Gene Freeman

New Asheville superinten­dent to lead district starting June 1

During Asheville City Board of Education’s work session and regular meeting on April 2, board Chair Shaunda Sandford announced that Gene Freeman will begin work with the school system on Monday, April 20. He will formally take over from interim Superintendent Bobbie Short as of Monday, June 1. The board also selected Derek Edwards as Asheville High School principal.

Asheville school board stands by its man

The Asheville City Board of Education and Gene Freeman responded to news reports that highlight concerns about transparency, possible conflicts of interest and an extended absence from Freeman’s current school district. Freeman has been selected as Asheville City Schools’ new superintendent and is due to begin work here on July 1 following his June 12 retirement from Fox Chapel Area School District, which is located in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Lily Whitehawk tunes in to the sound of the soul

“In sound therapy, we use sound to elicit a response or a change in someone’s physiology, their mental health or their emotional health. People can use different tools: gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks, percussive instruments such as drums or rattles. I use my voice. These are things that have been used for millennia, as long as there have been humans who have lived in communities. It’s an ancient practice, and it runs through most forms of religion as well,” says sound therapist Lily Whitehawk.

Anna Levesque finds freedom through discipline

“Freedom through discipline: It’s like a river,” muses whitewater kayaking expert Anna Levesque. In addition to coaching women paddlers and leading international adventure trips, Levesque is also a wellness adviser who’s thought a lot about the concept of self-care. She sees discipline as a key element in carving out time and space for making one’s own health a priority.

Collaborat­ive community effort tackles rising health inequities

From 2010 to 2018, “Our black infant mortality rate has increased from 11.7 to 15.1 deaths for every 1,000 babies born,” Hannah Legerton told Buncombe County commissioners on Dec. 3. That means that black babies in Buncombe County are four times as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies. And since infant mortality is a leading indicator of population health, health officials say, those numbers bode poorly for the wellbeing of African American county residents. Collaborative efforts are seeking to address the underlying issues driving inequities in health outcomes.

Life and hard times in the Buncombe County jail

Nearly 70% of those confined at the Buncombe County Detention Facility are there awaiting trial. While Buncombe County aims to cut its pretrial jail population by 15% by next September, compared with 2018 figures, the numbers are actually up slightly in 2019 to date. We wanted to know: What is the jail experience like for the 536 individuals (on average) at the jail on any given day?

Dogwood Health Trust CEO Antony Chiang talks philanthro­py

Perched atop an estimated $1.5 billion endowment — the proceeds of the sale of nonprofit Mission Health to for-profit HCA Healthcare — Antony Chiang talked with Xpress after his first couple of weeks in Western North Carolina. The new leader of Dogwood Health Trust reflects on his approach to philanthropy, what it takes to make a real difference on some of our toughest social and health issues and how he maintains his own physical and mental wellness.

Missing state data clouds ACS disparity analysis

Huge spreadsheets containing academic testing results for each public school district and individual school for the 2018-19 school year became available online in the first week of October. But when Xpress tried to use that information to assess Asheville City Schools’ recent progress in addressing huge disparities in the academic performance of white and black students, things got … complicated.

Futurist charts course for Asheville and Buncombe County

As she wrapped up her work on the AVL Greater and AVL 5×5 2025 plans in late September, we chatted with futurist Rebecca Ryan about her upcoming encore keynote address at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s WomanUP gala on Thursday, Nov. 18, what makes Asheville and Buncombe County different and how we’ll know if the area is on track to make good on the new strategies.

September Alzheimer’­s events build awareness, provide support

For those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, the slow but — as yet inevitable — decline associated with the brain disorder is an ordeal. Events and fundraising walks in September aim to provide support for ongoing Alzheimer’s research while also helping family members and others affected by the disease feel less alone in the struggle.