banner
Contributor Profiles
Enjoying Tipping Points?
Learn about the people who are making it happen.

Abigail OultonAbigail Oulton

After over a decade of teaching and studying education, Abby now serves as co-director of the New York City Agile Learning Center (ALC-NYC). The flagship school of a growing network, ALC-NYC serves a community of young people who practice self-direction and intentional culture creation. During school hours Abby often shares books, field trips, art projects, and her enthusiasm for life science. She also works increasingly with adults, collaborating with and providing support for those new to facilitating in learner-driven environments.

Abby graduated from New York University's Gallatin School for Individualized Study in 2013 after focusing her coursework around education and sociology. She facilitated at ALC-NYC for three years before becoming a director, and she looks forward to finding ways to provide more young people access to education focused on their empowerment and holistic growth.

Akilah S. RichardsAkilah S. Richards

Akilah S. Richards is an author, content writer, and podcaster. Her liberation-focused work explores strategies designed to help people leave or change the environments where they do not feel free or safe as themselves. She is an intersectional feminist writer with a keen focus on amplifying the spectrum of Black and Brown people's voices in the self-directed education movement.

Akilah has given keynotes, breakout sessions, and workshops on radical self-expression, personal leadership, and writing on college campuses and women's summits/conferences in the US and on her home island, Jamaica. She has been featured in Essence and Real Simple magazines, and has written for MyBrownBaby.com, ScaryMommy.com, TinyBuddha.com, ForHarriet.com, and EverydayFeminism.com, among others.

Akilah and her husband are digital nomads who live an unschooled life with their two daughters. She stands in service as a board member for Greening Youth Foundation and the The Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

Alexander KhostAlexander Khost

Alexander Khost is a father and children's rights advocate. He is the founder of Voice of the Children, promoting and facilitating art and activism for young people. Previously, Alexander founded the Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic free school in New Jersey, and more recently he co-founded play:groundNYC, a junkyard playground for children on Governors Island in New York City.

He earned his MFA with a concentration in self-directed learning environments from Parsons School of Design, The New School University, his BA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and is a certified New York State public school teacher. Alexander is the Vice President of Friends of the Modern School.

Blake BolesBlake Boles

Blake Boles builds exciting alternatives to traditional school for self-directed young people. He directs the company Unschool Adventures and is the author of the published books The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, College Without High School, and the online book How to Live Nowhere.

He and his work have appeared on TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, NPR affiliate radio, and the blogs of The Wall Street Journal and Wired.com.

In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophy of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to study education full-time. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning.

In his previous lives, he has worked as a high-volume cook, Aurora Borealis physics researcher, delivery truck driver, math tutor, outdoor science teacher, EMT medic, summer camp director, market researcher, web designer, and windsurfing and tree climbing instructor. He keeps a running goal (and failure) list. His biggest passion is sharing his enthusiasm and experience with young adults who are blazing their own trails through life.

Brian HuskieBrian Huskie

Brian Huskie is a National Board Certified public schoolteacher with 10 years of experience, founder of the Albany High School/Capital District Refugee Scholarship Endowment, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran (2004), and author of "A White Rose: A Soldier's Story of Love, War, and School" He and his wife homeschool two beautiful boys outside of Albany, NY. Find Brian at BrianHuskie.com

Bruce SmithBruce Smith

After starting his career in the public schools of Columbia, Missouri, Bruce L. Smith helped open the first Sudbury school in Illinois in 1997. Since then he has staffed at Sudbury schools at four states, primarily Alpine Valley School in metro Denver and Clearview Sudbury School in Austin, Texas.

For over a decade Bruce has served as president of Friends of Sudbury Schooling, an organization dedicated to promoting the visibility and viability of schools inspired by the Sudbury Valley School, founded in 1968. When he's not staffing, Bruce offers public speaking and consulting services to groups interested in learning more about Sudbury, which he also promotes on Twitter (@numbalum89) and at his blog, Write Learning.

Bruce holds degrees in English, History, and Education, and has studied Religion and Creative Writing at the graduate level. He is an active member of the Austin Zen Center and has worked as a freelance writer and editor.

Deborah Sale-ButlerDeborah Sale-Butler

Deborah Sale-Butler works as a voice actor and mom to an autistic autodidact in Los Angeles. She has been blogging about her journey in Self-Directed Education with the hope of encouraging other parents with special needs children to create their own futures.

