Principal: Nicole Cush
Nicole Cush is beginning her 4th year in Asheville, leading SILSA (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville) and her 30th year in education.
She is honored to be celebrating the amazing SILSA Family for these remarkable achievements:
Principal Cush comes to Asheville with decades of experience leading Inclusivity and Equity Initiatives as a trainer and administrator (Rutgers University and Northeastern University), leading in Wake County (Green Hope High School and Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School) and beginning her 17 year teaching career in New Jersey (Morris County, Newark and Jersey City).
Cush prides herself on her expertise as a Social Emotional Leader, placing the needs of the faculty, students and community she serves as paramount. Learn more about Principal Cush here.
Principal Cush was featured in WLOS’s Never Stop Learning for upgrading the appearance and creating a more welcoming environment at SILSA. She then took a bold move by expanding the need for an inclusive space, she secured flat screen TVs from the Career and Technical Education Department in SILSA’s entrance and 1st Floor Rotunda, ensconced with images of students active within the community, whether it be artistic, athletic, performance based or social, “There is something powerful in being seen, students and stakeholders do get a kick of seeing themselves. I love watching them taking selfies with themselves.”
Principal Cush is a devotee to the Social Emotional Wellbeing of her staff and students and she passionate about Mental Health; she mentors a group of young women from SILSA and AHS called the Glitter Sisters, founded in 2018, upon her arrival to SILSA. She has also created a weekly series on Productive Struggle and Growth Mindset to prompt meaningful discussion between scholars and their families. They can be found weekly on the SILSA Facebook Page, which she maintains.
In addition to being laser focused on the importance of engaging in discussions of Productive Struggle and at the core, the well being of all in the building; Principal Cush challenged students to be creative and she had a Labyrinth installed in the first floor Rotunda to provide support for staff and when students return, as an immediate place where folks can go inward on a short journey, locate their center and come out with a renewed perspective. Principal Cush serves on the boards of Open Doors of Asheville, The Delta House Life Development Asheville, The Roots Foundation, The Cougar Lacrosse Alliance and the YWCA, she volunteers with a host of agencies within the city serving youth and sits on the Asheville City Wide Equity Team. She has been Tapped as a thought leader for Lenoir-Rhyne University Equity and Diversity Institute course work and teaching a Master Class on Community Engaged Leadership with Western Carolina University.
In the rare moments of free time she enjoys hiking and spending time with her daughter, Kyrie, a professional musician who just completed her Masters at Berklee School of Music in Valencia Spain.
Assistant Principal: Rheta West
My name is Rheta West and I am so grateful and happy to be joining the Cougar family! I have been teaching special education for over 20 years. While I could tell you all about my degrees and what universities I have attended, I would rather tell you about my superpower. I love kids. All kids. I especially have a heart for kids who are different, struggling or who don’t want to be loved. Those kids are my favorite.
When I am not loving kids at my work, I go home and love my husband, daughter and 3 bonus sons. We have 3 doggos who we also love a lot. I live on a farm so I enjoy running on the country roads while listening to true crime podcasts. There is not a holiday I don’t decorate for and celebrate with silly Pinterest recipes. My favorite things are naps, homemade baked goods and Jeeps….and laughing until my cheeks cover my eyes.
Thank you for this opportunity.