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Our Staff

Anna Cuthrell – Staff Member

Anna is a full-time student at Georgia State University, majoring in English. Anna originally wanted to major in childhood education, but after learning more about the teaching methods used in public schools, she realized she wouldn’t be happy teaching such a rigid curriculum where personal connections to students are often discouraged. Then, during one of her classes in the spring of 2017, a professor mentioned the Sudbury model of education, and Anna felt drawn to learn more. Soon after, she visited an open house at SSA and fell in love with the approach. She began volunteering her time and became a staff member in the fall of 2017.

Anna is well-organized and highly dependable, and she brings an easygoing and laid back vibe to the Sudbury space. She is an open-minded individual with a clear sense of self. One of her favorite things about working at SSA is interacting with students in a genuine way. She loves the way their freedom to learn inspires her to try new things and follow her curiosity.

When Anna isn’t busy with her coursework at GSU, she enjoys crafting, painting, reading, and playing the ukulele. She also loves animals of all kinds and volunteers at the local animal shelter in her hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, whenever she is visiting for a school break.

Chantrisse Parks – Staff Member

Chantrisse (Chan) is an Atlanta native currently studying early childhood education at West Georgia Technical college. After landing a job in a traditional daycare, Chan was surprised and disappointed to find a rigid, standards-focused setting with a lack of free play and exploration for young children. The things she was learning in her college courses about how children learn best weren’t being practiced in this mainstream setting. She began reflecting on her experiences in the traditional education system as a whole and thinking about the many ways students are stifled, disrespected, and held back from reaching their full potential. She started researching alternative education and stumbled across a video from a Sudbury Valley student. The model resonated deeply for her, and she was thrilled to find a Sudbury school in Atlanta. She toured SSA and fell in love. She quickly began volunteering her time and soon after became a staff member.

One of Chan’s favorite things about SSA is the community. She loves the fact that we all embrace our differences and still come together as a family. She also gets great joy from watching the children learn how to navigate their feelings, solve their own problems, and become so independent at such young ages.

Chan is passionate and energetic and she puts her whole heart into everything she does. She integrates new skills quickly and always wants to learn more. She is a true self-starter and a wonderful role model for our students of going after whatever sparks your interest.

In her spare time, Chan can be found reading, blogging, meditating, listening to podcasts, drawing, and spending time with her family.

Joy Tanksley – Administrative Coordinator

After graduating college, Joy spent nine years teaching middle school English, eventually earning her National Board Certification. Her intuition, experience, and research lead her to add more freedom and democracy to her public school classroom every year. She was delighted to find that that the more choice and autonomy she gave her students, the more they learned.

While she loved many things about being a teacher, she grew increasingly frustrated with the ways that the public education system stifled her and her students. Rather than commit to a lifelong career that felt increasingly inauthentic for her, she took a leap faith and started her own business as a life coach in 2009. She took much of what she had learned in her teaching career and blended it with personal insights to help her clients understand themselves more deeply and find more freedom and authenticity in their own lives.

In 2012, she shifted gears again when she became a mother, deciding to make that her full-time focus. Having a child gave her a new lens for all she had learned about education and personal growth, and she felt very clear that she wanted an educational approach and community for her son that would maximize freedom and choice. She researched various models of schooling, and she found that the Sudbury model was beautifully aligned with all she had come to believe about the way humans learn and grow.

Joy brings a paradoxical seeming set of strengths to SSA: she is efficient and methodical and yet you’d be hard pressed to not list her empathy and intuition as her greatest strengths.

Some of Joy’s favorite things include teaching Nia (a mind-body dance fitness practice) and listening to podcasts of all sorts.

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