Upper School

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Joanne Bartsch

Faculty Information
Location(s) Upper School
Title(s) Upper School Science, Tae Kwon Do Instructor
Other Information

Joanne G. Bartsch is a science teacher in the Upper School. She is also the Upper School science department chair, biology teacher, Tae Kwon Do instructor and volleyball coach. Mrs. Bartsch began working in 1981 at Asheville Country Day School. Joanne's husband attended CDS in Pre-K and both of her children are graduates, Christan, who graduated in 2005 and Perry III, who graduated in 2008. Joanne was a Klingenstein Summer Fellow, and was an Access Excellence Fellow, and is a fourth degree black belt certified instructor in taekwondo. Joanne has received the Betty Lou Davis Award, The Don Scarborough Award, The Elliston Award, the Senior Prize, and The Melissa Ogden Award.

Get to know Joanne G. Bartsch:
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? Well, I’ve never held a teaching job anywhere else, so in large part, my answer to this question is based on second or third hand information or just outright stereotypes.  At the CDS Upper School, there is, and always has been, a greater equality of the relationship between students and faculty than perhaps is possible at other schools. It is not a completely equal relationship, but I think that I can interact with my students more as adult to adult than as teacher to child. I think that comes from our small size. I think it comes from the high expectations our students have of their experience here. I think it comes from our Honor Code and the expectations and assumptions that arise from it. My first assumption about students is that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. A student is late to my class – I assume he is where he is supposed to be and has a good reason for being late. A student has to take a makeup test – I assume she will do so honestly. Sometimes I am wrong – sometimes students don’t do what they are supposed to do. But I think my insistence on assuming the best and adjusting for the worst, rather than the reverse, leads to an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect between students and teachers that allows strong, equitable relationships to develop.”
What do you like most about your job at CDS? “I like my colleagues. I like them in the sense of they’re just really cool people, with a diversity of backgrounds. I like them in the sense that they are gifted, devoted professionals who have sensed a call to teach and who live out that call daily. I like that we have an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect and cooperation – that we are not in competition with one another for status or popularity of salary or position. I really like that we get together daily for lunch – we pile into one room, sometimes practically one on top of the other. Some days we laugh until we cry. Some days we wax poetic or philosophical. Sometimes we whine. But every day, we continue to build a teaching community dedicated to providing an exceptional whole person education for our students.”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? We inspire students to be courageous and curious by establishing relationships with them in which they feel safe, yet challenged. Accepted, yet questioned. If they trust the adults around them, they will take risks.”
How would you describe your classroom? Heck, most of the time, my classroom is a chaotic mess. But I am convinced, time and time again, that really good learning emerges from chaos, whether it is a chaos of thoughts/ideas/knowledge or a chaos of lab equipment.”
What books and authors inspire you? My academic hero is Stephen Jay Gould. His essays are amazing in large part because of the way he asks questions and connects broad and ranging ideas from multiple disciplines together.  His essay on the evolution of Mickey Mouse for example and its relationship to neoteny and retaining juvenile features in development.  He brought his love of baseball and the demise of the .400 hitter to a study of variation within populations. The more that I can read and listen to other great scientists talk about the subjects they love, even sometimes in ways that I can't fully comprehend (it usually takes me a couple of tries to get all the way through his essays), the better able I am to do the same for my students.”
What is your favorite quote about education, mentorship, children, and/or learning? “The issue is not to teach [a child] the sciences, but to give him the taste for loving them.” - Rousseau
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? I believe, with every fiber of my being, that I am called to be a teacher.”
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? Well, I am certainly known for the cow heart dissection. Probably recently, pink crickets. Very hard tests. Cell membrane cookies. They’re great lessons. They’ve worked for years.”
What personal passion brings balance to your life? Taekwondo. No question.  When I don’t have the time for my own practice, I feel myself losing patience with myself and things around me. Taekwondo has taught me to let go of many things. Also, I have served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville and my role at church, whether as an elder or simply as a member of the congregation, strengthens me every day.”
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work? Nah, that’s probably enough. Well, actually, I’ve been here long enough to see a few changes. The school today is hardly recognizable from the school when I began – faces, buildings, mottoes, mascots have changed. But the heart of what we are – an institution strengthened by community and relationship, is what I remember about my first few days here and what I treasure now. Many, many people have come through this place and brought their own energy. Sometimes they’ve brought their own agendas. But the soul of the school where I began my career is still very much here. And I think that’s pretty cool.”
Contact Information
School Email
School Phone
(828) 274-0758   x400
Degree(s) B.S., University of NC- Wilmington
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