Verner Central (VC) at Emma Elementary

Verner Central (VC) at Emma Elementary, the new Center for Early Learning in West Asheville, NC, grew from “Danny” Verner’s 2001 vision for early care and education for mountain area children and families. As NLI had worked on the original Intermountain Children’s Place (Spruce Pine, Mitchell County), joining the VC team early on was especially meaningful.

In collaboration with Verner leadership, Buncombe County Schools, Buncombe County Smart Start, and local consultants, NLI was tasked with designing “best practice” outdoor play and learning spaces to serve children enrolled in infant, toddler, twos, and pre-K programs. During construction, NLI worked closely with the project architects, on-site contractors, and the VC team to ensure effective project implementation.

Classrooms in the innovative, above-ground center (manufactured off-site), open onto a surrounding terrace. Ramps provide accessible routes to the play and learning spaces. Infants are provided a sheltered, easy-access outdoor space where the eastern terrace broadens.

Financial support for the project came from Buncombe County Early Childhood Education and Development Fund (ECEDF), Dogwood Health Trust, Glass Foundation, and WNC Bridge Foundation.

Photos provide a mid-winter sense of the recently installed outdoor play and learning spaces. Everyone is waiting for the trees to leaf out and welcome the spring!

Site Photos

Photos: Natasha Bowden