About Us


The Role of Staff

Students’ freedom to organise their time as they wish is a central idea of democratic education, and so it is quite natural that questions should arise regarding the nature of the work that staff do – if staff are not focusing their efforts on encouraging students to learn a curriculum, what are they actually doing?

A useful perspective to adopt when considering the role of staff is to consider the idea of the student in the educational environment. We believe that, given the right environment, every child has the innate ability to flourish and learn to become effective adults. Therefore, staff focus their efforts on the environment rather than on teaching methods.

Thus the role of our staff includes:

  • Establishing the culture of the school and ensuring the freedom, equality and respect of each student. It also means creating and grounding the culture of the meetings and committees.
  • Creating a safe and secure environment. These are essential ingredients to a pleasant climate which fosters the children’s natural curiosity and learning.
  • Ensuring the school’s philosophy is maintained, allowing each person to enjoy their full freedom of educational opportunity, regardless of age.
  • Taking care of the often quite complex day to day administrative needs of a self-managed autonomous school.
  • Taking care of jobs and roles that no student is interested in engaging with or are knowledgeable enough to complete.
  • Being available to share their experience and knowledge with students.
  • Helping students with the implementation of projects as required.

Our Staff members

Marc Barker

Marc grew up in California and earned a degree in Forestry from UC Berkeley before turning his sights eastward to upstate New York where he dove into the realm of bushcraft and nature connection mentoring. Marc and his family moved to Ireland in the Summer of 2017 whereupon he has set out to continue the work he loves through developing networks and collaborations in the environmental and alternative education field. For almost a decade he has seen first-hand the incredible impact community-based/self-directed learning has on youth (and adult) development, growth, and actualisation and was thrilled to discover Wicklow Democratic School already up and running!

If he’s not in the woods, Marc enjoys sharing his skills in storytelling, games, music, creative mythology, and bushcraft.

Khalil Moran

Khalil is pursuing a PhD in Democratic Economic Solutions to Inequality, with a specific focus on Community Wealth Building, an approach coined in Cleveland in the US and Preston in the UK. They have a particular interest in the interplay between our intra and interpersonal skills and the systems and institutions we shape and are shaped by.

Khalil has been a staff member since the school opened in 2016 and currently works on the staff team as a facilitator to the school’s facilitators, supporting with research, activity plans, systemization, course development and promotional material for the school

They also like playing rugby, painting, and whatever other random hobbies they’ve got going at any given time.

Richard Boate

Richard qualified with a business degree fresh out of school and since then has run an accounting business, but it has always been his dream to work in a school.

He gets a real kick out of helping people bring about for themselves what it is that they want. This passion has evolved over time and in 2017 Richard qualified as an Equine Assisted Learning facilitator which involves facilitating clients in developing their social and emotional skills through interacting with horses (or donkeys and zebras too!).

As well as enjoying translating all things into their equivalent spreadsheet form, Richard loves to surf, dance (sometimes simultaneously) and chill out with his crew while sipping some homebrewed kombucha or some curious blend of organic medicinal tea.

Elizabeth O’Connor

Elizabeth has a background in Film and Broadcasting with a Masters in Equality Studies. She has always dreamed of reimagining what a school could be. With the students and staff of Wicklow Democratic School that is continuously becoming a reality. 

Elizabeth likes to learn new things and is constantly picking up new hobbies. She enjoys gardening and tinkering with electronics and brings a unique sense of humor to the school community.

Rachel Kuhn

Rachel has a background working in communications, administration and organising. She has a Master’s degree in Women, Gender & Society from UCD and a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies, German Studies and Policy & Management.

She enjoys making art, traveling, reading science fiction, listening to music and has a passion for understanding how society works and contributing to positive change in the world.

Helen Healy


Stefan Petrov

Stefan is from Bulgaria, he has very widely interests and educations. He was learning Management, Drama, Psychology, Musical Pedagogy, Mental Arithmetic and Tourism. He participates his experience and knowledge with democratic communication, successfully connecting our student to music, sports and drama.

In his free time, Stefan plays music, read psychology books and spend time with his family. At the school, usually you can see him playing basketball, football, singing and playing guitar with the students.

Sean Pierson

Sean has a background in English and Philosophy and recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry. He has been excited about alternative and radical models of education since high school, when he joined his peers in actions to amplify student voices in the design of school policies and curricula. He’s delighted to contribute to a more just and sustainable environment in which to learn, work, and live at WDS.

Sean has an interest in book arts and small press publishing; in his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and the odd swim. He’s almost always up for a good walk. 

Dermot O’Mahoney

Dermot is new to the staff and brings a broad range of life, work and sports experience. An avid traveller, Dermot has lived in Boston, the UK and Corfu before moving back to Wicklow 2 years ago to be closer to family.

As a mature student he completed a BA at NUI Maynooth before gaining a Master in Environmental Resource Management.

With decades of personal development work, a strong spiritual practice and keen interest in connecting with others Dermot hopes to share his experience with the WDS community as he learns from it in turn.

Away from work, when not travelling, Dermot loves playing and coaching softball, playing golf badly and going to gigs and the cinema.