I am very pleased to share that beginning in late June, 2023 Jesse Pyles will assume the position of Director of The Outdoor Academy.  Jesse’s career leading up to this move to Eagle’s Nest and OA is steeped in a rich history of experiential and sustainability based education, and organizational management at both the collegiate level, and in non profit organizations.  Jesse completed his Masters in Environmental Education with the Expedition Education Institute, a traveling semester program (formerly the Audubon Expedition Institute) and is a Senior Fellow at the national Environmental Leadership Program.  Most recently he served as the Executive Director at Smokey House in Danby, VT and this year has been on sabbatical with his partner Laura and their three children traversing the country as a small “homeschool bus”. 


While it is going to be hard to say “farewell for now” to Glenn DeLaney come June, we are honored to have someone with such a depth of leadership in transformational learning experiences, the outdoors, and community building guiding our school into the future.  We know Jesse, Laura, Addis, Hazel, and Ruby will bring so much to both the Eagle’s Nest community and our wider community in the Brevard area.   


To help you get to know Jesse a bit more I have shared a portion of his Educational Philosophy Statement:


I believe that the best learning is self-directed, land-based, and focused on real, relational work:


  • Self-directed: I believe that students who exercise some agency over their education get more out of it. They should have some role in designing and managing their educational experience. Students should be given the resources and support they need to learn in ways that address their learning styles while challenging them within supportive learning relationships.


  • Land-based: Outdoor experience and natural history create prime conditions for observation

and inquiry. Experiential learning in outdoor, field, and farm settings can clearly demonstrate

resource flows, system relationships, and create an appreciation for natural communities. Great learning can happen inside, but I believe the best growth happens outdoors.


  • Real, relational work: We learn so much about ourselves by doing authentic, needed work.

Students should be engaged in and out of the “classroom” to meet the basic needs of our

communities and in service to some of the bigger questions of our time: growing and preparing

food, safeguarding water systems, managing land and repairing shelter, and creating vibrant,

supportive social systems. If we are preparing students to be successful, fulfilled humans, we

must recognize that their education is not simply a rehearsal for some later life, but an

opportunity to exercise their great potential now, in their communities and families, where

they can have meaningful impact on their surroundings and on their own learning.


Please join me in welcoming Jesse and his family to OA,


Noni Waite-Kucera

Executive Director