Our People

Dedicated experts who put children first.

 

Directors

  Rachael Allen   Director   Rachael is a native Pacific Northwesterner who spent her youth living and traveling overseas. She moved to Portland from Baltimore to experience a quality of life most reflective of her values. Coming from a legacy of educators and youth advocates, she found VFS through kismet. Rachael enjoys the process of getting messy and honoring the method to the madness in our school’s daily life. She brings  passion  for education that  empowers  people,  infinite love  for the work we do together, and a very silly sense of humor. Rachael is a voracious reader, music freak, avid people watcher, and adventure enthusiast. She is mom to a sweet son, Leonard, who has been a part of the VFS community since he first came to be. They feel lucky to be a part of the incredible VFS experience.

Rachael Allen
Director

Rachael is a native Pacific Northwesterner who spent her youth living and traveling overseas. She moved to Portland from Baltimore to experience a quality of life most reflective of her values. Coming from a legacy of educators and youth advocates, she found VFS through kismet. Rachael enjoys the process of getting messy and honoring the method to the madness in our school’s daily life. She brings passion for education that empowers people, infinite love for the work we do together, and a very silly sense of humor. Rachael is a voracious reader, music freak, avid people watcher, and adventure enthusiast. She is mom to a sweet son, Leonard, who has been a part of the VFS community since he first came to be. They feel lucky to be a part of the incredible VFS experience.

  Kathy Crisp   Director   Kathy is a New Hampshire native and veteran middle school teacher, with a varied background in teaching math, science, reading, and social studies. Kathy initially came to Portland as an Americorps member working in Clark County, WA, on wetland restoration. She joined the Village Free School in 2010 and brings a  love  of people, a passion for life as revealed through the wonders of  nature , and a commitment to children. She is grateful to spend her days in an environment that trusts children implicitly, and delights in the daily opportunities to help them discover and develop their own passions. Kathy loves gardening, reading, camping, hiking, making art, and sharing time with friends and family. She believes in the intrinsic value of each person and in the  power  of community.

Kathy Crisp
Director

Kathy is a New Hampshire native and veteran middle school teacher, with a varied background in teaching math, science, reading, and social studies. Kathy initially came to Portland as an Americorps member working in Clark County, WA, on wetland restoration. She joined the Village Free School in 2010 and brings a love of people, a passion for life as revealed through the wonders of nature, and a commitment to children. She is grateful to spend her days in an environment that trusts children implicitly, and delights in the daily opportunities to help them discover and develop their own passions. Kathy loves gardening, reading, camping, hiking, making art, and sharing time with friends and family. She believes in the intrinsic value of each person and in the power of community.

Staff

  Drake Riot   Advisor   Drake discovered the Village Free School in 2011 when searching for the right fit for his daughter, Moxie. He started out just spending time at school as a parent volunteer but soon realized he'd found his second home. He deeply appreciates the way kids in this community are free to develop  authentic  relationships, make their own mistakes, and do the work of repair even when the going gets tough. Drake loves using game play as a way to teach  collaboration  and communication skills while empowering students to make their own choices and hold themselves  accountable . He is known around school for playing games, building and fixing things, helping students navigate conflicts, and getting pretty into his daily dish-washing rock opera.

Drake Riot
Advisor

Drake discovered the Village Free School in 2011 when searching for the right fit for his daughter, Moxie. He started out just spending time at school as a parent volunteer but soon realized he'd found his second home. He deeply appreciates the way kids in this community are free to develop authentic relationships, make their own mistakes, and do the work of repair even when the going gets tough. Drake loves using game play as a way to teach collaboration and communication skills while empowering students to make their own choices and hold themselves accountable. He is known around school for playing games, building and fixing things, helping students navigate conflicts, and getting pretty into his daily dish-washing rock opera.

  Justine McConville   Reading Specialist   Justine was born and raised in Southwest Florida. She moved to New York City in 2012 to get her MA TESOL and teach in the NY public school system after living abroad for a year in Madrid. She found her way to Portland in 2016 in search of a school community that practices self-directed and democratic education. She feels like she hit the jackpot. She is so  inspired  by the people who make VFS a place where children are  trusted , their   individuality valued, and their  empathy  for one another supported. She brings her love for music, reading, crafting, games, and most famously, Harry Potter to school with her everyday. In all of her experiences studying education and working with kids, Justine is most proud of the strong relationships that form while learning and playing together.

Justine McConville
Reading Specialist

Justine was born and raised in Southwest Florida. She moved to New York City in 2012 to get her MA TESOL and teach in the NY public school system after living abroad for a year in Madrid. She found her way to Portland in 2016 in search of a school community that practices self-directed and democratic education. She feels like she hit the jackpot. She is so inspired by the people who make VFS a place where children are trusted, their individuality valued, and their empathy for one another supported. She brings her love for music, reading, crafting, games, and most famously, Harry Potter to school with her everyday. In all of her experiences studying education and working with kids, Justine is most proud of the strong relationships that form while learning and playing together.

