Meet our first grade teachers

Kathie Fansler – First Grade Teacher

Kathie is delighted to spend her day helping children grow into confident readers, problem-solvers, and thinkers and has been at the Arts Based School since 2015.  She brings to the classroom years of experience in private, public, and charter schools working with learners in Kindergarten through eighth grade; she is an experienced Orton-Gillingham tutor. Kathie studied science, math, and history before earning her master’s degree in education, and she continues her educational journey as a doctoral student researching motivation and learner identity.   In her spare time, Kathie enjoys quilting, writing, playing music, and traveling to national parks for hiking, biking, and kayaking adventures.  She lives in Winston Salem with her husband, children, grandchildren, and faithful companion, Lucy.



Janine Bardell – First Grade Assistant

Janine comes to us from Salem College where she earned her BA in early childhood education. She is originally from New Jersey but now calls North Carolina home. Janine is very excited for this year and to be apart of the first grade team. During her free time Janine enjoys going on adventures, running and spending time with her family and friends.




Nicole Howard – First Grade Teacher
Nicole feels blessed as she anticipates her 7th year teaching 1st grade at the Arts Based School.  She is mother to three ABS alumni.  Her family feels most fortunate to be a part of the inspired ABS community.  Nicole especially loves supporting young learners as they make daily discoveries about the world around them.  She is interested in building relationships and family partnerships in order to provide the best possible learning environment for each student.  In addition to participating in the many activities of her four children, Nicole enjoys playing soccer, photography, cooking, and hiking.




Karon Kiger – First Grade Teacher Assistant
Karen is joining ABS as a first grade assistant working with Nicole Howard.  Ms. Kiger is a veteran teacher retired from Brunson Elementary.






Sherrell McArthur – First Grade Teacher
As a lover of life, Sherrell enjoys finding new ways to connect with people and new ways to eat more healthful foods!  Sherell is passionate about seeing people at their best.  Eating healthful earth foods and sharing joy are two ways she likes to share love. Sherell has extended her arms into the community through after school programs, summer camps, Winston Salem’s visual arts center, and more. This year Sherell has a renewed anticipation for meeting new families, colleagues, and learners all around our school.




Dawanna Benjamin – First Grade Assistant
Dawanna Benjamin is overjoyed to be with Arts Based School as an assistant for the fourteenth year. Dawanna enjoys African dancing, yoga and spending time with her family and friends. She has a son that is a proud alumni of the Arts Based School. Dawanna has shared her love of African dancing with the Arts Based School by doubling as a resident artist with second graders.