Our Team

Our mission is to provide a high quality education for our students.

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Dr. Hannah Reeder, Director

Dr. Reeder received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Appalachian State University. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University. She also has her K-12 school administration certification. Dr. Reeder’s career includes experiences as an elementary classroom teacher and assistant principal. In addition to owning and operating High Country Academy, she serves as an instructor at Appalachian State University in the Reich College of Education. Dr. Reeder loves sharing her passion for learning with the families at High Country Academy. Call her today to set up a free consultation and to learn more about how High Country Academy can help your family.



Lauren has just moved to Boone from upstate South Carolina, where she taught elementary school for ten years. She holds a masters degree in elementary education from Converse College, where she also earned an additional endorsement in gifted education. Lauren loves teaching young students and providing them with the specific skill practice they need to succeed. She is very excited about working with students at High Country Academy!



Natasha graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Elementary Education and currently teaches middle school math at Valle Crucis School. She takes time out of her busy schedule to tutor because she wants to be able to reach more students and make more of a difference. She says that being a tutor gives her the opportunity to make one-on-one connections with students, which is priceless. To her, it is all about that “light bulb” moment when students make connections.


Hannah Starling

High School Biology, SAT/ACT/GRE Prep

Hannah has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Wildlife Biology, and is working toward a career in academia as a research professor. Hannah's years of experience with environmental education solidified her love of teaching. She enjoys the challenge of explaining concepts in a way that will "click" for individual students.


Katie Parker, Elementary

Katie recently moved to Blowing Rock from Raleigh, North Carolina.  She has a bachelors of science degree from North Carolina State University in elementary education.  She taught 2nd grade for four years in Raleigh and has a focus in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teaching.  Katie loves to help students meet their academic potential and is very excited about helping young minds grow!



Debbie is a high country local with 27 years experience as a classroom teacher in public education, and has worked at Hardin Park and Cove Creek Schools. She believes middle schoolers should have a strong foundation for high school and they should dream big. Debbie has served as the Watauga County Association of Educators President and North Carolina Association of Educators District President.  Debbie holds a Masters in Education from Appalachian State University.


Robert Gucwa

High School Math, Chemistry

Robert graduated from ASU in 2016 with a dual degree in chemistry and psychology. While in school, he tutored biochemistry and was a teaching assistant for biochemistry and organic chemistry. Since graduation, he has tutored chemistry and math privately. Eventually, he would like to attain a PhD in Neuroscience, and then teach and research at the university level. He lives on a christmas tree farm in Valle Crucis, is in love with music, food, and science, and believes that every person, no matter their age, should never stop learning.


Patty Swartzbaugh, Elementary

Patty moved to the High Country last September, bought an apple farm and has been enjoying life in the beautiful mountains.  She started her career as a Speech and Language Pathologist in the Tennessee public schools, then became passionate about literacy and returned to school to earn a Master's degree.  Patty worked in a private school as a reading and writing specialist working with children in small groups, and has most recently worked with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council as the program manager. Patty is looking forward to helping children learn skills and strategies for an extraordinary future.




Meet Dan, our lead high school math and science tutor. Dan was originally a businessman who began his teaching career through SAT classes. SAT tutoring led to tutoring in calculus, physics, chemistry, and other subjects. Dan found that he really enjoyed explaining the subject matter to students. Dan holds a graduate degree in Law from Rutgers and has over ten years experience tutoring students. 


Emily driver

Emily was born and raised in the eastern part of North Carolina, but has lived in Boone since the fall of 2012. In addition to serving as administrative assistant here at High Country Academy, she is also working towards a Master’s in Middle Grades Education, and tutors middle school math and English. Emily has a passion for education, and loves to see students of all ages grow and learn!