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Experience how Greenfields Academy is transforming education, in the words of students, staff, and parents.

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Our Story

Rob Huge and family.

There has to be a better way.

After spending six months homeschooling my 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 amounts of wasted time and lost potential were too much. That’s where Greenfields started.

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

I looked for schools that start with each child’s unique talents, passions and curiosity; 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 the challenges of the future while leading full, happy lives, profoundly rich with meaning and purpose.

There is a better way.

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

Sincerely,

Rob Huge
Founder

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Chicago Campus

Greenfields Academy is located at 3232 N Elston Ave in Chicago, IL.

Our promises to your child

They will:

  • Begin a Hero’s Journey.
  • Learn to be a curious, independent, life-long learner.
  • Develop a deep respect for economic, political, and religious freedoms.
  • Cherish the arts, wonders of the physical world, and the mysteries of life on Earth.
  • Discover their most precious gifts and learn to use them to solve difficult problems.

Our Team

Rob Huge
Head of School / Ex-Officio Director

Rob is the founder of Greenfields and has worked since its inception to develop and grow all aspects of the organization. His 25+ years experience in the field of education and deep understanding of Greenfield 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 and on the Board of Directors for the American Youth Soccer Organization, where he was the Director of Fields, Equipment and Safety for the past four years. Rob also brings key experience with early stage boards as he was a founding board member of Isinglass Theater Company in Portland.

Maggie Baker
Assistant Head of School

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 Masters of Elementary Education from DePaul University. In addition to her education background, she 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.

Rebecca Penzick
Guide

Becca earned her Masters 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 from 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.

Pawel Kowalczyk
Guide

A dedicated and practiced lifelong learner, Pawel majored in Engineering and Computer Science, and then spent the years after grad school running a small custom-made clothing company, where he taught himself everything from customer relations to photography to sewing before switching careers again. In 2015, Pawel became one of the founding members of Bit Space, helping shape the culture and content at Chicago’s premier maker space for kids and teens. Though there were many, many high points of his time there, his proudest work was the Inter-Act summer camp: week-long project intensives where students aged 9 to 16 used the wood shop, 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.

DJ DeGayner
Guide

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 in Fine Arts from The School of 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.

Vero Smith
Guide

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 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.

Vero holds masters 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 bachelors 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.

Ashley Laverty
After School and Camp Coordinator

Ashley is a theatre maker originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, and the founding Artistic Director of Kerfuffle, an award winning theatre and dance company devoted to creating performances with and for children under 6 year olds (www.kerfuffletvy.com). Ashley is a teaching artist and has 10 years of teaching artist experience, specializing in drama integration.

In Chicago, Ashley is proud to be a teaching artist with Lifeline Theatre, Paramount School of the Arts, The Stage School, and a children’s yoga instructor with Mission Propelle. Additionally, Ashley is a director, playwright and actor, and has performed and had her work produced nationally at the Omaha Theater Company at The Rose, Brelby Theatre, National Theatre for Children, VEE Corporation, Roxy Regional Theatre, Vital Theatre Company and Storyland.

Ashley holds an M.F.A in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Musical Theatre from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts.

Alex Ellison
Greenfields Ambassador

Alex is an education consultant and college counselor who has helped hundreds of students discover an educational path that works best for them. She has spoken at high schools, conferences, and events from SXSWedu in Austin, Texas to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia about student-centered education, entrepreneurship, careers of the future, and rethinking college. Her curiosity about non-traditional schooling brought her to Greenfields Academy, where her daughter now attends. Alex is passionate about sharing the joy and freedom of student-centered learning with families who come to learn more about the Greenfields community. Alex enjoys mastering new recipes, exploring the midwest, discovering new restaurants, and making her daughter laugh uncontrollably.

Board of Directors

Aimee Skinner
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. Aimee led the school through our initial licensing and subsequent accreditation processes and developed our hiring, marketing, and admissions functions. As a parent of two Greenfields graduates, she enjoyed watching her children flourish in the self-directed setting and is truly committed to the continued success of the school and bringing these approaches to more students.

Aimee has prior experience as an ex-officio board member for four years at Families Together Cooperative Nursery School in Chicago, where her role as Administrative Director entailed board management, financial oversight, strategic planning and other school operations. With her Masters in Math Education, she enjoys working with schools and students who are eager to try new things and make big improvements. Her commitment to the field of non-traditional education along with her proven track of leadership and organization make her an excellent Board President.

Katy Pinter
Secretary & Director

Katy brings a great deal to the Greenfields board, including extensive business and board experience, a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and a demonstrated commitment to the success of our school. Her two children are Greenfields students and she has been a very active participant in our School Improvement Committee over the past four years. Katy has also mentored new parents, provided a parent perspective in Guide interviews and organized events for the Greenfields community.

Katy is currently the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and a Principal in the Strategy Practice at The Chartis Group, LLC in Chicago. In her prior role of Chief of Staff, she was an ex-officio board member of The Chartis Group for six years and was responsible for minutes, board communications, presentations, materials and overall board relations. Katy is also the co-leader of The Chartis Foundation, where she works closely with the board to obtain final approval for annual grant and fellowship recipients. Since 2005, she has also served as a consultant to various boards and management teams of non-profit healthcare organizations, advising them on strategic planning, performance improvement, governance structures and change management. With her depth of experience in business and board functions, we are thrilled to have Katy serving as our Board Secretary.

Andrea Oliver
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. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from North Park University in Chicago and is a Certified Financial Planner. She also brings valuable board experience as she served for seven years as the Treasurer for the Grace Covenant Church in Chicago and for five years as Treasurer of the La Leche League, North Park Chapter.

Andrea has a strong commitment to non-traditional education, as she spent sixteen years as a homeschool parent prior to enrolling her two youngest children at Greenfields Academy. She has served as an active member of the Greenfields School Improvement Committee over the past two years and volunteers frequently to support the school by leading student workshops, chaperoning field trips, and planning events. Andrea has much to offer to the role of Board Treasurer of Greenfields Academy and will be a valuable contributor.

Reetu G. Sanders
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. She serves on the boards of Northlight Theatre and the Villa Historic District, and is an active alumna of Culver Academies and Colgate University.

Reetu was an active volunteer and participant in the Greenfields community in her first year and has two young children attending our school in the coming year. She is excited to bring her fundraising experience to Greenfields and work with our community to make a difference.

"The thought of a learning environment that incorporates active learning, includes all the senses, and emphasizes a pursuit personalized to your individual gifts, sounds amazing. What kid doesn't deserve that?"

Hi, I'm Rob Huge. 👋

I'm the Founder & Head of School at Greenfields Academy

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