Eric Howard, MSW, Ed.D

Head of School
(he/him)

Dr. Eric Howard grew up in Europe and the Pacific and Southeastern United States as a child of a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. Eric moved to his wife Nycole’s hometown of Burnsville more than twenty years ago so that their two sons could have a small-town Western North Carolina childhood. The family enjoys hiking, fishing, arts and culture, and waking up each day with gratitude for each other, their friends and communities, and our beautiful mountains.

As Odyssey’s Head of School, Eric will help us continue and expand how we encourage all students to be citizens of conscience with an authentic sense of self. He is focused on ensuring we invest in our students and provide faculty with the resources they need so that Odyssey School, its students, families, faculty, and staff thrive.

Eric studied and practiced social work because he was drawn to its core competencies: engaging diversity and difference in practice and advancing human rights and social, environmental, and economic justice. He was already a seasoned social worker when he began applying his passion to the field of education.

Eric’s experience with pre-K-12 includes advanced social work practice and school administrative roles including serving as Director of Student Services for Asheville City Schools (ACS); Social Worker, Community Liaison, and Leadership Team for William Randolph School alternative school; and Site Administrator for ACS Preschool.

Eric is an advocate for equity and serves as an expert witness and consultant on bias, race equity, and inclusion. He enacted bias-reducing policies as statewide Director of Problem Solving Courts in Iowa and established Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court as a model during his time as its Coordinator. He consistently makes time for community service. His current and past board and commission service includes LEAF Global Arts, OpenDoors Asheville, Evergreen Community Charter School, and Our Voice.

Eric holds a Doctorate in Education, Leadership & Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University, Johnson City; a Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Carolina, Columbia; a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, North Carolina; and an Associate of Science degree from Georgia Military College, Milledgeville.

Karina Byers

HS Spanish

She / Her 

Karina is a native Spanish speaker from Santiago, Chile. She has been living in North Carolina since 2009 and became a US citizen in 2016. She studied at Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello in Chile and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Karina taught elementary and middle school for 8 years in Santiago before moving to the United States. In addition to teaching, Karina also was a private tutor for students with academic support needs and was also involved with many social and community outreach programs in her native Chile. 

Since coming to the United States, Karina has continued her passion for Education by teaching the Spanish language and culture to students from ages 3 to 65 years old. She teaches private lessons and also taught in a middle school preparing students for advanced High School credits. Karina was also responsible for leading student trips each year to a bilingual school in Heredia, Costa Rica, sharing information and ideas with educational professionals from there.

In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, two daughters, and dogs. Biking, hiking, exploring nature, dancing, cooking, and traveling are her favorite hobbies. 

“Fue el tiempo que pasaste con tu rosa lo que la hizo tan importante” El Principito.

Karina Byers

She/ her

High School Spanish & College Readiness Teacher

Karina is a native Spanish speaker from Santiago, Chile. She has been living in North Carolina since 2009 and became a US citizen in 2016. She studied at Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello in Chile and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Karina taught elementary and middle school for 8 years in Santiago before moving to the United States. In addition to teaching, Karina also was a private tutor for students with academic support needs and was also involved with many social and community outreach programs in her native Chile. 

Since coming to the United States, Karina has continued her passion for education by teaching the Spanish language and culture to students from ages 3 to 65 years old. She teaches private lessons and also taught in a middle school preparing students for advanced high school credits. Karina was responsible for leading student trips each year to a bilingual school in Heredia, Costa Rica, sharing information and ideas with local educational professionals.

In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, two daughters, and dogs. Biking, hiking, exploring nature, dancing, cooking, and traveling are her favorite hobbies. 

“Fue el tiempo que pasaste con tu rosa lo que la hizo tan importante” El Principito.

Board Chair

Jessica “JP” Potter-Bowers

Jessica “JP” Potter-Bowers has served on the Odyssey Board of Trustees for 4 years and feels honored to be the current Board Chair. She has a Masters in Education, works as the Behavior Specialist at a local charter school, and has a background in both mental health work and environmental education. JP’s work in supporting struggling students and experience with non-profit organizations contributes to her perspective when guiding Odyssey toward the future.

