Staff Directory

David Byers

Science Teacher, Co-Founder, Head of Grounds & Services

FBRA for Boys

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Prior to co-founding the French Broad River Academy in 2009, David taught for two years at Asheville High School, teaching biology and physical science to 10th, 11th, and 12 graders, as well as 9th-grade Earth Science. He has worked for nine summers at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo, NC, (where he befriended Will Yeiser way back in 1990!) as a whitewater canoeing instructor, wilderness trip leader, and head counselor. He also spent a summer leading youth in the wilderness of the western U.S. and Canada for Adventure Treks, based in Hendersonville, NC.

David graduated from Asheville High School in 1992 and UNC-Chapel Hill in 1996. He spent a semester studying Spanish language and culture at La Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain in the spring of 1994. David also completed a master’s degree in coastal environmental management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in the spring of 2001.

Like Will Yeiser, he is an alumnus of Teach for America, having taught middle school science in inner-city Los Angeles from 1996-1998. David also taught 9th-grade biology for one year at KIPP: Pride High School in Gaston, NC. He has traveled to Europe and South America several times and led the Pura Vida 2008 trip to Costa Rica for Will Yeiser’s Spanish class! David has been trained as a wilderness EMT through Wilderness Medical Institute, and he completed a NOLS semester in Patagonia, Chile in the spring of 1999. David loves playing guitar, being outdoors, and he spends much of his free time hiking in the mountains of WNC.

Karina Byers

Part-Time Spanish Teacher

FBRA for Boys

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Karina is from Santiago, Chile, and she has lived in the United States since 2009. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education, as well as an advanced Elementary and Middle Education degree typically held by principals or other educational specialists. In Chile, she taught for eight years at a variety of grade levels and across subject areas, specializing in Language Arts. Also, she created a newsletter for the schools where she worked, and joined with a group of students and parents that went to spend time and give love and primary help to the homeless.

In the United States, she has taught private Spanish classes and worked at the Health Department to create a newsletter for the Spanish population in McDowell County. At FBRA, she now serves as a Spanish instructor at both the boys schools.

Karina loves education, spending time in nature with her family (Judson, her husband; Sofia, 5 years old; Camila, 4 years old; and Luna and Sol, the dogs), practicing yoga, kickboxing, and crossfit, hiking, biking, taking photographs, traveling, dancing, reading, and learning new stuff!

Caroline Callahan

Language Arts Teacher, Dean of Students

FBRA for Girls

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Caroline has lived in North Carolina since 2013 and has been teaching at French Broad River Academy for four years. She has filled many roles at the school, including being one of the five founding members of the girls school staff. She is also the Dean of Students, the 6th grade Language Arts teacher, and a Drama Club enthusiast and leader. 

Caroline has a deep passion for working with middle schoolers. She seeks to empower her students through project-based learning so that they build their own self-confidence and critical thinking skills. As the Dean of Students, Caroline works to connect with students and develop their social and emotional growth, whether it is through field lessons or Life Skills class. 

Caroline’s teaching philosophy has evolved from her work with Outward Bound at Voyageur Outward Bound School in Ely, Minnesota. She has facilitated numerous experiential education courses with a wide variety of students. She believes deeply that schools should seek to educate the whole person: that success is often contingent on a student’s curiosity, grit, and perseverance.

Through Outward Bound, Caroline has developed personal values that influence her teaching style. She believes in compassionate, non-judgmental communication; each Outward Bound course teaches students to use assertive communication to address issues that arise in the expeditionary team. Caroline also believes in excellence; she seeks to inspire her students to take pride in the work that they do and to constantly strive for personal growth.

Colgate University, B.A Biology

David Clarke

Outdoor Programs Director, Spanish Teacher

FBRA for Boys

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David has been with the French Broad River Academy team since 2010. David is teaching 6th and 7th grade Spanish, music, and P.E., as well as serving in the role of Outdoor Programs Director.

David graduated from Appalachian State University in 2008 with a degree in Recreation Management. From there he worked in Costa Rica and Ecuador as a canoe instructor and safety kayaker for a total of twelve months. David has guided a raft on a 25-day Grand Canyon trip as well as worked on the Kern River in California raft guiding and instructing kayak lessons

David spent one month for multiple summers in South America furthering his Spanish proficiency and immersing himself in Latin American culture.  This included a kayaking trip down the two deepest canyons in the world.  A few summers ago he surfed the west coast and hiked volcanoes in Nicaragua.

