Co-Founder of TDP
Co-Director @ Wild Seeds
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.
Sophia Durka (she/her)
Co-Director @ Wild Seeds
Sophia is an urban farmer, writer, Reiki practitioner, and educator from the Bronx, whose work is rooted in seeding sovereignty and empowerment within Black and low-income communities. Sophia began her journey in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Urban Studies and Creative Writing in order to understand the city she now called home. While working at Sankofa Community Farm in Southwest Philly, Sophia became grounded in community organizing around food, land, and intergenerational relationships. Sophia and the highschoolers she helped facilitate were empowered and transformed by the self-directed learning and culturally relevant education offered in the Youth Program. Sophia’s experience at Sankofa and mentoring/nannying young people her whole life (including her two kid brothers, whom she adores) has centered her on a path to re-imagine what schooling can look like for children. She believes deeply that children are wise and have the capacity to understand and shape their own environment, as well as be teachers themselves, when they are trusted to. Sophia’s path has led her to be a co-director and facilitator at Wild Seeds Learning Community, where she aims to foster children's imagination, autonomy, curiosity, and compassion as they develop a community filled with radical love, towards themselves and their world.
Hannah Mackay (they/them)
Co-Founder of TDP
Facilitator @ Wild Seeds
Hannah is a 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, school’s should be empowering and affirming spaces for young people to better understand themselves, each other, and the world. Hannah has dedicated their life to advancing the intersectional unschooling movement, centering decolonization, consent culture, partnership parenting, and environmental stewardship. To make this way of life more accessible, Hannah co-founded TheDandelionProject.us, serves as a facilitator at Wild Seeds, consults with learning programs interested in shifting towards self-directed education, and they're an unschool-supportive evaluator + coach for PA Homeschooling families (PHAA member). Hannah’s long term vision is co-creating an intentional community around unschooling and growing a highly-accessible network of learning spaces for young people in Philadelphia.
Facilitator @ Wild Seeds
Oli is a storyteller, cartoonist, and lifelong learner. They grew up in a multi-generational quaker household in West Chester, and moved to Berks County to study painting. During that time, they developed a deep interest in countercultural media, namely: The social and political significance of zines, the “kid democracy” model that was attempted in the early years of Nickelodeon, and the relationships between movement building and physical media.
In their late teens and early twenties they worked in a large-scale collaborative effort to produce environmentally-centered publications, with (nostalgic) mail-subscription services, tailored to young people. Through those connections, they hosted workshops about zine-making and gender. They later became a co-director at a gallery space, where they collaborated to organize discussions, festivals, poetry readings and other happenings that acted as connective points for their community. They taught intermittently at Goshen Friends and the YMCA throughout these projects. Oli reflected often on how even in alt ed spaces that claim to center integrity and peace, there is a heavy attempt to disappear conflict among young people (leading to a lack of conflict resolution skills and learned reliance on authority), and the conflict inherent to the institution-the unchecked power and control that adults have-remains unexamined; mirroring the structures we all live under. Oli had been at a crossroads with the current direction of their work when they were welcomed into The Dandelion Project. Wild Seeds is a unique synthesis of everything that is dear and exciting to Oli’s heart. As a facilitator, they hope to nurture genuine, equitable, and accountable friendships with young people. They aim to center honesty, heartfulness, authenticity, and the interplay between individual experiences and community action.
Conscious/Respectful Parenting Workshops and Coaching
Maria started a non-profit [Lilypad in Philly], hosting playgroups for parents with young children. Respectful parenting really resonated, and she has been spreading the word for 8 years. Emotional validation is vital, and this knowledge for ever changed how she sees and interacts with children. After an intensive RIE® course, which led to greater understanding of the whys of conscious parenting, she hopes to share how it can help you connect and empathize with children.
Currently a museum educator at The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Sarah has had over ten years of experience teaching young people in Philadelphia. She has overseen multiple large scale community art projects through Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program as a teaching artist, worked in school settings teaching art and social justice through the Fleischer Art Memorial’s CPA Program, in addition to working as an artist in residence with Spiral Q Puppet Theater. With a passion for working with diverse communities and advocating for young people, she brings a spirit of curiosity and fun into her teaching practice. Sarah gained her B.A. in Art Education with a focus in Art History from The College of New Jersey.
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.
Special Education Coaching
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!
Briana Feinberg (she/her)
Dandelion Sprouts Facilitator
Briana Feinberg is a former special ed teacher, school librarian, museum educator, and co-founder of the South Philadelphia Cooperative Playschool. She fell in love with nature education while attending a class with her 18-month old son at Tyler Arboretum. She ended up joining Tyler's education staff for several years and is thrilled to be able to introduce city kids to the joys of our natural world right here in South Philly
In permaculture the edges are often leveraged as they are considered especially fertile and contain unique species that aren’t found in either of the bordering ecosystems. Having lived on the edges in so many parts of my life, it seems only fitting that I think of myself as a conduit for transition, helping people invoke change in their own life. I am committed to introspection and sitting with discomfort. I endeavor to look within with compassion, braveness and authenticity. I am a recovering perfectionist on a journey towards surrender. My explorations have ranged from Kayakalpa and Shambhala buddhism to fermenting foods and barefooting.
How do I spend my time these days? Nurturing relationships, home educating, practicing sound healing & nada yoga, healing myself, and cultivating belonging. On to the more concrete facts: I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering; am trained in Wilderness First Response and Agile Learning Facilitation; have worked in engineering, IT, sales, corporate training and, most recently, home education
Connect with me at lostnfoundwithin.net
My name is Lindsay, and I am here to help support your child's learning adventure. I am a former Elementary Special Education teacher who believes that learning can take place any time and everywhere. I live in South Philly with my husband and two curious and kind kids.
Dandelion Sprouts Facilitator
Amanda Hagen has taught science at middle and secondary schools in the New Jersey and Philadelphia region. She currently teaches science to adult students at a program in North Philadelphia. She feels honored to be a part of her students' journeys of returning to high school to receive their diplomas. Amanda loves to bring artistic and creative thinking to her science explorations, as she believes this to be at the heart of the practice of science. In her free time she loves to garden, sculpt, draw, and be in nature with her 4 year old and partner by her side!