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Meet Elizabeth Lund of Tallgrass Sudbury School in Riverside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Lund.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Elizabeth. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I disliked school from a young age. I did well academically, but I was bored and saw so many problems with the way school worked. I did a lot of reading on homeschooling and different types of education, but it was all theoretical until I became involved with Tallgrass.

The school started in 2008, and I got involved during its third year. I fell in love with Tallgrass—the energy, the relationships between the students, and interacting with kids in a way that felt more natural and respectful to me. I was working a corporate job and started volunteering one day a week. Over time, I became more and more involved in committees and in running things behind the scenes, and realized this was what I wanted to do as a career. I came on full-time at the beginning of last year.

Working at Tallgrass is like no other job I’ve ever had. I’m never bored, and I’m so proud of the work we’re doing as an organization.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been a smooth road! Every year, there are new challenges to face and to grow from. Because our school has no hierarchy, we tackle these challenges alongside the students, and every struggle teaches us so much as a community.

We’ve had logistical struggles, like finding a new space when our original space became unavailable to us. We’ve also had emotional struggles, like having to fire an ineffective staff member, which in our school goes through a community vote.

Our primary struggle has been building and maintaining enrollment. It’s challenging for parents to make such an unusual choice, even when they can see that their children are happier at our school. They need support from us at every step, from enrolling to graduation. Our parent community helps support each other in learning to trust their children and have faith that they will turn out okay.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Tallgrass was started in 2008 by a group of parents who were unschooling (a type of homeschooling). We’re a private school based on the Sudbury model of education, pioneered by Sudbury Valley School in 1968. At Tallgrass, kids direct their own education and take part in running the school itself. Despite the lack of compulsory classes, children at Subdury schools learn academic subjects, often go on to college, and become successful, happy adults.

I’m immensely proud that we are a place where children are treated like equals and truly allowed to make their own choices. We have a great culture among the students: they treat each other kindly, while still being able to debate and challenge each other’s ideas — and they laugh a lot, too!

What were you like growing up?
I was a fairly shy kid, interested in reading, writing, and art. I always had a lot of different hobbies and interests, everything from camping to collecting stamps. And I always read about everything I was interested in. After I turned 10, my dad was in the military, so we moved a lot. I had the chance to see a lot of the states and Europe. In high school, I produced a huge amount of writing, both by myself and with friends. I was also focused on getting to college and out of high school as soon as possible!

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