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Patricia Saylor has been the owner of Solterra Way Cottage School since 2002.  In 2020, she retired from public education and she and her spouse became business partners in the management of Solterra Way Cottage School.  Patricia is still the Head of School and Vicki Gardner is now the Director of Operations. 

Vicki has a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill, but has spent most of her career working in IT project management.  She took eight years of Latin and can finish the NYT crossword puzzle any day of the week.  In addition to her responsibilities with Solterra Way Cottage School, she works for a UNC research institute, and is often found in her home office. 


They live in the Solterra Cohousing Community.  Solterra Way Cottage School occupies the second floor loft of their sunny, passive-solar home, and sometimes operates out of "Le Petit Shedteau," a small guest cottage right across the courtyard from the front door.  

They have four children between them and were mostly-empty-nest moms until 2020 when Patricia's daughter, Hema, moved home to ride out the pandemic and her son John began attending school remotely. 


Hema is Deaf, and is starting a new hospital career in Central Sterile Processing. She sews and sells baby and child blankets as a side business, Signed with Love, NC. She sometimes assists with Deaf students and others who are learning ASL.  

John Cantrell Saylor is studying physics, applied math, and computer science at NC State University.  He works part-time at Solterra Way Cottage School when time permits.  He tutors math at a higher level than Patricia can, and sometimes teaches his students a few skills on the basketball court when they need a break.

Meet Us
Vicki Gardner, Patricia Saylor
Hema Saylor

Their large, gentle rescue dog, Ruth, greets students at the door and takes treats gently from the hands of those who offer.

Good dog Ruth on the beach Oak Island NC
John Saylor

When Vicki and Patricia are not in Durham, you can usually find them at their second home, "Moms' Beach House," on Oak Island NC (when it is not being enjoyed by their Airbnb guests). 

Check out Patricia's introductory video from her Outschool profile.  She asks your understanding that she was recovering from COVID when she recorded it, so she's a little hoarse and less energetic than usual! 

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