The staff at Terra Summer is carefully chosen. They are well-educated, experienced, and compassionate professionals who excel in their fields and who share in the fundamental philosophy of Terra. Each complements the group as a whole in such a way as to give your child a smart, nurturing, and well-supervised experience.
Sybil Fix is founder and director of Terra Summer and the future flagship Terra School. She conceived of the Terra concept while working in education first as a journalist, then as a researcher for education reform causes. She spent many hours in classrooms studying the problems besieging the schools—particularly poor rural schools and middle schools. Food struck her as a natural and exciting way not only to link and investigate the intellectual disciplines for middle-grades students, but to explore our development as human beings and our connections to other people, other species, and the earth. Food also offers an intuitive way to teach about tradition, sharing, culture, good judgment, good choices, responsibility, compassion, and, needless to say, health and well-being. She is impassioned by the state of our industrial, corporate food industry and the industrial meat production system and their impact on the environment and people’s health and spirits. Sybil is a graduate of Yale University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is idealistic and committed to change, and she views education—including education about the state of the world—as the most direct and influential path to bettering things for the planet, without which future generations won’t matter. Sybil grew up in Italy; she lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina.
Taylor Kirkland is Terra Summer 2011's humanities teacher. He was born in southern Mississippi and raised in central Pennsylvania, but has found his home in the mountains of Western North Carolina. While exploring the traditional farming practices of Mayan and Mennonite communities in Belize after college, he became fascinated with the rich narratives associated with agrarian societies. He sees that through narratives, natural history combines with human history and a piece of ground fills not only with layers of work but also with human stories and memories. In 2010 he received his M.A. in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University where he concentrated on the oral histories of southern Appalachian authors, farmers, and crafters. In recent years he has worked as a presenter for Al Gore and the Climate Project, as a community organizer for Restoring Eden and the Energy Action Coalition, and at the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Farm in Valle Crucis, NC. He is thrilled to bring his passion and experience of food and culture to Terra Summer, where he has taught since 2009.
Jessica Sharp is Terra Summer 2011's science teacher. Although she is originally from East Tennessee, she has called Western North Carolina home for almost 10 years. Jessica came to the area in 2001 to attend Brevard College, where she graduated at the top of her class with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and ecology. After college, she spent many years working for a non-profit organization, educating teachers in environmental science. She also did graduate work in ecological engineering at Purdue University, where her focus was large-scale composting. Jessica began teaching in Brevard full-time in 2008 and received her teaching license in high school science, middle school science, and middle school math. Jessica first joined the Terra team as the science teacher in the summer of 2009, and is now returning for her second summer. During the regular school year, Jessica teaches middle school math and science in Henderson County. As a teacher she believes safety, consistency, motivation, and the scientific method are some of the most important things she can bring to the classroom. When she is not teaching, Jessica is reading or spending time outdoors with her fiancé and their two 4-legged children, Bodhi and Midge.
Alfred Schwartz is Terra Summer 2011's chef and kitchen master/teacher. Alfred is a fully certified art and technology education teacher in Delaware, where he lives most of the year. After receiving joint degrees from the University of Bridgeport in art/design and engineering, he went on to practice industrial design for a host of Fortune 500 companies, always specializing in practical answers to “impossible” questions. His work with food comes from growing up in a traditional French restaurant, Le Cote d'Azur, in Philadelphia, where his father was the executive chef. By the time he was in his teens he had mastered every station in the restaurant and earned the rank of sous chef. While college took him on a path other than cooking, design allowed him to travel and work around the world, and in each new place he was captivated by the local cuisine, its taste, history, and technique. Several years ago the call of the kitchen became too much to ignore, and Alfred started to cook in a small bistro in Dover, rising within a few months to become the sous chef. From there he went to work at the city’s highest rated restaurant, Michele’s, the premiere restaurant at the Dover Downs Casino, and then became executive chef at Realm, an internationally-driven fine dining restaurant in Dover. In Asheville Alfred has demonstrated his skills as executive sous chef of The Stoney Knob Café. This academic year he has more than seventy students in a middle school “Iron Chefs” program in Delaware and is proud of his students’ tenacity and courage in the kitchen. He looks forward to encouraging students to be fearless in tasting, creating, and experiencing cuisine at Terra Summer.
