Faculty & Staff Directory


Faculty & Staff Directory



Executive Director

Executive Director

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Dr. Susan Mertz, Executive Director | x1221

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.


Academic Support

Academic Support

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Rose Goldfarb, Academic Support

I was born in raised in and around Austin, Texas.  I went to the University of North Texas where I earned a BA in Psychology.  I worked in the mental health field for several years working with both children and adults.  I then went back to school at Texas State University where I earned my Masters in Special Education.  After teaching for a few years, my husband and I decided to embark on a new adventure and I became a stay at home mom with my son, Ewan.  

Having both grown up in Texas, my husband and I were ready for a change of scenery.  We traveled around the US and fell in love with Asheville and then moved here as fast as we could.  We are so thrilled to get to live in such a beautiful, wonderful place.  I am also very proud and excited to get to work at Evergreen.

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Carrie Pusey, Director of EverLearning

Carrie graduated from Carson-Newman College with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and an MEd in Counseling.  After a few years working in environmental education and outdoor retail in the Great Smoky Mountains, Carrie journeyed to Winston-Salem where she taught middle school at Triad Academy.   She was trained at the associate and certified level in Orton-Gillingham instruction while at Triad Academy.  She was immersed in the world of dyslexia and learning differences and found a love for this work. 

After four years in WInston-Salem, Carrie and her husband Caleb moved to Asheville to be closer to friends and family and a landscape they adore.  She was honored to be given a position as a 5th grade lead teacher at Evergreen.  After 3 years in 5th grade, she transitioned into her current position as an Academic Support/Title 1 teacher and the director of EverLearning.  

When Carrie is not teaching she is enjoying time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, traveling, climbing, gardening, and caring for her furry and feathered friends.



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Cameron Brantley, Associate Director K-4 | X1238

Cameron earned a degree in business administration from San Diego State University, followed by a degree in psychology and teaching credentials from Metropolitan State College in Denver. His education continued at the University of Northern Colorado where he earned a masters degree in gifted education. He taught both in the regular classroom and as a facilitator of gifted and talented children for 15 years before moving into the administration role.

Cameron has been a part of the Evergreen community as faculty and a parent since 2007. His away from school time is spent being with his wife and two kids, a cat and a dog.  He loves to spend his free moments cycling, reading, and working around the house on two acres in Candler.

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Jen Watkins, Associate Director 5-8 | X1254

Jen Watkins has worked at Evergreen since 2006, beginning as an Academic Support teacher before transitioning into her current role as Associate Director in 2016. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and lived in several different states before settling in Asheville. After graduating from Furman University, she began her career as a classroom teacher before joining the Evergreen community. Her children both graduated from Evergreen and she cherishes her experience as an Evergreen parent for many years. She is an avid soccer player, runner, hiker, and loves working with children and families to make Evergreen such a special place to grow and learn.

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Kathy Norris, Exceptional Children and 504 Coordinator | x1236

Kathy Norris began her teaching career in 1985 after graduating from Appalachian State University and moving to Colorado Springs. She continued her teaching journey in Raleigh, NC and St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana before moving to the mountains of North Carolina. She earned her Master’s in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders from Western Carolina University in 2000. Her teaching experiences range from kindergarten to college level. She has a husband who is a high school English and Academically Gifted teacher. Kevin and Kathy have two wonderful sons who live in Austin TX. 

Kathy loves being with her family, meeting new people, and working in the field of education. She believes that every person can learn and has individual gifts, strengths and needs. Everyone’s strengths and gifts should be recognized, celebrated and encouraged in a supportive community of learners.





Jillian Silvernail, AIG

Jillian and her husband just moved to Hendersonville from Florida and are originally from Virginia. They missed the seasons and all that the mountains have to offer, so here they are! Jillian earned her Bachelor of Science degree during her undergraduate time at James Madison University studying Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies with a minor in Elementary Education. She then progressed to her graduate school experience also at James Madison University earning her Master of Arts in Teaching while majoring in Elementary Education. During college, Jillian was granted the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Accra, Ghana and teach in a local rehabilitation school there.  She also had the chance to work with an NGO and briefly teach students in Chacraseca, Nicaragua. Jillian then traveled with her brother to Bali and Bangkok to explore the natural landscape and culture. Upon traveling to these countries and others growing up, Jillian has new expectations for herself as an educator that have molded her teaching philosophy. She believes children each have a unique set of gifts to share with and serve others and that it is her duty to create an open, diverse learning community that enables a safe place for children to experiment with those gifts. She is thrilled to be in an environment such as Evergreen that fully supports this type of experiential and hands-on learning!

In her spare time, Jillian likes to train for the swimming and biking portions of relay triathlons, engage in mindfulness practices associated with yoga, do Pilates, hike, camp, cook and bake with clean ingredients, practice pure habits in her home, and her and husband are learning how to grow their own produce! The most important thing Jillian tries to share with others is kindness-a smile or thoughtful gesture can go so far!


Kendall Strasser, AIG

Kendall attended the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay where she earned her degree is in Mathematics. While attending UW-GB, Kendall traveled to Cape Town, South Africa. After graduating, her first teaching position was at Antigo High School where she taught Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Geometry for two years. At the end of her second year, she decided that it was time to strike out on her own adventure and moved to Asheville. While she misses her family in Wisconsin, the mountains and the surrounding beauty more than make up for it. She taught 6th grade math for three years at Asheville Middle School, and decided to make another big change. This is her first year teaching at Evergreen. Kendall believes that every child deserves love and compassion and the opportunity to challenge themselves.

