North Star has a small, core staff of dedicated professionals and a large, extended staff comprised of interns, work-study students, and volunteers. Together we create a diverse body of caring individuals with a wide variety of skills and interests to share.
Co-founder of North Star, Ken has been working intensively with teenagers and their families since 1991. Previously a middle school social studies teacher, first in Prince George’s County, MD, then in Amherst, MA, Ken left the Amherst school system to found North Star. He brought with him extensive education and training, including a B.A. from Amherst College in Psychology and an M.A.T. in Social Studies from Brown University.
Now in her eigth year at North Star, Catherine is an active participant in the extended homeschooling community with two homeschooling daughters of her own. She has been working continuously with youth in a variety of capacities since she was one herself, as a coach, tutor, and teacher in both public settings and Montessori schools. Catherine holds two B.A.s from University of California, Santa Barbara, in English and History, a Master's in Education from Lesley University, and primary teacher certification from the American Montessori Society.
Ellen joined North Star as a member during its first year and has been passionate about the alternative education movement ever since. Ellen has an Associates Degree from Holyoke Community College and a B.A. in Theatre (Spanish Minor) from Smith College. She began directing North Star's theatre program in 2003, and has been on the Core Staff since 2010. In addition to her work at North Star, Ellen remains an active performing artist who teaches, directs, and acts all over the Pioneer Valley and beyond. She is also a dedicated student of yoga and teaches yoga locally. Ellen lives with her husband, their two children, and their two crazy dogs.
Lauren has worked extensively with teenagers: as a counselor, interventionist, and teacher, both in and outside of school settings. She has studied contemporary art intensively, including earning a B.A. in Art History from Mount Holyoke College, and a Masters degree from the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies. She is also a student of the Feldenkrais Method and nearing the end of a four-year professional training program in New York City. Lauren is raising a teen, a tween, and a toddler with her husband in Northampton.
Part of the staff of North Star since 2002, Susannah has been leading the writing workshop and working individually with North Star members. Formerly the editor of Growing Without Schooling, the national magazine founded by John Holt, she has worked with homeschooling teenagers and families around the country, and has published four books and numerous essays and poems.
John has been affiliated with North Star since its inception. He has been a parent to two members, a board member, and now a staff member leading classes in Philosophy and Math. He is also a musician for the Five College dance program. John has a B.A. from Amherst College in English and a Masters in Creativity Studies from Vermont College.
After a year of learning the lay of the land at North Star and offering the course Rebellions, Heresies and Dreams, Josh is pleased to be coordinating North Star's music program in his first year as core staff. Josh spent his senior year in high school doing an "exchange program" – a foray into self-directed learning during which rather than leave the country Josh attended the school for troubled teens his parents founded and did tutorials in photography, electronics, AP European history and "cultural orientation." Josh has a B.A. in history from Penn State, taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania, and has taught music, history and other subjects at alternative schools and privately for 15 years. He also leads the band Radio Free Earth.