  Maia Laperle   Advisor   Maia relocated to Portland from Boston, where she managed and taught at a community-led, multicultural arts center and mentored adult artists with special needs. She graduated from the Sudbury Valley School after spending 5 years there and has had an interest in self-directed education and children's rights ever since. Along with being an educator, Maia is an interdisciplinary artist and podcast producer and is  passionate  about creating interactive forms of art and media. Maia received a degree in Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is  grateful  to be able to share her interest in art and learning with the Village Free School community. At school, Maia enjoys chatting and  playing  with the students at VFS, and witnessing their strange and incredible journeys.

Maia Laperle
Advisor

Maia relocated to Portland from Boston, where she managed and taught at a community-led, multicultural arts center and mentored adult artists with special needs. She graduated from the Sudbury Valley School after spending 5 years there and has had an interest in self-directed education and children's rights ever since. Along with being an educator, Maia is an interdisciplinary artist and podcast producer and is passionate about creating interactive forms of art and media. Maia received a degree in Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is grateful to be able to share her interest in art and learning with the Village Free School community. At school, Maia enjoys chatting and playing with the students at VFS, and witnessing their strange and incredible journeys.

  David Jacobo   Advisor   David was born in Los Angeles and raised between Oregon and California. A second generation immigrant of Mexican and Guatemalan descent, David and his family moved constantly to find work opportunities until finally landing in Salem. He graduated with a B.S. in Sociology at Portland State University. After working for three years in public schools, David sought to find alternative education styles that focused less on conforming and authority and more on  creativity  and  autonomy . After meeting Justine, he was able to connect with VFS and started working there in 2018. He enjoys the school’s focus on  equality , self directed education, and its direct democratic model. David is an avid photographer, a lover of puzzles, and a working musician. He hopes to not only inspire kids but to be inspired by them as well.

David Jacobo
Advisor

David was born in Los Angeles and raised between Oregon and California. A second generation immigrant of Mexican and Guatemalan descent, David and his family moved constantly to find work opportunities until finally landing in Salem. He graduated with a B.S. in Sociology at Portland State University. After working for three years in public schools, David sought to find alternative education styles that focused less on conforming and authority and more on creativity and autonomy. After meeting Justine, he was able to connect with VFS and started working there in 2018. He enjoys the school’s focus on equality, self directed education, and its direct democratic model. David is an avid photographer, a lover of puzzles, and a working musician. He hopes to not only inspire kids but to be inspired by them as well.

  Noppawan Lerttharakul   Advisor   Noppawan came all the way from Thailand to join VFS in 2015. Back then, she had a short-term plan to witness democratic education in action. But she fell in love. Each day at VFS, Noppawan brings her passion for learning, a sense of  wonder , and the magic of  creativity  to share. She is a candidate for a Master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. Her culminating project focuses on the intersection of care, democracy, and sustainable learning. Along with VFS students, she is humbled by the daily opportunity to experience education as, in bell hooks’s words, a practice of freedom. For her, a democratic free school is a place where students take charge of their own education, life gets real and messy, and  care  for one another sustains us.

Noppawan Lerttharakul
Advisor

Noppawan came all the way from Thailand to join VFS in 2015. Back then, she had a short-term plan to witness democratic education in action. But she fell in love. Each day at VFS, Noppawan brings her passion for learning, a sense of wonder, and the magic of creativity to share. She is a candidate for a Master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. Her culminating project focuses on the intersection of care, democracy, and sustainable learning. Along with VFS students, she is humbled by the daily opportunity to experience education as, in bell hooks’s words, a practice of freedom. For her, a democratic free school is a place where students take charge of their own education, life gets real and messy, and care for one another sustains us.

  Katie Fleetwood   Intern   Katie is from Tennessee and has lived all over the eastern United States. After seven years teaching in Atlanta, Katie moved overseas to teach in South Korea. She spent two years  traveling  the globe and learning to teach meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. She also discovered democratic free schools. When Katie moved to Portland in June of 2018, she was delighted to find the Village Free School and even more delighted to become part of the community! Katie is thrilled to authentically interact with students in an environment where  individuality  and self-expression are honored. She loves seeing students discover their passions and truly have time to explore them. Katie feels most fulfilled when spending time in nature, especially hiking. She loves traveling, reading, listening to music, and finds her daily  meditation  practice keeps her grounded and happy.

Katie Fleetwood
Intern

Katie is from Tennessee and has lived all over the eastern United States. After seven years teaching in Atlanta, Katie moved overseas to teach in South Korea. She spent two years traveling the globe and learning to teach meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. She also discovered democratic free schools. When Katie moved to Portland in June of 2018, she was delighted to find the Village Free School and even more delighted to become part of the community! Katie is thrilled to authentically interact with students in an environment where individuality and self-expression are honored. She loves seeing students discover their passions and truly have time to explore them. Katie feels most fulfilled when spending time in nature, especially hiking. She loves traveling, reading, listening to music, and finds her daily meditation practice keeps her grounded and happy.

 
 

School Council

Our School Council is the Board of Directors of our nonprofit organization. The Council meets monthly to make operational decisions and ensure the healthy operational of the school.

 

Aaron Longwell
Chair

Holly Allen
Secretary

Karl Keefer
Treasurer

Jack Mesplay
Financial Advisor

Bria Bloom
Member

Karin McTeague
Member

Lisa Keres
Member

Leif Werner
Student Member

Rachel Markley
Member

Zac Phillips
Member