Meet the remarkable FernLeaf staff!



Administrative Team & Support Staff


Alyssa Moore, Exceptional Teacher Program Coordinator

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.



Amber joined the FernLeaf team in 2019 and has been supporting staff, students, and families in innumerable ways ever since!


Bryan Gillette, School Counselor

Bryan grew up among the cornfields and woods of northeastern Ohio, but his heart has always been in North Carolina. (There’s a song lyric in there somewhere.) During his yearly migrations to Sunset Beach with his extended family, Bryan grew to appreciate the healing power of human connection and the natural world. Those values were reaffirmed as Bryan moved into his work as a Teaching Parent at the AZ State School for the Deaf and the Blind, as a zoo educator (ask to hear about the baby alligator sometime!), as an autism specialist for Buncombe County Schools, and most especially as a school counselor. After dedicating over 20 years of experience to working with young people, Bryan continued his journey at Lenoir Rhyne University where he graduated with a M.A. of education in school counseling in 2018.

Bryan currently resides in Leicester with his partner, Brad, son, Cade, mom, Chris, two dogs, one cat, two ducks, and seven chickens. He is always up for a camping trip, a night at the movies, or having meaningful conversations over a warm cup of Tulsi tea. Bryan is grateful to be a part of the FernLeaf family, and he looks forward to getting to know you better!


Joe Hinchcliffe, Custodian/Maintenance

Joe grew up in South Florida, but relocated to the Asheville area 22 years ago. He holds an Associate of Arts degree and is certified in early childhood education. Joe has spent the past 14 years as a teacher and Child Enrichment Program Coordinator at Around the Son Preschool at Skyland United Methodist Church. In addition, he served six years as the Commanding Officer of the Asheville Division of the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a Navy youth leadership program. He has been married for 20 years to his wife, Kelley, and has 3 sons: Will, a sophomore studying Geology at North Carolina State University; Robert, a freshman studying Elementary Education at Appalachian State University; and Ben, a fifth grader at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary. Joe and his family enjoy many outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, traveling, and off-road driving in their Jeeps.


Karie Martin, Front Office/Administrative Assistant

Karie is a West Virginia native who relocated to Henderson County in 2014. She and her partner John have two daughters at FernLeaf, Lilie and Violet. Karie is a graduate of West Virginia State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Prior to relocating to North Carolina, she served as Assistant to the Director for a statewide children's advocacy program for her home state of WV. She has worked as an administrative assistant in various settings over the years and loves that her role here at FernLeaf allows her to support every aspect of our school community!


Kathleen Askew, School Director

Kathleen grew up in West Virginia where she enjoyed spending time in the mountains with her family. She has called western North Carolina her “home away from home” since 2001, when she moved to Boone to attend Appalachian State University. She currently lives in Edneyville, where she can be found with her family working in the garden, listening to music, hiking, or cooking up a big meal. She loves to snowboard, scuba dive, fish, travel, and spend time by the ocean.  

In 2005, Kathleen graduated with a degree in elementary education and later became a National Board Certified Teacher. Prior to FernLeaf, most of her decade teaching was in fourth grade classrooms in Buncombe County Schools. Since coming to FernLeaf in the school's inaugural year, she has taken an active lead in shaping many aspects of what makes FernLeaf so special.



Michael Luplow, Executive Director

Michael’s interest in educational policy, educational psychology, and creative approaches to teaching and learning were piqued while studying music education at the University of Illinois. Over the next 17 years, Michael had the opportunity to develop thoughtful, compassionate, and innovative approaches and programs in urban, suburban, and rural K-12 settings in Illinois and North Carolina schools as Director of Orchestras. This broad experience gave him a unique lens into the entire K-12 landscape and the possibilities for change within public education. He also recognized a personal strength in building programs and creating rich, positive, and meaningful experiences for children. After informally studying school leadership models and programs, he earned a master’s degree in Western Carolina’s unique entrepreneurship program, which provided a foundation better suited to his interests and passion for enacting meaningful change in the lives of children. After a failed attempt to launch a summer camp, which had the fortunate byproduct of allowing him and his wife, Molly, to raise their amazing children Bridget and Oscar on 30 beautiful acres in Mills River, he began planning for what would ultimately become FernLeaf Community Charter School.

When Michael is not scratching his head about the next big project and trying to change the world one school and one child at a time, he can be found somewhere in the woods with Molly, Bridget, and Oscar.

Molly Luplow, School Director

As one of the school’s founders, she has worked to support the development of FernLeaf behind the scenes since 2013 through committee and board involvement. Molly earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Iowa, and then a master’s degree in human services counseling.  She is a licensed professional counselor, and holds a NC school counselor license. Molly’s background includes two decades of experience working with children, adolescents, and families in both the school and community setting. She is passionate about her own lifelong learning opportunities and applying her knowledge and experiences to develop student and school centered programs and supports. Molly has initiated and facilitated the development of a system-wide Crisis Response Team protocol in Henderson County in addition to the creation of the Henderson County Suicide Prevention Toolkit.  She is an engaged member of her professional community with multiple published articles and frequent speaking engagements at the local and state levels.


Poppi and George

Think of them like emotional support bunnies crossed with furry companions that provide students the important experience of learning responsibility and care for animals.



Scott McDonald, Director of Business and Finance

Scott considers himself a rare breed of "interesting" accountant. He got his business degree with a minor in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill. Not knowing what to do after graduation, he went back for his Masters in accounting. Scott has traveled extensively including Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, England, France, Honduras, and Costa Rica. He has traversed the British Virgin Islands by sail and lived on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Scott grew up playing baseball and has coached both youth and adult baseball teams. He also completed an Outward Board course in the North Carolina mountains. 

Scott and his wife Shannon have two kids, Declan (5) and Emerson (3), and their family has lived in Fletcher for the past four years. Scott came to the mountains to be the Financial Controller of Earth Fare. Less than a month after moving, he found out about a new charter school that was opening and agreed to provide financial assistance to the Board of Directors (the rest is history). Scott most recently served as Chairperson of FernLeaf's board. He is super excited to have Declan attend FernLeaf in the fall of 2020 and to be able to help FernLeaf achieve the Wilderness campus and its financial goals.