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.
Teresa Giardina– Assembly Secretary
Teresa has been involved with direct democracy organizations since she was a teenager including nonprofits, co-ops, and anarchist organizations. Teresa is the former President of the Board of the LCA, a non-profit housing cooperative in the Cedar Park Neighborhood of West Philadelphia, which her family continues to live in and help manage. Teresa lives in InSoFar (a member of the LCA) , an intentional community of three close families (currently 6 adults and 2 children) with a shared appreciation of food, queer community, and anything nerdy. She is the former Lead Parent of the West Philadelphia Cooperative School, where her kid, Gus, attend from 2-6 years old and how she originally met Mark Filippone (she hired him to work there actually). So she knows what it means to share her home, work, and life collectively with others and actively participate to make decisions.
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.
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.
Marie Winters– Assembly President
Marie Winters ND, FABNO is Manager of the Naturopathic Medicine Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia where she specializes in integrative oncology care for hematologic malignancies. Prior to joining CTCA Marie ran a private practice, Two Rivers Naturopathy, in Manayunk. Marie earned her BA from Fordham University and received her ND from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. Marie believes that all people are innately curious about the world around them, and that if empowered we will all strive to be the best versions of ourselves that we can. Bolstered by years of exposure to the Sudbury model when her husband Mark worked as a staff member at The Clearwater School, Marie is dedicated to the idea that this model of education should be available to all children in order that they might be offered the freedom to learn as they see fit, and the responsibility that will empower them to not just survive in the world, but to change it.