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We Have Appointed Our New Executive Director!

by Cory Marie Podielski on June 23, 2017

in In the News, New & Noteworthy

We have some very exciting news! We are happy to report that our new director has been chosen. Read the press release here:

June 23, 2017

Folk School Names New Executive Director

Jerry Jackson. Photo by Mercedes Jelinek.

Jerry Jackson has been named the new executive director of John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. Jackson, who has served as deputy director of Penland School of Crafts since 2007, will begin work at the school on August 15.

Upon the retirement of its long-serving director, Jan Davidson, the Folk School’s board of directors partnered with Boardwalk Consulting to conduct a wide-ranging national search, and reached out to over 200 potential candidates. Earlier this month the board voted unanimously to appoint Jerry Jackson as its next executive director.

“In Jerry we have a new leader who will inspire and develop our staff, lead strategic planning and operations, and be the engaging voice of our school,” said Trudy Strawn, chair of the John C. Campbell Folk School Board of Directors. “Jerry’s extensive experience, deep commitment to the arts community, personality, and passion will lead the Folk School forward to its centennial in 2025 and beyond.”

During Jackson’s decade at Penland, the school has achieved significant growth and enhancement of programs, facilities and the student experience. Jackson has been responsible for all aspects of operations, including student programming, financial accountability, dining facility, housekeeping, building maintenance and construction and the associated functions. He has provided leadership in strategic planning, managed capital infrastructure projects, and played a key role in support of Penland’s recent $32 million capital campaign.

“Jackson’s hallmarks include passion for the arts, commitment to staff development and collaboration, and focus on the student experience,” stated Carl Dreher, chair of the Folk School’s search committee.

Prior to his decade at Penland, Jackson was executive director of Rocky Mount Arts Center, where he provided leadership and vision for the largest historic preservation site in the southeastern United States.

“I am deeply honored to become part of an organization and community that has profoundly enriched the lives of thousands of individuals for more than 90 years,” said Jackson. “With the support and collaboration of the Folk School and its many friends, I am eager to make a positive contribution to the school and to help ensure a vibrant future for this treasured institution. I look forward to learning and growing together through the many forms of creative expression that collectively define the Folk School experience.”

An artist, collector of craft, and a teacher, Jackson holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts from East Carolina University. His interests include ceramics and painting. Jerry has long been a community leader, serving on the boards of nonprofits including United Way, chambers, and arts and educational institutions. Jerry is married to Jeff Harris, a designer and entrepreneur. They are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren, with another one on the way this fall.

John C. Campbell Folk School provides experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening. Located in scenic Brasstown, NC, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking gardening, nature studies, photography and writing, serving over 6,000 students annually.




Everyone will agree that a week at the Folk School passes too quickly. One minute, it’s Sunday night; you’re getting to know your teacher and studio and looking forward to the week ahead. The next minute, it’s Thursday afternoon, and you’re scrambling to finish work and facing the inevitable: that last meal in the dining hall, the absence of friends who’ve departed early, turning in your nametag, and forcing yourself into the car to drive off campus, leaving only the barn swallows swooping over the fields and the chickens pecking in the now-silent garden.

It’s therefore important to get started right away. In The Science of Bread last week, we spent Monday making French baguettes all together, and talking about how long to knead, how to properly shape dough, how to prepare the oven for baking, and much more. But on Tuesday, it was time for the students to get busy, whether by making the class “regulars” like sourdough and ciabatta or by making the recipes they’d brought to class.

And get busy they did: We saw the creation of a diabetic-friendly nut-and-seed loaf, multiple versions of yeast rolls, the experimental Frankenloaf (which garnered the most praise at the student show), New-York-style bagels, and the ever-popular challahs. By Friday, the students had made dozens of loaves, learning both from successes and failures, and meeting many of the goals they’d brought to class.

It occurred to me that, being June, it’s a good time to think about your goals for the year. In the same way that a week at the Folk School flies by, 2017 is flying by. Have you accomplished any of the things you meant to? If not, there is still time to get busy. For me, 2017 has been a year to practice my writing and grow my editing business. While I’ve been diligently arising early each morning to work, I see room for improvement in the bravery arena: leaving my comfort zone to find new opportunities.

What are your goals for the year? There’s still time to make them happen!




EmilyBuehlerEmily Buehler is the author of this blog and a frequent bread instructor at the Folk School. She became a bread baker in 2001, intending to take a break after finishing a degree in chemistry. Six months later she began teaching bread classes. Emily has written two books: one on bread making called Bread Science, and one about her bicycle trip across America called Somewhere and Nowhere. Visit Emily’s website for more information.

Emily will be teaching her popular bread making class again in 2018.






Next week is a special week for our Book & Paper Arts Program as our brand new beautiful studio opens its doors to students for the very first time. It’s appropriate that the first class is a letterpress printing class considering that printmaking will flourish with the new space and room for equipment and presses. We talked with instructor Jessica White who is teaching the inaugural class about her craft and process. Enjoy our interview!

CP: Congratulations on being the very first instructor to teach class in our brand new Book and Paper Arts Studio! So what drew you letterpress printing? Why is the medium meaningful to you?

JW: When I was a printmaking grad student at the University of Iowa, I made drawings and prints that combined images with text. One day, a friend saw me struggle with different methods of printing the text on a lithograph, and he suggested letterpress. He showed me how to set and print one line of text, and I haven’t stopped since!

For me, letterpress printing started as and still is a means to an end; I like all types of printmaking, but my love of text always brings me back to letterpress because it’s the perfect method to printing my work.

CP: How would you describe your work?

JW: My work tends to be humorous and looks sweetly charming, but there is a philosophical and slightly dark side. I’ve been told that my work is “what you get if Beatrix Potter crashed into Edward Gorey.”

“Never Mind the Bears” letterpress print by Jessica White

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Traditional craft and fine art items are essential elements of the Benefit Auction. In the painting category, this year’s selected poster art is an original watercolor by local Murphy artist, June Rollins.

The star of our auction poster this year is none other than Lady Amethyst, a stunning watercolor by June Rollins. June’s love of irises started in her grandmother’s garden when the majestic flowers were taller than her. June has her own iris garden now where she gets plenty of inspiration for her watercolors. Love the lady? Bid on Lady Amethyst this Saturday at our Annual Gala & Benefit Auction.

See June’s watercolor painting process of Lady Amethyst on her blog where she has an art demo series chronicling the steps. 

Bid on fine crafts during our silent and live auctions, savor delicious food and drink, enjoy live music and, new this year, a raffle for door prizes. [click to continue…]


The new Book & Paper Arts Studio is almost completed, and we’ll begin offering classes there in June. We’re very excited about this much-anticipated expansion of our Book Arts, Paper Arts, Calligraphy, Marbling, and Printmaking Program. We sincerely thank everyone for the energy, enthusiasm, and resources you have generously given to our new studio campaign. Come join us for a class in our beautiful Book & Paper Arts Studio!

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