Michael Follo is the Director of Education at the North Carolina Outward Bound School and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. He leads Outward Bound wilderness courses for K-12 teachers from public and private schools, and mentors those teachers as they work to translate their Outward Bound experience back to a traditional classroom setting.
Michael received his B.S. from Washington and Lee University and then spent a year at the University of Stuttgart (Germany) as a Fulbright-Hays Scholar before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from Harvard University. Prior to his work at Outward Bound, Michael was a classroom teacher for 25 years. He taught geology at the college level (UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, Colorado College and Colby College) for 12 years, and then spent 13 years teaching high school science at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia and the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.
Michael currently lives in Bat Cave, North Carolina, with his wife, Deb Caughron. He enjoys cycling, photography, and travel — especially exploring mountains both close to home and throughout the world.
Brian is the father of three boys who attend Evergreen. He was born and raised in the Asheville Area. After graduating from Enka High School, Brian attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a BA in Political Science. After college, he worked in New York City for a year before returning to North Carolina to begin law school at Wake Forest University. Brian has been a practicing attorney in the area of serious personal injury litigation since 1991. He also volunteers for Mountain Area Hospice as a legal advisor for patients and their families facing end of life issues. Brian is also a board member and current Vice President of North Asheville Little League. Brian and his wife, Beth, started their family in Raleigh, but before their boys got to be school age, they decided to raise their family in Asheville. In his free time, Brian enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports with his boys, and riding his mountain bike.
Murphy is the proud parent of three young children; two current Evergreen students and a rising Kindergartner. Murphy is from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and went to high school and college in Delaware where he graduated with a B.S. in Geology. After college, Murphy worked for the US National Park Service and California State Parks System, moving between parks in Arizona, Utah, and California focusing on natural and cultural resources, environmental education, and land management issues in the 1990s until he moved to Southern Florida in 2000. While in Florida Murphy continued with the National Park Service as a volunteer but decided to professionally transition into the consulting engineering business.
In 2006 he and his family moved to Asheville where Murphy worked as a geologist and project manager until 2014 performing natural resource and environmental engineering tasks including environmental investigations, contamination assessments, remediation system design, and solid waste engineering. Currently, as a Project Manager with FLS Energy in Asheville he is focused on making solar mainstream through the development and construction of utility-scale solar projects throughout North Carolina as well as spending time with his family learning about and enjoying the natural world around them.
Susan C. Mertz, Executive Director
Susan Mertz has a B.S. degree in Special Education; an M.Ed. in Special Education, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of NC-Greensboro. Susan has worked as a School Improvement Consultant with the Southern Regional Education Board providing consultation, coaching and professional development to schools across the country implementing the school reform model, High Schools That Work/Making Middle Grades Work. Susan was also the Director of The Piedmont School, an independent school for children with learning disabilities, in High Point, NC.
In her role of Executive Director at Evergreen, she provides forward-thinking leadership with strong organizational development skills. She has led the school in aligning the many initiatives, programs and partnerships and creating a collaborative leadership team structure. Susan also led the school through the AdvancEd accreditation process, resulting in full accreditation. She strives to create structures and processes within which her highly skilled and passionate faculty and staff can create magical learning opportunities for children.
Stephanie taught high school French for three years at the Outdoor Academy in Pisgah Forest, and for nine years at Enka High School. She now teaches French to toddlers and pre-schoolers and to her two bilingual boys, ages 1 and 3. She also translates blogs and books from French to English. A native of Washington, D.C., Stephanie has lived in Maine, Vermont, and France, and has studied in Switzerland and in Mali, West Africa. Ensuring that all children have access to an excellent public education and learning community has been the driving force of her own education and career. She moved to the Asheville area in 2000 and is grateful to live in these mountains with her husband, Matt Christie, their two boys, two dogs, and two cats.
Lori Hilliard moved to Western NC in high school and attended UNC-Asheville. She received a BA in Acting and Directing, and after a few years touring in a children’s theatre company she returned to Asheville to become a certified Theatre Arts teacher. Lori has taught high school and middle school drama and directed many community theatres and summer arts camps. A proud mother of two Evergreen students and wife to McRae, Lori continues to teach, direct and perform voice-overs. She plays many roles in her community on and off the stage as an actress, past President of the Junior League of Asheville, a graduate of Leadership Asheville, volunteer and Smart Start Champion for Children.
I have earned an Associate’s of Science degree from Georgia Military College, a Bachelors of Social Work from Mars Hill College, a Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina, and am currently working toward a Doctorate (Ed.D) in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. I have worked in all spectrums of the social work field, from early childhood to older adults. My areas of interest are issues of diversity and culturally relevant teaching strategies, with a goal of bringing all communities together by empowering our youth and creating more tolerant and respectful communities. I believe in the power of education and know that when you have high expectations, culturally relevant teaching strategies, and respect and dignity for all students, then EVERY student has a chance at realizing their dreams.