David worked at Camp Mondamin for six summers, with job titles including several summers as head of the Mondamin paddling program.  David is certified as a Level 4 Kayak Instructor through the American Canoe Association and a Level I Ski Instructor through Professional Ski Instructors of America. He is a four-time Wilderness First responder through the SOLO and a four time lifeguard through the Red Cross.  David also has a Swiftwater Rescue certification through the American Canoe Association.

Spanish, whitewater paddling, and the opportunity to teach young people have been important throughout David’s life, and he is excited to practice all of these skills at French Broad River Academy.

Christian Conway

Math Teacher, Head of Wilderness Medicine

FBRA for Boys

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Christian Conway is a native of the desert southwest but has lived in Western North Carolina since 2003. Christian grew up skiing, camping, climbing and mountain biking in Northern Arizona and Western Colorado. He comes to FBRA with a strong outdoor education background, having taught at SOLO Southeast Wilderness Medicine School for the three years, where he acted as Assistant Director and Lead Instructor.

Christian graduated magna cum laude in 2009 from Western Carolina University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology that concentrated on human biological sciences. He currently holds a Wilderness EMT-Basic certification through SOLO Southeast and has extensive clinical and backcountry medical experience.

Christian got his start in outdoor education in 1997 guiding climbing and mountain biking trips for the Orme School in Mayer, Arizona. In 2005-2006, he worked as a wilderness instructor for the Second Nature Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness Program, facilitating at-risk adolescents in a healthy outdoor environment.

Starting in 2011, Christian began teaching at SOLO Southeast, where, in 2013, he met Will Yeiser and David Byers in a Wilderness First Aid class that he was teaching. The rest, as they say, is history. In his spare time, Christian enjoys mountain biking, skiing and whitewater rafting.

Tim Coyle

Math Teacher, Head of Technology

FBRA for Boys

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In his fourth year as a FBRA instructor, Tim looks forward to building character and integrity in young people in and out of the classroom.  Tim will teach 7th grade Math and 6th grade Robotics class, as well as serving as the Head of Technology at the Boys Campus.  He especially enjoys incorporating financial literacy into his lessons: teaching students how to manage money and use it to invest in themselves.  Tim is very excited to teach 7th grade math for the 7th year running.

Tim graduated from Grove City College in 2013 with a degree in Middle Level Education, focusing on Math and English instruction.  Tim taught in the NC public schools for 3 years and worked 6 years at various summer camps, including two summers as Director of the Haw River Canoe and Kayak Camp.  He is certified as a ACA L4 Kayak Instructor, Wilderness First Aid, and Lifegaurd.  As a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Tim spends his weekends camping, paddling, and exploring the finest parts of Western North Carolina.  Tim has a passion for teaching lifelong skills through shared experiences in the outdoors.

Elizabeth Douglas

Admissions & Communications Director

FBRA for Boys

(828) 606-1035

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Elizabeth enjoys serving FBRA in the front office and overseeing admissions and communications. Her task-oriented, organizational skill set helps keep the school running smoothly.

Elizabeth joined the staff of FBRA in 2012 after having taught in both public and independent elementary schools for 15 years. She spent 12 years teaching second grade at Carolina Day School, and prior to that she taught at schools in Buncombe County and the Austin, Texas metro area. Her very first teaching position was as an English teacher in a Japanese public school through the JET Programme. During her time there, she spent two years teaching English, learning Japanese, and traveling around Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and K-8 teaching licenses in Texas and North Carolina. She is also certified in Wilderness First Aid via SOLO Wilderness Medicine and American Red Cross Lifeguarding/CPR.

Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family which consists of her husband John and two sons John Kelly and Charlie. Together they like to hike, camp, read, and play games. Additionally, Elizabeth enjoys cooking healthy foods for her family, taking nature photographs, and getting outside to swim or hike.

John Douglas

Development Director

FBRA, Inc.


