Staff and Board Biographies
HEAD OF SCHOOL – Molly Lord-Garrettson
Molly’s vision of helping young people create a healthy community and world is now being realized in the opening of Peace Valley School. After experiencing a wide range of education models around the world, Molly chose a curriculum based on courage, patience, and healthy communication. At Peace Valley School students’ ideas are put into action as cooperative projects and their agency is key to their self-discovery. Peace Valley School will demonstrate that a One Room, One Farm model of education encourages learning beyond passing a test.
Molly’s teaching journey began in 2000, as a residential counselor at a group home for adjudicated youth, age 12-18. As she helped them with their school assignments, she listened to their personal stories of violence and neglect and became more convinced that dedicating her life to the healthy development of young humans was a path she would travel.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech Communication from the University of Washington, Molly moved to the East Coast and earned her Masters in Teaching in Secondary Social Studies at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She then spent the next five years teaching in Fairfax Co. Public Schools and living in the D.C. area.
In 2008, Molly’s journey lead her to the American International School in Chennai, India. The two years teaching AP Psychology and IB history of Asia & Oceania she considers to be the best professional experience of her career. She enjoyed the freedom, small class sizes, and professional courtesy that the private school offered both her, and her students.
While in Virginia and in India, Molly spent her free time travelling the world. She took classes on trips to Philadelphia and Civil War battlefields as well as to Athens and Turkey. She travelled most of Western Europe including a month in Italy and two weeks at a language institute in Malaga, Spain before travelling to France, Switzerland, and Germany. She has also took the opportunity to visit schools in Accra, Ghana and Adelaide, Australia. She learned to open-water dive in Belize, and saw the wreckage of Carthage in Tunisia. She took the Chinatown bus to watch Broadway shows in New York, and has sipped tea in the Russian Tea Room in NYC and at Harrods in London. In short, Molly likes field trips. She is proud to have visited every state in the United States and 17 other countries.
Molly moved back to Oregon in 2012 in order to start a family with her husband in Yamhill County where they both grew up. She has been teaching a variety of classes (including philosophy, anthropology, and economics along with AP US History and AP Psychology) online through Oregon Virtual Education at Northwest Regional ESD and has had the opportunity to build courses using different Learning Management Systems from home while raising her daughter, Grace.
PRESIDENT – John Hunt
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John grew up in McMinnville where he developed several life long passions including: reading, fishing and, because McMinnville was a lot smaller in the 1990s, a love of role-playing-games. Upon this foundation John was able to build an interesting and diverse career path. His background is in chemical engineering along with a Masters of Science from Oregon State University opened the door to his work in the field of process engineering and light research and development. John has moved up and through continuous improvement, quality engineering, manufacturing management and engineering management. Most recently he’s entered the world of consulting at OMEP (Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership) a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small to medium-sized Oregon manufacturers develop their processes, leadership practices and strategies.
Through all of his experiences, John developed a passion for life-long learning, and believes that everyone should know how to navigate the world with a sense of awareness, curiosity and the ability to learn in order to fulfill all their needs and passions in this life. He is pleased to be a part of Peace Valley School and its mission to create whole, engaged human beings who will have the tools they need to continuously grow through their lives and find meaning and success in whatever path they take.
BOARD SECRETARY – Megan Corvus
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Megan was born and raised in Yamhill County, completed her BA at University of Oregon, then headed off to the east coast to make sure Oregon really was the best place in the country. After years in Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as work-related travel to nearly every state, Megan and her wife Talina returned to settle their family on a small farm near McMinnville. Megan has worked as a Product and Program Manager for several industry-leading companies for over a decade, and she is excited to bring her love of process and organization to Peace Valley School.
Megan enjoys being outside, both at home and abroad, as much as possible, and believes strongly in both the mission and setting of Peace Valley School. Although their son is only a toddler now, she looks forward to enrolling him in Peace Valley School fall of 2025!
BOARD TREASURER – Jann Tankersley
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Jann grew up in California and received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and Master’s of Science in Library Science from the University of Southern California. Her first professional position was with the Los Angeles Public Library system in one of the branch libraries.
