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.
Adriel Reed is a 3rd-4th grade Team Teacher who has been with TNCA since 2015. Adriel was born in Columbus, Ohio, but was raised in the piedmont and mountains of North Carolina. She attended Warren Wilson College, where she graduated with honors with a B.A. in English Literature, and then went on to UNC Asheville to procure her K-6 Teaching Certification. She has been working formally and informally with children for 16 years, from volunteering as a Big Sister with United Way, to tutoring children in math and reading, volunteering in her children's schools, and finally teaching in her own classroom. When not teaching, Adriel loves spending time with her family, gardening, hiking, hosting potlucks, and making good food. She also loves to knit and read.
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 the 1st-2nd grade teacher. Kara is new to TNCA, but has been working with children for over twenty years in outdoor and environmental education and has been teaching in a classroom for ten years. She has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from 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 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.
Lea McLellan is a K4-kindergarten Team Teacher. She has been with us since 2016. Lea grew up in Connecticut and earned her B.A. at the University of Vermont. She then went on to obtain her M.F.A. in nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston before moving to Asheville in 2013. She has been tutoring and teaching children for over six years and loves being part of such a creative and supportive educational community. When she isn't teaching, Lea enjoys spending time with her two dogs, practicing yoga, and writing.