Meet Our Gala Auctioneer: Tim Ryan


Tim Ryan with a bonsai tree

Tim Ryan will be our auctioneer at our Gala & Benefit Auction this Saturday. Tim has been involved in the Folk School in so many different ways: instructor, Folk School Board member (1994-2004), Resident Artist in Gardening and Homesteading (2000-2015), storyteller, gardener, auctioneer, kettle cooker, and blacksmith. Let’s get to know him a little bit better!

CP: Let’s talk about auctions since the Gala & Benefit Auction is this Saturday. How did you get into auctioneering?

TR: Benefit auctioning is a niche. I got into it because of Jim Batson, who teaches knife making here at the Folk School. Years ago, at the 2nd Alabama Blacksmith reunion, I took a green coal class and made a great poker with a wizard head on the end. I was finishing the project up and was so proud of it. My instructor came over and picked it up and said, “This is going to sell so good at the auction tonight.” I said, “WHAT?!?” He said, “Oh, you didn’t know? Everything we make in green coal we donate to the auctions to fray the cost of the conference.” I really could have cried. Continue reading Meet Our Gala Auctioneer: Tim Ryan

Flourishing at the Folk School: Corie Pressley

Corie Pressley has lived in tiny Brasstown, North Carolina, all her 21 young years. She commuted to college for two years but this scenic Appalachian community is where she’s grown up, developed, and matured. You might think her life experiences have been limited in this small town.

But that’s where you’d be wrong.

Corie has seen the world in a grain of sand—just like many others who have spent time at John C. Campbell Folk School. She has learned that self-discovery and personal growth are not contingent on traveling the world in a literal sense. Her worldliness comes from within—and from her time growing up in the Folk School’s community of lifelong learners from all corners of the earth.

Her youthful wisdom tells her she has found her place, her home, her sense of purpose. It’s here in the mountains of western North Carolina, in a remote, isolated corner of the world that, ironically, she has learned to be open-minded, creative and adventuresome.

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else,” says Corie, who joined the Folk School’s programming department just last July. “I get to be a small part of making someone’s week here something they’ll never forget. This place has taught me to think critically and to think about things on a deeper level. It’s helped me see things in a creative light and allowed me to learn how to be around other people in the world without being judgmental.”

“Being here, I am discovering just how much there is to learn. How much there is to
experience in life.”

Corie’s family has been connected to the Folk School for at least four generations. Her grandfather Jerry Wilson and his brother Ray, both accomplished in old-time music traditions, made an award-winning recording at the school. Her great-aunt worked in the Craft Shop. As a young girl, Corie attended the Folk School’s Little Middle programs, and danced with the Folk School Cloggers at the yearly Fall Festival.

Corie credits the school with inspiring her and Katie, her twin sister, to pursue their music. As The Pressley Girls, they often play for Morning Song at the Folk School, as well as at festivals, events, and fundraisers. Corie doesn’t read music but learned to play knee-to-knee with her family members. “I’m so grateful for that influence,” she says.

Corie is thankful for her upbringing in Brasstown and is determined to preserve her Appalachian heritage through her music and her work for the school.

“The Folk School is preserving mountain traditions,” she explains. “I think people are drawn to the Folk School because of this. They know they’re a part of something much bigger, part of something that’s been here for generations.”

Corie hopes to encourage younger people to come to the Folk School. “We need them to come learn and understand how important it is to carry on these mountain traditions. To make things and take part in something bigger than yourself.”

We hope you enjoyed reading about how the Folk School has influenced Corie. We are collecting stories for our archives. If you have a Folk School story you would like to share, please email



Dear Folk School Friend,

I’ve mentioned Corie Pressley to you in my previous letters because I think she embodies the profoundly positive influences the Folk School often has on people’s lives. Her familiar story will likely resonate with those of you who feel as though you’re coming home each time you arrive at the Folk School.

Folks come to this rural mountain community, entering the peaceful campus of John C. Campbell Folk School, to spend their days exploring the meditative, the creative, and the productive. They venture outside their comfort zones in small, almost indecipherable ways. And out of this quiet bubble of time, they experience an openness to ideas, form new life-long friendships, and discover just how much they can learn.