Heesun HallHeesun Hall

Heesun Hall is a homeschooling mom whose daily life looks nothing like she ever imagined for herself. When she began this journey, her intention was to recreate school at home -- she'd be the teacher, with two students, sitting at tables and "doing school" for a few hours each day. Within the first month of that journey, she quickly realized that such was not to be. Her kids didn't want to sit for "lessons". Nor were they too interested in whatever plans she had for them.

Having studied child development in college, she knew that each of her kids would follow their own path. What she hadn't realized is just how different those paths would be.

James DavisJames Davis

James Davis is an unschooling father of 3, as well as a co-founder of the Stomping Ground, a summer camp dedicated to helping kids to thrive in an environment of freedom and trust.

He has spent the last 3 years speaking at conferences throughout the United States and Canada trying to help summer camp directors understand that kids discover and nurture their best selves when they are given space to be exactly who they are.

He and his wife, Taylor, each work half time so they can dedicate half of their working time to create a nutrient rich environment for their self-directed children.

You can reach him by emailing him at james@gocamp.pro. He would love to hear from you about child development, parenting, or the beautiful things they've seen when kids are given space to direct their own learning.

Jan HuntJan Hunt

Jan Hunt, B.A. Psychology, M.Sc. Counseling Psychology, is a parenting and unschooling counselor, and the author of The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart (2001) and the bilingual children's book A Gift for Baby (2009). Jan and her always-unschooled son, Jason co-edited The Unschooling Unmanual (2016).

She has published articles in numerous journals and parenting publications, and on her Natural Child Project website, now celebrating 20 years online. She is the former Editorial Assistant of the quarterly journal Empathic Parenting, published by the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Her parenting column "The Natural Child" appeared in Natural Life from 1989 to 1998. See Jan's parenting advice and more articles by leading mental health professionals at naturalchild.org.

Jan envisions "a world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, understanding, and compassion." She lives in British Columbia, Canada, and is available for counseling worldwide.

Javier BronchaloJavier Bronchalo

Javier is passionate about learning. He is enthusiastic about the idea of the learner as a social constructor of learning, who best learns through the active acquisition of information, peer support, inner motivation, self-direction, and participating in a community based on equality and mutual respect. Co-founder of Knowlege Constructors. Project coordinator at SOLE Spain. Working in research and development of e-learning projects at Knowledge Constructors and SOLE Spain. He has worked in different schools as an elementary teacher and ICT coordinator.

Je'anna L ClementsJe'anna L Clements

Growing up, Je'anna Clements was blessed with plenty of free time, access to natural environments and a variety of interesting people, and managed to effectively self-educate in spite of her schooling.

Working with children's participation and environmental rights, she realised how many kids experienced school as 'day-jail'. Putting this together with what she had learned during her Psychology honours degree, she became convinced that there must be more humane ways to educate kids, and started reading work by authors like Carl Rogers and Ivan Illich. Becoming a mom to a very strong willed child with zero interest in anyone else's curricula, quickly completed her induction into consciousness of self-led learning processes.

She is committed to making genuinely self directed learning options more available in South African and hopes that the Johannesburg Sudbury once opened, can become a training and networking hub to inspire and support initiatives throughout the African continent.

José Sánchez GalánJosé Sánchez Galán

José's specialities are project-based learning, blended learning, gamification, flipped learning, self-regulated learning, self-directed learning, e-learning

He is passionate about his profession, teaching. He's worked as a teacher in all educational stages: children, primary, secondary and university. Currently, he works as a teacher at the college training future teachers of Physical Education. His main challenge is for teachers of the future to acquire the necessary skills to bring about the much needed pedagogical renewal of the 21st-century school.

But above all this, his top priorities are his one-year-old daughter and the practice of physical activities in nature (climbing, climbing, mountain biking, orienteering).

Judy ArnallJudy Arnall

Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE (Certified Family Life Educator) is a conference keynote speaker (Distinguished Toastmaster) and a well-known Canadian parenting expert, having given advice for television interviews on CBC, CTV, and Global as well as publications such as Chatelaine, Today's Parent, Canadian Living, Parents magazine, and newspapers including The Globe and Mail. As a child development expert, she teaches family communication skills and the value of play at The University of Calgary.

