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and many cats.


Megan Smith Seventh and Eighth Grade Mathematics Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 636

Megan earned her a bachelors in environmental science in Pennsylvania and a masters in teaching from Western Carolina University, and she is still loving and learning new things about math every day. Megan is also the co-director of the GRITS extracurricular program. Outside of school Megan is a big fan of backpacking, playing water polo, cooking, and making music.

Nick Rogowski Seventh and Eighth Grade Science Teacher Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 612

Nick has worked in education for over 20 years. He holds a B.A. in Arts and Architecture from the University of New Mexico, and a teaching degree from Appalachian State University.  He enjoys painting, playing with his son, bike riding and racing, car racing, hiking, and time with his family.

Marni Rubin-Flanigan Middle School Teaching Assistant Artspace Charter School
Phone: 828.298.2787, ext 620

Marni joined the ArtSpace faculty in 2006 and was Teacher of the Year in 2013-14. Marni holds a BFA and a MEd from West Virginia University. Marni lived in Taos, New Mexico for 5 years where she began her teaching career in an Expedition Learning Outward Bound school. She directed a camp in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and she also taught 6th grade at a charter school in New Mexico. In her free time, Marni enjoys spending time with her son, husband, and dog, reading, and exercising.

Ryan Olliffe Exceptional Children Teacher Artspace Charter School

Ryan obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Georgia College & State University, with a Minor in Spanish.  During his time there, he spent over a year teaching math in an 8th-grade inclusion/resource setting.  He recently moved to North Carolina from Atlanta, where he worked for three years at a therapy center for students with a wide range of physical and intellectual exceptionalities.  In his free time, he enjoys hiking, paddleboarding, and playing bass guitar and banjo.

Sarah Vallely Academic Support Specialist Artspace Charter School

Sarah began her teaching career in 1995 as an art teacher in upstate New York after earning her art degree from SUNY Cortland. More recently, she has been a Title I math specialist at the Franklin School of Innovation. Sarah received her teaching licenses in middle grades English and math from UNC Asheville. Sarah is also a professional mindfulness teacher and a non-fiction writer.