Contact us to schedule a tour!

Teaching Team & Staff

Attic teachers—like Attic kids—are creative, curious, passionate learners. Our dynamic team of educators includes experts and professionals from across the academic disciplines, and they all have chosen to devote their time, love, and energy to teaching at The Attic because of our constructivist teaching philosophy, our vibrant community, and the freedom we give all teachers and learners to think and grow.

Our unique approach to education makes it possible for teachers to develop a meaningful bond with each learner, and that too makes The Attic a special place to teach.

 

teaching team and staff
Primary Teacher

Ileana Almog

Ileana is a native of Romania. She holds a political science degree from Seattle University, which she puts to good use every day applying principles of diplomacy to her interactions with young children. Before joining The Attic, Ileana was an early childhood teacher at the Seattle Jewish Community Center and at Nurturing Knowledge School. She lives in Shoreline with her husband and two kids, where her family is largely in charge of feeding the neighborhood squirrels.

Science Teacher

Chris Baynham

Chris joined The Attic’s teaching team in 2016 as the human anatomy/physiology teacher. Chris is passionate about learning at all ages, so being surrounded by a community of Attic learners is a dream come true! Chris earned her biology and teaching degree at the University of Washington and then spent 10 years teaching public high school science with some math and language arts sprinkled in. During this time, Chris participated in Fred Hutchinson’s Science in Education Partnership Program; developed an inquiry based, hands-on science class encompassing biology, chemistry and physics; and helped align the district’s curriculum with national standards.

Chris believes that learning should be intrinsic, engaging, and fun, so once her two sons started school, she and her family pursued a different kind of education, traveling with their kids, taking trips to museums and national parks, and hosting thematic camps (integrating history, science, reading, drama, art, etc.) in a fun-based, hands-on learning environment. She also taught after-school science and “sciencing workshops” to primary grades.

Bookkeeper

Connie Berkowitz

Connie grew up in the Burien area and attended the University of Washington, where she studied music.  After graduating, she moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where she worked as a bookkeeper and cellist. She moved back to Seattle after her son was born. Volunteering in her son’s public school elementary classes was an eye opener. Connie so wishes her son could have had a more kind, flexible, interest-based education such as the one The Attic provides. She is delighted to be working to support alternative education.

Primary Teacher

Kristen Carney

Kristen has enjoyed teaching at the Attic since 2009. She is the mother of two Attic students and an Attic alumnus, and she greatly values being part of a community where children are trusted and celebrated. She graduated with a BA in elementary education from Washington State University with a minor in early childhood education. From her earliest teaching days, Kristen was interested in child-centered teaching methods, and after teaching first and second grades, she was lucky to teach in a multi-age program in the public school system.

After becoming a mom, Kristen threw herself into learning all about parenting, and her trust in kids and views on education grew even stronger. During the years she stayed home with her kids, Kristen taught natural childbirth classes and assisted at births as a doula. While homeschooling her first child, Kristen spent many days and nights dreaming of the school she would like to start for her kids before she found The Attic! The Attic’s philosophy was like a dream come true, and being part of the teaching team is a perfect fit.

Mandarin Teacher

Hui Chen

Hui Chen grew up in the Sichuan Province of China. She has a BS in computer science from WuHan University in China. Curious about the cultural and language diversity of the world, Hui moved to the multicultural city of Montreal, where she learned basic French and received a diploma in English Culture and Literature from the University of Montreal. While in Montreal, she started teaching Mandarin to friends who were interested in learning Chinese language and culture. Through this experience, she realized her passion for learning languages had led her to a career in teaching, a career focusing on sharing her passion with others.

Hui has been working at The Attic Learning Community since 2008, with the exception of a few years she took off to take care of her newborn baby. Hui loves teaching, and she is happy to be at The Attic Learning Community to continue sharing her passion for languages and culture with her students. Currently, Hui is pursuing a Master of Education degree at the University of Washington.

Field & Forest Teacher

Cole Cleveland

Cole has been a part of The Attic Learning Community since year one. He joined the Field & Forest teaching team in 2018. Now an Attic alumni, he is a musician, fiber artist, and aspiring author. He lives on a farm and enjoys spending time caring for his alpacas, tending to his garden and numerous houseplants, and training his dog. Cole has appreciation and curiosity for the natural world and all that it holds. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge with the kids at Budding Naturalists and learning alongside them through outdoor exploration.