Judy is the author of the print bestseller, "Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery", which has been translated into five languages. Her new book, is titled Unschooling to University, based on the blog of the same name. Judy lives in Canada and is a parent of three self-directed-educated, university graduated adults and two teens. She is co-founder of Unschooling Canada Association which provides Canadian resources for self-determined learners. jarnall@shaw.ca | www.professionalparenting.ca | www.unschoolingcanada.ca

Katherine WilliamsKatherine Williams

Unschooling Outside of Institutionalization, is the story of my family and our years unschooling together.

To reconcile the profound dissonance between what I thought education had to be and what the children were showing me they needed, I wrote. And this book proceeds from that journal. I share how we moved forward with the hope that this will spread some light and comfort to other homeschooling families and to anyone who seeks to better understand what educational freedom looks like in the field, outside the confines of a traditional classroom. Hopefully unschooling will be the subject of increasing scientific inquiry. But my book is a narrative about the years our kids were growing and we endeavored, with the good intentions and ferocity of any dedicated parents, to find a kinder and richer way to educate them. We did not know, in setting out, that we would also stumble across a way to set the children and ourselves free.

Kenneth DanfordKenneth Danford

Kenneth Danford is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens. Through North Star, Kenneth has supported more than 600 teens to leave school and embark on a self-directed approach. North Star is now the lead organization of the Liberated Learners network of a dozen centers throughout the United States and Canada.

Prior to establishing North Star, Kenneth attended public schools in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and then Amherst College and Brown University. He taught in both the Prince George's County, MD and Amherst, MA public schools. Kenneth has spoken about his experience of making school optional as an annual presenter at the AERO Conference and other panels. He participated in the TEDx Conference in Amherst College in 2013 and at the Thrive 2020 Conference in Guernsey, United Kingdom in 2015. After twenty years in the field, Kenneth is as enthusiastic as ever about helping teens and families change their lives in this profound way.

Laura Grace WeldonLaura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of Free Range Learning, a heavily researched and resource-packed handbook of natural education. She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she'd get more done if she didn't spend so much time reading library books, cooking weird things, and singing to livestock.

Her background includes raising four self-directed learners, leading nonviolence workshops, writing poetry with nursing home residents, facilitating support groups for abuse survivors, and teaching classes in memoir and poetry. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com, the Free Range Learning community on FB, and her perch @earnestdrollery.

Madison KannaMadison Kanna

Madison was homeschooled as a child, an experience that instilled in her an appreciation of learning as a lifelong and self-directed process. Her unconventional education included private tutoring, interning for the number #1 homeschool website www.homeschool.com (according to Forbes Magazine in 2000), and traveling to Hawaii and the Channel Islands on expeditions with Robert Ballard, the scientist who found the Titanic. Madison loves to read, write, code and collaborate with others to create meaningful things. She's currently a junior developer and working on expanding her knowledge of software development.

Mercer CarlinMercer Carlin

Mercer is a founding parent from the original ALC in NYC. Mercer's passion for and commitment to self-directed learning were much of the inspiration for Arthur Brock (Mercer's son's father) to turn what was formerly the Manhattan Free School into the first Agile Learning Center.

She has spent the last 21 years in Corporate America as an Executive at a company named TRANZACT. Her passion has been to create human focused, empowering cultures in the workplace. Most recently she has been responsible for close to 1,000 licensed insurance agents across four locations. These centers are known for being great work environments as a result of the work of Mercer and her team.

Mercer recently departed from her job and is serving as a Coordinator of the Agile Learning Center Network.

Missy WillisMissy Willis

Missy Willis, M.Ed. is an unschooling, peaceful (for the most part) parent to two kids and the creator of the blog Let 'em Go Barefoot, where she discusses issues related to the social, emotional, and physical well-being of children and families. She has a degree in Psychology with a focus on child development and a masters in Special Education. Over the past 20 plus years she has worked at Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina State University, and in public and private schools in North Carolina before falling into homeschooling--the next, natural step on the respectful parenting path she and her husband embraced after their first child was born. In her quest to encourage a more kinder world towards children she believes that educational autonomy is a huge component in creating healthier adult/child relationships.

Currently she spends her time organizing events and resources for homeschooling families in her community and helped charter the first Homeschool Builder's Club in the greater NC/SC area. Builder's Club is a middle school volunteer club sponsored by Kiwanis International. When she isn't writing and researching you can find her adventuring with her family, painting, gardening, or slowly working through the piles of books stacked by her bed. She can be reached at missywillis@live.com through her Facebook page Let 'em Go Barefoot or on Instagram @letemgobarefoot

Nancy TiltonNancy Tilton

Nancy Tilton founded ALC Mosaic in August of 2013 and currently serves as the Director of Education and daily facilitator with intermediate ages for the school. She has been studying child development and working with children for 18 years. She graduated high school with 24 early childhood credits through her local community college and then moved on to study Elementary Education at the University of Maryland.

