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Our Staff

Amber Mapes

With a double major in Child Development and Community Recreation, Amber spent her years at Central Michigan University studying the natural development of children and the benefits and skills of building a cooperative, happy community.

From there, she spent six years in a Reggio inspired preschool classroom at The Clifton School. While in the classroom, she found deep respect for the Reggio Approach to learning, which is very much like Sudbury in that educators do not see children as empty vessels that require filling with facts, but rather they see children as full of potential – competent and capable of building their own theories.

When Amber learned about the efforts to begin a Sudbury school in Atlanta in 2012, she quickly joined the founding team and became an integral part of opening SSA.

One of the greatest strengths Amber brings to our community is her love of play and imagination. She deeply honors the beauty of childhood and creates a safe, nurturing space for Sudbury students to be fully themselves – to play and learn their way. In addition, Amber has studied Non-Violent Communication and is a trained mediator. These skills are a major asset to SSA, as she has helped organize a mediation program to help students and staff members navigate whatever problems and challenges arise within our community.

Some of Amber’s favorite things include Laughter Yoga, hiking, and spreading magic, whimsy, and fun wherever she goes.

Amber is beginning her fourth year as a staff member at Sudbury School of Atlanta.

Joy Tanksley

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 when it comes to the running of the school and yet you’d be hard pressed to not list her empathy and intuition as her greatest strengths. The upshot of this, for students, is that she’s able to provide clear, non-coercive guidance in the parts of SSA that encourage responsibility (e.g., Student Meeting and cleaning the school).

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

Joy joined the SSA staff in the spring semester of 2017.

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