Reading Specialist, Community Counselor, and Parent Coach

Lyn Dillman

Lyn joined the Attic Learning Community in 2008 working in the role of Intermediate Lead teacher. Currently she fills the role of community counselor and reading specialist, offering support to children, staff and parents as well as supporting the Primary and Middle Program in teaching literacy. Lyn believes that helping children know themselves as individuals and learners, teaches them to initiate their own learning and identify resources to that end. When children connect with what truly matters to them, they learn to trust themselves as learners and contributing community members.

In addition to a teaching degree, Lyn holds an MA in psychology with an emphasis on human development, certification for parent coaching and Positive Discipline training. She believes continued learning is essential to health and happiness.

Middle Program Advisor, English/Humanities Teacher, and Optional Programs Lead

Hannah Earhart

Hannah joined The Attic in 2014. The only thing she loves more than learning is helping others rediscover their own love of learning. After receiving her BS in art education with an emphasis in English from Penn State in 2009, Hannah taught art briefly in the Pittsburgh Public Schools before moving to Ithaca, NY to explore Montessori education. In 2012 she journeyed to Seattle via Bainbridge Island, to complete her MEd through IslandWood and UW. Hannah appreciates teaching in a place that lets teachers build authentic community with kids.

Program Coordinator, Mathematics Lead, and Science Teacher

Alison Farrell

Alison Farrell has been working at The Attic Learning Community since 2004 and has been an Attic parent since 2002. She was a member of The Attic Board of Directors from 2004 to 2019, serving as Secretary, Chair, and Member at Large. Alison loves math, science, games, puzzles and patterns of all sorts and enjoys sharing her interests with the students. She has a BS in biology from Western Washington University and a MS in biology from Central Washington University. She worked as a bacteriologist and as a chemist before deciding to leave the lab to explore her interest in teaching. Alison taught biology classes at Highline, Edmonds, and Shoreline Community Colleges.

When her younger child started school at The Attic, she jumped at the opportunity to teach a math class there and completed Math Learning Center and DAP classes in preparation. She has been teaching science, DAP, Opening Eyes, and Visual Math at The Attic ever since and loves teaching in such a child-centered, developmental environment. In her Assistant Program Director role, Alison supports the Directors with scheduling and strategic planning, maximizing student options, and ensuring a smooth connection between student groups. She and her husband are the parents of two Attic alumni.

Spanish Teacher

Damaris Garcia-Thompson

Damaris, also known as Dary, was born and raised in Puerto Rico in a small town about an hour from San Juan. Damaris started her college education at the University of Puerto Rico shortly after she joined the United States Army, where she served as a Preventive Health Specialist. She taught young recruits about disease prevention and occupational health topics. After her military service, Damaris attended Eastern Michigan University, where she obtained her degree in the fields of economics, biology and chemistry. After graduation, Damaris supported her husband’s military career and she had the opportunity to live in many diverse communities. She attended graduate school at Northern Michigan University and studied the fields of educational administration and school counseling. Last year, she and her family relocated to Washington. Currently, Damaris is seeking her teaching certification via the accelerated Masters in Teaching Program at Seattle Pacific University. She hopes to get endorsed in Spanish and ELL.

Damaris is passionate about languages and education in general. She is co-directing a ministry at her church that provides educational, emotional and social support to underserved children in the community. She also supports a diabetes prevention program at a community health center. Damaris believes in instilling in students a love for learning. When she is not reading a book or working on papers, Damaris enjoys the simple things in life, such as conversations with friends, swimming, family dinners, or just going for walks.

Science Teacher, Primary Support, and Field & Forest Lead

Brian Harris

Brian has been a Field & Forest Outdoor Program teacher since the program’s first year in 2011. With a lifelong love of nature acquired during a childhood in New Jersey spent mainly outdoors, and with an inherently playful outlook on life, it is Brian’s objective to bring the passion he has for discovery and learning to children of all ages in a fun and interactive way; and in doing so, to foster positive and lasting connections between people and our surroundings.

Brian has been a student of the Earth Mentor Program at the Wilderness Awareness School, has taught at their summer camps, and has an Associate of Arts degree from Brookdale Community College, where he studied marine science. His extensive experience as an outdoor educator also includes ten years as a supervisor, mentor, and teacher in his position as Program Coordinator at the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, where he worked with children aged kindergarten through high school. Brian’s background also includes many summers conducting outdoor summer camps, and years of teaching and leading multi-age indoor and outdoor programs with a local northwest wilderness program.

