Pathfinder is dedicated to supporting our members on their education journey. Our staff are committed to this mission, bringing a wide variety of experience and knowledge to our community.
Meet Our Staff
Julia Kelahan - Founder
Julia is mom to 5 kids, all unschoolers, 2 who are now off to college. She is very familiar with the unschooling dance of offering inspiration in tandem with hanging back and allowing the child to point the way. In addition, she has extensive experience with the public school IEP process and familiarity with various ways of being that can pose challenges to learning, including adhd, dyslexia, and anxiety. She holds a graduate level certificate program in Neurodiversity and Executive Functioning from Landmark College.
Julia has a B.A. in history and has always wished for a time machine for exploring. Absent that, she desperately wants to do one of those live-like-a-different-time-
When she dreams about having free time (see the above thing about 5 kids), she imagines she will learn to play cello, continue to develop her fledgling painting skills, and go on a very long walking adventure.
Emily believes every child has unique gifts and is passionate about helping children recognize those and feel proud of who they are. Emily has a master’s degree is occupational therapy and has been working for the last fifteen years with a wide range of kids to discover their talents and figure out how to put them to use in the real world. Emily has worked in public schools, special education collaborative schools and individually with youth and their families to transform the conversation from being centered on a child’s deficits to discovering a child’s special qualities, interests and passions and encouraging those to blossom. Emily is inspired by self-directed learning centers because they are places where this can happen all day, every day.
Emily had a dream of having a self-directed learning center open close to their home so it could be an option for her children if they were interested in this path. Pathfinder Learning Center is an answer to that dream and now her 13-year old daughter and 11-year old son have chosen to attend. Emily is excited about being a mentor at the center. It is a perfect match for her life’s purpose and work to give children the freedom to be themselves and pursue their dreams.
Dan is a lifelong learner. Growing up, he attended eleven schools, comparing the strengths of each as he searched for better options. Ultimately, unschooling, independent studies, and interest-based learning communities were his favorites. As a high school dropout, he personally experienced deschooling, both the stuck feeling and subsequent burst of energy from aligning interests and daily focus. The main thing he wanted at that time was more community and mentorship, hence this learning center!
Dan actively weaves learning throughout his life. He married based on compatible learning philosophies, and together they unschool their son. Dan runs a learning game company, inspiring a love of learning through play. He researches how to use emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality in learning, and how to best support learners in pursuing their interests. He learns with undergrads and grad students by collaborating on multi-year projects together.
Dan has many and varied interests he happily shares with fellow learners, including game design, creative writing, comedy, world building, transmedia storytelling, illustration, animation, photography, cinematography, architecture, music, history, current events, language, culture, psychology, computer science, machine learning and AI, microbiology, modeling and simulation, qualitative and quantitative research, making, social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and community building.
Dan deeply values the honor and privilege of accompanying learners and their families on journeys of self discovery, moving from fear to possibility together.
Cecily found school to be too restricting when returning to in-person in her junior year of high school. She came to Pathfinder in the spring of 2022 and found it to be the perfect place to express herself and grow. Since then, she has explored her interests, learned how to unschool herself, and taken a trip across the world. She began working at Pathfinder because she is passionate about the self-directed learning model and wished to continue to see the growth of her unschooling peers, and help them along the way.
Cecily plans to continue her learning journey throughout her life. In the future, she hopes to travel, work on farms, learn about homesteading, and continue reading, writing, and making music and art.