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John brings 26 years of varied educational work experience to FBRA. He began his career teaching social studies in an urban public high school in San Antonio, Texas. Seeing a need to engage at-risk students during the summers, he developed and led outdoor programs that involved travel experiences. Looking for some adventure, John was accepted into the JET Programme and taught English at Namerikawa High School in Toyama, Japan. Returning to the US after two years in Japan and five months of travel in Oceania, John taught middle and high school math in a small school near Austin, Texas. John and his wife Elizabeth moved to WNC in 1998, where John taught at Valley Springs Middle School and secured his National Board Certification in middle school language arts. John then moved to Carolina Day School, where he spent nine years as MS Assistant Principal and two years as MS Principal. He also served on the Leadership Team and Curriculum Committee at Carolina Day School.

John enjoys spending time with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, John Kelly and Charlie, whether they are cooking, traveling, hiking, or debating around the dinner table.  

Felix Dowsley

Language Arts Teacher, Dean of Students

FBRA for Boys

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Felix enjoys the privilege of teaching 7th-grade Language Arts and 6th-grade Life Skills, as well as stewarding the student community as Dean of Students. Felix began teaching in the out of doors in 2011 after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in English Literature and Religious Studies, spending time in the classroom and the field at The Outdoor Academy, The Island School, and the North Carolina Outward Bound School. Felix loves that his passions for outdoor education, community living, and English language have merged in his work at FBRA.

Felix believes in the power of making connections between intellectual challenges and real life experiences. Whether his students are writing creative reflections on a day of paddling or using their reading and writing skills to be active citizens in their community, he is inspired by their ability to use language to better navigate their world.

Jeff Edmonds

Social Studies/Science Teacher, Head of Outdoor Gear

FBRA for Boys

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Jeff is excited to be a part of the FBRA team this year teaching 7th grade Social Studies and Science. Jeff has spent the past twelve years in the field of Outdoor Education.  He is most recently coming from North Carolina Outward Bound where he spent the seven years working as an Instructor, River Specialist, and then managing the whitewater paddling program.  It was at Outward Bound that he first heard of FBRA and was immediately excited to pursue working with a school that combines academic rigor with outdoor experiences and character development.

Jeff graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management.  During his time with Outward Bound he went back to school to begin pursuing a teaching license in Social Studies and was inspired by the overlap of academics and outdoor education at FBRA.

Julia Haman

Spanish Teacher, Trip Leader

FBRA Girls

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Julia is thrilled to join the FBRA community as an 8th-grade Spanish teacher, P.E. teacher, and outdoor trip leader. She moved to WNC in 2010 to attend UNCA where she completed the NC Teaching Fellows Program, led trips with UNCA Outdoor Programs, studied abroad in Costa Rica, and in 2014 graduated with a degree in Spanish and a Spanish K-12 teaching license.

Since then she has spent time teaching Spanish at Hall Fletcher Elementary as well as teaching yoga and directing the childcare program at Asheville Community Yoga. Previously, she spent many summers working at Camp Merrie Woode for girls and was a raft guide on the Pigeon River.

She loves to do mountaintop yoga, hike, camp, bike, paddle and play outside in any way that she can. Julia is deeply motivated to serve as a bridge to the transformative powers of both education and nature and is over the moon to serve in a school whose values align so deeply with her own.

Caitlin Hay

Math Teacher, Head of Technology

FBRA Girls

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Caitlin is a native of Western North Carolina and spent her childhood hiking, camping, skiing, exploring, and falling in love with the outdoors.  After graduating from Asheville High School, she attended Gettysburg College and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physics with minors in Spanish and Anthropology.  Throughout her studies, she was drawn to education through presenting shows in Gettysburg’s Hatter Planetarium, assisting in Astronomy labs, and teaching help sessions for physics classes.  

After graduating, Caitlin spent a year working in informal astronomy education through the Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket, and Guided Discoveries’ AstroCamp in California.  She then moved to Quito, Ecuador, where she taught 11th-grade physics, AP Physics 1, and AP physics 2 at Colegio Menor de San Francisco de Quito for three years. Since moving back from Ecuador last year, she has been enjoying the outdoors while guiding zipline tours at Navitat Canopy Adventures.  Caitlin is passionate about education, and she is looking forward to inspiring students in and out of the classroom to appreciate and apply math every day.  

When she’s not nerding-out about math, physics, and astronomy, you can find Caitlin at the climbing gym, ziplining, or outside in nature…probably still nerding-out about math, physics, and astronomy.  For fun, she enjoys rock climbing, traveling the world, and reading the latest fantasy novel.