From there she taught in public schools for 3 years, and then moved on to help grow a private Quaker school in Charlotte for 3 years. After these experiences, she decided to embark on an adventure creating a community school that works in collaboration with parents and students, something she didn't see happening in conventional public or private schools.

ALC Mosaic opened in 2013 with 12 students and is currently serving over 35 students as it begins its 4th year in operation. Nancy also piloted the Agile Learning Facilitators summer program in 2014 with Tomis Parker, which has continued to serve adults around the world who are interested in learning about Self-Directed Education & Agile Learning Centers.

Pat FarengaPat Farenga

Patrick Farenga brings more than 34 years of fieldwork, advocacy, and personal experience to help parents and children learn in their own ways. Farenga is a writer and education activist who addresses academic and general audiences about working with children, not on children, to help them learn.

Farenga worked closely with one of the founders of the modern homeschooling movement, the late author and teacher John Holt, and published Growing Without Schooling magazine (GWS). GWS was the nation's first periodical about learning without going to school, started by Holt in 1977 and ending in 2001.

Farenga speaks as a homeschooling expert at education conferences around the world as well as on commercial radio and television talk shows in the United States (The Today Show, Good Morning America) and abroad.

Farenga writes about homeschooling and self-directed learning for a number of publications and operates the John Holt/Growing Without Schooling website, JohnHoltGWS.com. He is also a founding member of AlternativesToSchool.com and the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

Farenga's books include Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling (Perseus, 2003), The Legacy of John Holt: A Man Who Genuinely Understood, Trusted, and Respected Children (HoltGWS, 2013), and How to Report Unschooling to School Officials (HoltGWS, 2015). Farenga has also written chapters about homeschooling in Encyclopedia Britannica (2014, 2010), A Parent's Guide to Homeschooling (Mars Publishing, 2002), Creating Learning Communities (FER, 2000), The Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), The Exhausted School (Oxford Village, 1992), Schooling At Home (John Muir, 1990), and The Encyclopedia of School Administration (Sage, 1988).

Ramin FarhangiRamin Farhangi

After doing some consulting for the BCG for 3 years, Ramin realized his thirst for living a happy, meaningful life. He tried teaching Math and Physics in high school for 3 years, where he realized how inefficient the system for children to learn what truly matters in life.

He then discovers democratic schools and more particularly Sudbury schools. He discovers that the French education Law doesn't make school compulsory. He feels like he was cheated all this time, and that there surely exists a healthier way to view education, free from imposed curricula, timetables and age groups.

After reading A.S. Neill's Summerhill and attending a EUDEC Conference in Copenhagen in 2014, he's so convinced that this is the very future of education that he starts up a Sudbury School in Paris with partners he finds along the way. He also encourages the team to develop EUDEC France in parallel by organizing national conferences, paving the way for a whole generation of democratic school projects.

Ramin is known for his TED Talk, Pourquoi j'ai créé une école où les enfants font ce qu'ils veulent (English subtitles available).

Yanira CastroYanira Castro

Yanira Castro is a Digital Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in marketing, public relations and branding. She has worked in markets around world and consults with organizations on unifying and creating a strong digital presence.

Yanira has been a keystone to the marketing departments of notable brands including Chipotle Mexican Grill and California Pizza Kitchen.

Yanira volunteers as an Outdoor Afro leader in Charlotte, a national non-profit which creates & inspires Black connections with nature. She participates in national environmental advocacy opportunities, including an eight-day rafting trip to one of the most remote areas in the United States, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Yoni KallaiYon Kallai

Yoni Kallai is big kid who spends most of his time in Brooklyn where he performs, trains and teaches partner acrobatics at The Muse Brooklyn, a circus studio in Bushwick.

Yoni is also a co-founder and summer camp staffer of play:ground, a unique junkyard playground on Governors Island, which allows children to play freely with different materials and items that could be considered as junk, along with tools to allow for building and destroying. Parents are not allowed into the playground and are encouraged to sit back and relax. Yoni firmly believes in the benefits of self directed play and education and works to bring that to as many young people as possible.