Our Story

My name is Rick and I am a teacher. I have always liked teaching and students, since I was a little kid I was teaching other kids (aka bossing them around) as we played in the woods building forts and ramps for our bikes. I spent a decade in a traditional classroom at a public high school in Florida and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had-yet there was a problem. The problem was a lack of connection. Public school doesn’t allow for friendships between students and teachers. I was only supposed to talk with them about my subject (Visual Art), connecting with them as people wasn’t part of the curriculum. I have never seen myself as above anyone, and the idea that I was supposed to act above my students was a problem for me. I think that teaching is a two way street, I learn as much as I teach. I can’t be a teacher apart from the group, we are all the group. We are all in this together. This led me to search for a classroom outside the system. I needed help.

My wife, Jami, is a teacher as well and she is one of the best educators I know. As a national award winning advisor the National Junior Honor Society and a Teacher of the Year, Jami shares my hopes and dreams about making the educational environment a more holistic experience. We have both had students that shared their home life, which were heartbreakingly difficult, and we had become mentors and parental figures for these students. We have to care about the student as more than just an academic statistic, we have to love them as a person, with emotions and hopes and dreams of their own. With shared ideals for what Jami and I wanted in a “classroom,” we still needed more help.

My parents, Deb & Barry, have been amazing influences on my life growing up. My mom, Deb married Barry when I was 12 years old. They have always been excellent examples of how to live my life. Their kindness, generosity, hard work and sense of community have been passed down to me and I am excited to be passing these qualities on to my own children. When I was a high school student, my parents were generous enough to let not one but two of my classmates move in when their home situations got rough. The first was someone that I consider a brother (and always will) and the second is now my beautiful wife. As far back as I can remember we have always built our tribe around us. Parties and impromptu gatherings has always been a part of life. “The more the merrier” and “No one should go hungry around here,” were quotes that I’ve heard so many times throughout my life. When I’d bring friends over whether it be 2 or 20, all were always welcome. As far as hard work is concerned, Deb has worked 2 jobs for the last 20 years, one in IT and the other as a scrapbook consultant. Barry has been a tractor mechanic with John Deere for 34 years. They are the people that I hope to be as I get older, and I was fortunate enough to be able to share my idea with them and to receive the same encouragement and support they had always given me. They had one major request, that the four of us make this happen in the mountains.

So we, as a team, looked for our new home and place of business in the beautiful North Carolina mountains. After 3 years of searching, we found our forever home just outside of Burnsville, NC. We visited the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2015, and we just knew this was the place; it felt like home. By Friday we had a contract. It took a little over a year (and 4 moving trucks) to get us all up here, and since that time we have been hustling to get our dream up and running. After a handful of setbacks and a bit of family tension we are coming out of this ordeal stronger and we are ready for my classroom idea to be open as it has transformed into something even bigger.

Our retreat center will focus on three R’s Reconnect, Recharge, and Renew. (As well as the three R’s that you may be familiar with, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) We would like to invite you to our beautiful, secluded place in the woods to help the whole you to reconnect with friends and family, recharge in the beauty of nature, and renew your creative pursuits. Not only is it a classroom, it is a place for you to stay, to learn new skills in both the arts and sustainability, and to unwind, slow down a bit, and find yourself.

Our Team


Rick Shimer

Rick is the other half of our dynamic duo building and maintaining Triple R- we call him our “Professional Lost Boy”. Rick spent 12 years as a public school teacher, sharing his love and expertise of Fine Art. Through Triple R he hopes to share more of this knowledge with a more diverse group of like minded souls. He’s an artist with a BFA in Photography with a passion for photos, sustainable architecture and is a self proclaimed adrenaline junkie.

Deb McLeod

Deb’s “day job” is a Senior Director of Client Solutions for a tech company called ACTS. Over the last 25 years, she’s satisfied her logical techy side through IT Project Management, is currently leading the WIT (Women in Tech) Network, and serves on the Microsoft Partner Advisory Council. Deb fulfills her creative soul by organizing scrapbook retreats and hosting stamp/papercraft workshops to commune with other crafty humans. In order to get a complete picture of Deb, it’s also important to note her deep love of Jimmy Buffett and Dracula.

Jami Shimer

Jami’s “day job” is a high school teacher. She’s been recognized as a Teacher of the Year and has presented many professional development sessions on a variety of topics. She’s also our local waterfall hike junkie, certified yoga instructor, avid reader, and aspiring writer.

Barry McLeod

Barry is half of the dynamic duo building and maintaining Triple R- we call him our “Handyman Extraordinaire”. In his prior life, he spent 34 years as a John Deere mechanic and building homes. Barry is an avid hunter, wildlife fanatic, and lover of NASCAR racing and antique cars.