Anne Hersman

Assistant Director, Math Teacher

FBRA Girls

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Anne Hersman is looking forward to becoming a member of the FBRA family as a 7th grade math teacher. She hopes to inspire confidence in her students with their mathematical abilities. While growing up in Ohio, Anne attended Girl Scout camp, fell in love with the outdoors, and felt empowered by a female centered environment. Later, Anne began leading wilderness trips in backpacking, canoeing, sailing, and road biking for summer camps in Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Anne is a graduate of Adrian College where she double majored in mathematics and physical education. She has completed teacher certification in the state of Michigan. After graduating, Anne spent time as a substitute teacher and completed a long-term mathematics position. This lead her to want to learn more techniques to help students become successful in a classroom environment. Anne’s teaching philosophy grew as she worked for the North Carolina Outward Bound School with the Florida Struggling Youth Programs. She believes that each student is on her own individual educational journey, and while each student’s personal definition of success is different, her goals can be accomplished with a combination of being equipped with the right tools and having an internal drive. Anne is excited to bring her experiences to FBRA.

Andrew Holcombe

Director of FBRA for Boys

FBRA for Boys

(828) 736-2597

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Andrew attended Virginia Tech and received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Biology, Spanish and Religion (with a focus in religious conflict areas). Since graduating he has worked as a kayak instructor at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Team Manager for the professional kayak team at Dagger Kayaks, and head kayak coach and US Government teacher at World Class Kayak Academy. He has also led international kayak trips to Mexico and Costa Rica with his wife, Anna.

Andrew has also kayaked professionally for 15 years with top finishes in several freestyle events and extreme races including the Green River Narrows Race right here in Asheville. These adventures have taken him all over the world and to many amazing places. Now he’s happy to call Asheville home.

Andrew grew up in the mountains of WNC in Bryson City and has been an outdoor enthusiast from day one. He loves to share this enthusiasm with everyone connected with FBRA and to apply the lessons he’s learned to the classroom.

Jen Horschman

Director of FBRA for Girls

FBRA for Girls

(828) 582-1953

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Jen joins FBRA with kindred “pura vida” spirit as she and her family lived for five years in Costa Rica.  She co-founded/directed Immersion Abroad Costa Rica, a community-based language and culture study abroad program that partnered with high schools, community colleges, and universities.

Prior to that, she and her family lived for 9 years in Wilmington, NC, where she worked for companies in sales, multicultural marketing, and quality improvement.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Jen was a scholar athlete in field hockey, swimming, and Junior Olympics track.  She received her B.A. from Brown University in American Civilization with a focus in Education. She was on the women’s track team and after Brown, spent two years biking solo in Europe and working in Southern Spain.

Jen holds a Masters of Education from UMass Amherst in Cultural Diversity and Curriculum Reform and had state teaching certificates in MA and NC.  Her experience includes teaching positions from 4th grade through middle school as well as community college.  She was selected to teach at one of the eight nation-wide IBM Reinventing Education schools in Charlotte, NC.  Most recently, Jen taught Spanish at Carolina Day middle school.

She loves to run, hike, camp, kayak, and travel.  She cherishes adventures with her family: her husband Rob, her sons Nico and Henry, and their dog, Astro.

Jason Martin

Academic Director, Language Arts Teacher, Head of Music

FBRA for Boys

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Jason is now in his tenth year at FBRA, serving as Academic Director, as well as Head of Music at the Boys School.  Sharing a background within the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) with both the director and co-founder, he brings sixteen years of teaching experience from across grade levels into his roles as academic and arts program leader.

Martin has helped establish many core aspects of the school’s academic culture, including leading Teacher Training Workshops, establishing the protocols for Teacher Observations and Feedback, facilitating Student-Parent conferences, building the Academic Support strategies for students, and developing the Electives Program which includes our ground-breaking Music Performance classes.

A founding teacher of KIPP: Asheville Youth Academy, Martin was distinguished as one of 14 national recipients of the $10,000 Kinder Award For Excellence in Teaching in 2004.  This came a year after leading a group of 56 students to increases from 44% to more than 80% at or above grade level in 5th grade reading as measured by the NC End-of-Grade Tests.

