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.
Born and raised in Seattle, Jessie attended Seattle Public Schools but gained her love of learning for learning’s sake when she attended a Montessori school during pre-school and kindergarten. Jessie graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy with an emphasis on non-profit and government accounting, then went on to get her CPA license. She worked in public accounting for over 14 years specializing in small business and biotech. Wanting to get back to more soulful aligned accounting work she worked at a local Waldorf School before joining The Attic. She has always had a deep interest in the nonprofit world and education so working at The Attic is the perfect marriage of those interests. In her free time Jessie creates stained glass, reupholsters furniture, crochets, takes horseback riding lessons and spends time with her husband and two rescued English Bull Terriers.
Emily Dietrich is a literacy teacher in the high school program. She was drawn to The Attic’s philosophy and commitment to be an anti-racist community. As a lifelong lover of literature, Emily relishes the opportunity to explore, discuss, analyze and learn about well-known—and more obscure, too!—texts with Attic learners. An experienced writer and writing teacher, Emily believes in words’ power of expression, influence, and connection.
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.
Born and raised in Wilmington, DE, Rob is a passionate educator who loves adventure, deeply appreciates history and nature, and has an unyielding commitment to constructivist learning.
After graduating from the University of Delaware, Rob lived in a wide array of cities and rural areas on the East Coast and the Midwest, including New York, Chicago, Saltsburg, PA, and Baltimore, MD. Rob and his family moved to the Seattle area in June of 2021. Rob also earned an MA in history from DePaul University and an M.S. Ed from the University of Pennsylvania.
As an advocate for lifelong learning, Rob loves a student-centered classroom where he encourages students to embrace curiosity and pursue knowledge beyond the walls of the school building.
Besides teaching, Rob loves to stay active. He picked up rock climbing in 2019 and recently started training for endurance sports. Rob seems to have caught the runner’s bug and is excited for upcoming mountain running events in 2024. Rob recently retired from playing soccer to accommodate all the running.
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.
Tamara has been with The Attic since 2020. First joining Field and Forest now assists the Primary Teachers spending most time in the Quail Classroom.
Tamara began her career in early education by operating a home-based after-school child care serving the children in her neighborhood elementary school. She had the unique experience of caring for the same children, often spanning 7 consecutive years each giving her a chance to watch child development span time and to form strong lasting bonds with the children and families. She believes that children learn so much through play and exploration.
When not at The Attic, she focuses her energy on outdoor play sessions at her home in Kenmore. Supporting self-directed and self-chosen activities in a rich and natural environment impacts self-esteem and confidence. Children learn from experiences and from each other. She continues to learn alongside the children as she helps ignite a passion, desire and curiosity for learning while fostering warm relationships.
Prior to joining the Attic Community, Haley(she/her) has been sharing her love for music and learning with various age groups in different environments. Haley is an alumna of Seattle Pacific University, holding a BA degree in Music Education, which served as the stepping stone for her teaching career. She then obtained her Waldorf Teaching Certificate for Grades 1 to 8, and she is currently in the process of completing her MA.Ed in Urban Environmental Education from Antioch University Seattle, with graduation expected in August 2023. Alongside her own education journey, Haley has served six years as a music and English teacher at schools in Korea and four years as a class teacher and assistant teacher at Waldorf schools in the Greater Seattle area.
Haley’s teaching philosophy revolves around fostering inspiration and curiosity, guiding her students to experience a student-centered approach to learning. She is passionate about creating a safe and inclusive learning environment where students are encouraged to explore their passions with confidence. Haley aims to cultivate curiosity, empathy, and a love for learning within her students, empowering them to actively participate in their own education and become engaged members of their communities.
Outside of the classroom, Haley spends her time with her husband and her dog, occasionally also with her parents. She enjoys traveling, climbing, gardening, making music, baking, and a lot more!
Trent is an actor, writer, and comedian based out of Seattle, Washington. He’s been performing professionally since he was 11 years old and has performed in theatrical productions in Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles and can be seen in many short films, feature films, and television shows.
Prior to coming to The Attic Learning Community, Angie worked for several years as an office manager for a Seattle area private school. Angie has a background in graphic design and marketing, and is an accomplished painter with both local and international collectors. She looks forward to serving The Attic community with her creativity and administrative experience.
In her free time, Angie enjoys exploring and stargazing with her family, creating art, listening to music, gathering with friends, and wandering through antique stores.
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.