Kendall enjoys hiking with her husband Elijah and their Chihuahuas, Jenny and Debby. She also likes to paint in her spare time.

Business Office

Business Office

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Beth Rhatigan, Business Manager | x1218

Beth Rhatigan brings over 18 years of experience in accounting/finance, human resources, marketing, research, and office management. Her experience includes four years serving as a founding staff member and Director of Operations at The Franklin School of Innovation and three previous years working as the Community Development Coordinator at Evergreen. In her free time, Beth enjoys reading, spending time outdoors and with her husband and three teenage children.

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Margaret Fuller, Receptionist and Office Assistant | x1500

Margaret brings over twelve years of experience working as an Administrative Assistant for non-profit organizations. She has presented Arts-In-Education programs for students grades K-12. Margaret is a native of Asheville and has four adult children and ten beautiful grandchildren.

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Jean Reese, Business Office Assistant | x1213

Jean started at Evergreen as a parent volunteer, and currently works behind the scenes to help keep Evergreen running smoothly. She has worked as an editor, researcher, freelance writer and photographer for various organizations over the years. Jean has a Masters in Public Administration from Auburn University, as well as a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Indiana University. She and her husband recently moved to Brevard, where he teaches in the music department at Brevard College, and have one child, an Evergreen graduate now attending Guilford College.




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Kriya Lendzion, NCC, LPC, LCAS, CSAPC
5-8 Counselor & Crew Coordinator | x1204

Kriya joined the Evergreen community in 2008. She has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology, a Masters Degree in Mental Health counseling, and post-grad studies in "high risk" youth and addictions. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, an Internationally Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist, a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, and Licensed School Counselor. Kriya has experience counseling and teaching life skills to youth in alternative school settings with Juvenile Justice, pregnant and parenting teens, high-risk girls, and expelled boys. She is a renowned substance abuse educator and parent coach, leading workshops and seminars throughout North Carolina.

Kriya also has a background in intercultural education, equity work, and various expressive arts, which she weaves into her counseling and life skills education.  She is also the proud parent of an Evergreen alumni! During working and non-working hours Kriya enjoys dance, yoga, singing, gardening, cooking and time spent in the gorgeous nature of North Carolina.

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Annie Mast, LPCA, NCC, MT-BC
K-4 Behavior Support Counselor & Music Therapist | x1312

Annie joined the Evergreen community in 2016. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy/Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Education/Counseling. Annie is nationally certified as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and Board Certified Music Therapist as well as a Licensed School Counselor in the state of North Carolina. She has nearly 15 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families as a music therapist and/or counselor. Over the years, Annie has worked within K-12 school systems, medical hospitals, mental health treatment facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation programs, resource centers for individuals with special needs, and private practice. She also had the opportunity to provide music-assisted anxiety relief and pain management to bone marrow transplant patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN—a defining experience of her career in the helping profession thus far.

Annie lives in Asheville with her husband Mike, their dog Rory, and two cats: Moose and Callie. When she’s not working, Annie will most likely be found twirling at a concert, making music with her band Pearl Street, exploring the beautiful mountains of Western NC, cooking for friends, or traveling to far off places…whenever possible. ☺ 

Development Office

Development Office


Susan Haldane, Director of Development | x1216

Susan has a B.S. in Psychology from UNC-Greensboro and a Masters in Liberal Arts and Sciences from UNC-Asheville. Growing up in a military family, Susan has lived and traveled throughout the United States and abroad. After a career in hotel management in Asheville, Richmond, VA and Chicago, she came to her senses and returned to the beautiful mountains of WNC. She comes to Evergreen with extension fundraising experience, having worked in local non-profits and for a local consulting company as a project coordinator for various local capital campaigns. Susan joins us from the Office of College Advancement at A-B Tech Community College, where she served as Development/Events Coordinator.

Susan believes strongly in giving back to the community where she lives and has been involved with numerous nonprofits in the area, including Our VOICE, Mission’s Rathbun House, the Asheville Humane Society, and Trinity Episcopal Church. In her free time, she enjoys just about any outdoor activity, as well as exploring the local music and restaurant scene.

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Lauren Stepp, Communications and Development Coordinator | x1257

Lauren Stepp earned a B.A. in English from Western Carolina University and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from WCU as well. Having freelanced for publications like Mountain Xpress and The Laurel of Asheville, Lauren considers herself a storyteller and understands the importance of a strong narrative in donor relations. In volunteering for OpenDoors of Asheville, for instance, Lauren worked closely with staff and executive leadership to broadcast important stories and bolster donations. Stories also proved useful when she helped the Highlands Biological Station apply for a federal grant to benefit environmental education in rural, low-wealth areas of western North Carolina. Before joining Evergreen's team, Lauren served WCU in myriad capacities including grants administration and student support.

Lauren loves hiking, kayaking, learning all she can learn about nonprofit administration, and spending time with her nephew. She looks forward to being an Evergreen advocate.


