Susan Eachus — Assembly Treasurer
Susan earned her PHD in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. From her experience teaching at the college level she believes that the most successful students are the ones who can think for themselves and know what they want to learn. Susan also firmly believes in the democratic process and the sense of justice and responsibility it gives to all those involved. Susan and her partner, Nancy Golumbia, are excited that their almost seven year old son is about to start his third year at PFS!
Mark Filippone is a staff member at the Philly Free School. Before moving to Philadelphia, he earned his degree in elementary education and worked at the Clearwater School (a Sudbury school) in Bothell, WA. After three years, he received the Clearwater School’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award (other notable recipients include Shawna Lee), and moved to Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. After briefly teaching for the School District of Philadelphia, he joined the Philly Free School founder’s group and has been working ever since to ensure that this type of educational opportunity is available to students in Philly.
Working in conventional schools only strengthened Mark’s belief that Democratic schools are superior learning environments that allow students the time and space necessary to figure out who they are, what they want, and how to pursue their goals. He believes that students at Free schools prepare for life by living it, with full and equal rights and a tremendous amount of responsibility. He is happy to be part of this growing school community and looks forward to watching Democratic education flourish in Philadelphia.
Michelle Loucas began her career teaching English in Greece to students aged 7 to 70. In Baltimore, she drew governmental attention to two groups whose potential was being overlooked when she paired homeless and formerly homeless poets with student writers in her high school English classes. In South San Francisco, Michelle piloted a senior project that let students devote most of their final semester in high school to exploring their own interests. She went on to serve as teacher trainer and consultant on student-driven service learning projects in K-8 Philly schools, before serving as Coordinator of the Master’s Program in Secondary Education at Penn for five years. Greatly disturbed by the amount of learning she found in conventional schools, she believes every parent should insist on a Free school education for their child. She feels lucky to be staffing at PFS, where she joins the students in the hard but rewarding work of growing into herself every day.
PFS is the third democratic school at which “Reb” (Robert Loucas) has worked as a staff member. He worked with the Fairhaven School founders and staffed during their first two years of operation. He has also taught in high schools in struggling parts of Baltimore, MD and Camden, NJ, as well as at Penn Charter, here in Philadelphia. The struggle to reconcile the best school experiences with some of the worst propelled him to law school, where he concentrated on education law and student rights. He then worked as a Child Advocate for the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He is excited about bringing together the powerful learning opportunities of democratic schools with the talents of urban youth.
Eric Marr –Assembly President
Eric is an associate in the Corporate & Securities Group at Drinker, Biddle, & Reath LLP. Before joining the firm, Eric served as judicial clerk to Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. of the Delaware Court of Chancery. Eric earned his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 1991, and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, magna cum laude, in 2004. Eric is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Eric chose to major in comparative religion at Haverford because he found it the most interesting subject offered. That choice did not, however, provide an immediately apparent career path. He has never regretted that decision. Later, in choosing to return to law school and pursue the career of his choice ten years after graduating from college, Eric again got to experience both the power and the responsibility of education deliberately pursued. He believes that the democratic school model allows children to experience, and develop the skills associated with, independence, self-reliance and responsibility at a much earlier age than traditional models. By doing so, it enhances self-awareness, allows students to explore what makes them happy, and helps them to develop the problem-solving skills necessary to pursue goals in a rapidly changing world. Eric is looking forward to the day his daughter is old enough to join the Philly Free School’s vibrant and thriving community
Upon discovering the Philly Free School Joel realized the wool had been pulled over his eyes in his youth. Through further reflection it has become apparent to him that he learned much more in his 20′s via interest-based and need-based learning. He looks forward to years of advocacy for the success of the Philly Free School and others like it, and firmly believes that the democratic process should be something that children actually live, instead of learning about it theoretically through “acceptable” books. In addition to staffing at PFS, Joel works part-time at Jack’s Firehouse where he’s spent most of his time managing the front and back of house for the past 7 years. Joel’s son, Solomon, already spends a fair amount of time at the school and will be officially enrolled by age 5.
Karen Wolfe–Assembly Secretary
Karen Wolfe has had the honor of serving as the Secretary for the Philadelphia Free School since June 2011. She is the mother of two marvelous daughters and they are graciously permitted to share their home with Abby, the cat. Currently she serves as a supervising attorney at the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia since September 10, 2001, and has spent a significant amount of time as a trial attorney. In her practice she has ample opportunity to observe the effects of criminal law and related law on both the individuals she represents and the community at large. She believes substantial reform is called for, and that the community must demand that its leaders listen to them, and not to the few who are able to afford access. She has been privileged to serve in a number of leadership capacities in various community organizations, and is currently the congregational President at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and the Rules Committee Chair for the Criminal Justice Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association. In her free time she practices yoga and contributes time to annual tree plantings in her South Philadelphia neighborhood, and otherwise enjoys this great city that she has adopted as her home.