In the KIPP program, Martin taught Language Arts and Social Studies to grades 5-6, as well as specialized classes for grade 7 including small group studies of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens among other classic authors.  Combining this approach with rigorous non-fiction readings of high-interest current events, personalized student writing conferencing, and highly-engaging arts-integrated lessons, Martin’s classes were praised during his critique by the British Inspection style evaluation of his classes at KIPP, where FBRA founder Will Yeiser was the Spanish teacher at the time.

Martin began his public school teaching career instructing Academically Gifted, Standard Level, and Remedial English in grade 8 at East McDowell Junior High School in Marion, NC, for four years.  During that period his classes achieved the top writing scores on the locally administered test, and he helped start a student-created Literary Magazine, financing its publication with proceeds from a student-produced Talent Competition.

This was the first full-time teaching job for Martin, after spending successive summers travelling the state as one of 70 hand-picked experts and artists to train teachers in the North Carolina A+ Schools network in arts integration strategies.  Filmmaking as an Instructional Tool, Painting Literary Murals, and Blues Songwriting in the Classroom were only a few of the workshops that Martin taught to hundreds of teachers from across the state.

He also taught Remedial Composition classes to incoming freshmen at his alma mater, Mars Hill University, as part of the Summer Academic Enrichment Program. This diverse teaching background, combined with his irrepressible zeal for the world of ideas, art, and music, makes Jason an invaluable member of our amazing faculty.

Becky McCann

Social Studies/Science Teacher

FBRA for Boys

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Originally hailing from the famously mountainous state of Florida, Becky developed a lifelong love of the WNC landscape at a young age while scrambling up rocks in Pisgah and paddling down the French Broad River. Having devoted her career to education and playing outside, Becky is ecstatic to begin teaching social studies and science at FBRA!

Becky graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a B.A. in English in 2009. During her time as an M.A. student at the University of Virginia, Becky often sought adventure on the trails surrounding Charlottesville and nearby Shenandoah, returning to Brevard each summer to lead paddling and climbing trips at Keystone Camp. She continued splitting her time between academia and the outdoors as a Ph.D. candidate, teaching at the University of Tennessee during the school year and running high-adventure trips at Camp Carolina in the summer. If she isn’t in the classroom, you can probably find her speeding (okay—moving at a moderate but respectable pace) through DuPont on bike or foot, scaling the face of Looking Glass, or enjoying her second cup of coffee before a hike.


She’s also carved out some time over the last decade to study abroad in the U.K., take up ultrarunning, teach gymnastics, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, mountain bike through the Whakarewarewa Forest in New Zealand, watch the sun rise from Acadia NP’s Cadillac Mountain, surf (or try to, at any rate) in Santa Cruz, camp on a chickee while paddling through the Everglades, hike the Grand Canyon, try her hand at mountain boarding, and eat a lot of French toast. Now she’s looking forward to working with the FBRA students as they discover their own academic and extracurricular interests.

Colleen McLean

Science Teacher, Head of Outdoor Gear

FBRA Girls

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Colleen McLean is originally from Durham, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  While there she was able to advance her wilderness leadership skills as a trip leader at Seahawk Adventures as well as discover her love for teaching in the Watson School of Education. As part of her education program she completed teaching experiences in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and San Pedro, Belize. Both experiences involved working with middle grade students.

Colleen first heard about the FBRA for Girls from a family she took down the Nantahala River while working as a river guide. Although Colleen loves whitewater, her real passion for the outdoors started with hiking. In 2015, Colleen solo hiked a 500 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail and recently summited Mount Kilimanjaro.

Colleen believes that learning is best observed by students working in groups to complete a common goal. Her lessons involve guided student exploration and she encourages students to use prior knowledge, life experiences, and their investigations of new material to solve problems. Colleen could not be more thrilled to explore, interact, and experience science with the rising 7th grade class.

Johanna Pierce

Admissions & Communications Director

FBRA for Girls

(828) 674-0748

» More About Johanna Hide Staff Bio

Johanna joined the FBRA Girls community as part of the admin/office team in the summer of 2015, bringing many years of school and administrative experience, enthusiasm for the outdoors, and passion for innovative education.

