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 ecological diversity.
Our leaders have received degrees from Swarthmore College, Duke University, Davidson College, The University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, Warren Wilson College, and other highly respected colleges and universities. They are all dedicated professionals who enjoy the outdoors and love working closely with young adults in a variety of settings where students are actively engaged in discussions and their own learning process. Click on a faculty member’s photo or name to learn more about each person.
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.
Outdoor Academy Director
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. He grew up attending and then working at a summer camp in nearby Flat Rock, and after a NOLS semester, Glenn 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 baby boy Elem—already working on his application to OA Semester 76—among the rocks, rivers, and bluegrass jam sessions of Western North Carolina.
In 1998, after years of directing a non-profit public interest organization, Julie moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC to join Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy team as the OA Assistant Director. As OA Assistant Director, Julie found she had a great passion for introducing students to the richness of The Outdoor Academy experience in addition to working with parents and schools to facilitate the enrollment process. Now, Julie works as The Outdoor Academy Admissions Director.
Following the birth of her only child, Skyler, she became invested in local experiential education opportunities and founded a Prek-8th grade school, Mountain Sun Community School, that was inspired by the community building she witnessed at The Outdoor Academy. Julie loves working with children of all ages, but finds the developmental stage of 14-16 years old to be a defining period in a person’s life.
Julie holds a B.S. in sociology from the College of Charleston and AMS Montessori Teacher Training in early childhood education. When not working, Julie enjoys sailing, trail running, paddling, climbing trees, and just being in the outdoors with her son as often as possible.
Dean of Students
Susan Tinsley Daily
Having worked in a variety of traditional and experiential academic and wilderness settings, Susan is thrilled to work at The Outdoor Academy, where her favorite things in life (the outdoors, education, experiential learning, and community) come together on a daily basis. Susan holds a M.S. in clinical mental health counseling from Western Carolina University and a M.A. in teaching from Tufts University. She has chosen to work with adolescents throughout her professional career, and has great respect and curiosity for all the strengths and challenges that teenagers experience in their journey. Having spent over 1500 nights in the field as a wilderness instructor, Susan loves to teach others how to learn about themselves through the challenges and rewards of living outside. At The Outdoor Academy she has served in rolls including english teacher, environmental seminar teacher, and dean of students. She has many years of experience outside of Eagle’s Nest as an instructor and director. A huge proponent of OA’s principle of simple living, she is continually working on how to decrease her footprint, increase her homesteading skills, and spend time in the mountains she calls home with her partner, two kids, two cats, and five chickens.
Dean of Academics
Katie has finally found a way to combine her favorite areas to work with youth: academics and the outdoors. She received her M.Ed. in secondary education from Vanderbilt University. Katie has worked as an instructor at Page High School and the adventure program director at Camp Rockmont for Boys. Experienced in working with students of a wide range and variety of academic strengths, Katie enjoys delving into the learning process with young adults. However, creative writing is her true love. When away from OA, she likes to spend her time reading good books, making music, climbing, and spending time outside with her husband Josh.
Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, Sarah was just down the road from the Appalachian Trail. This early exposure sparked her interest in longer camping trips, and she found herself first as a participant and then a leader for extended backcountry wilderness trips based out of northern Wisconsin for the last nine summers. Both in guiding and the world of college admissions, Sarah found a great passion for experiential education and sharing the natural world with young men and women through growth-focused challenges. She received her B.A. in environmental studies and sociology from Denison University and spent a semester in Iceland at the Center for Ecological Living and Learning. She has worked as an expeditionary backpacking leader, trips director, and staff recruiter at Camp Manito-wish YMCA and as a senior interviewer for Denison University Admissions.
These combined interests and experiences have led Sarah to OA and to serve youth as a role model, friend, and educator. When not in the office or on the road, Sarah is found letter-writing, knitting, attempting to bake, or scouting for the next road run.
Outdoor Education Manager
Brian grew up in southern New Hampshire. During his college summers, he worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut system. He worked at Lake of the Clouds, Madison, Greenleaf and was hutmaster at Galehead. He received his B.S. in environmental studies from Bates College.
In Brian’s free time he likes to go on his own adventures. In 2013, he built his own canoe and paddled the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile trip from Old Forge, NY to Fort Kent, ME. He was so inspired by traveling on a vehicle that he built himself that during the summer of 2014, he built his own bicycle out of bamboo and biked across country, 3,800 miles from Bar Harbor, ME to Anacortes, WA. He is the founder of Build & Go Adventures, was a trip leader for Overland Summers, and taught environmental science, advanced ecology, and ceramics at The Darrow School. Brian hopes to share his love of building his own craft and traveling in it with any student that has a desire to learn.
Natural Science Teacher
Ted was the founding Director of The Outdoor Academy. He served in this position for the 2014-15 school year while devoting himself to what he loves most: teaching and mentoring students. His knowledge of the land, history, and culture of the Southern Appalachians brings depth and quality to our academic and extracurricular programs. Ted’s personal demeanor gives students and faculty alike a sense of what it means to ‘belong’ to, and care for, a place. Ted holds a M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University. Many students appreciate most the way Ted shares his passion for woodworking and other historic Appalachian crafts.
Rodrigo has served as a strong and enthusiastic leader at Eagle’s Nest Camp since 1996 in rolls of International Hante Leader and Assistant Program Director. At The Outdoor Academy, Rodrigo has served as Spanish Teacher and in various leadership capacities for many years. He has been abroad with Eagle’s Nest to Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, and Iceland. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Costa Rica. Rodrigo also has experience as a naturalist guide of Costa Rican Sun Tours and the Executive Director of El Centro Comunitario Brevard.
Jeffrey grew up below sea level in New Orleans, Louisiana before falling in love with the mountains and wild places in our country. Jeffrey studied geology at Sewanee: The University of the South and has always been interested in the evolution of landscapes. At Sewanee he was an active member of the outdoor program and led trips across the country. Following graduation, Jeffrey has worked at the Murie Center in Grand Teton National Park, led outdoor trips for teenagers in California, and worked as a Teaching Fellow at the Alzar School in Idaho. In the classroom, Jeffrey’s goal is to push students to quantify the world around them and to think analytically when faced with a complex problem. In his free time, you will find him outside hiking and rock climbing or inside drinking coffee and whittling.
Garden Manager and Wilderness Leader
Bella developed a passion for environmental issues growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She journeyed out west to receive her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Colorado is where Bella was introduced to the myriad opportunities to recreate in nature. After college, Bella worked in the solar energy field, but it was cultivating a vegetable garden at home that inspired her the most. Developing self-reliance and a closer relationship with the planet through growing ones own food was where Bella knew she wanted to focus her energy. After moving to Brevard to return to the lush ecosystem of the Appalachians, Bella decided to pursue her passion for sustainable food by receiving her M.S. from Green Mountain College. Bella has worked in the industry as a summer day camp intern, solar advisor, residential solar associate and an outdoor retain associate. Bella is honored to be able to grow food sustainably for Eagle’s Nesters and share this experience with youth.
Independent Studies and Medical Coodinator
Caroline grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She spent her summers in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, as a camper and then counselor at Camp Widjiwagan. She discovered a love of outdoor adventures and youth development at Widji, where she led young women on progressively longer canoe and backpacking trips, culminating in a 6-week canoe expedition in the Canadian Arctic. She joined the OA community in 2016 as a Resident, and quickly fell in love with this place! She received her B.A. in Geology from Carleton College and has served as a teaching assistant for Osservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco and a wilderness leader for Cragged Mountain Farm Camp. Caroline spends her free time rock climbing, knitting, doing yoga, and playing with her dog Nellie.