When not engaged in a creative project driven by his unfettered curiosity, you might also find Brian around campus playing in the dirt, or, as he calls it, “helping to maintain the facilities”.

Administrative Assistant

Norah Hill

Norah was originally raised in the U.K. but has spent most of her life living in the PNW. She received her BA in film studies from Seattle University in 2018. Despite her area of study, Norah has always wanted to work in education, whether it be administration or teaching. Before transitioning to The Attic, she worked for after-school art programs in Issaquah, where she fell in love with helping families reach their goals for their child’s educational needs. She was drawn to The Attic for its unique and inspiring approach to educating and mentoring kids in all stages of their educational development.

Mathematics Teacher

Jeanie Iida

Jeanie Iida found her real self as a math teacher at The Attic in 2003 and has taught all levels from DAP to high school. Her past life includes: Graduating from the University of Washington cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, working for 12 years in hospital and lab design, continuing education through DAP workshops and Visual Math coursework from the Math Learning Center, serving for ten years in the public schools as a teacher of art and math, taking workshops with mathematician and author John Mighton, and completing recent study with Jo Boaler (Stanford University) in her cutting edge online course entitled How to Learn Math. For Jeanie, mathematics resides somewhere between a remarkable journey, opening the perfect gift, and eating bits of chocolate.

In true Attic fashion, Jeanie’s love and respect for kids and math has flourished within these walls in ways she never thought possible. It just goes to show you it’s never too late for a happy childhood! She was drawn to The Attic for its healthy, humane, creative, and intelligent mission to support children and learning. The Attic spoke to Jeanie’s heart and mind, and she continues to appreciate The Attic’s gifts of freedom, trust, and a safe and encouraging community in which to grow.

English Teacher and Executive Assistant

Cam LaFlam

Cam joined The Attic in 2016 and teaches English, humanities, and social science classes to learners in the Middle and High School Programs. Cam was first drawn to The Attic’s capacity for seeing each child as they are, and for loving and supporting them in an environment that values their unique voices. He stays at The Attic because he feels support to be authentically himself with the kids, and empowered to nurture relationships of trust and learning. Cam has a BA in English literature from Seattle University. In addition to teaching at The Attic, he is a touring musician.

Fundraising Coordinator

Alison Letfus

Alison joined The Attic Learning Community as the Fundraising Coordinator in 2014. Her belief that public service is at the heart of healthy communities is what drew her into the non-profit sector. Alison grew her career in non-profit development while living in New Zealand for eight years. She held positions at the HELP Foundation, the Auckland SPCA, and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. She specializes in revitalizing underperforming fundraising programs by reactivating donors, writing successful grant applications, building mutually beneficial relationships with major donors, introducing successful direct mail programs, and implementing large fundraising events.

Alison attended the University of Idaho, earning a BS in public communication and writing. She and her husband are the parents of two young children, one a Field and Forest learner. Alison is proud to work at The Attic and to be a part of reimagining what education can be for our children.

Secondary Program Advisor and English Teacher

Kirsten Lunstrum

Kirsten Lunstrum joined the Attic in 2013. Before joining The Attic, Kirsten taught at the college-level for more than a decade. From 2008-2012 she was Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Purchase College, SUNY; and prior to that she was a member of the faculties at Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Indiana University-South Bend, and Everett Community College. She is the author of three collections of short fiction (What We Do With Wreckage, This Life She’s Chosen,Swimming With Strangers), and the co-editor of an anthology of fiction by women writers (The Sincerest Form of Flattery, Lewis-Clark Press). She earned her BA in English from Pacific Lutheran University and her MA in creative writing at the University of California, Davis.

Kirsten loves teaching at The Attic, and she most appreciates that The Attic fosters in children and adults a sense of acceptance, self-direction, and the value of authentic community. Kirsten and her husband are also the parents of two Attic learners.

Founder and Program Consultant

Shelley Mauer

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. Shelley earned her BS in engineering from the University of Tulsa, and is a licensed parent coach. Shelley is the parent of three Attic graduates.

Founder, Executive Director Emeritus, Teaching Team and Catalyst Support

Pat Orrell

As a founder and the Executive Director for 18 years, Pat led the evolution of The Attic from a small one-room schoolhouse to a thriving multi-age educational model. Pat’s leadership and vision transformed research-based educative ideals into concrete educational practices that nurture passion for learning, sense of self, childhood, and community. Today her work involves supporting the Teaching Team and serving on the Catalyst Team, supporting The Attic to be a model of what is possible in education.   