JP’s daughter is in 4th grade at Odyssey and has been a student here since Pre-K. Their family fell in love with the “Odyssey way” because of the school’s commitment to social-emotional learning, focus on student-led conflict resolution and practices centered on whole child development. Most importantly, the care and compassion shown by Odyssey teachers has made their experience unforgettable.

Rebekah Walker

First and Second Grade Teacher

she/her

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at Central Methodist College in 1997, Rebekah moved to these glorious Blue Ridge Mountains to be closer to her dad. At CMC, she won The Elizabeth Stephenton Award in Art Education for making a four foot Babar hand puppet and discovered the amazing world of children’s literature. Rebekah found ArtSpace Charter School in 2001 and fell in love with art integration. Art is all around us, whether it’s in us or our environment. Looking at the world through the arts allows everything to be seen through a lens of love, creativity and acceptance. Rebekah has witnessed how this benefits children when learning new things and she has seen how it has helped herself and her two daughters. Rebekah has also witnessed the benefits of yoga in herself and in her students. In 2018, Rebekah became a RYT-200 Purna Yoga instructor and brought Sri Aurobindo’s “All life is yoga” concept into her teaching. Art is magnificent, yoga is delightful and Odyssey School, where all humans are valued for their whole self, is the best place to be. Rebekah has found her Ithaca and couldn’t be happier. When not in the classroom you will find Rebekah reading children’s books outside under a tree, creating fiber art in her art room, in the kitchen baking deliciousness, wandering around with her dog, Molly, meditating/doing asana on her mat, or laughing with her friends and daughters.

Amy Glenn

Fifth and Sixth Grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher

she/her

Amy Wright Glenn and her family relocated from Florida to North Carolina in the fall of 2021. She is excited to begin a new chapter of teaching at Odyssey School! Amy earned her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught high school for eleven years at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey earning the Dunbar Abston Jr. Chair for Teaching Excellence. Prior to teaching high school, Amy enjoyed the creative, vibrant, fun loving, and warm hearted company of sixth graders while teaching at Wellspring School in Providence, Rhode Island.

Amy is a birth and death doula, hospital chaplain, Kripalu Yoga teacher, and founder of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death wherein she trains professionals in the work of holding space for life transitions with a focus on perinatal loss and grief work. From 2015 to 2020, Amy served as an active contributor to PhillyVoice writing on topics relating to birth, death, parenting, and spirituality. Amy is the author of Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula and Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go. Recently, Amy contributed a chapter to a book focusing on self-care for educators in independent schools soon to be published through the Center of Spiritual and Ethical Education (CSEE). 

Amy is the mother of an active and creative 10-year-old and together they love to play Legos, rock climb, hike, explore, read, and adventure with the family Golden Retriever named Scout. Amy finds her home in the Unitarian Universalist and yogic traditions and has studied in India, Iran, Israel/Palestine, Turkey, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, and Canada. Amy’s travels, along with her study of the world’s wisdom traditions, inspire the crafting of an integrated Social Studies/ELA curriculum centered upon the Integral Model of education. Amy loves to garden, meditate, study, travel, dance, and color! 

Ann Tomlanovich

Director of Student Life

she/her

Anne Tomlanovich grew up in Michigan, earned a BS in Sociology from the University of Michigan, then moved to Oregon. An intended short stint there turned into 20 years, during which time Anne earned her Masters in School Counseling, and worked as a middle school counselor. Anne believes that love and belonging are the bedrock of learning, and that students, staff and families do their best work together when they feel a sense of safety and community. She centers student strengths and helps students access those strengths to work through hard times. Anne is skilled in supporting students as they grow in their ability to regulate their emotions, relate to their peers, and gain independence in their academic lives. As she begins her new role at Odyssey School, Anne’s greatest hope is to become an advocate for and an ally to all of her students, their families, and her colleagues. 

In her spare time, Anne is a voracious reader, a music nerd, an avid vintage clothing shopper and loves hanging out with her family. 