Eric “Big E” Howard, MSW
Brittany Keeler received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Colorado State University and is certified to teach both elementary and art education. She spent two years teaching and facilitating community outreach programs for the city of Fort Collins. In 2007, she moved to Asheville to teach 4th grade at Evergreen Community Charter School. In 2010, she was awarded the Fund for Teacher’s Grant and traveled to Cambodia and Thailand to do workshops for teachers, with an organization called Teachers Across Borders. After starting a family, Brittany decided to take a break from her teaching career to raise her children and focus on the family glass art business. Brittany loves being outside in nature, working on her pottery, traveling, and Bikram Yoga.
Kevin has been an active supporter and volunteer in the Evergreen Community since 2009, when his oldest child was the first name drawn in the Evergreen lottery and started Kindergarten. He now has two children at Evergreen. Born and raised in Asheville and Weaverville, Kevin is one of the rare natives of the area. A product of Buncombe County Public Schools, he went on to receive his B.S. from Appalachian State University and J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law.
Kevin has many years of experience as an attorney practicing in the area of labor and employment law. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Western Carolina University, where he teaches employment law as part of the Master’s in Human Resources Program. Kevin also owns and manages a real estate investment and development company.
Lynn Player has been teaching at Evergreen since 2007. She is the Exceptional Children’s Teacher for the 7th and 8th grade. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from James Madison University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Western Carolina University. Lynn spent five years working in therapeutic wilderness programs and leading wilderness trips for troubled youth in Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina. From these experiences Lynn gained understanding and compassion for youth who need extra support in life. This nourished her desire to learn more about working with students with disabilities and constantly inspires her to continue supporting their needs.
Lynn is involved in the “Strive Not to Drive” campaign in Asheville and encourages others to find alternative means of transportation to and from school. You may have passed Lynn on the way to school as she often rides her bike to work. She would like to remind you to please pass with care. Lynn spends her free time going to see live music and working in her garden with her husband, Zac Altheimer and her son, Alton.
Theresa is a fourth grade teacher and has been teaching at Evergreen since 2007. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. After working for three years as an environmental educator in the Chicago area, Theresa decided to return to school to pursue a career in the classroom. She received a teaching license from Ashland University while doing graduate work at The Ohio State University. Upon completion of her licensure program, Theresa moved to Asheville in hopes of working at Evergreen. When away from school, Theresa loves spending time planting and playing in and around the Ivy River that runs through her backyard. She enjoys relaxing in the Florida Panhandle with family and exploring in the woods with her fluffy, orange puppy.
Mark is honored to be a community member on the Evergreen Board. He and his parents would have benefited from such a special collective during his youth. At that time, Mark was both a participant and a volunteer for the Asheville Parks & Recreation programs, and he was active within The Health Adventure and American Red Cross locally. Those experiences, along with time and key mentors within Boy Scouts, Project STEAM and their expedition via Outward Bound, and the WNC Magic Club - among many others - helped fill in before Evergreen existed. Despite learning challenges, Mark succeeded within Asheville High and went on to graduate cum laude from Elon University with a B.S. in Business Administration and Economics. This included being selected as a Leadership and a Business Fellow.
During this time, he developed an on-the-ground economic study regarding the then-pending entry of Poland and Hungary into the European Union. He also studied abroad in Australia, the highlight of which was meeting his brilliant and beloved wife, Jodi.
Upon graduating, Mark joined on with the preeminent construction-focused executive search firm, and he now leads their Canadian Division. Mark, an Eagle Scout, volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America, serves on the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment, and previously served on the Board of the Asheville Parks & Greenways Foundation. The DeVerges family is proud to call Asheville home, and they spend most of their time captivated by the antics of their three young sons. You’ll find them camping, canoeing, fishing, and swimming as often as possible.
Fynn comes to Evergreen as she continues to work on a Master's degree in Storyelling and Reading Education. Yes, you read that correctly, she's getting a degree in Storytelling! Originally from Missouri, Fynn also holds a BA in Sociology, but that isn't the half of it. Fynn is fluent in American Sign Language, a certified lifeguard, she knows 14 different ways to tie a bowline knot, and she spent 11 summers coordinating a camp for gifted students. Fynn loves good jokes, bad puns, and tough riddles. When she's not teaching the Program For Advanced Learners (PAL) at Evergreen, you can find her biking, hiking, contra dancing, playing the ukulele, and laughing as much as possible.