Laurie Grassi Redmond
Laurie began her work with children in 1997 as an apprentice teacher in a fourth grade classroom at an independent school in Connecticut. After this year-long apprenticeship she moved to Oakland, California where she taught as an assistant teacher and after-school director at a large independent school. In 2002 Laurie, earned her Masters in Education from Mills College. While there she was asked to work as the head teacher of the combined fourth and fifth grade classroom at the Mills College Children’s School. The Children’s School is a progressive laboratory school that is part of the Education Department at Mills College.
During her years of teaching at the Children’s School, Laurie was responsible for the development and implementation of fourth and fifth grade curriculum and assessment. She integrated two student teachers into her classroom each semester (Masters candidates from the Education Department). During her time at the Children’s School Laurie was able to give presentations across the country on topics that ranged from reading strategies to building and utilizing an outdoor classrooms to conducting action research in the classroom to effective hands-on math projects. While at the Children's School Laurie received thoughtful feedback on her practice from colleagues, parents, professors, and the children she taught. This continuous feedback helped shape her into the educator she is today.
When Laurie and her husband Chris moved to Maine in 2005, she taught fourth and fifth grade at Belgrade Central School. Then, following the birth of their first daughter, Laurie taught sixth grade English and Language Arts two days a week. Chris and Laurie's second daughter was born soon after, and Laurie left the classroom to raise their two young children. During her time away from the classroom, Laurie maintained her Maine Teaching Certificate and has continued to grow as a professional through graduate-level coursework at the University of Maine at Orono.
Laurie has spent many hours reflecting both on the strengths and weaknesses of the various educational settings she has worked in, as well as the current trends in education in our country and in countries around the world. She has continued to shape her educational beliefs through this reflection, through her work as a mother, and through a continuing dialogue with other parents, colleagues, local educational leaders, her family, and friends. It is this reflection that led to the founding of The Mill School in 2013.
Amanda earned a degree in Environmental Science from the University of New Hampshire. Soon after graduating from college, she taught environmental education at a residential YMCA camp in New Jersey. She led outdoor classes for children ages five through thirteen. She cooked with the children over an open fire, tapped sugar maples and boiled sap, led hikes to the Appalachian Trail, rock climbed and led children to the woods, swamp and lake for various classes throughout the camp. Amanda saw how much the children enjoyed this experience, and she loved it too.
Wanting to learn how to grow food, Amanda also apprenticed on both livestock and vegetable farms. She combined her love of farming and teaching while working at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary where she was hired as both a teaching intern and a farm apprentice. She worked on the farm doing chores early in the morning and then the children would arrive after breakfast. Local elementary schools would come to the farm, and she would explore the barns and gardens with the children. After the children left, she would head back out to the fields to work on the farm.
Amanda moved to Maine for a farm apprenticeship at The Morris Farm, a non profit, educational farm in Wiscasset. Amanda fell in love with the farm and the dairy herd and soon found herself in the position of Farm Manager. She lived there for five years operating the farm and tailoring the farm work to the educational needs of the farm. The farm hosted many educational programs for people of all ages that included field trips, summer camps, afterschool programming, weekend, adult workshops and more. Amanda was involved with aspects of all the programs from the teaching to the organization of farm work so that it was accessible to the programs. Through this work Amanda saw the local children and adults develop relationships with the farm. Some children had their favorite cow, others their favorite pig, and still others had their own special spot on the farm. In fact, the farm became theirs and Amanda saw many of the children return year after year to the farm and some came back on weekends to help Amanda with the farm chores.
After Amanda had her daughter, she enrolled in a Parent Child class at a Waldorf School in Lincolnville. During that class, she appreciated how the young child was free to play amongst the purposeful work of the adults. She loved the beautiful stories, singing and fingerplays brought to the child. She wanted to learn more about the Waldorf approach to early childhood and was fortunate to be the Assistant Teacher for one year in the Nursery Class at the same school. It was from that experience that Amanda enrolled in the LifeWays program, a one year certificate program on Human Development from birth through age six that focuses on relationship based care for young children in a multi-age setting. Amanda completed her studies and earned her certificate during summer, 2013.
She and Laurie have been teaching together since The Mill School opened in the Fall of 2013.
Toki Oshima grew up in a family that sang together, and she and all of her brothers were artists. As a teen, Toki worked as a camp counselor in an International summer camp where the emphasis was on peace through understanding others through singing, dancing, and making things. She received her BFA from Portland School of Art, concentrating on Graphic Design and illustration, where she taught Saturday School for High School students. She has worked as a freelance illustrator for MOFGA's Newspaper, as well as illustrating children's books and doing graphic design work since 1990. She earned her post graduate degree in Education at Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, N.Y., has worked as a teacher at Playworks, a homeschool cooperative learning center in Liberty, since 2014. Before that, she had her own pre-school for 2 years in Belfast called Morning Glory Garden School, and previous to that worked in Early Childhood at Ashwood Waldorf School for 12 years.
Toki lives with her husband, John Pranio, and their two sons, Sean and Jamie, and one cat in Belfast, Maine. They are all musicians, and have run a contra dance series for the past 20 years in Whitefield.