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.

Madeline Piscopo

Monica Spisar is an engineer and entrepreneur with experience in several different industries, startups, and research institutions. Seeking a great educational and experiential fit for her child led to democratic schooling as an ideal… in theory. In practice, geographic constraints limit access for many potential democratic schooling families, including Monica’s. On that axis, the Open School’s foray into online democratic schooling is a beacon of hope for many. Crucially, the online program’s evolution is deeply enriched by its co-evolution with The Open School’s physical campuses and community. Monica couldn’t be more excited to support The Open School in its mission.

Finnegan Thurlo (School-Meeting elected member) is a student at the Open School as well as a board member. Finn takes great interest and has great passion for how Alternative Schooling Models run. He is the chairman of the Welcome Committee, a Discord Moderator, a Gather.Town Moderator, managing the Virtual Meeting space, and a Virtual Planner Agent, managing the Virtual Program’s schedule.  Finn is also a member of the Virtual Program Committee, the Emotional Welfare Committee, the Location Search Committee, the Referral Committee and the Hiring Committee.

Finn is a long time musician and activist who loves philosophy. His favorite activity to host is a Philosophy Discussion.