Team Update!


The Forest School team continues to grow with warm-hearted and tough-minded professionals who will guide our heroes.

We're thrilled to introduce you to Ashley, Mary Faith, and Joan!

Ashley Pugmire will be one of our Art Guides at The Forest School. Ashley was born in Casper, Wyoming, but grew up all over the US. She graduated from Fayetteville’s own Whitewater High School and the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program as a Theatre Major. Upon graduation she moved to Washington, DC where she worked at the Park Hyatt and met her husband, Matthew Pugmire in Rockville, MD. She attended University of Maryland, College Park and graduated with a degree in Theatre. During her time she performed as several lead roles, directed multiple productions, and even wrote a few short scripts. Meanwhile she worked full time as a Sales Manager for JOOLA North America. After several years of managing and training sales representatives, Ashley changed her career to focus on education. She started as an independent contractor with the i-School initiate, a student led business, that travels from school to school inspiring innovation and excitement in the classroom through the use of Socratic teaching and technology. Later, after the birth of her daughters she felt a need to better understand the development of the young mind. After much research this led her to the Montessori philosophy, which she then used at home. This spiraled into an opportunity to begin the process to receive her Infant/Toddler Montessori certification at the Montessori Teacher Education Institute of Atlanta, leading her to be an assistant guide at Discovery Montessori in Georgia. Matthew and Ashley have been married for 5 years and have two beautiful girls, Harper (2.5 yrs old) and Lauretta (9 months).


Mary Faith Laughlin will also guide art at The Forest School. Mary Faith grew up in Memphis, TN, but considers herself ‘fairly local’ after calling Georgia home for the past 16 years. After graduating from Auburn University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, Mary Faith worked as a kindergarten teacher and then later as a medical communications intern with The Make-A-Wish Foundation. During that season, Mary Faith gained her certification as a Child Life Specialist, providing psychosocial, bereavement, and developmental support to children in hospitals. She began her professional work at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in the AFLAC Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, implementing therapeutic art activities for patients and their families. While raising her three young children, Mary Faith attended classes at the Showcase School of Photography and has served her local community as a photographer for portraits, real-estate, and several non-profits. Most recently she worked as a social entrepreneur, stylist, and storyteller for Noonday Collection, a fair trade jewelry and accessories line that partners with women in developing countries. Mary Faith's greatest passion and joy is finding ways to both create and connect with her family, friends, and community.  Mary Faith and her husband David reside in Peachtree City with their three children.


Joan Thigpen—a veteran educator and teacher mentor—will serve as volunteer administrator and at The Forest School. Joan is a life-long Georgian, born on the Golden Isles of St. Simons Island. She is a mother of two and a grandmother of four precious children. She has been married to her husband, Roger for 47 years. She has spent over 40 years in education, serving as a school director, teaching in six different states in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade, ESOL and her last stop at Ga. State University where she taught and supervised student teachers. She holds a Master’s degree in Reading and Literacy and a Specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She has seen educational trends come and go throughout her career. Over the past 10 years, she has explored and studied new educational innovative models and feels strongly that “unschooling” needs to happen for our children today. She is passionate about children of all ages and her family. She is excited to be available to help in this founding year of The Forest School.

Please join us in welcoming Ashley, Mary Faith, and Joan! 

Tyler Thigpen