The 347-Acre Classroom in South Whidbey State Park
Calyx Community Arts School
Calyx Mentor Team
The term “mentor" speaks to Calyx’s progressive educational pedagogy. We understand education to be a process of drawing out the learner through responsive facilitation of learning experiences. Rather than filling a learner with knowledge, we help guide them through a process of inquiry, reflection, critical thinking and discovery so that they can construct knowledge from within and, ultimately, embody that knowledge in a deep and meaningful way. Our mentoring team combines more than four decades of experience facilitating learning and working with children in different educational settings. They also bring independent expertise in a variety of fields.
Calyx Director & Lead Mentor, Human Rights Lawyer, Writer, Documentary Filmmaker
Lisa was schooled in public schools in Milwaukee, WI, during a time of exciting experiments in public school education that emerged out of state-mandated desegregation. The daughter of a special education teacher, Lisa walked the picket line as a 6-year-old, assisted in her mom’s class when she was still in school herself, and mentored “at risk” youth when she was in college, studying literature and literary criticism. As a young adult, she worked as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence before buying a one-way ticket to Calcutta, India, to work with Mother Theresa and the children at the Mother Theresa orphanage Shishu Bhavan.
This path eventually led her to law school, where she sought to become a more effective advocate for women and for children, and to two decades of human rights work internationally on issues of violence against women, children’s rights, and armed conflict. In addition to her work with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, Lisa has woven her passion for the arts into her human rights work through her writing, documentary filmmaking and arts activism.
After living and working in Sri Lanka for 13 years, Lisa and her then 2-year-old daughter Aaliyah returned to Whidbey Island, where Lisa had spent many formative summers as a child running wild on her Aunt and Uncle’s homestead in Greenbank and at her grandparents’ home on Bush Point. Lisa and Aaliyah hadn’t planned on staying, but found the peace and healing powers of the earth so strong on Whidbey that they did.
The inspiration for Calyx grew out of Lisa’s work as a human rights lawyer and advocate for children, her questions about the substance of the right to education, her experience as a mother, aunty and mentor, her strong sense of responsibility to children and to the earth, and a chance meeting and enduring friendship with Whidbey Island artist and naturalist – Esther James – who became a mentor to Lisa.
Lisa believes we desperately need new models of education: ones that better serve children, communities and the earth, and ones that nurture the next generation of environmental and social justice leaders. She believes that Calyx is such a model.