Raised in New Milford, Connecticut, Vanessa has a passion for cooperative and integrative educational experiences. Since 2013 Vanessa has been homeschooling and then lovingly 'unschooling' her daughter, garnering a passion and appreciation for self-directed learning in the process. Her background is in music, theatre and business, but it was the idea of starting a school for unschoolers that really captured her energy and imagination back in January of 2016. Vanessa's favorite authors on the subject of self-directed learning include John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Grace Llewellyn and Dr. Peter Gray, who has written extensively on the Sudbury Valley School. She is also a proud Patreon supporter of Akilah S. Richards, whose revolutionary work on the art of raising free people, deschooling and the decolonization of us all is something Vanessa finds both liberating and mind-blowing.
Vanessa holds a BA from Indiana University and is an active member of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.
Julie enjoyed a childhood divided between South America, France, and the United States. Being a nomad at heart, she set up camp in the highly mobile TV, film, and theater industry for twenty years before her heart led her to working with special needs children and adults. As a mother of four and certified Special Education teacher, Julie's deepest passion is validating learners at every ability level. When she's not teaching therapeutic riding or rescuing equines in distress, Julie can be found wandering the nearest wooded area with her French husband, active twin boys, and various four-legged critters. Julie is overjoyed to be a part of the paradigm shift in how we help our children take ownership of their learning process.
Julie holds a BFA from the University of Connecticut and an MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College.
After working in the market research industry overseeing company operations and general business administration for the past 25 years, Dianne is beyond thrilled to become a part of the Sudbury community.
Whether it is constructing intricate Rube Goldberg machines from assorted pulleys and levers, writing poems and short stories sitting under a tree, star gazing through a powerful telescope at the wonders of the universe or taking a hike on a path less traveled, Dianne thrives on learning and growing alongside the youth of today as they discover their own passions and pursue their hopes and dreams.
When not tending to her goats and chickens, Dianne can be found leading Girl Scout meetings, working on home improvement projects, hosting her son's weekly band practice, gardening, hiking, kayaking, and traveling.
Dianne is a graduate of William Smith College holding a BA in Political Science.
Scott was born and raised in New Milford, CT. He lives in the Litchfield Hills as an artist. Curiosity and creativity have always been are a large part of his life. Scott studied Accounting and Business Management at Naugatuck Valley Community College with additional coursework at Western Connecticut State University, but found a deeper passion writing for his college newspaper. He chose words over numbers and took a job in communications at IBM where he taught himself how to build websites. Since then, Scott has worked as a reporter, freelance web designer, computer technician, asset manager, and now artist. Along the way he never lost his sense of curiosity or desire to learn from others as well as himself.
Hailing from New Milford, Connecticut, Sharon always dreamed of teaching. After attending Western Connecticut State University, Colgate University, and Syracuse University, and later teaching students from elementary to high school, she has come to heartily believe in the Sudbury mission and educational model of student-directed learning. Long before her introduction to the Sudbury construct, she experienced the benefits of democratic learning through her own theater and writing companies. Students who came to learn about theater did so with excitement, commitment, and determination; a far cry from the lackluster attitude many of her traditional classes exhibited. The students wanted to be there and attended by choice...not due to the influence of an outside force.
Sharon is thrilled to be a part of the Litchfield Hills Sudbury School and is eager to support students on their educational journey.
Rachel Richards was raised in South Kent, Connecticut. She holds a B.A. in Gender Studies and Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College. Rachel's research focuses primarily on food and dogs, and she writes extensively about the importance of play. She does not think play needs to be any different than learning, nor learning from play. Hoping to spend her life making the world more enjoyable and welcoming for all living beings, Rachel believes working in a Sudbury school will help further that pursuit. Rachel loves to swim, travel, and write a bit of poetry on the side.
Michelle Wenis is the founder and owner of Green Woman & Your Childbirth, LLC and the LITTLEseed Program. Michelle is the mother of two lovingly homeschooled boys; Nico (13) and Cole (10). Michelle is a trained childbirth educator and a 200 hour certified yoga teacher with a focus on prenatal and postnatal life with babies and new families. A singer/songwriter/recording artist of relaxation and children's albums, Michelle enjoys incorporating music and artistic movement into her classes to nourish and encourage others to draw forth their own unique and creative wellspring. Michelle seeks to gift those she encounters with tools to soothe, calm, nurture, and build community, maximizing the resources around them.