Our dedicated team of educators has been creating learning experiences for kids for decades. We combine this depth of experience with implementation of the latest research about how kids learn best in our 21st century environment.
Since 2012, we have created and experimented with The Birch School learning community. In those years, we have observed many tendencies that persist in each iteration of the school year and yield positive growth. We observe, ask questions of our learners, and we adapt.
Our teaching team is flexible and extremely caring. They are able to know each student in the learning community. This allows for customization of learning plans and lesson delivery, as well as support for individual projects, either school originated or student chosen. We enjoy getting to know students and guiding them on their learning path.
KATE FOX – Birch School Founder & Director, Middle/High School ELA Teacher
Kate has 30 years of experience working with children at all management levels in urban and rural school districts, in grades K – 12. Her expertise extends from teaching and curriculum development to regulatory compliance, licensing, staff supervision and training. After receiving an LRNG/John D. Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation grant in 2015, for Birch’s Maker Rings project, Kate became involved with the LRNG/National Writing Project’s teacher network. From 2018 – 2020 she worked with Workspace Education/100Roads and Microschool Revolution to deliver Microschool Founders’ Trainings for their Incubator. She completed Education Reimagined’s Learning Lab for practitioners in June 2019, and participated in their ILX, learning exchange in November 2019, focusing on student-centered elementary school programs.
Kate holds a BA in English and earned her MA in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. Her thesis focused on teaching techniques that promote understanding interconnections, complex webs of association, and thinking in systems. She strongly believes these are essential skills in a changing world. She did research for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies creating and testing curriculum focused on climate change using animated simulations. She is an experienced homeschooler. Kate believes strongly in the power of play, in the process of discovery, and in students’ strong participation in defining their own learning plan and goals.
Kate currently teaches English to several learning levels, offers consultations for homeschoolers, and coaches High School Seniors for their Capstone Projects.
ED HELBIG – Birch School Co-Founder, Middle/High School Social Studies Teacher
Ed teaches history, civics, geography, social studies and math. He shares his enthusiasm for the stories that make up history, helping students see that “the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past”, and how history impacts upon their lives today.
Ed holds an MAT in History and Geography, and a BFA in Music. He earned NYSED Permanent Certification and the NYSED rating “Highly Qualified Teacher”. Ed has taught at all grade levels from pre-school to college. He taught for 10 years in public school before concluding that a new approach was necessary if we are going to prepare students for the challenges they will face. He believes strongly that connection and immersion in nature is essential for learning. Kids learn better outdoors. They are happier when they can run free and play. Ed works to create learning experiences of all kinds for students that keep them moving forward, in their zone of proximal development, learning with joy.
GAYE SABLE – Birch School Co-Founder & Registrar, Middle/High School Math & Science Teacher
Gaye teaches Upper Level algebra, geometry, and calculus. She plans, facilitates and tutors individuals and small groups in all levels of math. Gaye facilitates and supervises The Birch School science program, teaching and directing students’ independent learning in science. Gaye also leads our students in crafts, experiments and activities
Gaye has a degree from Rutgers University in science and math and worked as a technical writer. She has been a pioneer in the emergent movement of DIY “makers” whose ecological commitment extends to re-using, re-purposing, and artistically reimagining every sort of source material. She has taught at many hand-craft organizations, sharing her expertise in the fine details of quilt craft using 21st century computer-aided sewing machines.
RITA EPSTEIN – Vice Principal
Rita has worked in both public and private education for over 50 years as a classroom teacher, and administrator. She has her Bachelors, Masters and pre Doctoral work in Education, Administration, Special and Gifted Education and is permanently NYS Certified as a public school teacher. She believes that our job as educators is to provide all children with the confidence and ability to build on their strengths and celebrate the unique qualities in themselves and each other.
HARRY SWEET – Technology Teacher
Harry teaches drafting, electronics, CAD design, 3D printing, Python programming, and how to build things using the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms. He is an advocate of Open Source technology and teaches it to students when possible. Harry is retired from public school teaching, where he was the technology and shop teacher in a local high school. He holds a BS in Industrial Arts and an MS in Instructional Communication.