Differentiated Services

Differentiated Services

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Kathy Norris, Exceptional Children and 504 Coordinator | x1236

Kathy Norris began her teaching career in 1985 after graduating from Appalachian State University and moving to Colorado Springs. She continued her teaching journey in Raleigh, NC and St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana before moving to the mountains of North Carolina. She earned her Master’s in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders from Western Carolina University in 2000. Her teaching experiences range from kindergarten to college level. She has a husband who is a high school English and Academically Gifted teacher. Kevin and Kathy have two wonderful sons who live in Austin TX. 

Kathy loves being with her family, meeting new people, and working in the field of education. She believes that every person can learn and has individual gifts, strengths and needs. Everyone’s strengths and gifts should be recognized, celebrated and encouraged in a supportive community of learners.

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Kay Cole, 1st Grade EC Associate Teacher

Kay grew up in Berea KY, and graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.  She has lived in Western North Carolina for 25+ years, and has been lucky enough to enjoy a number of careers, providing her with a variety of skills that come in handy usually when least expected. However, while teaching preschool for three year olds, she found her place in the world, and working with special needs kids has become the greatest gift of all. 

Kay lives in Leicester on a farm that has been in her husband Anthony's family for 6 generations.  He works hard raising sheep, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, peppers, Christmas trees and other odds and ends. They are the proud parents of two kids, Eli and Anna, an Evergreen graduate and an Evergreen middle school student, respectively.  In her spare time, Kay enjoys reading, knitting a lot, history, her two dogs and two cats, camping and exploring Western North Carolina.  Her current obsession is American Sign Language, and it’s a great adventure learning this amazing language, and sharing it with her students.


Katie Dake, EC

Katie just moved to Asheville after spending the past year teaching and traveling in Thailand. She taught for 10 years in Brooklyn, NY and 3 years in Chattanooga, TN where she grew up. She has experience in 1st, 2nd, and Exceptional Children K-2. When she isn’t teaching, she is enjoying time with her wife and her rescue pup. They love camping, hiking, traveling, and cooking delicious meals. She also loves to bake and explore her new neighborhood. She is very excited to be a part of the Evergreen community! 

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Toerin Kintner, 2nd - 4th Grade EC Teacher

Toerin knew she wanted to work with exceptional children since she was in 7th grade. She began her work with as a summer teacher to children involved in the exceptional children recreation program. She graduated from James Madison University in Virginia in Special Education. After graduation, she moved to New York City and worked with kids on the street with Covenant House. Next, she left the country to work with families in Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity. She returned and spent many years working with the Hispanic/Latino community in Asheville. She worked in early intervention with Spanish-speaking families of children, birth-3. She became involved with Evergreen when her son started kindergarten. She began as a tutor with Evergreen and was hired to teach in the EC department for K-3rd grade. Both of her children attend Evergreen and her husband owns his own engineering and electrical contracting business. Toerin enjoys spending time with her family and can usually be found on the soccer fields watching her kids playing.

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Laura Brooks Mears, EC

Laura has lived on the North Carolina coast for 31 years, and recently moved to Asheville to enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful mountains.  Laura has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNC-Wilmington and a Master’s degree in Social Work from East Carolina University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and worked for thirteen years in the mental health field specializing in helping children of domestic violence.  

Eventually, Laura found her way to the area of education. Her true passion! She is a licensed Exceptional Children’s teacher K-12 and a licensed general education English Language Arts Teacher grades 6 through 9.  She worked for Brunswick County Schools for 14 years, 11 of which were in special education. She knew she wanted to work with children since high school. She has ADHD and a learning disability, and has a unique understanding of children with learning differences.  

Laura enjoys all types of outdoor activities.  She is an avid Star Wars and LEGO fan and has a huge collection of vintage items.  Here at Evergreen she is known as JediLaura. And yes, she is strong with the force!


Lynn Millar, EC Bridge Room

Coming soon!


Lynn Player, 7th and 8th Grade EC Teacher

Lynn Player has been teaching at Evergreen since 2007. She is the Exceptional Children’s Teacher for the 7th and 8th grade. Lynn was Evergreen's Teacher of the Year in 2014 and was a finalist for North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year. 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 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 and her son, Alton. Lynn is working toward her certification in Neurofeedback and hopes that this will bring new opportunities for her students.


Carole Soucaze, Speech Language Pathologist

A native New Yorker, Carol graduated from Douglass College of Rutgers University with a BA in Speech-Language Pathology and from Vanderbilt University twice - once with a MS in Speech-Language Pathology and again with an Education Specialist degree in Human Development. She arrived in Asheville about a year ago, after an unexpectedly lengthy stay in Tennessee. While in Tennessee, she was a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in teaching children with language processing deficits. Her passions include raising her two beautiful daughters, ages 4 and 8, swimming, quilting, redbuds and groundhogs. She is known in several states for her elaborate practical jokes. Consider this your heads up!

Enrichment Faculty

Enrichment Faculty


Mary Ann Athens, K-8 Art

Mary Ann Athens has taught visual art in North Carolina public schools for 19 years and holds a B.A. in Art from Agnes Scott College and M.A.Ed. from Western Carolina University. Mary Ann is a 2007 National Board Certified teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Art and has worked with young artists of all ages in afterschool and summer art classes. She has also been a lifeguard, camp counselor and wedding singer. She is married to Clay Griffith and they have two children, Will and Virginia.


Brian Bickel, K-8 Music

Brian has taught music for 22 years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa in Music and a master’s in Music Education from the University of South Florida. He is also a certified instructor of Little Kids Rock and Orff-Schulwerk. He lives in Alexander with his wife, Patsy.

