Evergreen's Story

Our school is the result of many long hours spent over the course of 18 months by its founding members. Evergreen would not exist without the unswerving perseverance and love of these people and of the many others who have since joined us. 

1998: Maureen Motley called a meeting of educators and parents to discuss the notion of starting a charter school committed to hands-on learning, parental involvement, and community-based education. Teachers Dori Drachman, Robbie Spiegel, and Lisa Garrett stepped forward to begin that journey. The summer of 1998 was spent reviewing “best practices” and creating the charter application that is the backbone of our school. We were joined along the way by parents Bob Williams, Eleanor Ashton, Mary Ann Watjen, and community member Deborah Buchanan.

1999: We received our final approval to open a charter school for up to 400 students in grads K-8 in Buncombe County. The school began with a faculty of 20 teachers operating under the leadership of Executive Director Maureen Motley and the oversight of a fifteen-member Board of Directors.

2001: After two years of operation, Evergreen adopted a school design called Expeditionary Learning Schools Outward Bound (now called EL Education) because this philosophy supports our mission and provides a framework that guides our efforts to improve our program.

2003: Evergreen expanded into a permanent 10-acre campus in the Haw Creek Valley. That fall, Dr. Jackie Williams started as Executive Director. Evergreen was designated by the state as a "School of Distinction.”

2003-2007: The Board and faculty built an infrastructure to support our school and employees and established a number of new programs—both core and enrichment. Some of the highlights of these years included the following: strategic planning and an action plan for school improvement; improvements in literacy programs; the acquisition of new technologies and software for diagnostic assessment and intervention for students with learning/language disabilities; additional enrichment and elective programs; a library; EverAfter clubs and care; and an Environmental Education Coordinator to lead our efforts regarding environmental responsibility. All of these efforts and significant improvements to our campus were supported by successful fiscal management and stability, as well as expanded fundraising efforts.

2007: With the retirement of Jackie Williams, Dr. Susan Mertz became the Executive Director. In the ensuing years, the Program for Advanced Learners and the Crew program were implemented. Evergreen became a founding member of the Green Schools National Network.

2009: The school achieves full SACS CASI accreditation through AdvanceEd, an organization that advances excellence in education worldwide. We were re-accredited in 2014.

2009: Evergreen's charter was renewed for 10 years. We became a national model for EL Education by hosting Site Seminars for participants across the country.

2010: Received the Exceptional Environmental Education Center award from the Environmental Educators of North Carolina for commitment to creating an environmentally literate student body and encouraging students to educate the general public about important environmental issues.

2009-2012: The NC Department of Public Instruction awards Evergreen the designation of Honor School of Excellence for superior academic performance.

2012: Evergreen was awarded the first ever National Green Ribbon School recognition, an honor bestowed on only 78 schools across the nation for excellence in environmental education and green practices. Evergreen unveiled its outdoor classroom and climbing wall in the fall.

2013: Awarded the U.S. Green Building Council, Charlotte Chapter Sustainability award in the K-12 Schools and Higher Education category for being in the forefront of teaching sustainability and allowing students to graduate aware and prepared to advocate for and to create environmental change. We also became an EL Mentor School.

2015: Evergreen named one of 41 most innovative schools in America by Noodle. We also became an EL Credentialed School and opened our ropes courses.

2016: In line with adventure programming, we began our mountain bike program.

2017: Evergreen named a North Carolina Green School of Excellence

Today: Evergreen has grown its faculty and staff to 78 and enrolls 443 students. The school continues to thrive on research-based methods and innovative community partnerships that prepare students for successful lifelong learning, environmental responsibility, and service.

November 7, 2007: Beyond PE