Johanna has lived in the mountains of NC since 1997. She has a Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecology and Environmental Biology from UNC-Asheville. Through fieldwork and laboratory experience, and time with a local law firm, Jo developed a knack for efficient record keeping and attention to details, but her passion for education has always remained. Jo coordinated enrollment and communications for Asheville Montessori School (a traditional Montessori preschool and kindergarten) for seven years prior to joining FBRA Girls.

Johanna enjoys making and creating things, quilting, writing, and hiking the forests with her husband, Charlie, and her son, Sam, an alumnus of FBRA Boys, Class of 2017.

Jack Pitfield

Assistant Director, Language Arts Teacher

FBRA for Boys

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Jack is excited to serve the FBRA team in both administrative and teaching roles this year. Before joining Team FBRA, Jack came to the Asheville area to work as a field instructor and white water canoeing specialist with North Carolina Outward Bound. During the academic year, Jack worked with The Outdoor Academy, a semester school for high-school sophomores located just outside of Brevard. There he spent a year working as a Resident Wilderness Educator and a year as the Admissions Counselor.

Jack graduated from Colgate University with a degree in Philosophy. He also took advantage of the liberal arts school and attended courses in over a dozen different departments. It was inspiring to see the natural overlap between disparate classes and he is excited to continue that multi-disciplinary approach at FBRA with the intersection of academics, outdoor education, and the arts.

Katherine Saul

Academic Director, Language Arts Teacher

FBRA Girls

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Katherine Saul is excited to be a part of the FBRA Girls’ team.  Before joining FBRA in 2016, Katherine taught middle school language arts for 10 years in Washington, D.C. and Denver, CO, mostly in charter schools.  She loves middle schoolers and is grateful that she gets to read and write with these young people as they begin to figure out what they are interested in and passionate about in the world.  

Katherine grew up in a military family and moved around a lot, but she was lucky enough to return for many summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Green Cove.  After studying English and psychology at The College of William and Mary, Katherine spent five years in Jackson Hole, working at the ski resort, in Grand Teton National Park, and finally with adults with developmental disabilities.  She then returned to Virginia to earn her Master’s in Education at the University of Virginia.  

Outside of school, Katherine is an avid reader and enthusiastic cook. She loves to swim and paddle board at Lake Summit, and she and her husband and two dogs are enjoying exploring the trails in this beautiful part of the world.

Natalie Sayre

Science Teacher, Head of Digital Media

FBRA Girls

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Originally from Cincinnati, Natalie fell in love with Biology after a visit to Bodies: The Exhibition during her undergraduate years at The Ohio State University.  She went on to study Biology and Earth Sciences before earning her Masters in Secondary STEM Education. Following her passion for the mountains, Natalie moved to Denver, Colorado and spent her first 4 professional years teaching 7th-grade science.  While there, she founded an after-school program focused on increasing girls’ self-awareness and self-esteem. She took every opportunity to explore the Rocky Mountains and immerse herself in the outdoors.  

Before her 5th year of teaching, Natalie made the decision to explore more cultures.  She accepted a position teaching English in Colombia, South America. Unfortunately, the program was canceled just before it was scheduled to begin.  Embracing the challenge, Natalie decided to continue with her original plans and spent the next 5 months traveling through South America, gaining invaluable life experience.  Upon her return to the states, she made the decision to move to Asheville in order to be closer to her family as well as remain connected to the mountains. She fell in love with the mission of FBRA and ecstatically joined the FBRA Girls team for the 2017-2018 school year teaching 8th-grade Biology.

Natalie is an avid rock climber, trail runner, and mountain biker.  She appreciates all aspects of the wilderness and is dedicated to educating and guiding her students not only as scientists but as human beings.  Natalie is eager to learn and is currently pursuing a Masters of Biology through Clemson University.

Jack Schroeder

Math Teacher

FBRA for Boys

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Jack grew up on the banks of the French Broad River near Hot Springs, NC.  He attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics while also studying Mathematics and Recreation Management.  It was during this time that he began teaching and leading trips with the ASU Outdoor Programs where he taught kayaking, canoeing, and backpacking.  Since then, he has worked as a river guide and gear expert around Asheville, while also teaching skills courses to the public on paddling and hiking.