Prior to The Attic, Pat worked as an independent education consultant, offering graduate-level science inquiry workshops for teachers across Oregon and Washington State through Seattle Pacific, Portland State, and Southern Oregon Universities. She also served as a teaching associate and field instructor in the Department of Education at the University of Washington Bothell, and has a background in teaching science and mathematics in public schools at the middle and secondary level. Pat earned her BS in biology from Linfield College, and her Master of Science in teaching biology from Portland State University.

Field & Forest Teacher

Freda Prouty

Freda was born, raised, and schooled in the city of Cork, Southern Ireland. After completing secondary school, she attended The Crawford Municipal school of Art, where she completed course work in metal design, art history, and charcoal sketching, before leaving Ireland to travel. She lived and worked in Europe (mainly Germany and Spain) for three years. Freda then returned to Ireland, where she worked for the next three years assisting in the field of occupational therapy for mentally and physically disabled youth until 1986. Freda has lived in the Seattle area since 1990. Over the years, she has traveled extensively, throughout Central and South America, the Greater Middle East, Asia, South East Asia and Australia, and she has worn many ‘noble’ hats to earn her keep along the way. Prior to joining Field & Forest, Freda worked as an assistant teacher at the Monarch Preschool in Seattle for ten years. She is the parent of an Attic alumna.

Math and Science Teacher and Secondary Program Events Lead

Micheala Ranz

Micheala teaches math and science classes to learners in The Attic’s Middle and High School Programs. Her education includes a degree in earth and space sciences from UW, followed by a Master in Teaching degree from Seattle University. She is passionate about science education, and education in general, and is a lifelong student. Micheala has worked in many different educational settings in the past, including the Pacific Science Center, where she led camps and educational programs throughout the year. She has also worked for the University of Washington Outreach for the UW Summer Day program, teaching science classes to kids.

Micheala is proud to call The Attic her home, and she makes sure to spread the news of this amazing learning community to everyone she meets.

French, English, Theater and Drama Teacher

Will Rose

English, French, and theater have been Will’s main areas of activity since joining The Attic Learning Community in September, 2013. Will graduated with a BFA in acting and directing from Cornish College in 1982, then began his teaching career in 1984 at the international school École d’Humanité in Switzerland. He went on to teach English in Prague, Czech Republic, then came back home to Seattle where a Master’s in Teaching from Seattle University led to a teaching position in Shoreline Public Schools. He is a Washington State certified teacher.

Outside of The Attic (and sometimes inside) he also pursues a passion for writing and acting, with occasional ventures onto the stage or recording studio. Will has been all over the map, literally and figuratively, living, working, and studying in France, Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Ashland, Seattle, and points in between. He values that The Attic allows kids to be themselves, free to learn and grow in their own unique ways and times. The Attic is his community, his catalyst for learning, growth, and meaning.

Social Science Teacher

Dylan Ruef

Dylan joined The Attic’s teaching team in 2016, teaching social studies part-time while finishing his Masters in Teaching degree at Northwest College. After finishing his degree, he began teaching full-time at The Attic in the fall of 2017, teaching Middle and High School Programs history and social science classes, as well as Middle Program mathematics. Dylan himself was a student at The Attic Learning Community from 1999 through his high school graduation in 2010. He then attended Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, graduating in 2014 with a degree in political science. He also enjoyed attending Quiet Heart Wilderness School outdoor programs throughout his youth, ultimately working as a lead youth camp counselor for the summer program for several years.

Dylan not only understands the importance of intrinsic motivation and trusting the child, he has lived it throughout his own education.

Science and Math Teacher; Optional Program Coordinator

Susanna Stackhouse

Susanna joined The Attic in 2016. Her passion for education began in her early teens. Growing up homeschooled as the youngest of seven children influenced her greatly. Having her parents teach one-on-one showed her that each child is an individual with a unique learning style and pace. Prior to being hired at The Attic, she was a substitute teacher’s assistant for Shoreline School District and taught in after-school programs with Creative Coding for Kids. These experiences gave her a taste of being in the classroom and confirmed her desire to teach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington in 2019.

