History & Staff
The New Classical Academy was founded in 2006 by Kate Hyde and Kelly Homolka, educators who had a vision for bringing the benefits that their own children drew from homeschooling -- internal motivation, imaginative play, multi-age collaboration, individualized work flow, hands-on learning, extended outdoor time, and fun -- into a more structured classroom setting shaped by the principles of classical education.
Since that time, The New Classical Academy has moved locations, grown in size, expanded academic and extracurricular programs, and adjusted curriculum to meet the ever-changing needs of our students. But the core values and beliefs upon which we were founded remain the same, and we continue to strive to graduate thinkers armed with the tools required for meaningful participation in their community, their lives, and their world.
Andy Cross is the Executive Director and Principal of TNCA and a 7th-8th grade Team Teacher. He has been with The New Classical Academy since our first year. Andy was born and raised in South Florida. He attended the University of Vermont, where he studied Forestry and Environmental Education. During college, Andy went to Kenya to further his education and attended the National Outdoor Leadership School. He graduated with a B.S. in Forestry in 2002. After college he worked as a Program Director at Camp Highlander. He has also worked with Outward Bound, adjudicated youth, and one-on-one with at-risk students. He lives with his wife, Jane, and their children, Adi, Belay, and Georgia. Andy enjoys hiking, traveling, playing softball, and spending time with his family.
Elise Marzluff is a 7th-8th grade Team Teacher and the Latin teacher for the entire school. She has been with us since our first year. Elise grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where she began studying Latin in the 7th grade. She earned a B.A. in Latin from Swarthmore College. After receiving teacher certification from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she taught Latin in both public and private high schools in Colorado Springs for two years. She left teaching to further her own education and in 2004, received an M.A. in Classical Studies from Duke University. Her daughter Livy is a graduate of TNCA, and her son Quinn currently attends TNCA. Elise enjoys watching college football, cooking, reading, and practicing yoga.
Ryan O’Neill is a 5th-6th grade Team Teacher. Ryan was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, and recently moved to Asheville with his wife Lili and stepson Jordan. He has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Davidson College and has worked and volunteered in the nonprofit sector, including for Citizen Schools, a nonprofit that provides afterschool programs for at-risk students. He has a passion for education and obtained a Graduate Certificate in Teaching from UNCC and is a licensed NC Professional Educator. In 2016/17, Ryan taught social studies at Community House Middle School in Charlotte, as well as tutored exceptional needs children in math, language arts, and science. He is thrilled to be at TNCA and to be part of an educational community that addresses the developmental needs of the whole child. In his down time, Ryan enjoys hiking, biking, reading and always learning more, and hanging out with his family and two cats.
Kathie Engelbrecht is a 3rd-4th and 5th-6th grade Team Teacher. She has been at TNCA since 2014. Kathie grew up in New York and earned her B.A. in English from Duke University. From her first internship for Sesame Street, Kathie’s interest in non-traditional and informal learning environments has guided her career and volunteer positions. As an educational planner for Perkins+Will, Kathie worked with schools around the world to create optimal learning environments for their communities. Prior to moving to Asheville in 2007, Kathie earned her Master’s Degree in Education from UNC Chapel Hill, where she studied the influence of place on learning. Kathie’s three children attend TNCA. When not at school, Kathie enjoys exploring the world with her family, reading, sewing and baking.
Kara McNerney is a 1st-2nd grade Team Teacher. Kara joined TNCA in 2018, but she has been working with children for over twenty years in outdoor and environmental education and has been teaching in a classroom for over ten years. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from The Ohio State University and has Montessori elementary certification for ages six through twelve. She lives with her husband, Mike, and their daughters, Iris and Stella. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, reading, being outdoors, and playing piano and guitar.
Elise Cross is a K4-Kindergarten Team Teacher who has been at TNCA since 2011. Trained in Orton-Gillingham, Elise is a Certified Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) and works with K4-2nd grade students in Language Arts. She earned a B.F.A. from Western Carolina University, where she majored in classical piano performance. Prior to joining TNCA, she tutored children and adults, taught piano, and volunteered with the Blue Ridge Literacy Council as an ESL tutor. Elise also facilitates a monthly kids’ mindfulness meditation class downtown. Elise is excited to be part of an educational community that engages its students in critical thinking in such a harmonious and nurturing setting. She and her husband have lived in Western North Carolina since 1998, and they have two children, both of whom attend TNCA.
Ellyn Lurey is a 1st-2nd grade Team Teacher who joined TNCA in 2018. Ellyn was born in Asheville, but grew up in Nashville, TN. She received her B.A. in History and Dance from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. After college, Ellyn moved to Charlotte to work as the Education Coordinator at the Charlotte Museum of History. While also teaching youth dance classes in the evenings, Ellyn realized her dream of working with children and decided to pursue a career in education. She received her Elementary Education degree from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, in 2015, and moved back to Asheville, where she maintained strong roots through friends and family, in 2017. Ellyn has experience working with both preschool and elementary students, most recently at Fernleaf Community Charter School. While not at work, Ellyn enjoys eating and hiking her way through Asheville with her fiancé, dog, and cat.
Adriel Reed is a 3rd-4th grade Team Teacher who joined TNCA in 2015. She was raised in the piedmont and mountains of North Carolina. Adriel attended Warren Wilson College, where she graduated with honors with a B.A. in English Literature, and then went on to UNCA to procure her K-6 Teaching Certification. She has been working formally and informally with children for over 20 years, from volunteering as a Big Sister with United Way, to tutoring children in math and reading, to teaching in her own classroom. Adriel is currently certified as an Orton-Gilligham Classroom Educator, and continues to work on further OG certification. When not teaching, she loves spending time with her family, Jason (her husband), Kylea, and Kiran, hiking, knitting, reading, and making good food.
Jane Cross is the Director of Admissions and Outreach Coordinator for TNCA. She grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and received her B.A. in History from the University of Dallas in 2003. Jane spent three years working in adolescent and youth mental health, both through the Florida Outward Bound Outreach Programs and as a one-on-one mental health worker within Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools. In 2006, Jane got her degree in Nursing and spent a decade working in pediatric health care. Jane joined her husband Andy Cross in a full-time role at TNCA in a non-health care role in 2017. She uses her training in pediatrics and mental-health services as well as her experience with health-care case management to serve a liaison between families, teachers, and services. Jane lives in Candler, NC, with her husband Andy and their three children, Georgia, Belay and Adi, all of whom are students at TNCA. Jane enjoys building, designing, and creating beauty for her family and the world around her, and she believes you should always surround yourself with beauty. She also loves exploring the world with her family, and being at home with her wide circle of kids, bonus kids, pets, and husband.
Lori Lapallo is a K4-Kindergarten Team Teacher. She is new to TNCA, but has been a classroom teacher for over fifteen years. Lori grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She received her B.S. at Bloomsburg University and her teaching certification at East Stroudsburg University. Lori has Montessori certification for ages three through six. Over the years, she has taught kindergarten through sixth grade on the Central Coast of California and Buncombe County Schools. Most recently, Lori taught at Montessori Learning Community in West Asheville for the past five years before joining the TNCA team. She has resided in Asheville for 16 years. She lives with her husband, Dave, and their children Marlee and Mya. Lori enjoys the WNC mountains, hiking, biking, sewing, reading, crafting, volunteering at her community park, and hanging out with her family.