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

Ciara Brehony

Ciara has a background in art and Community Art. She is involved in a number of community-based projects in the Wicklow area and has a particular interest in Restorative

Practice and Non-Violent Communication. She believes that fostering compassionate communication and rebuilding community are powerful ways to begin to address many of the problems facing us today. Through raising her four children, she learned the importance of listening, and she believes in autonomy for children and of the possibility of a non-coercive world for them.

Ciara enjoys music, walking in nature, mending and creating art with thread and wool, reading non-fiction, especially on subjects to do with Irish heritage and culture, the Gift Economy, ecology, nature connection, and finding better ways to live with each other and the planet we have been gifted.

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 completed an undergraduate degree in Journalism in Griffith College and a Masters in Equality Studies from UCD. They are hoping to start a Phd in Community Wealth Building next year and are passionate about creating a society that is sustainable, just and kind. They are excited to be part of a team aiming to change school and work in Ireland for the better.

They’re also an avid artist who will almost always yield to the temptation of a cup of tea or throwing a rugby ball.

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.

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.

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.