Principal: Nicole Cush
Nicole Cush is celebrating her 3rd year in Asheville, leading SILSA (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville) and her 29th year in education. 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, putting the needs of the faculty, students and community she serves as paramount.
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 athletic, performance 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.”
This year Principal Cush has focused on the importance of engaging in discussions of Productive Struggle and at the core, the well being of all in the building. To address this a Labyrinth has been 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, Black Asheville Demands and the Roots Foundation, 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 How to be a Community Engaged Leader 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.
Dean of Students: Heather Reidinger
After 13 years teaching high school English in central North Carolina and here at SILSA, Heather Reidinger is excited to be Dean of Students here at SILSA during her 16th year working in education. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and National Geographic Certified Educator with experience working in diverse school communities.
A native of Western North Carolina and graduate of North Carolina State University, she enjoys hiking, fishing, kayaking, watching football, reading, and travelling.