Susan 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.
Kathy Norris, Director of Exceptional Children/504
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.
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 2 acres in Candler.
Jen Watkins has worked at Evergreen since 2006. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and lived in several different states before settling in Asheville with her husband and two children in 2006. She loves working with children, playing soccer (even helping to run the local adult soccer league), gardening, and playing outside! After graduating from Furman University, she began her career as a classroom teacher before taking a few years off to stay at home with her children. She now loves her dual roles as Evergreen staffer and parent, working with so many individuals and also seeing her children grow and thrive every day at Evergreen!
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.
Gordon recently returned to the Asheville area from Ijamsville, Maryland where he was the business manager of Friends Meeting School. The past five years he has been working at independent schools in administration but has also found some time to teach. He is interested in ensuring schools to have diverse student bodies, teach to differentiated learning styles, and offer a safe learning environment for all their students.
Prior to working in education Gordon was a documentary photographer and a vice president in trust banking. He has an extensive background in administration, audit, estate planning, investments, and planned giving. His entire career he has volunteered with local and national non-profit arts and service organizations. He has worked both in direct services and at the board level. His board participation is focused on organizational effectiveness, development, and sustainability. He lives in Mars Hill and his nephew and niece have been Evergreen students.
Margaret Fuller, Receptionist and Office Assistant
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.
Jody Flemming, Director of Development and Communications
Jody grew up in Charlotte and lived in Arizona and Colorado before returning to Asheville to put down permanent roots. His first involvement with Evergreen was as a parent and volunteer. Those experiences showed him what a special school and community we have here, and he jumped at the chance to join the team.
After working as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service for several years, Jody moved into the world of environmental advocacy. He brings years of organizational and policy development experience to Evergreen, as well as a passion for environmental education. Jody enjoys exploring the furthest reaches of western North Carolina on his mountain bike, and is a huge music nerd.
Megan Markovic, Development and Communications Associate
Megan Markovic grew up in Western North Carolina and attended College of Charleston where she studied Sociology. She has spent the past eight years advancing school missions and fundraising objectives in private, independent schools in California and Hawaii. She loves to organize, write, plan events, and help people.
Megan has designed and implemented a variety of annual campaigns and communications plans, as well as developed programs to cultivate relationships within school communities. She believes in the importance of collaboratively giving forward, and hopes to bring new and innovative ideas to Evergreen.
Though Megan dreamed of one-day marrying Rafael Nadal, she very happily wed another handsome Tennis Pro, Jean-Michel, in April 2017. Megan loves the ocean, sunshine, pineapples, being an auntie, spending time with family, cooking/baking, and traveling with her husband.
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.
Jean Reese, Business Office Assistant
Jean started at Evergreen as a parent volunteer, and currently works behind the scenes to help keep Evergreen running smoothly. She is also the editor and publisher of a B&B directory for Unitarian Universalists, the newsletter designer for the Carolina Mountain Club, and an editor for a performance-based management training company. She serves as assistant comptroller for the Westwood Cohousing Homeowners Association, and has worked as an editor, researcher, freelance writer and photographer for various organizations. 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 have lived in Asheville since 1996 and have one child, an Evergreen graduate.
Bob Oakes, Facilities Manager
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.
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.
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.
Heather Tate, Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Heather Tate is currently a kindergarten lead teacher who 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, she attended UNC-Charlotte before transferring home to UNC-Asheville where she graduated with a Bachelors degree in Sociology. Later, she attended Mars Hill University and attained her licensure in K-6 elementary education. She has a National Board Certification obtained in 2008 along with Basic Orton-Gillingham Certification. She is a past member of the Evergreen 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, Chris, 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".
Juliana Beegan, Kindergarten Associate Teacher
Juliana, originally born and raised in Appalachia Ohio, moved to North Carolina for college. She earned a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in International Studies from UNC Asheville in 2011. After graduating, she spent a couple years in Asheville teaching academic, social and life skills to individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages. She later decided she wanted an international adventure, so she interned in Argentina at a bilingual elementary school. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with being in the school environment! After returning to Asheville, she worked as an assistant teacher in a second grade classroom at a school in Arden. She was thrilled to become a part of the Evergreen community when she landed a job in kindergarten in the Fall 2016!
She is currently enrolled in online classes through Western Carolina University and is working towards her Special Education Licensure. She will complete the program by the end of Fall 2018.
In her spare time, you can find Juliana trail running, making art and jewelry, traveling, reading philosophy or spirituality books, laughing, dancing, soaking up some sunlight, and spending time with her friends!
Ona Armstrong, Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Ona is currently a lead Kindergarten teacher who has been fortunate enough to teach at Evergreen since 2003.
