Written by Emily Glaser | Photos by Anthony Harden (May 2017)
“Traditional methods of learning are really changing,” Troy Tolle says, leaning back in his chair, which is sitting crooked in the corner of business partner Russ Stinehour’s office. Outside, the clouds above Biltmore Park skitter across the sun, marking soft shadows on the sides of the mountains.
It’s a scene that’s idyllically Ashevillian, and at first glance at odds with the strikingly modern one inside the office of this successful international technology enterprise called DigitalChalk. But in reality, the sentiments that are fostered here are as honest, natural, and thoroughly timeless as those very mountains.
Tolle (rhymes with “Sully”) is explaining the impetus and initiative for his business: learning in a modern era. His hands unconsciously return to the same gesture of genuineness, palms up and outstretched before him. “You no longer come out of high school, and this is the set of [college] courses you need to take. Kids in high school and junior high are learning to code by taking a class online.” Whereas learning has traditionally been so structured—ladderback chairs and ruler lashings—it’s now as ephemeral and shifting as the clouds outside.
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