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Greenfields Academy started because I asked:

I'm Rob Huge, the founder of Greenfields Academy. After spending six months homeschooling our four kids while traveling in Central America, I couldn’t bear to put them back into traditional school. The rows of desks, fill-in-the-blank worksheets, one-size-fits-all curriculum, constant high-stakes testing, and the immense amount of wasted time and lost potential were too much. That’s when the seed for Greenfields was planted.

We wanted to build a place that restored autonomy to schools while honoring the students, families, and communities that it serves. We wanted to revolutionize education – to create a true, viable, and affordable alternative to the traditional school system.

We looked for schools that started with each child’s unique talents, passions, and curiosity; schools that didn’t judge but empowered and strengthened, honing thinking and building character. I needed to create a school where failure is embraced as a learning opportunity and pushing past limits is expected. The graduates of this school would be prepared to tackle future challenges and stay the course while leading full, happy lives, profoundly rich with meaning and purpose. That's Greenfields' mission. 

We believe we have found that better way. We hope that after learning about Greenfields Academy, you will enroll your children and find delight in what they can do and who they become. Together, we can reinvent education and give our children a better, brighter future.

Isn't there a better way?

Rob Huge and Family in Costa Rica


Rob Huge



Portrait of Rob Huge founder of Greenfields Academy with green background

Rob is the founder of Greenfields and has worked since its inception to develop and grow all aspects of the organization. His 25+ years of experience in the field of education and deep understanding of Greenfields Academy’s mission give him unique insights into the potential of Greenfields as well as its weak spots.

Rob served on the Board of Trustees for Bauder and Hesser Colleges, as well as on the Board of Directors for the American Youth Soccer Organization, where he was the Director of Fields, Equipment, and Safety. Rob also brings key experience as a founding board member of Isinglass Theater Company in Portland.

Rob Huge
Founder/Ex-Officio Director

Maggie brings a wide range of informal education experiences to the Greenfields team, from teaching children’s theater to guiding at science centers. She believes that discovery and exploration are key components to any child’s education. Maggie earned her master's in elementary education at DePaul University and, in addition to her education background, brings a wealth of administrative knowledge gained from her work in museums and universities. When she’s not at Greenfields, Maggie enjoys crafting, watching movies, and her weekly virtual family game nights.

Portrait of Maggie Baker assistant head of school with curly hair and black sweater

Maggie Baker
Assistant Head Of School

Portrait of Mitchel Bleier with blue shirt and jeans against brick wall

For more than 25 years, Mitchel has been teaching yoga, meditation, myth, philosophy, and wellness practices. He has had the rare privilege of learning firsthand from many of the world's great masters, in a diversity of traditions, including yogis and academics with a wide range of disciplines. Since 1996, Mitchel has been leading classes, retreats, and training sessions all over the world. He has taught and trained thousands of students internationally in both science and faith-based practices for body and brain performance.  


Mitchel currently lives in Chicago, is a father and husband, and is deeply passionate about working with individuals and companies to transform their results, and to foster more positive internal and external health practices. 

Mitchel Bleier
Admissions Ambassador


Portrait of Launcher Guide Becca with black glasses and dark hair wearing polka dot shirt

Becca earned her master's in early childhood education from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. The notion that children construct their own knowledge through exploration and play, while being guided and supported by others, was a strong focus in her graduate coursework. She is thrilled to bring her years of experience working with elementary-aged children to a school that fosters project-based learning, social emotional intelligence, and authentic community-building. When Becca isn’t wrapped up in the world of education, you can expect to find her caring for her menagerie of animals, exploring in nearby LaBagh Woods, tending to her jungle of plants, enjoying the company of friends, or watching a movie.

Rebecca Penzick
Guide (Launchers)

DJ’s enthusiasm for creative education is based in guiding artists of all ages through the independent exploration of visual design. He moved to Chicago to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he focused his studies on millinery, fashion, and graphic design. DJ established his teaching practice by designing curricula and teaching programs for After School Matters, Marwen, and Lillstreet from 2014 to 2019. He believes that art is fundamental in youth development, and the key to growth lies in showing students that there isn’t only one way to be creative. DJ has personal experience with triumphing over learning disabilities and being a non-traditional learner, and his memories of growing up with these challenges help provide unique insight into his guiding. When DJ isn’t at Greenfields, he is at home cooking new recipes, designing hats, and thrifting.