We believe helping people flourish is important work.

Your gift to the Folk School—regardless of the amount—makes a huge difference. Your support helps us develop programming, care for our beautiful campus, equip studios, provide learning scholarships and pass along Appalachian traditions to our Little Middle Folk School students.

Please help us sustain the Folk School for the future so that others might discover their own unique grain of sand that lies within.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
–William Blake





Jerry Jackson


The Folk School on WREK Radio Atlanta

Pattie, Mark & Jack in the WREK Studio

Did you get a chance to listen to the interview about the Folk School with Pattie Bagley, Mark Hendry and Jack Smoot on The Avenue Lounge Show on WREK Radio 91.1 FM, Atlanta, GA? If you missed the live show modern technology has preserved the interview for all to enjoy, at any time, here on Soundcloud. Learn about some Folk School history and also about Pattie, Mark, and Jack’s personal stories and experiences.

It just so happens that all three instructors featured in the interview are here teaching this week. Pattie (assisted by Mark) is teaching “Baskets of the Folk School,” and Jack is teaching “Build a Short-scale Mountain Dulcimer.” I wanted to take a moment to thank all three of these Folk School folks for their endless commitment to promoting and supporting the School.

Listen to the radio show with Pattie, Mark & Jack!

The North Avenue Lounge is WREK’s interview show. A big thanks to host Amanda Plumb for featuring the Folk School on the show.

In addition to teaching several times a year, Pattie Bagley is the Resident Artist for Basketry. You can also find her often in the Blacksmithing Shop working at the anvil. Pattie is involved in many Folk School activities and we are so lucky to have her here in the Folk School Community.
In addition to teaching woodworking, Jack Smoot is also on the Folk School Board of Directors. We thank him for all his hard work and always bringing a smile with his love of the rubber chicken.
Mark Hendry has been teaching both basketry and traditional broom making at the Folk School for many years. Mark regularly donates his time to do demonstrations of broom making for events like Fall Festival, Bear on the Square, and Mother Earth News Fair. Pattie and Mark are going to be demonstrating at this year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, May 5 & 6. A big thanks to Mark for all he does for the Folk School!

Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2

We have a new CD, hot of the presses: Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2! The 21-track compilation features a variety of musical selections by local musicians in a diverse array of genres representing the diversity and eclectic flair of the Folk School. Much of the compilation honors multi-generational families that have two or three generations of family members playing music and singing together. CDs are available in the Folk School Craft Shop. Continue reading Night Hoots & Morningsongs, Vol. 2

Welcome Home to the Folk School

A student recently suggested we place a sign above the red door to Keith House saying “Welcome Home.” When I asked him what he meant, he explained each time he returns to the Folk School, it feels like coming home. And that is what this place is to many folks— a place where one can come (and return time and again) to thrive and grow.

I was business manager at the Folk School in the early ’90s, and coming home to step into the role as interim director has given me the opportunity to once again be a part of this vibrant place. These past few months have been a humbling experience. The evolution of the school is nothing short of mind-boggling. The physical growth on the campus alone is stunning, with the most recent addition being the new spacious, light-filled Book & Paper Arts Studio.

In my brief time back, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of students who travel here from all over, eager to learn, make things with their hands, and have new experiences. Ideas flow freely from teacher to student to teacher—everyone creates something new and is enriched in some way. Our students, instructors, and staff understand the joy of this sort of self-discovery, and the astonishment and self-confidence that accompany the realization that you, too, can make things and be creative. It’s a thing of wonder to witness.

Upon the retirement in March of our long-serving director, Jan Davidson, the Folk School’s board of directors partnered with an executive search firm to conduct a national search for the next director, and reached out to over 200 potential candidates. In June, the board voted unanimously to appoint Jerry Jackson as our new director. As the deputy director of Penland School of Crafts for the past 10 years, Jerry brings extensive experience and knowledge. A community leader who is passionate about the arts, he possesses a great deal of enthusiasm for preserving the traditions of the Folk School and leading us forward to our centennial in 2025.

Please join our Folk School family in welcoming Jerry to his new home this August.



Phil Mattox
Interim Director