Teaching Staff









Andrew grew up in San Diego before venturing off to the University of Notre Dame to study Philosophy, Theology, and Literature in a Great Books Program. Upon graduation, he taught high school as a Mercy Corps volunteer on the Navajo Reservation, and then returned to school to get a PhD in Philosophy of Religion from Syracuse University. He worked as a Lecturer at Clemson University and an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Lees-McRae College in beautiful Boone, NC. While in Boone, he created the most ecologically progressive subdivision in the region and then went on to pursue an AMI Montessori Adolescent training.  Andrew uses academics as a vehicle for personal growth by the students:  “I am a life coach for adolescents, and school is the container for the project of developing human beings towards their potential.  Setting high academic standards comes easily because achievement in academia is ingrained in my bones. Beyond that objective, however, lies the realm of what really matters–life’s higher aims. My deeper purpose as a teacher will always be to awaken this pursuit of a beautiful life in my students. My best moments as a teacher involve helping students work through the issues that hold the keys to their development as stable, balanced, and fulfilled human beings.”











Dr. Jonah Swann has been tutoring or teaching math in one capacity or another for over fifteen years. Following his math major at Davidson College, Dr. Swann went on to earn a MS in Mathematics at the University of Virginia.  He completed his PhD in Mathematics at Bryn Mawr College.  After a brief stint as a math professor in Philadelphia, Jonah moved back to the Asheville area and started working in the homeschool community.  When not sharing his love of math or homeschooling his own kids, Jonah enjoys gardening, playing soccer, hiking, and spending time in the woods.



Jenny Einzig teaches Physical Science, Earth

Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  This 

woman can teach all of the sciences!





 Jenny is one of five children and grew up in various locations in Louisiana. Her lifelong passion for animals and nature led her to LSU where she studied conservation biology and finished with a Master's in natural science. She moved to Asheville in 2012 and began teaching Natural Resource Conservation at Western Carolina University. After three years at WCU, Jenny decided it was time to take some time off to travel and embarked on a 6-month journey around the world. While traveling, she realized her love for education, so she decided to find a job that would let her do both. In the summer of 2017, Jenny got a position with Global Leadership Adventures (GLA), which took her to Costa Rica, where she welcomed 75 high schoolers for a summer of conservation work, jungle hikes, and surfing! In 2018, she was sent to her dream location – the Galapagos Islands! There, she and her team of teens did Galapagos tortoise habitat restoration, tree planting, and played lots of soccer! She's excited to bring her love for science and travel to the students of Aspire High and to instill curiosity in them as they learn to think critically and compassionately.











Melody was born into a family of teachers in South Jersey, so academics have along been her strong suit. She started a unique path early on when her mother decided to move her family to an intentional community in West Virginia. During her 2 year stay, she learned about the practices of Sufism and enjoyed the guidance of world-renowned Buddhist monk, Reverend Bhante Dharmawara Mahathera, who taught green light meditation, color healing, balance in movement, and the necessity of a whole foods diet.  Having met and studied with Gandhi, this venerable teacher was a brilliant and loving soul.  Her family was blessed with his presence at the Claymont Society for Continuous Education in West Virginia, a psychokinetic community.

Flourishing under this unique and multi-faceted upbringing, Melody excelled academically at a young age, entering UC Berkeley at the ripe age of 16.  In her junior year she declared her major in English and her minor an African-American studies, and began sharing her research amongst her peers in that department. This led to a number of opportunities to address audiences on both campuses, representing both women of color and the African-American community at large.

Upon graduation she was hired to teach in a small community charter school in East Oakland where she served as Creative Director and helped develop curriculum during her ten year stay. In 2000 she transitioned to an adjunct position in the community college system in Oakland, California until relocating to Western North Carolina in 2002. At that time she began teaching Business English, Developmental Reading & Writing, ESL & GED courses on campuses in McDowell County, Burke County, and Caldwell County. Her responsibilities included developing curriculum for the Adult Basic Education Program. 

In 2016 she ended her 15 year community college stint and moved to Asheville to begin working within the public school system as a substitute and extracurricular educator. In addition, she volunteers at ABTech and teaches creative expression at the UNCA WriteNow camp and is a teaching artist for AWITS (Asheville Writers in the Schools). She also performs locally at community events and festivals, including Leaf, Burton St. Agricultural Fair, and Goombay. She joins our team with great enthusiasm, bringing her unique, diverse background to the skilled team of educators.











