Meet Us

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 in her home office for an IT company.  


They live in the Solterra Cohousing Community and operate the school out of their home.  Solterra Way Cottage School occupies the second floor loft of their sunny, passive-solar home. 


They have four children between them and were mostly-empty-nest moms until 2020.  They live with their large, gentle rescue dog, Ruth. Patricia's youngest son, John, is living in their guest house and working part time for Solterra Way Cottage School while he attends college.  Her daughter, Hema, moved home in 2020 to ride out the pandemic.  Hema is Deaf and runs her Etsy shop, SignedWithLoveNC, from the house. 

When they 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). 


John Cantrell Saylor is studying physics and computer science at NC State University and works part-time in our school.  He is an experienced Math tutor and gained the respect of young and old alike during his previous job as a summer lifeguard.  He can keep our older students focused on their studies and has worked as an assistant in our Tiny School.  He tutors math at a higher level than Patricia can, and can teach his students a few skills on the basketball court when they need a break.