Norma Smayda established and continues to run the Saunderstown Weaving School. She is a weaver, teacher, exhibitor, and juror who learned to weave in Norway 45 years ago, returned as an exchange teacher in 1981, and led handweaving tours there for five years. She has an MFA in Visual Design, and has received several distinguished achievement awards.
In 2009 Norma coauthored the book Weaving Designs by Bertha Gray Hayes: Miniature Overshot Patterns. She has written articles for various weaving journals, and has work featured in several books. She is Past President of the Handweavers Guild of America, the New England Weavers Seminar and the Weavers' Guild of Rhode Island. Her special interests include Scandinavian weaving and the lives and works of two historic Rhode Island weavers: William Henry Harrison Rose and Bertha Gray Hayes.
Suzi Ballenger began as an Assistant Weaving Teacher at the school in 2001, and has become an invaluable addition. Over the years Suzi and Norma have developed a fine relationship built on mutual respect and admiration. Suzi is a self-taught weaver who began with Osma Gallinger Tod's book "The Joy of Handweaving", and now she is skillfully and creatively weaving on a loom built for Osma by her husband Milo Gallinger. She has broad teaching experience, always enriching the school with encouragement and ideas.
One of Suzi's major endeavors was to organize the school library with more than 2000 volumes, using the Pourrey Cross Library System. A benefit has been her increasing familiarity with the textile literature.
Suzi says "Every school really is all about the students, and Saunderstown Weaving School is no different. As Norma's assistant, my role here is to be supportive to both the student and the Director. Our respect for the craft of handwork has created a deep respect for each other that prevails throughout the school. Weaving is magic. And the students at the Saunderstown Weaving School exhibit that inherent sense of wonder and beauty in every piece of cloth they create. It is a pleasure to work with them and share in the joy of handweaving."
Occasionally visiting teachers such as Peter Collingwood, Penny Drucker, Anita Mayer, Dini Moes, and Leslie Voiers have held classes here.