Raised in a family of thru-hikers, Jack completed his own post-college thru-hike of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, spanning 2187 miles from Georgia to Maine, in 5 months and 15 days.  He is also a veteran of many other long-distance expeditions including extensive canoeing trips in Canada, a month long paddling trip in New Zealand, and multiple kayak descents of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. His future dreams for expeditions include a source to sea paddle of the New River from Grandfather Mountain the the Gulf Coast and the “Triple Crown” of thru-hiking, the completion of the three longest hiking trails in America.


Jack is thrilled to join the FBRA team and perfectly combine his two passions: math/physics and outdoor recreation.  He hopes to spark a passion for math through its relation to the world around us while also challenging students to expand their comfort zones in the classroom, on the water, and out on the trails.

Gillian Scruggs

Spanish Teacher, Head of Wilderness Medicine

FBRA Girls

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Gillian Scruggs is originally from Winston-Salem, and moved to western North Carolina in 2007 to attend UNC Asheville. She led expeditions with UNC Asheville’s Outdoors Program, studied abroad, taught English as a Second Language, WWOOFed in Chile and Argentina, and graduated with a degree in Spanish in 2011. Gillian spent two years teaching experiential science education and gardening in Kanuga’s educational garden center at Mountain Trail Outdoors School in Hendersonville.

She first heard about FBRA while working for Alzar School in Idaho where she taught high school Spanish, AP US and World History, and led expeditions in whitewater kayaking and cultural exchange. She has recently finished a year serving with AmeriCorps Project Conserve as the Outreach and Program Coordinator for the Organic Growers School, and is excited to return to the middle school classroom.

Gillian is committed to finding ways to make learning active, place-based, and interdisciplinary. She will strive to connect cultures and languages by teaching Social Studies and Spanish. Outside of school you are most likely to find her at her local farmer’s market, on the French Broad River, or climbing on rocks in the Hickory Nut Gorge.

Emily Shanblatt

Outdoor Programs Director & Math Teacher

FBRA for Girls

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Emily Shanblatt has called western North Carolina home since she attended Warren Wilson College in 2006. In her time at WWC, Emily double majored in Outdoor Leadership and Chemistry. Just as importantly, this was also where she discovered a lifelong love for whitewater kayaking. Her Outdoor Leadership Studies focus was directed at the importance of single gender programs for adolescent girls, which is partly why working at FBRA for girls feels like a dream come true!

After graduating in 2010, Emily spent a year teaching at the Outdoor Academy in Pisgah Forest, NC. Since then, she has lived in West Asheville and pieced jobs together in order to pursue professional kayaking. She has worked with kids on outdoor education programs through Inside Out, taught hundreds of women how to kayak though Girls at Play, and substitute taught in both the public and private sectors in Asheville.

In her free time, she spends as much time in her kayak as possible. She can also be found on local mountain bike trails or travelling the country with a pair of skis and a kayak on the car roof looking for adventure!

She is super excited to work with the girls of FBRA, not only to help spark passion for math and its importance in daily life and the universe beyond, but also to awaken girls to the outdoor world, and to their inner adventurers.

Liddell Shannon

Science Teacher, Head of Grounds & Services

FBRA for Girls

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Liddell has been living and working in Western North Carolina since 2000. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry and Geology from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and earned her teaching certification and Master’s degree in Teaching at Western Carolina University. Ms. Shannon worked for 5 years as a GEAR UP Resource Teacher and College Readiness Coach at Cherokee Middle School.

Ms. Shannon spent a year on a 6,700 mile human-powered adventure. She paddled the length of the French Broad River system from WNC 1,800 miles to the Gulf of Mexico, rode her bicycle 2,300 miles from the river bank in Louisiana to the Pacific Ocean, and backpacked the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.

Ms. Shannon is passionate about empowering students to expand their comfort zones, and work together with teammates through movement activities.

Joshua Spiceland

Part-Time Visual Art, Trip Leader

FBRA for Boys

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Joshua Spiceland has been an Asheville resident for 12 years, including time spent as a student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he focused on Studio Arts, primarily painting. Since graduating, Joshua has created and helped with many murals around town, for private and public interests. Joshua has worked in many mediums over the years, and has shown in prominent galleries, including The Satellite Gallery and the Asheville area Arts Council. He is in his fourth year as an instructor at FBRA and is excited to expand his scholarship as he begins teaching Sculpture and Ceramics in January 2016.