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Laura Branch, K-8 Librarian

Laura has worked as Evergreen's librarian since 2006. She has a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and a Masters degree in Library Sciences.  She loves reading and sharing books with students so she can inspire them to love to read also.  Her library is filled with Curious George dolls and she knows you're never too old for a good read-aloud or a great picture book.  

Laura loves to travel and currently co-leads yearly excursions with Evergreen middle school students. Hopefully, introducing our young people to our global neighbors will make for a more peaceful future for us all. So far she's visited six continents and hopes to reach them all someday.Before coming to Evergreen, Laura worked as a wildlife rehabilitator and she still loves animals.  She grew up in Morganton, NC and spends her time playing with her dogs and cats, reading, and planning her next adventure. She is also currently serving on Evergreen's Board of Directors. 

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Jo Giordano, K-8 Adventure PE

Jo began teaching Adventure PE in 2004. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Warren Wilson College, a Masters in Physical Education from the University of South Florida, and is an Outward Bound semester course alumna.

Throughout her time at Evergreen she has helped start many outdoor education & sports programs including climbing, mountain biking, ropes course, ski and snowboarding, and co-founded the school's sports league. We are meant to move. When in doubt, play it out.

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Marin Leroy, K-8 Environmental Education Coordinator

Marin is a native of Northern California where she received her BS in Environmental Biology and Botany at Humboldt State University and began her journey as an Environmental Educator. She shared her love of wilderness and adventure with youth teaching ecology in the Redwoods, leading trail restoration crews throughout the Pacific Northwest, and guiding wilderness excursions in the mountains of New Hampshire.After many seasons and many adventures, Marin began to wonder why connecting with the natural world couldn't be more integrated into the daily lives of all children. She felt passionate that Environmental Education shouldn't be reserved just for camp and summertime adventures, rather, that it is a powerful lens for teaching across the curriculum throughout the year. Marin completed a MS in Environmental Studies and received her high school teaching certificate in biology from Antioch New England in Keene, New Hampshire, and has been working in public schools to design curriculum and experiences engaging students with their community and the natural world ever since.

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Kevin Smith, K-8 Technology

Kevin Smith has a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Warren Wilson College. He was hired as a fourth grade teacher with Evergreen back in 2004. In 2005, he was honored by his colleagues and received Evergreen's Teacher of the Year award. He was one of twelve in the state nominated for North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year. After five years of teaching fourth grade, Kevin became the school's Technology teacher. He also manages the school's social media endeavors and content creation. Kevin loves nothing more than spending time with his son. He is passionate about photography. He also enjoys a variety of outdoor activities such as rock climbing, paddling, and hiking in and around Western North Carolina.

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Doug White, K-8 Adventure Coordinator

Doug served as a 6th grade Associate for three years prior to become the Adventure Coordinator at Evergreen. Doug has worked with various ages and populations in the public school setting. He also has over 10 years of experience working for Outward Bound and brings the experiential education model into his classes. In regards to his philosophy on education, Doug believes that educators best serve their students by simply making space, asking them questions and listening to their answers.  And if he's not on campus or in the woods, check Lowes.




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Bob Oakes, Facilities Manager | x1501

Bob Oakes has worked in service to children since 1979 including management positions in residential treatment centers and owning and operating a child care center with his wife Ann. Bob has a Masters in Human Services Administration from Antioch/New England College.

Bob has been at Evergreen since 2003. He first held Associate Teacher positions in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades, followed by five years as Evergreen's Business Manager before his present position as Facilities Manager. Combining his love of music and children, Bob has been a children's musician, music teacher and guitar teacher as well as being a long-time member of Evergreen's house band the StringGreens. He has four children and moved from Connecticut to North Carolina in 2000.

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Ricky Price, Maintenance

Ricky has been working at Evergreen since 2005. He enjoys woodworking, and can sometimes be found with a karaoke microphone in his hand.

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Donnie Roberts, Head Custodian

Donnie first came to us as a temporary employee and soon was known throughout the school for his helpful and gentlemanly manner. He is now our head custodian. Donnie has worked in custodial and maintenance in Florida and Tennessee. He lives with his family in Asheville and enjoys weekend sports.


Network Administration

Network Administration


Dave Costelloe, Network Administrator

Dave holds degrees in Network Technology and Information Security from AB Tech College. Coming from a long history of working with computers and electronics, Dave enjoys keeping the technology working at Evergreen. When he is not working on computers, Dave enjoys gaming, gardening, writing, and being the proud father of his two children, Taylor and Ben.


Student Services

Student Services

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Sarah Hartnett, Director of Student Services | x1214

Sarah began working with children and their families in 2001, after completing her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah. Sarah’s earned over 300 training hours surrounding child development and family dynamics. Sarah’s professional experiences have included work with Early Head Start, Kane County Health Department in Illinois, Children’s Developmental Services Agency here in WNC and a myriad of other opportunities that have led Sarah to Student Services.

Sarah’s time at Evergreen has included a variety of roles including Assisting with Student Services, Garden Coordinator, Associate Teacher for 5th, 7th and 8th grade, Behavior Support Specialist and as an Exceptional Children's Associate Teacher.