Portrait of Guide DJ with denim shirt and studio background

DJ DeGayner
Guide (Travelers/Navigators)

Portrait of middle school guide Pawel wearing sweater against a studio background

Pawel Kowalczyk
Guide (Explorers)

A dedicated and practiced lifelong learner, Pawel majored in engineering and computer science in college and then, after grad school, ran a small custom-made clothing company; here, he taught himself everything from customer relations to photography and sewing before switching careers again. In 2015, Pawel became one of the founding members of Bit Space, which helps shape the culture and content at Chicago’s premier maker space for kids and teens. Though there were many, many high points during his time there, his proudest work was the Inter-Act summer camp: week-long project intensives where students aged 9 to 16 used woodworking, computer coding, electronics, game making, and more to create a mixed reality interactive experience. Those amazing weeks showed him that kids are capable of so much more than people commonly give them credit for, and spurred his interest in full-time education. He speaks Polish, Japanese, and German, and about a half dozen computer languages. He is excited to bring his experience as a designer, maker, polymath, and unapologetic nerd to the classroom. When not teaching, Pawel enjoys playing and designing board games, collecting fancy beers, listening to audiobooks, and watching eclectic movies.

Vero is an artist, curator, and educator. In the studio, Vero makes climate change personal through data-driven installations and performances. In the gallery, Vero produces community-focused exhibitions and participatory art experiences. From 2016 to 2020, Vero served as a curator at the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art and designed an innovative, collegiate-level curriculum in the visual arts for both the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College. Simultaneously, Vero co-created collaborative arts experiences for learners of all ages and academic backgrounds. These experiences included a music festival in an operational parking ramp, museum pub trivia nights, hidden histories architectural tours, and group coloring sessions designed to decode symbols in Turkish textiles. To Vero, learning is a joyfully never-ending process and all the world is a classroom! She believes that all people are curious, creative, and uniquely gifted. Vero’s deepest passion is helping others discover and develop their own passions. She holds master's degrees in design (Harvard Graduate School of Design), architectural history (University of Iowa), and business administration (Quantic Institute of Business and Technology). Vero also earned a triple bachelor's degree in environmental studies, studio art, and art history (Augustana College, Rock Island, IL). When not at Greenfields, Vero can be found on stage with her metal band, in her studio writing new music and playing with colorful reclaimed materials, or volunteering for environmental and social justice organizations.

Portrait of Guide for high school program Vero with black leather jacket and studio background

Vero Smith
Guide (Voyagers)

Amber Snyder
Guide (After School/Camp)


Amber has thrown a lasso, welded metal, performed as a clown on the River Thames and bathed large quantities of cabbage in gochujang, all because she chose to earn a BFA degree in acting from Texas State University (The welding metal might be more her father’s influence though). In all her ventures of pursuing the theatrical life since graduating in 2007, Amber has consistently found her way back to education, using theatre as a tool for empowerment, empathy, innovative thinking, and honest expression. A year-long stint in South Korea as an edutainer taught her how to create, produce and direct original content for young minds, and her most recent endeavor, The Eclipse Show (, is just that! A free show created with the intent to connect with the “very young” crowd (ages 0-7) but also entertaining to all ages. Episodes contain original songs, quick book reviews, learning sounds, AND super-fast easy activities! Outside of being of service to the youth, Amber enjoys filmmaking, plants, knitting, writing, drawing, learning to play musical instruments, and her 10 lb dog Pippy.


Portrait of woman with beige top Aimee Skinner of the board


President & Director

Aimee began working with Greenfields Academy upon its inception. As a consultant to Greenfields during its initial years, she has a unique understanding of the organization's operations and services.

Portrait of Andrea with brown jacket smiling with studio background


Treasurer & Director

Andrea’s background in finance and budgeting along with her engagement within the Greenfields community make her an ideal Treasurer for Greenfields. As Owner and Chief Commercial Officer of North Park Financial Planning in Chicago, she brings significant financial acumen, budgeting experience, and entrepreneurial insights. 

Black and White portrait of Katy Pinter of Greenfields Academy smiling with long straight hair


Secretary & Director

Katy brings a great deal to the Greenfields board, including extensive business and board experience, a master's in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and a demonstrated commitment to the success of our school.

Portrait of Reetu smiling with studio background and polka dot shirt


Fundraising Chair & Director

Reetu is a freelance strategic business consultant who partners with small businesses, start-ups, and non-profits to develop creative solutions. Before earning her MBA and starting her business, Reetu spent almost a decade working in the artistic offices of leading Chicago theatres, including Chicago Shakespeare, Northlight, and the Goodman.

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