Our Team

Jerry Mintz

Director, Alternative Education Resource Organization

Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public school teacher and a public and independent alternative school principal, he has also founded several alternative schools and organizations and has lectured and consulted around the world. In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and since then has served as it’s Director. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). In addition to several appearances on national radio and TV shows, Jerry’s essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines including The New York Times, Newsday, Paths of Learning, Green Money Journal, Communities, Saturday Review, Holistic Education Review as well as the anthology Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000). Jerry was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), and the Almanac of Education Choices (Macmillan/Simon & Schuster, 1995). He is the author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education (AERO, 2003) and is editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Story (AERO, 2010).

Chris Mercogliano

Online Course Instructor

Chris was a teacher at the Albany Free School for thirty-five years and stepped down as director in June, 2007 to concentrate on writing and speaking about non-controlling education and childrearing. His essays, commentaries and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, as well as in four anthologies: Challenging the Giant (Down to Earth Books 1992), Deschooling Our Lives (New Society Press 1996), Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal 2000), and Field Day: Getting Society Out of School (New Star Books 2003). He is also the author of Making It Up As We Go Along, the Story of the Albany Free School (Heinemann 1998), Teaching the Restless, One School's Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to Helping Children Learn and Succeed (Beacon Press 2004), How to Grow a School: Starting and Sustaining Schools That Work (Oxford Village Press 2006), and In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids’ Inner Wildness (Beacon Press 2007). Currently Chris is a regular columnist for Encounter magazine. He has been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio's “Ideas,” and other nationally syndicated radio shows. The father of two wonderful daughters, he lives with his wife Betsy on a one-acre farm in downtown Albany, New York.

Mari Luce Fernández

Online Course Instructor

Mari Luce Fernández is a teacher, consultant and mother of two who has been practicing alternative and democratic education for over 15 years. Her children attend a Charter School, where she also works as a Spanish teacher and as a teacher of English as a Second Other Language (ESOL), She works with elementary and middle school students at an Expeditionary Learning school in Maryland, USA. She also facilitates AERO's Spanish online course: Iniciar una escuela alternativa. Mari Luce's experience in education ranges back to 1993 when, after completing her Bachelor's Degree at the University of Puerto Rico (Elementary Education major), and her Masters Degree in Education Administration & Supervision, she started as a pre-school and kindergarten teacher at Antilles Consolidated School System (U.S. Department of Defense). In 1999 she resigned her job as a teacher to become a full time mother, giving birth also to a whole new world of exploration and learning; a journey on the alternative routes, from mothering to education. Her "attachment parenting" approach naturally led to follow a homeschooling/unschooling education for her children. She believes in the natural learning process of human beings and how children are endowed with all they need to thrive and become effective adults. In 2003 she co-founded Casa Sudbury, the first Sudbury-model school in Puerto Rico. The school was open until 2006 and a great learning experience in practicing the innovative model. After 3 years Casa Sudbury evolved into EducacionSudbury.org an information and resource center for this model and other democratic education models. In 2009 Mari Luce co-founded EducacionAlternativa.org, after the move with her family to Maryland. Her main goals are both, to bring the alternative education model to the Spanish speaking countries, and to introduce alternative education into higher education programs. Mari Luce defines alternative education as "learner-centered" education, and believes in harmonious coexistence between this and mainstream education models.

Carol Morley

Administrative Assistant

Carol Morley met Jerry in 1993 when she was seeking an alternative to public school for her son. With Jerry's encouragement, she decided to homeschool, which she did through the end of high school when her son earned both a regular diploma and a GED. Early on, she volunteered to help Jerry with some of the editing, transcribing, and data entry for AERO. Carol has an Associates Degree in Secretarial Science from SUNY Farmingdale, and a Bachelors Degree in Small Business Management from SUNY Empire State College.


Board of Directors

Jerry Mintz

Alan Berger Founder/Director of Brooklyn Free School Originally from the business world, he was retrained to become a public school teacher and assistant principal. He left a training program to become a public school principal to found BFS in 2004.

Chris Mercogliano Former staff member and Director of The Free School for 30 years, he has been a keynote speaker for many conferences and is author of In Defense of Childhood, Teaching the Restless, and Making It Up as We Go Along. His new book will explore the relationship between brain research and education.

Elina Lampert-Shepel, Ph.D., Ed.D. Elina is the founder of Eureka University, former dean of Mercy College, and currently supervises doctoral students for Walden University. As founder of Eureka, she ran some of the most effective alternative education conferences in the Former Soviet Union. She is a world-renowned expert on Vigotsky, Russian visionary education pioneer.


Advisory Board

Alexander Adamsky, Russian Alternative School Contact

Chris Balch, Former Shaker Mountain School Staff Member

Patrice Creve, European Alternative School Contact

Patrick Farenga, Holt Associates Inc.

John Taylor Gatto, Author and former New York State Teacher of Year

Herb Goldstein, School of Living

Dan Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School

Jeffrey Kane, Vice President Long Island University

Albert Lamb, former Education Revolution Editor

Dave Lehman, Founder, Lehman Alternative Community School

Mary Leue, Founder, The Free School (Albany)

Ron Miller, Author and Former Editor of Education Revolution

Ann Peery, Former Shaker Mountain School Staff Member

John Potter, Founder, The New School of Northern Virginia

Jon Thoreau Scott, Modern School Alumni, Professor at University of Albany

Tim Seldin, President, The Montessori Foundation and International Montessori Council

Andy Smallman, Founder, Puget Sound Community School

Nick Stanton, CADMUS Foundation