She graduated from Bennington College in Vermont with a bachelors of the arts in ceramics and education. She returned later to earn her Masters of the Arts in Teaching. She is a certified Music Together teacher and was named Teacher of the Year at Evergreen in 2010. She also serves as the Chair of the Environmental Education Committee and teaches Zumba (Latin inspired dance fitness) at the downtown YMCA. She has recently been a consultant for the School of Rock where she co-authored a preschool rock-based immersive music curriculum.
Ona lives with her husband Jeff and their two boys, Rowan and Elias, in southeast Asheville. They enjoy swimming, painting, making music and growing together! Ona has taught in many arenas including ceramics classes, art classes, music classes, bike tours and wilderness adventures in Alaska, music to infants to six year olds, creative movement to children, Zumba to students of many generations. She loves her job at Evergreen, where she can combine her love of children, academic inspiration and instruction, movement, art, outdoors and Spanish.
Laura Arnall, Kindergarten Associate Teacher
Hi, my name is Laura Arnall and I am excited to begin my first year as an associate teacher at Evergreen. I am the proud mom of two Evergreen students, one in Kindergarten and one in first grade. I taught first grade for 12 years before starting a family, so I'm in familiar territory. When I'm not working I enjoy running, reading, and movies.
Cathe Bradshaw, First Grade 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.
Eli Miller, First Grade Associate Teacher
Eli Miller grew up on a family-run beef cattle farm in East Tennessee. He has a BA. in Philosophy from UT of Knoxville with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing. After college, he went to C.O.R.E Massage Institute and became a Licensed Massage Therapist. He has taught as a Mad Science instructor in after-school and summer camps and as the primary after-school guide for Waseca Montessori School in Athens, GA.
After falling in love with teaching he went back to school and got his teaching license and went through the educator's initiative with Outward Bound. His interests include, among other things, science, philosophy, technology, video games, board games, collaborative storytelling, guitar, piano, singing, and cooking.
Misty McDonough, First 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!
Amanda Cloyd, First Grade Associate Teacher
Sally Boerschig, Second Grade Lead Teache
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 now thrilled to be working with second graders and helping 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.
Keelin Schneider, Second Grade Associate Teacher
Jessica Stepp, Second Grade Associate Teacher
Jessica is a K-6 certified classroom teacher but has been "stuck" in second grade upon completing the UNCA licensure program in 2014. She thinks second 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 and is a trained dog groomer. She loves animals and has 6 "fur babies" of her own. In her spare time you will find her cooking, spending time in nature, practicing yoga, or curled up with a good book. Jessica lives in Arden with her husband, Andrew, who owns and operates an organic lawncare business.
Susan Thompson, Second 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 a proud Evergreen parent. She loves being active outside, working in her yard, doing craft projects, reading and making large pots of soup.
Melanie Derry, Third 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.
Deidre Barrett, Third 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.
Marianne Simmons, Third Grade Lead Teacher
Marianne studied Elementary Education at UNCA and earned her B.S. from Appalachian State a long time ago. Her love for adventure and travel began as a young child growing up in the mountains of both Brazil and Southern California. She moved to Asheville in 1992 and has felt at home hiking through these ancient mountains ever since. She began her teaching adventure in a third grade classroom at Vance Elementary in West Asheville. After many happy years teaching third grade at Vance, Marianne, her husband, and their two children moved to the largest city in Ecuador and fell in love with the challenge of international living. For the past three years, Marianne taught fifth grade at small, private international school located in the port city, Guayaquil. This is her first year teaching at Evergreen and she is delighted to become a member of such an inspirational community.
Kevin Thompson, Third 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.
Theresa Showman, Fourth Grade Lead Teacher
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.
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 three years now & is loving it! He started his career here as an EverAfter Associate, leading clubs like gymnastics, running, & climbing. This is his second year teaching 4th grade.
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."
Erin Lowe-Pagliaro, Fourth 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.
Joy Neily, Fifth 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.
Megan Krintz, Fifth Grade Associate Teacher
Megan is an Asheville native and glad to be back in her hometown after living in IN, IL, WI, OH, and VA! She has a background in Environmental Education, working for several different nonprofits in non-formal teaching. Megan holds a BS in Biology and Humanities from Valparaiso University and a Master's in Natural Resources / Environmental Education from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During her Graduate Fellowship, she lived and worked at a residential semester school with 60 high school juniors; after graduation, for a change of pace, she lived on a grass-fed livestock farm, where she enjoyed milking cows and making butter and cheese. Megan loves being outdoors--hammocking, reading novels, hiking with her dog, or playing the ukulele.