Emily Swan

Humanities Teacher

FBRA Girls

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Emily Swan is thrilled to teach the 6th and 7th-grade Humanities Seminar at FBRA Girls. Emily hopes to share her love and curiosity for history, politics and cultural studies with the FBRA Girls. In 2012, Emily graduated from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, with a degree in Psychology. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she hiked in the Andes and fell in love with the Argentinean history and the Spanish Language.

Emily spends her summers in Northern Ontario where she leads wilderness canoe expeditions for Camp Temagami. She has led trips to Labrador and Newfoundland and paddled the Missiniabi River to James Bay. Before moving to Asheville, she was living in Lake Tahoe, California where she was the Residential Manager for Tahoe Turning Point, a female group home. There, she worked in substance abuse education, counseling, and crisis management for young women in the Juvenile and Foster Care System. She spent her weekends exploring the Sierra Nevadas, rock climbing in Desolation, paddling on Lake Tahoe and sailing in the San Francisco Bay. Emily is excited to continue exploring the rivers and mountains of North Carolina with the FBRA Girls!

Elizabeth Walker

Humanities Teacher, Head of Music

FBRA Girls

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Before she worked for French Broad River Academy, Elizabeth worked at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School as a residential faculty teaching English, Geology, and Adventure Education. Her first teaching opportunity was at The Pingry School in New Jersey, where she coached soccer and taught 9th grade English. For many summers, Elizabeth lead wilderness trips with Moondance Adventures out of Asheville, traveling both domestically and internationally. Elizabeth’s outdoor leadership experiences also include directing an elementary school afternoon program in Sewanee, TN and working in Texas at Laity Lodge Youth Camp.

Elizabeth graduated from Randolph School in Huntsville, Alabama in 2008 and The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in 2012 and 2013. She earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies, focusing in Geology, and a B.A. in English Literature. Elizabeth is pursuing her Masters in English through Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English.

FBRA will allow Elizabeth to continue to connect outdoor education with a rigorous academic curriculum, and she is very excited to work with adventurous middle school girls. Elizabeth is Wilderness First Responder and an enthusiastic guitar player.

Frazier Worth

Head of Transportation and Maintenance

FBRA For Boys

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Founding math teacher Frazier Worth is a native of western North Carolina and has lived in Asheville since 1996. He is a graduate of Davidson College with a B.S. in Biology. He received his North Carolina Teaching Certificate in Science from UNC-Charlotte. He taught at The Patterson School in Lenoir, NC for five years, then at Asheville High School for seven years, where he prepared FBRA co-founder David Byers and countless others to pass the AP Physics exam. Following Asheville High, he home-schooled his children Allen and Anne for three years during middle school. Frazier also tutors in math and has taught classes for home-schoolers and others in Physics, Chemistry, and Algebra.  Over the course of his career, he has taught Geometry, Algebra I and II, Physics, and AP Physics.

Frazier is married to Jenny Mathews who works as a family physician in Hendersonville. He has two adult children: Allen and Anne.

Frazier is an active musician in FBRA and out, playing guitar and fiddle.  He is usually in one band or another and continues to play gigs around the area.  He has had the opportunity to travel to Cuba for the past two summers, thus improving his conversational Spanish in an immersion setting. Frazier’s other interests include honeybees, running, and reading.

Will Yeiser

Executive Director, Co-Founder

FBRA, Inc.

(828) 713-9734

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After finishing up his master’s in education in school leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the spring of 2009, Will Yeiser returned to Asheville to launch the French Broad River Academy in August 2009.

While at Harvard, Will studied nontraditional school models and developed the French Broad River Academy. Prior to graduate school, he taught Spanish at Asheville Middle School, KIPP: Asheville Youth Academy, and Warren County Middle School through the Teach for America program.

Before entering the public education sector, Will taught whitewater paddling skills with David Byers at nearby Camp Mondamin for five summers. He also taught kayaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, launched a small whitewater adventure company that led extended paddling trips throughout the Northern Rockies and Northern California, taught at a Swiss kayak school, and worked as a ski instructor for the Jackson Hole Mountain resort.

Will lives in central Asheville with his wife Kelly, his two sons Jack and Ayton, and his daughter Everleigh.

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