Meet Our Faculty & Staff
The effectiveness of OA and its high academic standards are a testament to our faculty. Our teachers are some of the most passionate educators you will find anywhere. They are experts in fields ranging from American literature to political economics to ecology.
Our leaders have received degrees from Swarthmore, Harvard, Haverford, The University of Florida, Vanderbilt, and other highly respected colleges and universities. Most importantly, however, they are all dedicated professionals who enjoy the outdoors and love working with young adults. Click on a faculty member’s photo or name to learn more about our community mentors.
Elizabeth Waite-Kucera (Noni) is the Executive Director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation and serves on The Outdoor Academy Advisory Board. She graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., with a B.A. degree in anthropology. Previously, Noni was Camp Director at Eagle’s Nest Camp from 1993-2003 and Business Manager from 1989-1999 for Eagle’s Nest Foundation. She has also been the Swimming Director, and Paddling Director. Additionally, Noni developed Eagle’s Nest whitewater canoeing and Hante Bicycling programs.
Noni’s grandfather, Alex Waite, head of psychology at Rollins College, founded Eagle’s Nest Camp in 1945. Helen and Mo Waite, Noni’s parents, served as directors for the Eagle’s Nest Carolinas’ Camp for Diabetic Children. Her mother served as director of Eagle’s Nest Camp and executive director of Eagle’s Nest Foundation for many years. Noni spent her childhood years growing up at camp and is honored to carry on the mission of Eagle’s Nest as Executive Director of the foundation.
During his first year of teaching, Glenn’s boss at Ravenscroft School asked him where he saw himself in five years. Without hesitation, he answered, “Western North Carolina.” It took a bit longer than those five years, but Glenn made good on his word and is now doing what he loves in a place he loves doing it here at The Outdoor Academy.
Glenn grew up attending and then working at a summer camp in nearby Flat Rock, and after a NOLS semester he spent a year backpacking in Pisgah National Forest with at-risk teenagers in a therapeutic wilderness program. He went on to spend a decade teaching world and environmental history, global issues, and world religions at independent day and boarding schools in Raleigh and Southern Vermont. Most recently, Glenn took a year off from teaching to return to the classroom a student in Harvard’s educational leadership program, where he also spent a year interning with the head of a Boston-area independent high school.
With an academic background in the histories of both Appalachia and the American Wilderness and firsthand experience in witnessing the power of Pisgah as a classroom, Glenn sees The Outdoor Academy as the perfect opportunity to leverage the mountain magic of this special little corner of the country to help create a distinct and compelling experience for young people. Glenn holds a EdM in School Leadership and Development from Harvard University. In his free time, Glenn cooks, skis, and runs. He and his wife Julia, also an educator, are excited about raising their boy Elem—already working on his application to OA Semester 76—among the rocks, rivers, and bluegrass jam sessions of Western North Carolina.
Cara, a North Carolina transplant from Ohio, now calls Brevard and the Blue Ridge Mountains “home.” After hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 she took the role of Paddling Director for ENC before moving to the development office full-time.
Not only is Cara a skilled paddling instructor, she’s a talented experiential educator and an avid outdoorswoman. She holds a BS in Recreation from Ohio University and has worked in the field of outdoor education since 2003 as a wilderness instructor, outdoor program manager, camp counselor and challenge course facilitator. Cara spends her free time paddling, climbing, and hiking, tending to her impressive garden, and adventuring with her family.
Emily is from Miami, Florida, where she grew up scuba diving, kayaking, and camping on Biscayne Bay and throughout The Everglades. Emily first learned to like being outside as a student at The Outdoor Academy in 2006 (Semester XXII). She went on to study Marine Science and Geology at the University of Miami and earned a Masters in Coastal Zone Management from UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. As part of her thesis project, she created the full curriculum for an innovative digital course in marine and environmental science, working with expert guest scientists across seven countries. The driving vision of the project was to bring experiential education to a wider audience via documentary film techniques.
Emily worked as an environmental consultant in South Florida and as a Coastal Planner for the Bureau of environmental and Coastal Quality in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands before turning her attention back to education. She taught Literature & Writing and Applied Maths at The Island School in The Bahamas, and was thrilled in 2019 to return to OA, a place she continually credits for shaping her sense of self. As a teacher, Emily is eager to help her students tap into their own wellsprings of determination and grit in the face of challenge, be it a math problem or a mountain. When she is not thinking up new lessons, you can find Emily training for the next triathlon, practicing and teaching yoga, and writing letters.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Colleen has enjoyed working with young people nearly her entire adult life (or longer if you include being an oldest child). She studied wildlife and conservation biology and Spanish language and literature in college, but it was her experience working in residential life that drew her to student support, youth empowerment, and social change. Colleen’s varied nonprofit experiences have allowed her to learn from and connect diverse groups of people, from helping to rally American high school students to raise over a million dollars to rebuild schools in northern Uganda, to working with an immigrant advocacy organization to bring together and form positive relationships between immigrant constituents and Missouri lawmakers.