Sarah volunteers and serves in various ways at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville. Sarah and her wife, Kate are licensed foster parents with Buncombe County, as well. Sarah loves hiking, camping with Kate and their son, Jack. Sarah's other favorite activities include birding, drawing, trail running, yoga, writing, cooking and baking. Sarah looks forward to sharing experiences with the students and families at Evergreen and being a part of the learning community guiding them through exploration and adventure as they grow and develop each day.




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Heather Tate, K Lead Teacher

Heather has been teaching with Evergreen since the school’s beginning in 1999. She has been teaching Kindergarten since 2001. Although she grew up in Asheville, Heather attended UNC-Charlotte before transferring home to UNC-Asheville where she graduated with a BA in Sociology. She attained her licensure in K-6 elementary education from Mars Hill University. Heather has a National Board Certification (2008) along with Basic Orton-Gillingham Certification. She is a past member of the Board of Directors and currently serves on both the School Improvement Team and the Equity Leadership Team. She was named Evergreen Teacher of the Year in 2006.

Heather and her husband are the proud parents of two daughters, Keilayn and Breona, who are both former Evergreen students. The family is passionate about animals and have fostered over 25 puppies, dogs, kittens, and even a rabbit! They have 5 pets of their own, 3 of which were "foster fails."

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Laura Arnall, K Associate Teacher

Laura has worked as a Kindergarten Associate Teacher at Evergreen since 2017. Prior to working at Evergreen, Laura taught 1st grade for 12 years before taking some time off to start a family. She has two wonderful daughters, Georgia and Camille, who are students at Evergreen.

When she’s not at Evergreen, Laura can be found playing with her husband, children and two fur babies. They love to explore in the woods, have picnics on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and chase seagulls at the beach. If you can’t find Laura at any of those places, then she’s probably at home washing dishes.

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Cathe Bradshaw, K Lead Teacher

Cathe completed most of her liberal arts education at East Carolina University and then received her B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in philosophy and concentration in early childhood from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Cathe has worked with children in many different settings, including being a site director for a before and after school/summer camp program and being a teacher in Buncombe County Schools for five years. 

Cathe is thrilled to be a part of the Evergreen community since 2003. She lives in West Asheville with her husband and has two children who were Everlasters. When not working, Cathe enjoys crafting, gardening, and sewing.

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Brittany York, K Associate Teacher

Brittany York is a born and bred North Carolinian. She was born in Burlington, North Carolina, and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. After graduation, Brittany moved to Naples, Florida to intern as an Environmental Education and Animal Husbandry Intern at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Following that internship, Brittany knew she wanted to further pursue environmental education. In 2015, Brittany and her boyfriend moved to Swannanoa, North Carolina, and she began graduate school at Montreat College. Brittany graduated with a Master of Science degree in Environmental Education in August of 2018. Brittany loves the mountains and the beach. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, dancing, practicing yoga, painting, cooking, baking, snorkeling/scuba diving, hanging out with friends, and doing most anything outdoors. Brittany has a great love for animals (especially owls), and has two pets of her own. She has an orange tabby cat named Puma and a corn snake named Merlin. 

First Grade

First Grade

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Katie Edwards, 1st Grade Lead Teacher

Katie earned a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Religious Studies from East Carolina University. After an Americorps internship inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cades Cove, TN, she decided to earn her MAT in elementary education from East Carolina University.

Katie began teaching first grade in eastern NC before fulfilling her dream of moving to the mountains in 2008. Since then, she has taught kindergarten and first grade for Buncombe County before making the exciting transition to Evergreen. 

Katie lives in Fairview with her husband and two dogs. She enjoys camping and hiking, floating and paddling in her kayak, and traveling domestically and abroad. 


Abby Bradley, 1st Grade Associate Teacher

Abby is excited for her very first year at Evergreen! Originally from the Boston area, she moved to Asheville a year ago after traveling all across the country. She earned a BA in Psychology from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Here, she also partook in an elementary education program where she student taught for grades K-6. The past three years she has taught outdoor education in three different states (CA, TX, NC) and is thrilled to get back into the "indoor" classroom! 

In her downtime, Abby enjoys any outdoor activity including backpacking, kayaking, and handling reptiles.

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Misty McDonough, 1st Grade Lead Teacher

Misty has a master’s degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and several years of experience as a preschool teacher in a Waldorf school. Her undergraduate work was in psychology and business administration. She joined the Evergreen community in 2006 when she moved to the mountains with her husband. Misty was drawn to Evergreen by the holistic aspects of the expeditionary learning curriculum and has found that she feels at home in this unique community. Misty's hobbies include reading, gardening, traveling, and playing in rivers, lakes and oceans. She now has a daughter, Leah, and enjoys watching her as she grows and changes each day!

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Amanda Cloyd, 1st Grade Associate Teacher

Amanda has a K-12 Art Education Degree from UNC Asheville and a Hotel and Restaurant Management Degree from AB Tech Community College. Her experience in the Hospitality Industry brought her to realize her love for serving others in the community. After many years of making memories through special events coordinating and
serving at many of Asheville’s Historic properties she felt that she could do more to influence and make memories for future generations in a positive way. This is when she returned back to school to receive her Art Education Degree. Through her experiences in the UNCA Education
Program, working with the Asheville Art Museum, and working with Evergreen’s Summer & EverAfter Programs, she is delighted to step in as Misty’s Associate Teacher.
She is grateful to be a part of a teaching community that guides and encourages students to grow through meaningful challenges, respect for diversity in others and the environment around them. Amanda feels that every experience helps define and strengthen our character and as an aspiring teacher she wants to continue to guide students towards strengthening and defining how they want to impact their own community. When she is not
building her own pathway in a teaching career she spends her time painting or creating in her home studio, snuggling and loving on her three cat fur babies, hiking, cooking, and checking out new places in Asheville’s growing community.

