Seventh and Eighth Grade Homeroom, Fifth-Eighth Grade Science Teacher
Growing up in Annapolis, Maryland was the perfect spot for Alex to develop her passion for nature and science. Remembering the exact moment on an excursion with her 7th grade class, baiting crab pots to catch dinner on the Chesapeake Bay, when she decided then and there that she would never work a typical desk job. Ever since, Alex has explored the intricate world of environmental education, conservation and adventure. Alex worked on farms in Italy, grew hydroponics in Oklahoma, provided logistics for Outward Bound, and paddled 500 miles around the DelMarVa Peninsula collecting water quality data for local classrooms. Alex is a proud graduate from the college of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech and received her General Science Teaching Certification through the Washington, D.C. Teaching Fellows. Having taught in a variety of classrooms since 2010, from outdoor ed on work boats, to public schools in the inner city, Alex is continuing to learn and develop engaging, hands-on science curriculum for her students. Alex believes in providing a safe, creative, and encouraging space for each and every person who enters her classroom.
Outside of school, you can find Alex in her garden, exploring trails and waterfalls with her husband and two huskies (and maybe soon their new kitten!), painting, playing beach volleyball, or just daydreaming of where she will explore next.
Fifth and Sixth Grade Homeroom, Social Studies and Math Teacher, Virtual Camp Teacher
Kalyan is one of Odyssey’s founding teachers, and he first came to teaching after a series of adventures, including traveling and living in Japan and considering monkhood in Nicaragua. When he visited a Long Island alternative elementary school, he was so enraptured(?) by their joy and excitement that his life goals shifted from the monkhood to working in alternative education. His passion is to help children discover and honor their inherent brilliant selves and use those gifts to add to a vibrant community.
Kalyan achieved a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and an M.A. in Education from Goddard College in Vermont, where his master’s thesis focused on the design of holistic elementary schools. After working as a lead teacher in a school in Fukuoka, Japan, and head teacher as PSOLI in Merrick New York, Kalyan taught at Odyssey for six years before taking a hiatus to explore other career opportunities. He rejoined Odyssey Middle School in 2016.
In Kalyan’s classes students focus on going deeply into subjects and ideas. Critical and creative thinking is encouraged and developed. Students are given ample opportunity to shine in the areas where they are strong and to be supported and grow in those areas where they need help. Key components of Kalyan’s classes include mutual respect, fun, participation, and dialogue. He encourages students to follow through with their visions, develop their own voice, and encounter the diversity of humanity.
Seventh and Eighth Grade Homeroom, Fifth-Eighth Grade English Language Arts Teacher
Rena achieved a B.A. in Psychology focused on K-12 reading certification from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Later, Rena achieved middle school certified in Language Arts from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. While she is both a licensed educator and a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Rena loves being a part of a learning community where she can ignite desire for lifelong learning.
While her career in education began in Asheville City Schools, Rena’s love for adventure fueled a desire to explore places outside of her beloved Asheville. First stop, the beach; teaching middle grades language arts and social studies in lovely New Bern, NC. Rena later migrated to Williamsburg, Virginia surrounding herself and her family in rich history and super fun amusement parks. Love of family, lifelong friendships, and the magnetic draw to Asheville brought Rena and her family back to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. She is happy to be home.
Rena’s classroom promises to be filled with adventure too, as students explore rich literature while finding their own voices through writing experiences. Our mistakes will guide our goals; our goals will drive our achievements; our achievements will drive our successes.
Fifth and Sixth Grade Homeroom, Fifth-Seventh Grade Math Teacher and Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher
Kylie received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Ohio University—it was there in Athens, Ohio that she found a home in Appalachia. Shortly after graduating, she made her way to Asheville to work at Odyssey School’s summer camp. Over the past few years, Kylie has found her alignment in leading spiritual retreats, working with kids and teens on the Autism spectrum, and tutoring, homeschooling, and substitute teaching middle school math. Each of these experiences has contributed to her path as an educator, and she is elated to have the opportunity to continue that path at Odyssey!
The classroom is her playground, and Kylie believes that multimodal, hands-on, and active learning experiences lead to a deep, comprehensive understanding of concepts. This often takes the form of incorporating movement-, nature-, and art-based play into lessons. Social justice, sustainability, and the development of critical thinking skills are also at the forefront of her teaching. She believes that knowledge leads to passion, and passion leads to action in terms of activism and allyship.
As a child, Kylie couldn’t stop bouncing off the walls. Well, nothing’s changed! Whether she’s out romping in the mountains, discovering a new handicraft, or working toward mastering a new skill, she’s always up to something. One of her missions is to help her students discover and delve into things that light their fires, too.