Staff Directory and Bios

At Clear Spring, we have the privilege of working with an amazing team of educators. Our team is really a family, working together to surround the children with a sense of community and an integrated learning environment. Read more about our staff below.

Classroom Teachers

Find out more about each teacher's classroom under ACADEMICS

Charla Destry - Pre-Primary and Kindergarten 

Charla has been a member of our school community since 1984. As a parent and then as a teacher, she has seen Clear Spring develop and is a vital part of our family. 


Charla specializing in early childhood education, has extensive Montessori training, is a member of the Junior Master Gardeners Program, and has studied Neurological brain development of children as well as their Social-Emotional growth.

"We do not teach children to learn through harshness but by paying attention to what amuses them."

Rigdon Irvin -  Director (Grades 1-2)

Rigdon has a bachelor's degree in fine arts, a master's degree in education, and 25 years of teaching experience. Throughout his time as an educator, he has received many awards for his work including Teacher of The Year for the Bentonville, AR public school district for the 2005/06 school year and The Walton Arts Center Outstanding Educator Award. He also has participated in extensive educational training, including Skill Path Leadership Training, Love and Logic Training, Arkansas A+, and Great Expectation of Arkansas Institute.


"I love working for Clear Spring because I am given the freedom to allow my students to learn through discovery and hands on learning. It is truly a student centered curriculum.”

Ginny Garber - Elementary (Grades 3-4)

Ginny has a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree in French. She has been a youth mentor and tutor for over 15 years. She has spent time teaching English in France and also teaching French to students in Arkansas. 


 "Kindness begets kindness, respect begets respect; learning is infectious when you make it fun! I appreciate the freedom teachers and students at Clear Spring have to explore concepts in multiple ways, to pursue their true interests and learn self-reliance at a young age."

Chris Barner - Middle (Grades 5-7)

Chris has worked in education for over 15 years. He studied drama at the University of Arkansas. A Clear Spring alumnus, he worked in the Pre-Primary for 10 years, as well as in other education facilities around the state. He returned to Clear Spring in 2018 as the core Lower Middle school teacher, where he is passionate about sharing his love of hands-on learning and community engagement.

Heather Hughes - Upper School Blocks and All School Music

Heather has been teaching for over 15 years. She got her start teaching private drum lessons in Evergreen Colorado in high school and never looked back. She attended the University of Northern Colorado with studies in Music Education, Music Performance, and Music Composition. 


“Clear Spring isn’t a job. It is a way of life that I have fallen in love with. The staff, students, and parents feel like a family. As teachers we have the freedom to follow the student’s interests and help use their passions as vehicles for education. Clear Spring is home.”

Sam G. Faulkner - Upper School Blocks 

Sam has been an educator for over fifteen years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Masters degree in Environmental Studies. Sam is an Arkansas A+ Fellow and is well versed in project based learning and experiential education. 


“I believe in order to create a more humane and responsible world, it is the duty of educational systems to empower students to think critically, take ownership of their emotional worlds, and develop compassion for themselves and the world around them.”

Enrichment Teachers

Find out more about each teacher's classroom under ACADEMICS

Doug Stowe - Director, Wisdom of the Hands Program

Doug has been a professional woodworker for 40+ years and is the author of 13 woodworking books and over 90 articles in woodworking magazines and educational journals. He carries a BA in political science, and has been with Clear Spring School since 2001.

Doug was named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council and Department of Heritage in 2009.


"I believe that children and adults learn best (most thoroughly, most efficiently and to greatest lasting effect) when their hands are engaged and they are doing real things in service tot their interests and those of their families and community."


Carmen Rose- Spanish Education and Cultural Studies

Carmen has been with Clear Spring since 2016. She has worked as an Education and Activities Director and Events Coordinator, and now joins us as our Spanish Teacher!

"Communication is very basic way for humanity to evolve. I believe humanity depends especially now on the continuation of our ways and languages. Every Language is a valuable tool for us to become successful and as free as we want to be.  I want to teach my students to open their minds to travel, to connect with people and traditions, to be able to empathize with those in different situations.  I love being a part of the Clear Spring Community. I get to teach my culture and traditions to my children and their classmates. We get to share a wonderful learning experience within our families and community."

Bethany Smith directs the Clear Spring School’s Beekeeping and Edible Garden Program.

She’s been a successful beekeeper and small-scale homesteader for several years and is the owner of Sedge and Bees Apiaries, LLC. Bethany’s family moved to Eureka Springs in 2018, and her son attends Clear Spring. All children need the experience of caring for living, growing beings very different from themselves, the knowledge that they can do hard things, skills and confidence to create their own food and supplies, and encouragement to appreciate the natural world around them. Bethany enjoys providing these opportunities for the kids at Clear Spring along with her co-conspirator, Ginny Garber. They’ve recently been awarded some much-needed beekeeping and gardening grants by Whole Foods and the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and look forward to expanding the program in the coming seasons. 

Mark Hughes - Sewing and Fiber Arts Education

Mark has been sewing since the age of nine.  He spent 25 years in professional theatre as a costume designer in his hometown of Little Rock before moving to NW Arkansas in 1997 for a life change. He designed and constructed period-appropriate costumes for the Arkansas State Parks system but soon became interested in designing natural-fiber clothing for women. In 2000 he opened his own boutique, Regalia Handmade Clothing in downtown Fayetteville, then moved it to Eureka Springs 14 years ago. Mark is very excited to be working with the Clear Spring students because he knows that sewing increases hand/eye coordination, problem-solving, and opens a world of creative possibilities.

Clear Spring School Administration

Jessica FitzPatrick, Head of School

Jessica is Head of School at Clear Spring this year. This is a return to her educational home. She began teaching at the Pre-School with Charla in 1999 and worked her way through the grades at Clear Spring until 2010 when she left to explore education from a global perspective. She taught in South Korea, Uganda and studied in New Zealand and has now returned to Eureka and Clear Spring School. She has a Masters in Progressive Education from Goddard College in Vermont and is currently in the process of completing her PhD on teacher professional development and the assessment of 21st century skills through the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Dawn Ward, Development Director & Arkansas Artist in Residence

Dawn Ward received her B.A. in Journalism from Northeastern State University in 1985 and her graduate degrees; M.A. in Printmaking, 1991 and PhD. in Art History & Education, 1998 are from New York University. She taught at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Northeastern State University, OK, and Franklin Pierce College, NH, Becker College, MA, and was Department Head & Professor of Art at Arkansas Tech University for six years prior to coming to Clear Spring School as the Development Director.

"As an arts educator who has dedicated my career to 'hands-on' learning I am thrilled to be working at Clear Spring School.  The new Phyllis Poe Hands-on Learning Center is a tribute to arts-integrated education and experiential learning."

Board of Directors

Phyllis Poe President

Steven Beacham -Vice President

Peggy Pot - Past President


Dave Jeffrey - Treasurer


Jane Tucker -Secretary

Will Fulton -Co-Founder


Molly Seeligson -Co-Founder


Jennifer Matthews

Rod Slane

Pam Greenway

Victoria Canter

Sherry Meyers

Chris Ritthaler

Anna C. Smedley-Barner, PhD

Clear Spring School

374 Dairy Hollow Road

 PO Box 511

Eureka Springs, AR 72632

P: 479-253-7888

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