“What is your highest hope for your child, or the children you teach? What do you most highly value for their education?” It was these questions that drove Attic founders Pat Orrell, Shelley Maurer, Anna Boyd, Liz Hunter, and Tracy Ruef to create the change they were seeking in education.
This group of five first met in January of 1999 when Anna, Liz, Tracy, and Shelley all took a science education class for teachers, taught by Pat. After many hours of conversation, and with Shelley’s persistent enthusiasm (“We should start a school! We should start a school!”); Pat’s leadership and experience in education; Liz’s disciplined and research-focused mind; Tracy’s experience in business management and steady focus on task completion; and Anna’s rock solid, drama-free, persistent belief that a small group of determined women (with the unwavering support of their spouses) could change the world of education, they agreed to pursue their vision of starting a school.
The strength of the founders as a team was the way that their different temperaments and talents complemented one another, and the way their shared mission and vision and absolute focus on children energized their work. Over the course of The Attic’s evolution from a small one-room school for 16 children, ages 5-10, to the thriving community it is today, the founders have worn many hats.
Pat’s background is in science education with a BS in biology from Linfield College, and a Master of Science in teaching biology from Portland State University. Pat served as Executive Director of The Attic for 18 years, taught every level and most subjects, and also served on the Board of Directors. Today she continues to work with the Catalyst Team, supporting The Attic to be a model of what is possible in education.
Tracy, with degrees in psychology and sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and experience in business management, served as Operations Manager and Administrative Manager for 20 years, retiring in December 2018. She also served on the Board of Directors, including roles as Secretary and Treasurer.
Shelley has a background in engineering with a BS from the University of Tulsa, and is a licensed parent coach. The Attic started in Shelley’s attic! She taught mathematics at The Attic for 12 years, and also served on the Board of Directors, including as Board Chair. She took a break from The Attic to go back into engineering before returning in 2016 to serve as the Director of the Primary Program through the spring of 2019.
Liz’s background is in biology with a BS from Stanford University. She has an innate passion for research and learning. For 17 years, Liz taught virtually every age level and subject at The Attic – focusing on math, science, and English. Her passion for excellence and her intent focus on constructivist education helped to guide the development of The Attic curriculum at all levels. She also served on the Board of Directors.
Anna, with a degree in psychology from the University of Evansville, Indiana and a BS in nursing from Seattle University, has worked as an RN at Seattle Children’s Hospital since 1987. While always working full-time in nursing, she volunteered countless hours at The Attic in classrooms and behind-the-scenes, served on the Board of Directors and, like the other founders, remains an active supporter of and believer in The Attic as a light in education!