Shalene comes to us from an eclectic background in music, teaching, performance, and fitness instruction. She brings both music and song into everything she does, from greeting families in the morning to walking through the halls! As a graduate of the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, Shalene started her musical career in Asheville performing with the Asheville Lyric Opera Company then became the opera singer for a local community theater troop where she had the opportunity to perform opera in some of Asheville’s largest performance venues including the Gray Eagle and the Orange Peel. Since that time she has performed locally and regionally with the voice and string trio the “Freewheelin’ Mamas.” Shalene’s teaching career as a voice and piano instructor began by offering private and studio lessons. In 2009, she joined the board of the Azalea Mountain Waldorf school to help bring Waldorf Education to Asheville, where she also served as the music teacher from 2012-2015. In 2015, Shalene was the Musical Director and producer of the Broadway Junior production of “Into the Woods Jr” performed at the Masonic Temple downtown with youth from various schools in and around Asheville.  Teaching in a school that values individuality, freedom of expression, and collaboration is a perfect fit for Shalene’s unique gifts as an educator.



Dr. Jonah Swann teaches Math and Math Club, through his independent business bRainmakers, which provides high quality math opportunities for homeschool families in the Asheville area.

Dr. Andrew Saldino runs Aspire High and teaches Social Studies, English, Experiential Seminar, and Morning Circle. 

Melody Henry teaches Creative Research Projects, units in Humanities, Experiential Seminar, and brings her warm, creative, passionate energy into our space.

Shalene Hill teaches Physical Fitness, Morning Circle, and Vocal Expresssion.  She offers Voice Lessons for those who want to go deeper in making Voice a focal point of their high school experience.



"Andrew, You personally have given me such an incredible head start in the world. You’ve taught me how to look at the world in new ways and question what I’m seeing, how to be empathetic and concerned, and how to truly understand the things I believe in and fight for beyond just a blind conformity. The things you’ve taught me have made me into a better person academically, socially, and spiritually."

-Jonah, student from 2015-2017


"Excitement and passion are two of the most important things that capture an audience -- and Andrew Saldino has no problem with captivation. He is not only excited and passionate about his subject, but thoughtful, intuitive, and genuine. As a teacher Andrew is exceptional -- he pushes students academically, encourages free-thought and critical-thinking, and understands the balance between the academic self and the emotional self. He knows which role to take on in relation to the student he is working with, whether it be the firm and fair teacher, or the understanding mentor, or, most likely, both."

-Julia, student from 2015-17


"Andrew is the hardest working and most passionate teacher I have ever known. He worked incessantly building, designing, teaching, working with parents and community, and generally did everything that was necessary to make the nascent program a success. He commuted every weekend to Ashville and back to Roswell for Monday. He never missed a Monday.
All stakeholders liked and respected Andrew. The adolescents often confided in him and parents
asked for advice.  Our teachers enjoyed working with Andrew. He is a visionary with the ability to
bring a vision to life through his hard work, in logical and forward-thinking way.

-Patricia Craft-Heuer, Director or VIllage Montessori School in Roswell, GA

A gift from a student for
Dr. Andrew Saldino

Inspiring Words from the extraordinary educational mind of Maria Montessori, who is a deep source of inspiration for Asheville Alternative High:


"When the child was very small it was enough to call him by name for him
to turn around. Now we must appeal to his soul. To speak to him is not
enough for this; it is necessary to interest him. What he learns must be
interesting, must be fascinating. We must give him grandeur. To begin
with, let us present him with the world


"The chief symptom of adolescence is a state of expectation, a tendency towards creative work and a need for the strengthening of self-confidence."


"Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence."


Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence


Thoughts on educating teenagers, from the powerful mind of Rudolf Steiner:

"When children come to the age of puberty, it is necessary to awaken within them an extraordinarily great interest in the world outside of themselves. Through the whole way in which they are educated, they must be led to look out into the world around them and into all its laws, its course, causes and effects, into men's intentions and goals — not only into human beings, but into everything, even into a piece of music, for instance. All this must be brought to them in such a way that it can resound on and on within them — so that questions about nature, about the cosmos and the entire world, about the human soul, questions of history — so that riddles arise in their youthful souls."

Rudolf Steiner, Education for Adolescents