Second Grade

Second Grade

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Sally Boerschig, 2nd Grade Lead Teacher

Sally has a B.A. in Russian and International Development and an M.S. in Environmental Education. She has taught in many settings in the US and abroad, including teaching English in Taiwan and teacher training in Russia. In addition to her years teaching, she worked in the solid waste and recycling field.

She is thrilled to work with 2nd graders and help them along their paths of lifelong learning. Sally and her husband, Richard, are proud parents of two children who both attended Evergreen at one time but are now graduated from high school. When not teaching, she enjoys reading, doing arts and crafts, playing tennis, gardening, and hiking.

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Jessica Stepp, 2nd Grade Associate Teacher

Jessica is a K-6 certified classroom teacher but has been "stuck" in 2nd grade upon completing the UNCA K-6 licensure program in 2014. She thinks 2nd grade is the best and just can't seem to leave! She is truly passionate about the charter school community and integrating social responsibility, environmental compassion, and character development into a caring, interactive environment. She hopes to inspire her students to never stop exploring, asking questions, and discovering excitement in the littlest of things.

Jessica also has a degree in Art and Mass Communication. In her spare time you will find her cooking, spending time in nature, or working out at the YMCA. Jessica lives in Arden with her husband, Andrew, and their new son, Owen, who was born in June.

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Susan Thompson, 2nd Grade Lead Teacher

Susan received a MA in Theatre Arts and Communications from Emerson College in Boston and holds NC teaching license for grades K-12 in Theatre Arts and K-6 in Elementary Education. In addition to her years in the classroom, she has been a counselor and wilderness trip leader for middle school students, arts education administrator and Outreach Coordinator for Outward Bound National.

She loves helping students discover who they are as learners and community members. Susan is also the proud parent of an Evergreen alumni. She loves being active outside, working in her yard, doing craft projects, reading  and making large pots of soup.

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Mary Beth Tanner, 2nd Grade Associate Teacher

Mary Beth is happy to return to Evergreen! She earned her BS in Dance Education at UNC Greensboro and taught dance in Raleigh before coming to the WNC mountains. She worked as an Instructor and Climber for North Carolina Outward Bound School for seven years and taught K-2 here at Evergreen from 2001-2004. Mary Beth has since homeschooled her two boys and taught at many homeschool groups in the area.

Mary Beth lives in Black Mountain with her husband Buck and their sons Rowan (Evergreen graduate and Nesbitt Discovery Academy student) and Sage (new to Evergreen 6th grader). When she's not in the classroom, she enjoys teaching fitness classes, reading, being outside, and working festivals at her friend's food booth.

Third Grade

Third Grade


Ashley Newell, 3rd Grade Lead Teacher

Ashley Newell has a Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences in Elementary Education from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She grew up in Columbus, Nebraska where she participated in band (flute and drum major), choir, musicals, yearbook, and many other clubs and activities. After graduating from UNL, Ashley spent a semester substitute teaching in Omaha, Nebraska in all grades before beginning teaching first grade at Cody Elementary in the Millard Public Schools district for a year. The following year she moved to San Jose, California and taught first grade for 2 years at LUCHA Elementary. In 2014, Mrs. Newell and her husband moved to Asheville and she taught fourth grade in Henderson County. She then taught first grade for 3 years and fourth grade for a year at Vance Elementary in West Asheville. 

When not teaching, Ashley is usually chasing around her 2 young daughters, Evelyn and Norah, and 2 miniature dachshunds, Cheech and Ruby. She also enjoys trying to keep up with her husband, Matt, on a bike, baking, hiking, reading, and loves all things Disney. Ask her about her next trip to a Disney park but don’t make her pick a favorite movie, she just can’t choose!

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Deidre Barrett, 3rd Grade Associate Teacher

Deidre attended Warren Wilson and UNCA, and taught preschool at Rainbow Mountain Children's School. Now she takes great pride in being one of the founding teachers of Evergreen. This will be her 25th year in the education field and she feels very grateful to spend her days at a job she loves! Her son, now an adult, is an ECCS alumni and clothing designer. Deidre is bookworm, proud Appalachian, stereotypical cat weirdo, and long time resident of our beautiful Asheville, NC. In her free time she reads, hikes and camps with her partner, Shannon, enjoys photography and writing, and is a barista at a local bookstore/cafe. She supports animal rescue, LGBTQIA issues, child welfare and protection organizations and laws, and education initiatives and issues.

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Melanie Derry, 3rd Grade Lead Teacher

Melanie earned her B.S. in elementary education (with a minor in photography) from Appalachian State University in 1993. Since that time, she has worked at an independent school as an assistant teacher and lead teacher in grades one and three, served as a counselor and the educational coordinator at Camp Woodson, and most recently, worked as a pastry chef at West End Bakery.


