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.
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 and a M.A. in Teaching. 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 roles including English teacher, Environmental Seminar teacher, and Dean of Students. Susan has worked as an instructor for Outward Bound, Where There Be Dragons, the Prison University Project at San Quentin, and taught in eight different schools across the country as a classroom teacher. A huge proponent of OA’s principle of simple living and cornerstone of community, she loves to spend time in these mountains she calls home with her partner, two kids, two cats, and a handful of chickens.
Outdoor Academy Registrar and Pisgah Forest Office Manager
Her love of the mountains, people, organizational skills, and attention to detail brought Bonnie to command central on the campus of Eagle’s Nest and The Outdoor Academy. She attended North Georgia College & State University and East Georgia College and has worked as a mortgage consultant for First Citizens Bank and an administrative assistant for General Motors Acceptance Corportation. Now, all roads lead to her desk in the Salt Mines of Eagle’s Nest. Raised mostly in a small town in Georgia, summers found her and her family in the mountains of North Carolina or at her grandparent’s cabin in the near-by woods of Transylvania County, North Carolina.
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.
Natural Science Teacher
Ted was the founding Director of The Outdoor Academy. 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.
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. This past year Chelsea has fallen in love with the semester school model while leading the Histories Department at The Island School. Chelsea is thrilled to be joining the Outdoor Academy and cannot wait to share 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.
Emily is from Miami, Florida, where she grew up scuba diving, kayaking, and camping on Biscayne Bay and throughout The Everglades. Emily says that she 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. Emily first taught Literature & Writing and Applied Maths at The Island School in The Bahamas and is now thrilled to be returning to OA, which 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.
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.
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.
Resident Wilderness Educator
Growing up in rural New Hampshire, Emmaline spent her childhood exploring the woods and mountains in her backyard. Emmaline graduated from Hamilton College with a dual degree in psychology and Spanish. As an active leader for the campus Outing Club, she became heavily involved in organizing and leading trips for their outdoor orientation program. Emmaline has always appreciated the unique way in which the outdoors can bring people closer together, and she wrote her senior thesis on the connection between orientation trips and social support for students on her college campus. Last summer, she combined her passions for Spanish, travel, and the outdoors while working for Apogee Adventures leading hiking trips for teenagers in Costa Rica.
In her free time, you can find Emmaline on a long walk in the woods, spending time with friends, cooking or baking something new, listening to music, or curled up with a large cup of tea and a good book. She is excited to head south for the year and join the OA community
Resident Wilderness Educator
Kara studied history, Russian language, and religion at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her degree in 2012. Since finishing college, Kara has had a variety of experiences as a NOLS Semester participant, a canoe guide, a counselor and instructor in therapeutic wilderness programs in Maine and Alaska, and a primitive skills teacher. Kara learned about OA years ago and has kept her eye on the school when planning new moves, and we are excited that the timing finally worked out for her to join the faculty this year!
Resident Wilderness Educator
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 last spring. Ezekiel got to know OA this past spring and quickly established himself as an wonderful weekly addition to the Cabin 10 community, and we are excited about the skill he brings as a team-builder and trip leader.
Mathematics Teacher and Resident Wilderness Educator
Nish grew up in Nepal, in one of the valleys at the foothills of the great Himalayas. His childhood was spent moving around various small villages with his family, and then a big chunk at a boarding school since he was 11 years old. And therefore, having lived in multiple places around the country, he had been exposed to travel and exploration at a very young age, and his boarding school had filled him with the spirit of adventure and goofiness. He came to the US in 2015 to study Computer Science at Earlham College (IN). But who was he kidding? The thought of dwelling in ‘for loops’ and ‘if loops’ wasn’t as appealing as hiking a plethora of loops in the outdoors. Quickly after his first semester, he switched to pursuing a degree in Geology combined with Physics. Along the way, he picked up Outdoor Education and Business Management as his minors. During his college years, he did a bunch of backpacking, paddling, and caving expeditions in the Smokies, the Uinta Mountains, and Joyce-Kilmer wilderness areas, and studied abroad in the beautiful outdoors of New Zealand (Aotearoa) where he did a lot of hiking, biking, sea kayaking, and backpacking. Right after finishing college, Nish worked at the High Mountain Institute (HMI) as a Math Apprentice for a semester before coming to OA in January 2020. Around OA, you will find Nish goofing around with people, reading books, sipping tea, mountain biking(!!!) & running in DuPont & Pisgah, playing soccer/basketball, and of course, in Math classes.
Part-Time Spanish Teacher
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 five 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 minored in Environmental Studies. Since graduating, 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. Most recently, Katie spent two years living on the island of Bogue Banks teaching experiential environmental education in the marshes and beaches of North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.
Now, Katie is happy to have returned to the Outdoor Academy community as Admissions Counselor and looks forward to 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 also cooking pasta and baking pie.