The board of The Open School Orange County operates in a manner different to most school boards. They respect and uphold the autonomy and authority of the School Meeting in its capacity to govern and operate the school. Board members support the school by raising awareness, raising funds, and serving as a guardian of the school in the larger community.

Sarah Strain is the Board President at The Open School and has focused her career on working with children and families in the fields of childcare, camps/recreation, education, and mental health. She has her bachelor’s degree in Human Services (with focus on mental health and early childhood education), and her master’s degree in Sociology. Sarah is passionate about working with the community and is happy to be involved in efforts to raise awareness about The Open School and democratic education.

Ingrid Shultz serves as the Board Treasurer and is an Open School OC parent who thought traditional education was just fine until she became a mother of a student it would actually affect.  Now she is a true believer in the philosophy and results of open and democratic education.  She has worked in Accounting & HR for 20 years and is currently the CFO of a manufacturer of environmental monitoring equipment.  In her limited free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, baking, all things nerdy pop culture and obsessing about ASOIAF.

James O’Neil Spady, Ph.D., is an historian whose research and teaching includes race, class, and the history of learning. He is the father of a daughter who eagerly wanted to attend a democratic free school (before there were any in Orange County). An amateur mechanic and engineer of gasoline and electric vehicles, he values craft skill equally with academics. For more on James Spady, see

Corrie Reil-Erickson was born and raised in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula, she graduated from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia with a BA in Sociology, and returned to her local community. Her professional career has been dedicated to helping improve outcomes for children and families. She has fifteen years of experience in human services related fields ranging from child welfare to education, but her favorite title is “Mom”.  While working in the education system, taking master’s in education classes, and raising a school aged child, she found herself questioning the processes in place – frustrated and disillusioned by the lack of available local alternative education options she scoured the internet thinking “there has to be another way”. She is excited to bring her skills and expertise to the team, and thrilled to become part of The Open School Community.

Anthony Meyer is passionate about learning. As a high school math teacher he works hard to ensure that his students experience the beauty of math and its usefulness in the ‘real world’. Anthony earned bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy from Calvin University and has a master’s degree in Teaching. As a father of four children under the age of seven, he enjoys spending his time getting jumped on, throwing children in the air, and working out so he can keep doing the aforementioned activities. Among his many talents, he is an (unofficial) expert at answering the question ‘Why?’

Alexis Haft (School Meeting elected member) is a student at the Open School as well as a board member. She left high school in 10th grade to pursue more fulfilling and creative endeavors at The Open School. She believes strongly in the personal and emotional freedom that self-directed education provides and the importance to learn and grow in your own way and at your own pace. She loves to be able to give back to her community and one of the ways she does that is by taking on many leadership positions. Some of her roles include serving as the chair for four different committees, hosting the daily check-ins for students, dedicating time to be a student buddy and a student advocate, and serving as the virtual School Meeting chair. Her favorite committee to chair is Emotional Welfare, where she can support students by helping them get to the root of their emotions and guide them to realize they are never alone in their struggles.