Colleen got her start in the formal classroom through Teach for America in the Arkansas Delta before completing her Master’s in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She then spent five years teaching internationally in South Korea and Colombia before discovering the world of experiential education. Since then, she has fallen in love with learning alongside her students as they are pushed outside of their comfort zones in supportive communities. Before coming to OA, Colleen spent four years traveling, learning, and living in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, the Southwest US, and The Bahamas with Where There Be Dragons, World Learning, The Island School, and a therapeutic wilderness program for young adults. She is passionate about the semester school model, and the role of Dean of Students perfectly combines Colleen’s passions for student support, mental health, youth empowerment, and place-based experiential education.
When not teaching or traveling, Colleen loves to hike, play board games, salsa dance, scuba dive, read personal development books, write poetry, paint, and visit her family all around the US.
Chelsea graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a major in Environmental Studies: Arts and Humanities. While at Sewanee, Chelsea played on the Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Team, leading the team as Captain her senior year. Chelsea spent her summers during college leading the Outdoor Leadership Program at a small summer camp in Virginia.
After graduation, Chelsea went on to work at Google in San Francisco. In 2018, Chelsea fell in love with the semester school model while leading the Histories Department at The Island School. She was thrilled to take that love to The Outdoor Academy in 2019, and looks forward each semester to sharing her passion for education, leadership, and adventure. In her free time Chelsea enjoys spending time with friends, family, hiking, traveling, re-reading Harry Potter, skiing, floating in the ocean and listening to music.
Morgan grew up splitting his time between Minnesota and Canada. Once the school year was over, he made a yearly migration to Ontario, Canada to spend his summers exploring the Northwoods with his family and friends. His most formative experiences were on wilderness expeditions at summer camp, facing hardship and challenges with his peers. The camp’s focus on remote, Northern Canadian whitewater canoe expeditions formed the backbone of Morgan’s deep passion for whitewater paddling and experiential outdoor education.
Morgan graduated from Evergreen State College with a degree in Experiential Education, Cross-Cultural Education, and Sciences. He finds joy in learning languages and exploring other cultures. He speaks fluent Spanish and Mandarin and enjoys passing his time paddling whitewater, playing with his dog, and playing music.
Morgan joined The Outdoor Academy after working at Voyageur Outward Bound School for 7 years. He brings his breadth and wealth of experiences and his passion to educate, mentor, and coach to the students of OA.
Katie grew up in Greensboro, NC, where she spent her youngest days reading, writing, and playing the violin. One of her most transformative and educational experiences, however, was when she found a second home here in the mountains as a member of OA Semester 28 (Spring 2009). Those four months taught her to appreciate simplicity, value the natural world, and look for community everywhere she goes.
After high school, Katie found one such learning community at Haverford College, where she majored in Chemistry and Environmental Studies. Since then, she has worked in a STEM education lab in Philadelphia, organized with a community campaign for environmental justice in the Appalachians, and travelled around Europe for five months on a work/stay program. Before returning to OA, Katie spent two years living on an island teaching experiential environmental education in the marshes and beaches of the Southern Outer Banks.
Now, Katie is thrilled each and every day to be helping the next generation of OA students find their own home away from home in the Appalachians. When not in the Admissions Office, you can still find her reading, writing, playing violin, and making bagels.
As an alumni of The Outdoor Academy, Sophie is excited to be back in the role of Admissions Counselor. She graduated from Brevard College in 2022 with a degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education. In addition to meeting new students, Sophie loves talking to them about western North Carolina and all the awesome things to do here!
Ezekiel is a 2016 graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he studied astrophysics. He spent time in New Zealand in 2018-2019 as an outdoor instructor at Camp Raukawa and has been a member of the Adventure Program and cabin staff teams at nearby Gwynn Valley Camp since his return to the states.
Ezekiel got to know OA in 2020 and quickly established himself as an wonderful weekly addition to the Cabin 10 community. He then served as a Resident Wilderness Educator for a year, brining his skills as a team-builder and trip leader. Now, he is thrilled to be back as a weekly Cabin mentor while he continues his work just down the road at Gwynn Valley.
After moving back to Brevard, North Carolina after a four-year stint in Colorado, Camille began working at Eagle’s Nest Foundation in 2018 as the Donor and Alumni Relations Coordinator. Camille earned her B.A. in Mass Communications from UNC Asheville, and she has a background in experiential education as well as an avid appreciation for the outdoors.
In her free time, you can find Camille exploring Pisgah National Forest with her husband and their dog, Piper. She also enjoys creating handmade arts and crafts and curling up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.