Lauren Ballester (she/her)
Lauren is a queer mixed-race Dominican-Philadelphian. She has worked in many traditional school and childcare settings and is passionate about centering the voices, passion and joy of young people in a setting that supports who they are as whole people. She loves to spend time near water and in nature. She is also a writer and lover of language. She lives in West Philly with her sister and is excited about building intentional community with young people.
Bethany Castillo-Cann (she)
Elementary Homeschool Evaluator
Bethany is an unschooling mom of two kids, a former music + math teacher (12 years) in the Philly School District, and a homeschool evaluator. She lives in South Philly where she provides child-care and owns Songbird Music, a small business offering local music classes.
Anna D'Isidoro (she/her)
Anna is a farmer, bread-baker, and artist. Her greatest inspiration is found through exploring nonhierarchical collaborations between humans and nonhumans– how these relationships open up channels for deeper knowing and “sense of place.” She has experience in after-school programming centered in food and cooking and seeks to co-create spaces that nurture processes where magic is upheld and not diminished. As a new arrival to the world of unschooling, she hopes to contribute to the spaciousness, safety and trust that is necessary for young people to truly self-actualize.
Zoe Farnsworth (they/she)
Zoe was born in un-ceded Munsee Lenape land, colonially known as Brooklyn, NY, and currently lives in un-ceded Lenni Lenape land in South Philadelphia. Their ancestors are of Ashkenazi Jewish and Christian heritage all over Europe. They are an educator, dance-maker, musician, and aspiring farmer. Their work centers on collective liberation for all sentient beings, environmental and social justice, playfulness, connecting with ancestry and land, and they especially love working with children. They have taught in different educational settings, giving lessons in public schools and leading outdoor wilderness education programs in Philadelphia and Connecticut. They have taught dance-making and performance to teenagers, young children, and adults. They are excited and passionated about becoming an unschooling facilitator. They recently finished a summer long program called the Adamah Farming Fellowship, where they practiced living in intentional community, regenerative farming practices, cooking farm-fresh produce, and connecting with their Jewish ancestry through song and earth-based practices.
Teresa Giardina (she/they)
Special Ed Homeschool Evaluator
My name is Teresa Giardina (she/her or they/them). I am a special education teacher at HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Philly Free School. I am certified in elementary, special education, and middle school science in Pennsylvania. I live in an intentional community in West Philadelphia with my partner and our two children and two other families. I am the parent of two young people: Gus age 13 and Sage age 2. Gus is homeschooled in a self-directed/unschooled style and Sage is constantly schooling us in the ways of the toddler!
Duke Halsey (he/they)
Secretary of Board, Admin
Duke is passionate about empowering people and advancing collective liberation. They have worked with constituents ranging from campers, students, community members, patients, low-income people with disabilities, and older adults. As an operations manager, policy analyst, and volunteer in nonprofit spaces, they have a track record of contributing to the achievement of transformational shifts in priorities, technologies, processes, and policy.
Due to Duke’s range of professional and volunteer experiences, along with their experiences growing up low-income and Black in the United States, they understand that systems of oppression are designed to dehumanize us. They believe that the unschooling movement is foundational to creating the necessary conditions for a world where people are empowered to live as whole human beings and reject all systems of oppression. They see how young people have been a historically oppressed group and how their liberation is connected to all of ours. Duke is committed to advancing The Dandelion Project’s vision of being an accessible and inclusive unschooling community for all families throughout Philadelphia.
Hannah Mackay (they/them)
Co-Founder, Co-President, Facilitator
Hannah is a non-binary femme and former public school teacher who couldn’t ignore the disconnection between classroom learning and the lives and experiences of young people. Instead of forcing young people into obedience and compliance, Hannah believes that schools could be empowering and affirming spaces for young people to grow in right relationship with themselves, each other, and the world.
Hannah has dedicated their life to advancing the intersectional unschooling movement, centering decolonization, consent culture, partnership parenting, and social/environmental justice. To make this way of life more accessible, Hannah co-founded The Dandelion Project, serves as a facilitator at Wild Seeds, consults with families and learning spaces interested in shifting towards self-directed education, and they're an unschool-supportive evaluator + coach for PA Homeschooling families. Hannah was also a founding board member for Philly Agile Learning Community.
Hannah’s long term vision is co-creating an intentional community around unschooling and growing a highly-accessible collective of learning spaces for young people and families in Philadelphia.
Lauren Umlauf (she)
Co-Founder, Treasurer, Facilitator
Lauren is deeply committed to creating community centered education. She is a certified elementary school teacher, with a Master's degree in the Science of Instruction, and a parent to three unschooling children. Lauren co-founded the South Philly Cooperative Playschool in 2014 to fill the need for community driven, affordable early childhood education in South Philadelphia. She was also a founding member of the Philly Agile Learning Community in 2018, a school for self-directing young people. Lauren believes that creating a new model of education that prioritizes self-determination and community is the path to liberatory learning.