She and her husband moved to Salem, Oregon in 1975 and found Oregon to be the place to develop the outdoor lifestyle they wanted. They loved hiking, skiing, hunting (Tom), and camping and felt right at home in their adopted state. She worked in the Leslie Middle School library during their one year in Salem.
In 1976 they moved to McMinnville (population 11,000), and after recovering from culture shock, tears, and “what will I do in this small town?”, she took a position as a Reference Librarian at Linfield College. Later, she took a break and became a stay-at-home mom to two sons. One of her favorite parts of this time was teaching her children to read and encouraging them to learn about topics that interested them. Of course, they were avid users of the public library.
Returning to college to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching from Willamette University, Jann took a position as an Elementary School Teacher-Librarian at Dayton Grade School. Again, she was able to assist students to follow their interests in learning. Now armed with the Internet as a natural progression of the library, the world and lifelong learning was even easier to access.
Jann is very excited to assist with Molly’s dream of the Peace Valley School. The school’s learning and character goals are ones she has always cherished.
BOARD MEMBER – Amanda Countryman
Amanda grew up in McMinnville, Oregon laying down roots of family and friends so strong she never wanted to move very far. After receiving a BA at Willamette University, Amanda built a life in Salem with her husband. Always eager to take on new challenges she happily discovered her professional calling in the field of Human Resources. With an additional HR Certificate soon under her belt from Linfield College she grew her new career from executive assistant level roles to Director of Human Resources in a matter of only a few short years. Today you will find her running the HR department at Marquis Corp., one of the few employee-owned companies in the state.
As a mother of two amazing children, Amanda was more than happy to join the board of Peace Valley School. She looks forward to helping this new local non-profit school become a valuable resource to children, families and businesses within the community.
BOARD MEMBER – Cathleen Auvinen
Cathleen returned to her own education after raising her five girls, completing her degree in primary education with a reading endorsement at Linfield College. She soon added a Master’s Degree from Western Oregon College. For the past twenty years she has been an elementary teacher in McMinnville. Currently, as her school’s reading specialist, she’s able to focus on the area of teaching she’s most inspired by: teaching children who struggle with reading and being a key element in each student’s growth. Cathleen has joined Peace Valley School to be a part of an organization that will make a positive impact on individual students becoming proactive citizens of the world.
Aside from her husband, children, and thirteen grandchildren, Cathleen’s greatest love is the Oregon coast. Whether it’s weekends away or just an evening drive over for dinner, you will find her there often. When the weather just doesn’t agree with beach-combing Cathleen can be found in quilt shops gathering fabric and wisdom for her own quilting adventures.
Like many teenagers, Brian left his hometown as soon as he possibly could. However, after a short college stint in Portland, he decided that his roots would inevitably draw him back home to McMinnville, OR. After finishing his B.S in Education from Western Oregon University he landed what seemed to be a dream teaching job in his hometown.
During his student teaching experience, however, Brian had the opportunity to work with a student population that operated on the fringes of the mainstream. This group of students, with their unique challenges, were labeled “at risk.” Brian soon developed a passion to teach and mentor them as they navigated the High School world. Brian taught for exactly one week in his regular high school classroom before an opportunity came up to teach in an alternative setting. He jumped at the chance. Thirteen years later, he still only has one week of mainstream teaching experience under his belt.
Brian loves being in nature, whether it’s backpacking in the mountains with his two kids, training his ever growing collection of Bonsai trees, tending his garden, or just swinging in a hammock in the sun. He looks forward to bringing his perspective of individualized education, and a one size definitely does not fit all approach to Peace Valley School.
Mike McDaniel is a fourth-generation Oregonian with deep family ties to the Willamette Valley and Yamhill County. Mike grew up in McMinnville where he attended Cook Elementary School, McMinnville Middle School and graduated from McMinnville High School in 1996. He received a B.A. in Geography from Portland State University and an M.A. in Geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in New York. Mike’s professional career has focused on cartography and geographic information systems for public administration, land use analysis, agriculture and infrastructure management. He was worked as a geospatial analyst for the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Northwest Natural Gas.
Outside of work, Mike is actively involved with the Oregon hazelnut industry and the OSU Extension Service. He enjoys cycling, travel and studying the early history of Oregon and Yamhill County. Mike is excited to help Peace Valley School share local and global knowledge with the next generation of students.