Catherine Lewis (she/her) is so excited to be returning to The Attic this year as a lead in the Merganser classroom as well as supporting Alison Farrell as Assistant Program Coordinator. Catherine worked at The Attic from 2008 to 2016 and is returning after some time away during which she earned her Master’s degree in Contemplative Education from Naropa University, explored Montessori philosophy at the adolescent level, and had her son, Oliver, who is now two-and-a-half years old. Catherine is a passionate, creative, life-long educator who strives to create and maintain learning communities where all members feel known and valued. As a strong believer and proponent of The Attic philosophy, she is looking forward to getting to know the current Attic while working to support its ongoing strength and success. Beyond teaching, she enjoys fiber arts, spending time outdoors, and writing.
John is thrilled to join The Attic community as a Teacher and Admissions Associate. Over the years, he has worked with kids and teenagers as a teacher, tutor, and coach, helped build startups in marketing roles, and supported 100+ authors as a book coach and editor. He holds a BA in English, an MA in Education, and many priceless lessons from all of the “education detours” — including a gap year (during college), graduate coursework in counseling and psychology, and time spent studying screenwriting and directing.
One of six kids, John grew up in several countries and states and was shaped by the people, places, and ideas he met along the way. Today, he sees himself as a student of our stories and is grateful to be part of a community that advocates for the whole person and a holistic approach to learning.
John is a big fan of orcas, music, soccer, and spice. In his free time, you might find him starting (but never finishing) a novel, planning a short film with friends, trying out a new mind-body practice, or spending time with his wife and their dog and two cats.
Lauren is beyond excited to work within an environment that places the students first and meets them where they’re at. She looks for equity across the system and advocates for the students and families who need an extra person in their corner. Lauren works hard to create a healthy and safe environment for all learners, because every student is worth it, capable, and deserves to be empowered by their education.
When with students, Lauren’s approach is a medley of solution-focused brief therapy, play and creative arts therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy theories. At The Attic, Lauren will offer individual and group work with students, as well as parent and staff education on a variety of topics related to the overall well-being of the community. She holds a MAC from City University of Seattle and a BA in English and secondary education from the University of Portland.
In her free time, you can find Lauren reading and enjoying the rain with her cat, road tripping the West Coast with her partner, belting out at karaoke, jumping on any opportunity to host dinner parties, and embroidering gifts for her friends and family.
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.
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.
Nick grew up in Bellevue and Redmond Washington while attending The Attic Learning Community for the whole of his K-12 education. After graduating he spent a year travelling the United States, visiting family and writing, before spending four years at Western Washington University. He entered college looking for a Statistics degree, but left it with a Creative Writing one instead. While he taught several classes as a student, Nick is excited to be returning to The Attic this year in an official teaching position to give a Thursday class on tabletop roleplaying games, game design, storytelling, and mathematics. In his writing and work outside of the teaching world, Nick strives to push the boundaries of conventional storytelling into unexplored pastures by using digital technology, tabletop role playing games, and innovating on genre stereotypes. He is a strong believer in the story’s profound ability to connect, and deepen the human experience, and wants to make that storytelling experience enjoyable and available to as many people as he can.
Zizi Smith was in the graduating class of 2023 at the Attic. During his senior year he became involved in helping at the Attic and getting a better understanding of how it runs. He is now working as Erika and Norma’s assistant helping them with whatever they need done. Zizi is very invested in helping the Attic teach and inspire as many students as it can. Zizi worked at a program called Quiet Heart from 2018-2020. He would work with students teaching them survival skills such as making fires, tracking, edible plants, and many other outdoor skills. Zizi is a certified WFR (Wilderness First Responder). He has also worked for a company called Seattle Tree Consulting since 2019 where he installs new trees at customers’ homes, as well as various places in the city. You have probably seen some of his work.
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.
Lauren Tremper (she/her), has worked in traditional preschool environments and at outdoor preschools. She has an Associate’s degree in visual art and is currently in school for her Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. Lauren also has a background in birth work and is certified as a doula and childbirth educator.
Lauren is passionate about connecting with kids as lifelong learners. Her goal is for each child in the classroom to find a sense of community and respect.
Maria Ulargui Ramos
Maria (she/her) is so excited to be joining the Field & Forest team. She has worked in early childhood education for over seven years and is currently in school getting her bachelor’s in Children’s Studies with a focus on Community Programming. Throughout her career, she has taught English in Spain (where she is originally from), worked as a preschool teacher in a Reggio Emilia school, and taught art classes at a process-art studio that focused on the making & creating rather than the final result. She is most happy when facilitating child-led activities and witnessing the magic happen! When not teaching she spends her days gardening, traveling to national parks, and hanging out with her cat, Captain Hook.
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.
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.
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 well-being of children with her business and legal expertise. She believes deeply in the 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 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.