Teacher Leaders

What is a Teacher Leader?

Kalmiopsis Community Arts High School is a teacher-run school without a principal. Teacher Leaders plan curriculum, teach courses, purchase materials, communicate with families, create academic calendars and bell schedules, create the budget, handle bookkeeping and payroll, facilitate the restorative justice discipline model (in cooperation with students), and take care of other administrative and teaching tasks. Teacher Leaders receive the same salaries in the spirit of cooperative parity.

A growing number of PK-12 schools are adopting nonhierarchical staffing structures. The teacher-powered movement includes teacher-run schools, such as KCA, as well as principal-led schools with a great deal of teacher autonomy. We believe that dissolving the decision-making and financial-compensation hierarchy between administration and teaching staff shifts relationships from power-over to power-with. It is both empowering and challenging, creative and messy, and cooperative while also being a bumpy, imperfect, but ultimately “worth it” alternative approach to the hierarchical model.

So Then, Who-Does-What at KCA?

The Teacher Leaders of KCA will shift over time and who-does-what will also modify over the years. Nothing is constant but change, right? At this time, as we move through the process of receiving approval from Three Rivers School District, our formal roles are volunteer Trustees of the Organizational Board (we are not receiving compensation for planning the school). As soon as the school district approves our proposal, we will dissolve the Organizational Board and transition into paid staff roles as Teacher Leaders. Community members, parents, and students will create a Founding Board, which will oversee Teacher Leaders to provide an essential component of democracy: checks-and-balances.

Teacher Leader planned roles:


Melissa DeNardo:

  • Social-Emotional Learning & Nutrition Chair
  • Student Discipline/Restorative Justice Practices
  • School Garden & Nutrition
  • Facility & Grounds
  • Academic Advising

Kaci Elder:

  • Social Studies & Performing Arts Chair
  • Three Rivers School District Liaison
  • Enrollment
  • Community & Culture
  • Safety & Risk Management
  • Legal & Compliance
  • Academic Advising

Kimiko Maglio:

  • Science & Physical Education Chair
  • Curriculum & Materials
  • Transportation
  • Special Education & Talented and Gifted
  • Academic Advising

Ryan Forsythe:

  • Math & Visual Arts Chair
  • Financial Services
  • KCA Non-Voting Board Liaison
  • Website
  • Academic Advising

Open Position (credentialed teacher only):

  • English Language Arts & Spanish Chair
  • Home-School Liaison
  • Student Data & Performance Management
  • English Language Learners
  • Academic Advising

Who Are The KCA Teacher Leaders?

Co-Creators of the Past

It takes a village to raise a school, and the KCA village is more than the folks described above. We wouldn’t be here without inspiration from the Dome School parent cooperative, which has thrived with a non-hierarchical model for 45+ years; friends who have read our newsletters, completed surveys, offered help, answered questions, donated money and time, and given many, many reassurances over the years; teens who have created and shared artwork; and the dedicated former co-creators who worked so hard to bring KCA this far, and have since moved on to other delights:

Gina Angelique

Gina joined Kaci and Ryan from 2018-2020 to begin developing a new high school for the Illinois Valley. Gina helped name the school, apply for our first grants, shape the school philosophy, and catalyze KCA with her passion, wit, and drive. Gina is the Artistic Director of Dancefarm.

Sara Kinstler

Sara joined Melissa, Kimiko, Ryan, and Kaci from 2020-2022 to create the proposal for KCA. Sara dedicated two years to the project, researching, writing, interviewing, meeting, dreaming, talking, and thinking the current KCA into being. Sara is a teacher in the Illinois Valley.