Kevin Thompson, 3rd Grade Associate Teacher

Kevin holds a BA in Studio Art from Hendrix College in Arkansas, and a NC Early Childhood Education Credential. He has worked with children in the Asheville area since 2006, first as a family entertainer, and then for six years as Director for a local YMCA Afterschool program. He enjoys leisure time on the family farmstead with his wife and baby son, and his hobbies include gardening, yoga, balloon twisting, mushroom hunting, and music. He spends his summers in the trees as a zipline guide.

Kevin aims to encourage the creative individuality of each child in his care, and is thrilled to help nurture the healthy development of young minds, bodies, and spirits as part of Evergreen's holistic approach to education.

Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade

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Theresa Showman, 4th Grade Lead Teacher

Theresa 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.

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Michael Kligerman, 4th Grade Associate Teacher

Michael graduated from Warren Wilson College with a B.A. in Adventure Education, working at Verner Preschool as a part of their work-study program. He has worked with all ages in settings varying from the wilderness to the classroom.  He enjoys being outdoors, running, biking & gardening. 

He has been working at Evergreen for five years now and is loving it! He started his career here as an EverAfter Associate, leading clubs like gymnastics, running, and climbing. This is his fourth year teaching 4th grade.

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Jean Kelly, 4th Grade Lead Teacher

Jean Kelly just made a big jump out of her comfort zone to move with her family from Bend, Oregon to Asheville!  She is beyond excited to be at Evergreen to share her love of learning, celebrating the beauty in each moment, and guiding kids to find and share their own unique gifts.  Her son Connolly will be in first grade and her four year old daughter Quincy Rose will be coming to visit school whenever she gets the chance!  Jean is excited to explore the Southeast- the "last corner" to uncover after growing up in Connecticut, making the big migration to NAU in Flagstaff, Arizona, and soaking up the amazing community of Bend. 

"Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom." -Steiner 

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Erin Lowe, 4th Grade Associate Teacher

Erin has been at Evergreen (along with her kids) as an Associate Teacher in 5th and 4th grade for 8 eight years. Erin is an experiential educator from the Bahamas, who has spent much of her life traveling by sea, horseback, and foot to explore the natural world. With a BA in Environmental Education and Policy from Warren Wilson College, she began her career lobbying for environmental legislation in CT and NC, then quickly moved into environmental education where she has found many ways to educate people of all ages in the field. For almost 20 years she was a naturalist guide in many ecosystems, including the mangroves and rainforests of Costa Rica, the Bahamian Islands, the forests of the southeastern United States, the Pacific Coast, and the marine mammal mating grounds of the Atlantic Ocean. As a Nature Tour owner/operator and President of a local NGO in the Bahamas, she designed environmental education programs, advocated for national park designations, coordinated international environmental research and service projects, and consulted on governmental environmental legislation.

Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade

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Joy Neily, 5th Grade Lead Teacher

Joy has a B.S. in Education and Exercise Physiology from the University of Maine and has completed the Elementary Education Teacher Program at UNCA. The years in between were spent teaching outdoor skills and leading paddling trips in Maine, the Carolinas and abroad. Joy has teaching experience in a variety of classrooms in Buncombe County Schools and Asheville City Schools. She is thrilled to join the team at Evergreen and looks forward to adventures in and out of the classroom with members of this wonderful learning community.

Joy lives in Fairview with her husband Dave and their son Zachary. They all love to get out and explore their surroundings, especially when this involves going on a river somewhere.


Sarah Updegraff, 5th Grade Associate Teacher

Sarah moved to Asheville in 2018 after living and working abroad for almost four years in Australia, New Zealand, and Maui. She graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with a degree in Environmental Science. That path sent her on an adventure around the world. She first worked for the National Park Service as a Biological Science Technician doing water quality analysis in the swamps of Big Cypress National Preserve in the Western Everglades. There she realized her deep love for connecting with others through nature and education. In 2013, she moved to Maui and worked for the Pacific Whale Foundation as a Marine Naturalist and Educator leading snorkel tours and teaching people about marine mammals, coral reef ecology, and the Hawaiian Islands. Her passion for whales and ocean conservation blossomed and even today she will travel specifically to see different whale species around the world! Sarah continued her marine conservation education path by working on a sailboat that took daily trips to the Great Barrier Reef in 2016. There she continued to deepen her love and knowledge for educating others about the wonders of the ocean.

Sarah has ridiculous luck with seeing wildlife and has seen a jaguar, a platypus, blue whales, manta rays, and even a cassowary in the wild. In her free time, Sarah loves to sing, play her ukulele, and spend time in her garden. She is very excited about her first year here at Evergreen!


Cat Fletcher, 5th Grade Lead Teacher

Cat knew when she was four years old that she wanted to be a teacher. After receiving her B.A. in Outdoor Leadership from Warren Wilson College, she traveled the country and worked as a field teacher, naturalist, and program coordinator at outdoor centers and camps in Texas, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. She then went back to school and got her M.Ed. in Elementary Education, focusing on Integrated Learning and Environmental Education, from Antioch University New England. Upon graduating in 2014, she immediately came home to Asheville and embarked on three joyful years in third grade at Evergreen. She most recently taught fourth and fifth grade at Odyssey Community School and is thrilled to be returning home to Evergreen and joining the fifth grade family.

Coming from a family of English teachers and writers, Cat has been a bookworm and word nerd all her life and always says if she wasn’t a teacher, she’d be a librarian. When she’s not at school or curled up with her nose in a book, Cat can be found working in her garden, knitting, painting, contra or English dancing, trail running, mountain biking, singing with the Wild Asheville Community Chorus, or playing with her sweet rescue dog, Jenny.