Ben Tzinberg, Fifth Grade Lead Teacher
Ben graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in sociology and completed the Elementary Education Teacher Program at UNCA. Prior to joining the Evergreen team, Ben spent several years teaching outdoor experiential education, leading international and domestic service trips, and also served as an interim fourth grade teacher at Estes Elementary. Ben grew up in St. Louis and is an avid Cardinals fan. When Ben isn’t at school you can find him cooking, watching Alabama football, reading, enjoying live music, or hiking with his wife, Ella, and their dogs, Phil & Gary.
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.
Marni Silverberg, Sixth 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.
Jeff Armstrong, Sixth Grade Lead Teacher, Language Arts and 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.
Emily Boykin, Sixth 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 excited to start her second year at Evergreen and is looking forward to supporting the growth of young minds and athletes.
Jason Carter, Seventh and Eighth Grade Science Teacher
Jason Carter, 7th and 8th grade science teacher, graduated with a BA in English and minors in math and womens studies from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Over his career, he has taught middle grades math, language arts, and social studies and has been associate director for the middle school. He is also one of the Science Olympiad coaches for Evergreen's team. When not teaching, Jason loves reading, learning trivia, and spending time with his pets. He also leads educational trips for students overseas and has traveled to over 20 countries.
Jesse Wharton, Eighth Grade Language Arts Teacher
Jesse grew up in WNC, then earned her BA in English and Women's Studies at UNC Chapel Hill (GO HEELS!) She taught experiential education in a variety of settings including camps, outdoor adventure programs, and schools. In 2007 she returned to WNC and settled in Asheville to return to school and work in the classroom full-time. She earned her MAT and licensure from Western Carolina University and taught middle school language arts, SS, outdoor ed, and dance at two schools before coming to Evergreen in 2015.
Outside of school, Jesse spends lots of play time outdoors with her husband and son, a future Evergreen student. You also may find her hiking, dancing, eating yummy foods, gardening, or curled up with a good book.
Chris Woodward, Eighth Grade Associate Teacher
Chris was born in Gainesville, Florida and grew up all over the place before settling in Western North Carolina to turn into an adult. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, and has spent his years figuring out what life is all about. So far, he’s found that the best program includes hard work, fun times, being true to oneself and helping folks. Chris has worked with students of all ages and is excited to be a part of the Evergreen family. He enjoys reading, making art and music, walking in nature, cooking and meditation.
“Wherever you may wander, wherever you may roam: Always keep the Diamond in your Mind.” - Tom Waits
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.
Tonya Jones, Music Teacher
Tonya has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Elon University. She taught elementary music and middle school band after graduating from Elon in 2005 and then decided to venture into the amazing world of elementary education in 2007. Tonya is an Asheville native! In her free time she enjoys hiking and exploring the mountains of her hometown, and spending time with her family, friends, and her dog Hops. Tonya has worked in the EverAfter program, SummerCare program, as first grade associate, and as a member of the community chorus in her time at Evergreen.
Jo Giordano, Adventure PE Teacher
Phone: 828.298.2173 x 1402
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.
Kevin Smith, Technology Teacher
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.
Laura Branch, Librarian
Phone: 828-298-2173 x 1103
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.
Mary Ann Athens, Art Teacher
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.
Marin Leroy, Environmental Education
50 Bell Road, Science Lab
Asheville, NC 28805
Phone: 828-298-2173 x 1101
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 wildness 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.
Doug was hired this school year as the Adventure Coordinator. He served as the 6th grade associate for three years prior to that. 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.
Annie came to Evergreen in 2016 as an intern counselor and officially joined the Evergreen community one year later. She is excited to be part of the counseling and support staff here at Evergreen! Annie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy/Psychology, a Master’s Degree in Education/Counseling, and post-grad studies in substance abuse counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, a Board Certified Music Therapist, and a Licensed School Counselor. Annie has 10+ years of experience as a music therapist, working with children, adolescents, adults, and families in clinical mental health facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation, private practice, and resource centers for individuals with special needs. She has also provided 1:1 music experiences for anxiety relief and pain management to bone marrow transplant patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
When she’s not working, Annie will most likely be found creating or enjoying live music, hiking in the beautiful mountains of Western NC, cooking, practicing yoga, or traveling abroad. Her passions include creative-expressive arts, learning about other people’s stories and cultures, advocating for social justice and human rights, and exploring new ways to integrate all of these things into her work.
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 Asheville.
Kriya also has a background in intercultural education and various expressive arts, which she weaves into her counseling and life skills education. During working and non-working hours Kriya enjoys dance, yoga, singing, gardening, cooking and time spent in the gorgeous nature of North Carolina.