Humans of Rock Tree Sky
Director and Mentor
BA Liberal Studies, Physical Science emphasis, English Minor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
Secondary School Science Teaching Credential
Jim has been teaching in the Ojai valley for 15 years. He brings experience from an eighth grade science classroom and a sixth grade elementary classroom. In addition to his work in the classroom he has facilitated several years of youth mentorship through the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. His love of the natural world and of people is also expressed in his volunteer work for Upper Ojai Search and Rescue. He is amazed and excited to be a part of the growing movement for Self-Directed Education.
"My passion is to share the deep sense of belonging I feel in exploring the many wonders of this Universe. I am enthusiastic to discover, alongside the youth in our community, what ignites our curiosity today. Though I have come to be recognized by many as a skilled science teacher, I do not view myself as an expert of a removed, difficult subject matter. Rather, I approach teaching and learning with the lightheartedness and experience of a seasoned explorer, fascinated by the Universe that is around us and in us all."
Director and Mentor
BA Anthropology and Sociology, Mills College
Teaching Credential English and Social Studies, Sonoma State University
Natasha has worked with youth all of her adult life in many forms and locations. She has cared for homeless children in Peru, foster children in California, and has taught high school and elementary school students from varied backgrounds. Some of her personal joys include poetry, cultivating fermented foods, and goat tending. Working with children choosing a path other than school has been a life-long calling, as she emancipated herself from high school at age 15. She is particularly excited to be a part of a community acting as a hub for teens choosing alternatives to high school.
"I read Grace Llewellyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook when I was a sophomore and felt she was writing for me. As I read about youth creating fulfilling lives for themselves outside of school, a feeling of endless possibility and freedom lit up inside me. I walked off my high school campus and never returned. Since then, I have reached out to teens looking for another way, offering what I have learned and the exciting possibilities beyond high school. I am deeply honored to be a part of a community that supports youth not only in their unique path but in connecting with peers also making this discovery."
BA Holistic Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Chrissy graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where she created her own concentration, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Holistic Education as well as a certificate of Civic Engagement. Through the opportunity to create her own education, she has found a passion for exploring and examining the social and emotional development of children, social justice and community creation, and the functions and operations of the education system at large.
When she is not geeking out about education system reform, Chrissy loves practicing yoga, crafting, going for long walks, dancing, writing poetry, experiencing live music, riding bicycles, listening to Arcade Fire, and eating organic peanut butter with a spoon.
Mentor, Outdoor Specialist
Casey Murphy has been a wilderness mentor for 15 years in various wild places around the globe. In the past few years he has been working in classroom settings as a Sex Ed Facilitator also.
Originally from Ojai, CA, Casey spent a few years traveling abroad studying Buddhism, rock climbing, and generally getting lost more or less on purpose.
Most recently he has been learning the basics of bird language in the woods of Ventura County and spearfishing in the kelp of the Pacific Ocean.
Teen Program Director, Mentor
BA Philosophy, Connecticut College
MA Intercultural Education and Administration, School for International Training
Paul has been exploring collaborative and inquiry-based approaches to learning since first encountering progressive educational practices in graduate school. In addition to an 8-year high school English teaching career, Paul spent time as an in-service provider coaching teachers in economically disadvantaged sectors of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Most recently Paul was an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Arizona mentoring Masters of Education candidates on progressive teaching practices in borderland school districts. Over the course of his career Paul has become a passionate practitioner of student led, project based learning. “We’re educating kids for a rapidly changing world. To succeed they’ll have to learn how to navigate on their own. The best way to make that happen is if they’re allowed the freedom to follow their interests.” An outdoor enthusiast, author, and former professional jazz musician, Paul knows firsthand just how diverse those interests can be.
Art Director, Mentor
BA Fine Art and Graphic Design, San Jose State University
AA Child Development, Director's Certificate, West Valley College
Kim has been teaching art in the Ojai Valley and surrounding areas for almost twenty years and is a professional artist working in various mediums, including, oil painting, bronze sculpting, marble sculpting, terra cotta, and steel. Kim's work resides in collections around the world. Kim works as a docent and teaching artist at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and gives private tours at the Getty and LACMA. Her tours include historical information, technique, and explanations of what is being seen and the importance of each work.
"My philosophy is simple, I believe in the importance of the process over the product, and don't believe there are any mistakes in art, only opportunities to learn and experience. This takes the pressure off of students while they learn all that it takes to create meaningful art."
Mentor, Construction and Design Specialist
BS Interior Design, Dunwoody College of Technology
Tara, an Ojai native, has been an advocate for alternative learning for decades. She has taught children SSE Education in Humane Values and Computer Technology at Malibu Juvenile Detention Center. She is a multidisciplinary maker and designer with a passion for business systems. Her background is in Interior Design, restoration, large art fabrication and Experiential Design. "My passion is Educare, brining out what is latent within the student. Every individual is a genius, they just have to be encouraged and allowed to access/develop their greatness."