Mathematics and Science Teacher

Jeremy Thomas

Jeremy began teaching at The Attic in 2018, where he leads middle and high school science classes and teaches math to learners of all ages, as well as taking care of facilities. He has been part of The Attic community, however, since 2009, when he enrolled his daughter as an Attic learner. He was drawn to The Attic because of its student-driven teaching philosophy. Children learn through discovery and natural interests, and The Attic recognizes this and structures itself around their needs. Jeremy earned a BS in physics from the University of Washington. Prior to joining The Attic’s faculty, he was a software developer for nine years, working in office products and video games, and later a stay-at-home dad.

Director of Field & Forest

Elise Valsquier

Elise Valsquier brings a love of simplicity, a keenness for life-long learning, and a strong belief in the wisdom of children to her role supporting The Attic’s outdoor programs for young children as the Director of Field & Forest Programs. Growing up a Northwest native, she spent much of her time in the outdoors living her motto: “If you got wet and dirty, it must have been fun!” Elise’s educational background covers a lifetime and many topics, including constructivist teaching methods, positive communication skills, child development and attachment, healthcare, mathematics, biology, ecology, primitive skills and tipi habitation, herbalism, writing, calligraphy, and equine management and massage.

She has been teaching at The Attic Learning Community since 2009. Teaching with this phenomenal community has given her a deep grounding in constructivist teaching and fluidity with the dance of supporting child-led learning. Elise feels that honoring our children, their passions, and their connection to the earth is the most powerful way to create a better world. As well as teaching at The Attic, Elise is the proud parent of an Attic graduate.

Operations Manager and Director of Chaos Abatement

Norma Wainright

Since 2016, Norma has been on staff at The Attic as the Director of Chaos Abatement, overseeing facilities and operations. Prior to becoming staff, she was actively involved at The Attic as a parent volunteer. From 2002 to 2008, Norma was a Campaign Manager and Research Analyst for Children’s Home Society of Washington. In addition, she served as a board member on the Peter M. Putnam Foundation and Daxton’s Fish. She earned her BA and MA in political science from the University of Florida. Norma and her husband are elated that their son is an Attic student.

Field & Forest Teacher

Kathleen Wick

Kathleen grew up in Pullman, WA, where she spent her time playing outside with three sisters and many neighborhood friends. Kathleen was lucky to grow up going hiking, camping, swimming and canoeing, which instilled in her a lifelong love of nature and outdoor play. Kathleen is now raising her two young children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and embracing hiking, camping, gardening, and playing in the rain.

Kathleen has a BA in English and an MEd in elementary education. She has taught and volunteered in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. She has experience in curriculum development and is thrilled to be involved in a school that combines many of her own interests: constructivism, the playfulness of children, and the great outdoors! Kathleen loves nothing more than playing with children, talking with them, and watching them learn and grow.

Interim Executive Director

Erika Wright

Erika joined The Attic as a parent in 2015. Before accepting the position of Interim Executive Director in July 2019, she volunteered extensively at The Attic in program support, fundraising, and as Board Secretary. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey (BA, 2003) and Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law (JD, 2007, cum laude). As an attorney, Erika has worked in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She has a background in litigation and business law and has always had a special interest in working with children. She served as a pro bono attorney for the Children’s Attorney Project, where she represented children in the foster care system, and as a family law attorney working with victims of domestic violence.

Erika is an advocate at heart, and her work at The Attic gives her the unique opportunity to combine her passion for the wellbeing of children with her business and legal expertise. She believes deeply in mission of The Attic, having seen its impact on not only her own children, but on all the children who come through The Attic’s doors, and she is excited to support The Attic as Interim Executive Director during a period of growth. In her spare time, Erika enjoys creative writing, reading, and spending time with her husband and three children.

Primary and Field & Forest Teacher

Christine Yang

Christine has worked at The Attic since 2016. Christine has over a decade’s worth of experience working with children in camp, childcare, and classroom settings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies from Whitman College and a Master in Teaching from the University of Washington.

She is delighted to be working with Attic children and sharing her passion for books, languages, and movement exercises. She finds authenticity key to building trust with children, and she appreciates that at The Attic children and adults get to be completely themselves. She stays at The Attic because the loving, supportive environment here brings out the best in kids and adults alike. Christine speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese, is a certified Bikram and Yin yoga instructor, and is a calming presence wherever she goes.

Scroll to Top

Please make check payable to:

The Attic Learning Community

And mail to:

The Attic Learning Community
PO Box 1668
Woodinville, WA 98072

For more information, please contact the Development Office.