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
Science Teaching Credential
Jim has been teaching in the Ojai Valley for 18 years. He brings his experience from an eighth grade physical science classroom and his years as an elementary science specialist for the Ojai Unified School District. In addition to his work in the classroom he has facilitated several years of youth mentorship through the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. His current self-directed education focuses on the design of informal learning environments and loose parts play theory. He is a certified California Naturalist and enjoys studying the geology, insects, micro-invertebrates, and birds of the Ojai Valley. His love of the natural world and of people is also expressed in his volunteer work as a member of the Upper Ojai Mountain Search and Rescue Team.
"My passion is to share the deep sense of wonder and belonging I feel when exploring the natural world, both directly and through the discoveries of others. I hope to always approach my role as a mentor and a learner with curiosity, ever informed and buoyed by the knowledge and direct experience of the wondrous Universe that is around us and within 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 in many forms and locations for 15 years. She has cared for homeless children in Peru, foster children in California, and has taught high school and elementary school students from varied backgrounds. Her current self-directed education focuses on a cross cultural understanding of early childhood development including the impact of prenatal, birth, and infant experience. 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.
"I read Grace Llewellyn's Teenage Liberation Handbook as a young teenager 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 youth looking for another way, offering what I have learned and the exciting possibilities beyond 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.
Casey Murphy has been a wilderness mentor for 15 years in various wild places around the globe. In the past few years he has also been working in classroom settings as a Sex Ed Facilitator.
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.
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, Building Specialist
BFA Interdisciplinary Studio Art, Brigham Young University
Secondary School Visual Art Teaching Credential
Spence has worked with youth in a variety of settings, from helping teens backpack in the desert, to teaching art in a middle school classroom. He has worked with youth to help them design and build projects large and small. His background brings experience with construction, building, tinkering, designing, and making.
He spent a year working at Village Free School in Portland, Oregon, gaining valuable experience, developing his knowledge about Self-Directed Education. He has also supported the Free To Learn Agile Learning Community in Sacramento, California. Through these experiences he has seen self-direction empower individuals to blossom, enrich their lives and the world around them.
He is passionate about finding ways to help more kids have the opportunities to learn through natural curiosity. "I believe the world is better when people of all ages are free to choose the path that feels right for them. I have a thriving enthusiasm to support kids in their journey as they explore their interests and create a life that brings them fulfillment."
When he isn't creating or building something, he enjoys traveling the world, exploring mountains, running rivers, and stretching his imagining with his son.