Patryk Battle is Terra Summer’s horticulturist guru. Pat has taught extensively about farming and gardening—at various community colleges and extension offices, the North Carolina Arboretum, the Organic Growers School, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference, the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group Conferences, the John C. Campbell Folk School, Warren Wilson College, and Virginia Tech. He has also trained the farming staff at Terra. Pat has extensive experience in food production and preparation, with a lifelong commitment to the principles of the sustainable food community. He has co-owned and operated the Lucky Goose Bakery, been head cook at the Penland School of Crafts, managed the display gardens at Highland Lake Inn and Mountain Air Country Club, farmed and operated a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and managed and operated two state-licensed composting facilities. He also writes about gardening and farming for many publications, has organized and coordinated sustainable growers events, and is a widely recognized panelist on WCQS Radio's popular monthly gardening program. Pat delights in helping even the most jaded of us connect with our inner green thumb and organic gourmand and in getting the most die-hard vegetable-hating youngster grazing in the garden. He says gardening is a remarkable antidote to PlayStation-itis.
Rocco Sinicrope is Terra Summer’s farmer in residence. He is responsible for the bounty of our organic vegetable garden and will teach Terra students the ropes of the farm. Rocco’s interest in plants took hold while growing up in St. Croix, USVI, where he started a career/hobby in landscaping. But it was not until he enrolled at Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, where he got a degree in religion, that his interest in farming blossomed. There, he learned about the industrial food production systems and their impact on the environment and people. The critical challenge of finding a simple, healthy meal continues to feed his passion for organic, independent food production. Before moving to Asheville, Rocco served as an intern on an organic vegetable farm in Northern Virginia and established a good foundation in growing and marketing. He is on his third year growing at the farm at Terra.
Mollie McDonald is Terra Summer’s 2011 coordinator. Growing up hiking, swimming and playing outside in Vermont, Mollie developed a lifelong passion for the outdoors. She received her bachelor’s in environmental policy and management from UNCA and is a licensed K-6 elementary teacher. Over the past three summers, Mollie has worked with elementary school children at the Isaac Dickson Summer Garden Program, teaching cooking, gardening, and ecology. She has also worked with RiverLink, teaching stream ecology to children of all ages. Through these experiences, Mollie has reaffirmed a belief that she has always known to be true – children learn most effectively when all their senses are engaged. In 2009, Mollie presented at the first North Carolina Outdoor Education Symposium in Chapel Hill, where she showed teachers how the Standard Course of Study can be connected to school gardens. Mollie is also certified to teach children's yoga, a planned addition to Terra Summer this year. Mollie is also a certified substitute teacher for the Asheville City Schools. In her free time, Mollie can be found cooking, gardening, practicing yoga and creating fiber arts. She lives in Weaverville with her husband, son and daughter – and their eight chickens, two dogs, two rabbits, and one cat.
Steve Butera is Terra Summer's 2011 assistant coordinator. Having grown up in suburban New Jersey, Steve moved south to Williamsburg, Virginia to study mathematics, philosophy, ceramics, and sustainable agriculture at the College of William and Mary. After graduating, he moved back up north, to rural Ohio, spending the next 6 months working as a resident naturalist, shepherding school children throughout a 1,000-acre nature preserve. Steve moved back south in 2007 to work on an organic vegetable farm in Virginia before moving to Asheville later that year. In Asheville, Steve has worked as manager of a community garden at Emma Elementary School, as a mathematics tutor, as a high school math teacher, and as a mountain biking instructor. He has also worked for 3 summers as a summer camp counselor in Brevard and Tuxedo, NC. When not teaching, Steve can be found tending his vegetable garden or riding his mountain bike in Pisgah National Forest. Steve is excited to join the Terra Summer team and will bring with him a breadth of experience with sustainability, agriculture, cooking, vegetarianism, and with working with children in a summer camp setting. He lives in West Asheville with his fiancé and their two dogs.
© Terra Summer 2009-2011