Our Campus and History
Odyssey School is nestled in a natural sanctuary in the heart of a vibrant city, and is a stone’s throw from some of Asheville’s greatest treasures. Our wooded six-acre campus in the gently rolling hills of the Montford historical district is easily accessible from both I-26 and downtown Asheville.
The campus of Odyssey School was built by Duke University a quarter-century ago specifically as an educational facility, and the grounds include the main building’s 25,000 square feet with its 15 classrooms, offices, a greenhouse and aquaponic system, an auditorium/gymnasium, and a commercial kitchen and cafeteria.
Odyssey School’s campus is home to nearly 100 trees which create an intentional, natural setting for the imagination. In Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, researchers in Sweden found that children who played in an environment dominated by play structures rather than natural elements established a social hierarchy through physical competence; whereas in open play spaces, or “vegetative rooms,” children use more fantasy play, and their social standing became based more on language skills, creativity, and inventiveness. In other words, the more creative children emerged as leaders in natural play areas. This research inspires our expansive, wooded playgrounds.
Odyssey School has updated the facilities to include a working music studio, computer lab, SmartBoard classrooms, and a pottery studio complete with a kiln. Our campus also includes a newly renovated junior Olympic-sized pool, two tennis courts, and a huge, wooded playground. Our neighbors include the campus of UNC-Asheville and the Asheville Botanical Gardens. From here, it’s easy to take advantage of all that the urban center and the wilds of the mountains have to offer!
In February of 2007, several families came together with the desire to create a new school in Asheville founded on a commitment to nurturing a lifelong love of learning and self-knowledge in multi-age, continuous progress classes with a high level of commitment to emotional safety and citizenship. Through the incredible energy of our Board of Trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, and volunteers, our fledgling school has now become an established community institution. A working, dedicated Board, staff, faculty, families, and volunteers continue to be the backbone of the Odyssey School community today.
How must the education of our children transform if we are to expect them to be creative citizens and personally fulfilled adults twenty-five years from now? Answering this question laid the foundation of Odyssey School and is a continual pursuit for Odyssey School’s faculty, whose vision of education assimilates ideas from many novel texts. The result is a compassionate, creative community inspired by solution-oriented thinking, reflection, and the development of our relationship with ourselves, our communities, and our greater human experience. We have to invest in the self-knowing techniques of inquiry, honesty and authenticity. We present our students with an inclusive and creative world.
In 2014, Odyssey evolved further, incorporating a dynamic governance model more deeply into the organization of the school and had two executive directors instead of a single Head of School. In 2020, a single executive led the school with the support of a circle of program directors, representing the PreK, Elementary, Middle, and High School programs.
In 2022, The Board of Trustees began a national search for new leadership and have begun a multi-year strategic plan to relocate the school. Dr. Eric Howard, a longtime Asheville resident with many years in local education, was selected in September 2022.