Meet our Art /Music/Drama Specialists
Jan Adams – Dance Teacher
Jan has danced since she was the age of her students today. She has a BFA in ballet from the North Carolina School of the Arts, danced with North Carolina Dance Theatre, was Dance Captain for the National Tour of “A Chorus Line,” and was a Ballet Mistress for the Ballet Theater of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. She has been teaching in the public schools for over 25 years and has her National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist. She also teaches in the Preparatory Dance Program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and is a founding A+ Fellow with the A+ Schools Program. She served as the North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year in 2013-14. She loves teaching here at ABS, helping children to express all they know and love with their bodies!
Ashleigh Cooper – Music/Choir Teacher
Ashleigh received her Music Education degree from Elon University where she was a NC Teaching Fellow. She has taught music and chorus for 7 years, and she is so thrilled to continue building an exciting choral program, as well as teaching general music, music directing the middle school productions, and assisting with band at ABS! She is lover of all types of music, but especially folk rock, bluegrass and americana, as she hails from the mountains of NC. She enjoys performing in the W-S community, traveling, and spending time with her husband, their son James, and their German shepherd Maxwell!
Elizabeth Gledhill – Art Teacher
Elizabeth received her BFA from the UNCSA School of Design and Production and her MAT in Art Education K-12 at Salem College. She has worked as a scenic artist for Sony, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld and several film productions.
Heidi McIver – Drama Teacher
Heidi was trained in acting and directing at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and now works with students at UNCSA in the summer intensives and through the ARCH program (Artists Reaching Children in the Hospital). She has been connected with ABS for nine years now, beginning by choreographing the stage fights for the 5th-grade production of Romeo and Juliet On the Border, and now developing and directing first- through fifth-grade productions throughout the year. She is looking forward to another year of making discoveries with students in creative collaborations. Heidi enjoys acting (particularly Shakespeare), directing, and spending time with her husband and her three dogs.
Betsy Messick – Visual Art Teacher
Betsy has created visual art since she was a young teen, and has studied commercial art, advertising design, and a range of fine arts, including emphasis on ceramics, fibers and printmaking. She has worked in the healing arts as well as community arts development. She received her BA in Fine Arts and Art History from Salem College. She is certified in Non-Profit Management from Duke University, and holds teaching certifications in K – 12 Arts and K – 6 Elementary Education. As a long-time supporter of ABS, Betsy is inspired to watch the school grow, and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the students. She loves creating with the children, encouraging their imagination, helping to build their skills and hopefully promoting life-long lovers of art! Betsy is married to Mike, and together they have two children, both former ABS students: Jessica (a college sophomore) and Jacob (10th grader at R.J. Reynolds High School ).
Chloe Micka – Band Teacher
Chloé made the trip south from Pittsburgh, PA to earn her degree in Instrumental Music Education from Appalachian State University. Since then, she fell in love with everything about ABS through various daily and long-term substitute positions and as a guest musician in the band room. She is thrilled to be back this year as the band teacher and help our students expand their love for making music. Every summer, she ventures back up the mountain to play flute and piccolo in the Ashe County Little Theater musical. During the rest of the year, she enjoys taking pictures, cheering on the Steelers, and playing with her two crazy cats, Sofie and Lola.
Peter Wilbur received his B.A. from UNC-Asheville and his M.A.Ed. from Wake Forest University. After teaching fifth and sixth grade for eleven years, he is now in his sixth year as ABS music teacher. A lover of all kinds of music from country to hip hop to classical, he delights in passing on the joy of music to children. A lifelong learner, Mr. Wilbur has serious passions in visual art, film making, running, hiking, and writing. In 2015 he was awarded the inaugural Arts Educator of Excellence Award by the Winston-Salem Arts Council.
Nick Zayas – Drama Teacher
Nick Zayas is a graduate of the UNCSA High School program and the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Art, where he was a Presidential Scholar. Nick spent several years acting and directing in Los Angeles before falling in love with Arts Based School, after being brought in as a guest artist by Mary Siebert and his former teacher Mr. Bob. Nick enjoys directing plays and musicals in his spare time, as well as occasionally acting in them. He’s thrilled to be back for his fourth year at ABS!