EC/Intervention Team

K - 2 Educators   3 - 5 Educators   6-7 Educators   Enrichment/Electives   After School

Alyssa Moore, Exceptional Children Program Coordinator and Teacher

Alyssa came to North Carolina from Kansas in 2004 with her family and received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Carolina University in Special Education: General and Adaptive Curriculum with a concentration in elementary education and social and emotional disabilities.  

Possessing a wealth of experience in inclusion settings, Alyssa enjoys working collaboratively with parents and teachers to achieve the best outcomes for students. She brings to FernLeaf skill sets and expertise that are beneficial not only to students within the Exceptional Children Program, but to all FernLeaf students. Alyssa is an expert in the inclusion model and able to provide tremendous in-class co-teaching and support; she believes fervently that the inclusion model is best for all students; she possesses a wealth of knowledge related to developing strategies designed to help students be successful; and she is capable of providing parents and teachers with common sense approaches to working with a variety of challenges. Some of her career highlights include: implementing an experimental program on inclusion for students with severe disabilities; presenting on inclusion research and strategies at the 2015 North Carolina's Council for Exceptional Children's Annual Conference; and being awarded the Morrill Family Fund for Research in Education grant for staff training in the area of inclusion.

Alyssa lives in Fletcher with her dog, Abby and cat, Noname.  In her free time, she enjoys playing outside with Abby, gardening, fishing, cooking, reading, and watching movies.


Andrew McCabe, Exceptional Children Teacher

Andrew grew up in Hendersonville, and currently lives in Weaverville with his wife, two kids, and three dogs. He loves the outdoors, and enjoys fishing, gardening, boating, and hiking. 

Andrew has been a special education teacher for 10 years, and has taught all grade levels (K-12). He has been fortunate enough to work with a wide range of students; who have ingrained in him an appreciation of the unique perspectives, experiences, and abilities of each student. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University, and has an affinity for Appalachian culture and music. Andrew’s teaching philosophy reflects a love for experiential education, and strongly held belief in the unlimited potential of each student. As a special educator he has worked to meet student needs on many levels, and enjoys the craft of teaching.


Lisa Jones, Exceptional Children Teacher

Lisa grew up in Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in English and Studio Art. She moved to Olympia, WA to serve as an AmeriCorps member and then to Thailand to teach with the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. During these years, she traveled to many countries, ate amazing food, and learned to view teaching as a service that strengthens our communities. 

In order to pursue her love of art, she studied printmaking in Italy for a year and later earned her Master’s in Fine Art from WCU. She worked at the WCU fine art museum, sold and exhibited her work, and taught college level courses at WCU and Warren Wilson College. She also provided art therapy to hospitalized veterans, senior citizens with memory loss, and adults with cognitive impairments. 

Her career path switched gears when she became a mother. Staying at home to raise her two children for nine years is one of her biggest accomplishments in life. This experience fueled her interest in childhood development and informed her decision to pursue a career working with children as a professional educator.  

She recently earned her MAT in Special Education (K-12) from WCU and is thrilled to join the FernLeaf family. She feels excited to work with students with special needs because she believes that every child, with the right support, can develop the ability to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.  

Lisa and her husband, Joe, love spending time listening to all kinds of music, cooking delicious food, camping, hiking, and playing with their two children, Owen and Audrey.


Mary Tody, Exceptional Children Teacher

Born in Wisconsin and raised in Raleigh, NC, Mary moved to Hendersonville in 2003 from Boone, where she attended Appalachian State University and acquired her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education grades K-12 with a concentration in Learning Disabilities. She has worked with children in a variety of settings including: tutoring, working with preschool age children, as a house parent at a boarding school for adolescent girls, working as an EC Teacher for grades K-5 in Henderson County, working one on one with a child with special needs and, her personal favorite, as a mom to her three kiddos. Mary firmly believes in helping students access their education through individualizing instruction, making accommodations, and setting attainable short-term and long-term goals with students and their families.

Mary loves to help in the community and serves on the Special Needs Sports Board, volunteers with The Humane Society, and has helped to raise money to fund an accessible playground in Henderson County as well as to run Camp Cliffview, a special needs camp for children. She loves to be outdoors, read, and spend time with her three children. Their favorite things to do are to go camping, hiking, travel to new places and to continue to learn new things.


Lorne Klein, Exceptional Children Assistant

Lorne grew up in the city of Charlotte, NC but made frequent escapes to the woods to go camping, hiking, fishing, and any other outdoor activity he could find. After growing up in the city he decided to head to the mountains for college so he could be closer to the nature he truly enjoyed.

He attended Appalachian State University and studied psychology with a concentration in childhood cognitive and behavioral development. He lived in Boone for seven years before making the transition to Asheville in the fall of 2019. His hobbies include being outdoors, going to concerts and music festivals, and watching or playing sports.

Lorne found FernLeaf through the recommendation of an old friend and former FernLeaf staff member. His favorite things about being a part of the FernLeaf team are the overwhelming sense of community and support that everyone involved in the school shares, as well as the progressive and inclusive learning environments that are provided. While Lorne is one of the newer staff members here at FernLeaf he is absolutely thrilled to be a part of this special community and is excited to learn and grow alongside the students and staff members.


Leah Banford, Title I Academic Interventionist

Originally from Georgia, Leah came to North Carolina from Colorado in 2020, where she obtained her Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies and Elementary Education at Western State College in 2008. Leah has spent the last 11 years teaching K-5 general music, providing intervention, and incorporating the arts with core curriculum in Crested Butte, Colorado, and she is excited to now be a part of the FernLeaf team.

In her spare time Leah enjoys singing and playing guitar, seeing as much live music as possible, and spending time outdoors with her husband and their Boston Terrier, Big P.


Lorna Festa, Academic Intervention Assistant

Lorna is partner to David and mother to Luca (human) and Oscar (cat). She comes from an Italian American family that relocated to Greenville, SC from Newark, NJ. As a child, Lorna enjoyed writing stories, playing music (piano and alto sax), examining bugs and plants, and hiking with friends and family. She still enjoys all those things.

In 2008, after earning her B.A. in psychology from USC in Columbia, SC, she worked for a year as a scriptwriter for digital media before pursuing her master’s degree in writing at Sheffield Hallam University. Lorna lived in Sheffield, England from 2009 - 2011, where she wrote a novel to earn her Master’s, got a few short stories published, and travelled throughout Scotland as well as Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Prague. She lived for two months in Nantes, France before returning to the States.

Lorna has worked as a proofreader for literary criticism, an art gallery manager, a marketing/communications specialist for several nonprofits, with an inpatient farm community, and in enrollment for NC Pre-K/Head Start. Her nurturing spirit, a desire to support children socially, emotionally, and academically, and the mystery of life led her to discover a home at FernLeaf. She moonlights as a singer and is still chasing her dream of publishing novels.