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Mari Echevarria, 5th Grade Associate Teacher

Mari received her BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Education, Natural History, & Ecology from Prescott College in Arizona. Her love for the desert tethered her to the Southwest for 7 years where she wore many hats. In 2012 she interned as an Environmental Education Instructor at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in Albuquerque, NM. She returned to Arizona & dedicated the following year to bicycle advocacy in her community with local non-profit Prescott Alternative Transportation as their AmeriCorps VISTA Director of Outreach and Development. Deeply missing her role as an educator she landed a position as Associate 6th grade teacher at Acorn Montessori School in Prescott Valley, AZ. 
In search of new inspiration and change Mari would dream of Asheville (and Evergreen) for a couple of years before finally making the move in August of 2015.

Her quests for self-discovery and reflection usually take place in remote mountain landscapes, preferably in a water hole or hot spring.  Caffeine enthusiast. Reptile lover. Destined backpacker. Committed Bike commuter. Bold climber. Aspiring paddler.

Sixth Grade

Sixth Grade

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Marni Silverberg, 6th Grade Lead Teacher
Math & Science

Marni joined the Evergreen family during its first year of operation. She has fully enjoyed seeing the Evergreen community grow stronger over the years. Although she has experience teaching students from 4th grade through 8th grade, she currently teaches 6th grade Math and Science and absolutely loves it. She is Nationally Board Certified and has earned her Masters Degree in Differentiation. She lives with her daughter Zoey in west Asheville.

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Jeff Armstrong, 6th Grade Lead Teacher
Language Arts & Social Studies

Jeff recently earned a BA in Education from Mars Hill University. Jeff was an Associate at Evergreen for a few months last year and also did some Substitute Teaching. He has lived in Asheville for 10 years with his wife Ona and their two boys Rowan and Elias. Jeff is very excited to be part of the sixth grade team and looking forward to an amazing year.

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Emily Boykin, 6th Grade Associate Teacher & Athletic Director

After graduating from Brevard College with a degree in Wilderness Leadership & Experiential Education Emily pursued a career as an educator in and out of the classroom as a teacher and outdoor guide. She is passionate about supporting the growth of young minds and athletes.


Seventh & Eighth Grade

Seventh & Eighth Grade

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Walter Bradley III, 7th - 8th Grade Associate Teacher

Born and raised in North Carolina. Graduated from Eastern Carolina University (Arrggghh, Go Pirates!) BS Molecular and Cellular Biology. Worked as a Lab Analyst and Analytical Chemist for Big Pharma and Environmental Protection Regulatory testing. I teach and coach swimming (10+ years) and soccer. I'm a Cub Scout den leader. When I’m not playing with semi-volatile chemicals and hanging out in the pool, I enjoy hanging with my Bride (Amanda) and my two boys Walter IV and Mark.

What makes my soul happy is listening to jazz or playing with a hard hitting Jazz quintet. (And No! Kenny G. Isn’t Jazz.) My driving force/relentless pursuit is finding out what we C-A-N do when faced with a problem as opposed to what we CAN’T do to solve the problem! (“There is CAN in every CAN’t!”) This is my first venture into the classroom teaching side of academics. I feel supported and inspired at Evergreen

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Jason Carter, 7th - 8th Grade Lead Teacher, Science

Jason Carter graduated with a BA in English and minors in Math and Women's Studies from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a Masters in Liberal Arts and Sciences from UNCA. Over his career, he has taught middle grades math, science, and social studies and has been associate director for Evergreen's middle school. When not teaching, Jason loves reading, trivia, and spending time with his pets. He also leads educational trips for students overseas and has traveled to over 20 countries.

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Skyla Delerme, 7th - 8th Grade Associate Teacher

Skyla grew up in Asheville and attended Evergreen from kindergarten through eighth grade. Valuing connection to nature and outdoor adventure in education, Skyla attended Warren Wilson College where she received a degree in Outdoor Leadership.  She has taught art for the LEAF Easel Rider and has worked in after school programs teaching Latin dancing. Having just graduated from Warren Wilson in May, Skyla is excited about her return to the Evergreen community as a member of the teaching team.

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Tony Mele, 7th Grade Lead Teacher, Social Studies

Coming soon!


Andy Wallace, 7th - 8th Grade Lead Teacher, Language Arts

Andy joins Evergreen after having worked most recently at Carolina Day School, with a dual role as 8th Grade Humanities teacher and Middle School Assistant Principal.   He began his education career in outdoor education, working at environmental education centers in Maryland and Minnesota. He then graduated from the Teacher Training Course at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, MA, earning his teacher certification in Middle School Humanities and his Master’s in Education at Tufts University in the process.  He taught for seven years at Four Rivers Charter Public School, an EL school in Massachusetts. Outside of school, he enjoys reading, cooking, and gardening in his yard alongside his wife, Niki, and children, Owen (7) and Sara (10).

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Kamryn Wisner, 7th - 8th Grade Lead Teacher, Math

Kamryn grew up in Northern CA, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she has taught middle school math at an EL school since 2013. Her degree is in Chemistry with a minor in Criminal Justice, but she has discovered a true passion for teaching math. Outside of school, Kamryn is an avid contra dancer and when she’s not dancing, she loves to be out hiking and backpacking.