Positively Odyssey 2016

Positively Odyssey! is Saturday, December 3rd at Altamont Theatre with Free Planet Radio. Our annual celebration to support Odyssey School is not to be missed. Food catered by Bhramari and an amazing silent auction. Get your pre-sale reservation at just $20 each before the end of October!

Eventbrite - Positively Odyssey! with Free Planet Radio, 2016

 

Positively Odyssey! welcomes Free Planet Radio, whose performances expertly weave elements of jazz with the subtleties and harmonic vocabulary of Western classical music, Middle Eastern, Indian and North African melodic and rhythmic structures. Performing mostly original compositions and emerging from three of the country’s finest music schools, Free Planet Radio consists of two-time Grammy winner Eliot Wadopian leaping effortlessly between rhythm and melody on electric and string basses; River Guerguerian on an extensive array of global percussion instruments including Middle Eastern frame drums and doumbek, the Indian kanjira, African shakers, and Western drum set; and Chris Rosser exploring melody on the 17-stringed Indian dotar, Turkish cumbus oud, guitar, piano and melodica.

For Odyssey parents, childcare is provided while adults enjoy this event!

We’ll see you there!

Elizabeth (Liz) Lesley

A native of Marshall, NC, Liz lives on the farm that has been in her family for four generations. After a childhood immersed in nature, Liz developed administrative and office management skills while in high school as a national delegate for Future Farmers of America, a premier youth organization committed to supporting students for careers in science, agriculture, and technology. Selected from sixteen counties from across western North Carolina counties, Liz worked on leadership and legislative topics as a member of the Regional Officer Team. She studied Environmental Science at Haywood Community College, and in November of 2021, she joined Odyssey’s faculty as an aftercare instructor. She worked in the main office during Odyssey’s eight weeks of summer camp and began as office manager this fall. When not with little kids, Liz pursues interests in the fields of sustainable agriculture and food production. She also loves to spend time snuggling with her cat and being out in the rain! 

K Splash Content

Kindergarten

The Kindergarten program at Odyssey School honors each child’s inherent wholeness, with curriculum developed from Joseph Campbell’s mythic work on the Hero’s Journey. Students learn what it means to be a hero, how to take on personal heroic challenges, and how to problem solve through mediation and non-violent communication.

1-2 Splash Content

1st–2nd Grades

First and second grade students learn about art, culture, and the natural world in their explorations of continents and cultures, offering a window to the world. This research is used to learn information as well as to spark imagination and curiosity about our global community. Emphasis is placed on cultivating a love of reading, deepening development of independent learners, increasing self-sufficiency with problem-solving skills, and developing the empathy, communication, and self-awareness to listen to others and express themselves authentically.

3-4 Splash Content

3rd–4th Grades

Our curriculum is designed to help students use critical and creative thinking skills to make connections across disciplines. Students are guided toward greater independence, as they deepen their understanding of core subject areas, using tools like Goals Notebook, Writer’s Workshop, Ted(talk) and Tea time to encounter new ideas and find inspiration in the inventions that have shaped the design of our modern world. Through Class Meetings and a more developed sense of the Design Thinking Process, students begin to shape their leadership skills within their classroom learning community.

Odyssey School is an independent, non-profit school with a focus on whole child, emotionally intelligent, personalized curriculum for students in PreK-12.

Our mission is to prepare students, families, and educators to lead the 21st century with an authentic sense of self.

More about us...

 

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Community Announcements

Read our 2021-22 Annual Report. Odyssey to host an Open House, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:30 PM. Rsvp with Kristin Harkey, kharkey@odysseycommunity.org. Be sure to include the grade you seek to learn about. Odyssey Welcomes New Head of School, Dr. Eric Howard. Read More.

Get In Touch

If you have questions about Odyssey’s mission, community, or programs, please give us a call! You can also contact us to schedule a tour, meet our teachers, our directors, and visit our learning spaces.          

Covid-19 Policies and Procedures

Odyssey School has had a strong start the year! As of late October, we've made an update to our Covid policies and procedures.

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