people of rts
Kim Smith Mentor
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, terracotta, 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.
Casey Murphy Mentor
Casey Murphy has been working with youth for two decades. Most of his outdoor experience was with Outward Bound, where he was introduced to the concepts of non-violent communication, diversity, transformative leadership and how the wilderness can be a cathartic backdrop for learning.
His experience in the classroom was mostly with the Empowerment Workshop, a non profit that facilitates discussions around equity, consent, privilege and health with youth.
Originally from Ojai, CA, Casey spent a few years traveling abroad studying Buddhism, rock climbing, and generally getting lost more or less on purpose. Nowadays he does a lot of spearfishing, attends BLM events and wears a mask.
Spencer Babcock Mentor
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. His background brings experience with construction, building, tinkering, designing, and making.
Spence spent a year working at Village Free School in Portland, Oregon and supported the Free To Learn Agile Learning Community in Sacramento, California.
He is passionate about finding ways to help more kids have the opportunities to learn through natural curiosity.
When he isn't creating or building something, he enjoys traveling the world, exploring mountains, running rivers, and stretching his imagining with his son.
Jim Bailey Mentor
Jim has been teaching in the Ojai Valley for 18 years. He brings his experience from science classroom settitngs as well as years of youth mentor-ship through the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation.
Jim's current work of self-directed education focuses on the design of informal learning environments and loose parts play theory.
Jim 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.
Natalia Morales Mentor
Natalia was born and raised in the island of Puerto Rico. Ever since she was a child, she's had big dreams of creating a regenerative future.
This passion took her to Massachusetts, where she studied Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts. There, she grew a love for agriculture, holistic medicine, and social justice.
Natalia is a lover of people, community, and the world! When she is not hiking, biking, swimming, and exploring nature with her rescue dog, Maia, she is playing with creating new and delicious recipes in the kitchen.
Natalia's commitment to learning and growth has taken her all over the United States. She has worked as a farmer, baker, and outdoor instructor and is now sharing all of her passions with the RTS community.
Chrissy Dasco Mentor
As a teenager and young adult, Chrissy worked as a nanny, a volunteer in various classrooms, a camp counselor, and an intern at self-directed learning communities.
When she was 18 years old she began digging deeper into what it means to be educated and what it means to learn; eventually finding herself fully immersed in the world of self-directed education and unschooling.
Through varied opportunities to create her own education, Chrissy has found passion in examining the social and emotional development of children, social justice and community creation, and the functions and operations of the education system at large.
Chrissy's other interests include maintaining a dedicated yoga practice, textile arts, hiking, dancing, poetry, live music, and camping.
Kelly enjoys connecting children of all ages to the natural world through food, art and creativity, which has been the central focus of her career. Before attending graduate school, she worked in Carpinteria elementary schools teaching garden education, and created flourishing, rich outdoor garden classrooms. Kelly served as the Education Director for at Fairview Gardens and created the children’s programs and educational gardens that exist on the farm today. She feels privileged to share her passion for a experiential, nature-based learning with our beautiful community. Kelly holds a Master of Science in Environmental Education.
Ojai Unified school district independent study teachers
Natasha Efross Teacher
Natasha began her research into alternative education when she took an unconventional path out of high school and into college and service work. She has been engaged with youth in teaching and mentorship capacities for over fifteen years and is learning every day more about what it means to build meaningful relationships in our community through this role. She is excited to connect with young people and their families to discover how their lives intersect with Ojai Unified School District's core values of creating an inclusive environment, supporting creativity, fostering a regenerative relationship with our environment, all while keeping the student's (and ultimately the community's) well-being at the center of all we do.