be. learn. grow.
All students will have the freedom, responsibility, and support to create their own individualized curriculum, education, and school climate through trust and democratic decision-making processes. Sometimes students thrive on structure in their day, and at other times freedom. In our model, borrowed from longstanding schools around the world, curriculum is flexible and there is no mandatory homework or testing. Students are free to discover what, when and how they prefer to learn, trusted that their natural curiosity and desire to pursue personal goals will lead them to a rigorous and rich education. Each day will be full of opportunities for each member of the Pride School Family to become the best person they can be, ready to face the world with confidence, knowledge, and the ability to help others do the same.
pride school atlanta board of directors
More amazing folks are always needed to further the mission of Pride School. Interested? Drop us a line!
Christian Zsilavetz, the Executive Director of Pride School Atlanta, has a B.A. in Mathematics from Douglass College/ Rutgers University and a M.Ed. in Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University. He is a queer-identified transman (male pronouns, FTM) with a wife and 2 wee ones. A GLSEN-Certified Education Trainer, he has been providing cultural competency and personal growth workshops and panels for/by/with educators, corporations, community organizations, youth and families since he came out as queer in 1998. He is passionate about creating spaces where everyone feels welcome, everyone may work and everyone may learn, regardless of family structure, gender identity, gender expression, or affectional preference. He hopes to continue to help create Pride School campuses until they are no longer needed. (join me?)
Dana Shaffner, Secretary-Treasurer, effective Sept 17, 2016, is the principal of Shaffner Law Office, P.C. where she focuses on small businesses and tax legal issues, including personal income, corporate income and estate and gift taxation. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Dana attended Oglethorpe University, earning a degree in accounting in 1979. Dana began her working life in the audit department of Coopers & Lybrand, the predecessor of Price Waterhouse Coopers. She spent the next ten years in public accounting eventually specializing in income tax planning, research and compliance. In 1987, Dana graduated from the College of Law at Georgia State University and was admitted to the Georgia bar. In 1989 Dana answered the call to self-employment and opened her office in Dunwoody where she has been located ever since. Dana has worked with a diverse client base with a diverse range of legal issues, including business formation, succession planning, income tax planning and representation before both the audit and collection divisions of the Internal Revenue Service and the Georgia Department of Revenue. In addition to conventional business legal and tax issues, Dana has exceptional experience in the formation of tax exempt and charitable organizations and obtaining recognition under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). As a result of her expertise, Dana has consulted with a wide variety of charitable and tax exempt organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Health Initiative and is a former board member of the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Dana is also the proud parent of two young men now serving in the U.S. Army. When she is not working, Dana loves the outdoors, has an obsessive love of history, Irish music and enjoys cooking and the arts.
Lisa Barber, Pride School Atlanta Board President & Co-Founder, has over 20 years experience assisting non-profits and small businesses organize, grow, and expand. Successful grant writing and program administration lead to a career in education teaching special education to middle and high school students. She left teaching in 2009 to open a business consulting firm, and pursue real estate investing. As a former educator, she has a passion for the learning environment to create a safe, healthy and stimulating learning environment for our children, the leaders of tomorrow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Kennesaw State University (KSU), Executive Master of Business Administration from Coles College of Business at KSU, and is a certified paralegal. She is the mother of four sons, and grandmother to two grandsons. She lives with her partner in Decatur, Georgia.
Zoe Hastings, Youth Representative, oldest child of Christian Z & Heather Hastings, was the first person to ever join the board of Pride School Atlanta, Inc. and the first to say that "Pride School Atlanta is a place where everyone can be themselves." She was in Pre-K when this all started. She is now seven years old and in 2nd grade. She has been to almost every Board Meeting and event, marched in three parades, and made media appearances on HLN and more for Pride School Atlanta. Zoe participated heartily on a panel with The World Prof. Assoc. for Transgender Health (WPATH), speaking to health care professionals. On invitation from the US State Department she joined our team to speak with a South Asian delegation to discuss our work in the interests of human rights advocacy. When she was four years old, someone asked if she was a boy or a girl because she had short hair at the time, and she never ever let her hair be real short again because she did not want to be asked that question ever again in her life (that has changed, by the way).
In addition to their position on the Board of Directors, both Christian and Lisa serve in a daily capacity at the school. Not only does Christian serve as Director of the school, he teaches math and Spanish. Lisa stepped in as Administrator, managing the day to day operations of the school as a business, when the intended Administrator had a stroke and was not able to come on board at the beginning of the year. She also teaches Science.
Please welcome our newest full time staff member as Student and School Advocate, Melanie Wallace.
Greetings to all! My name is Mx. Melanie L. Wallace. My pronouns are: Zie, Zim, Zir, they, and them also known as the people pronouns. My journey into education began as a mentor and advocate for AmeriCorps FL Reads, Orange County. I served over 2,800 hours helping at-risk children in kindergarten through 3rd grade reach their reading and math levels before the end of the school year. I moved to Atlanta, GA to obtain a Primary Directress Diploma from the Montessori Institute of Atlanta in 2005. Even though I had the heart for education, the seed for my love in public service and advocacy was planted. I finished my bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Georgia State University in 2011. I had interned at Raksha, Inc. as their volunteer caseworker intern/advocate. I assisted South Asian families and communities of domestic violence and sexual assault. I wanted to continue my studies and begin my research, in May 2016. I graduated in top 10% of the advanced standing cohort in Clark Atlanta University’s Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work Master’s Degree program. It was during my master's degree program, I met Christian Zsilavetz and learned of Pride School Atlanta, Inc. I was inspired by the democratic/free school model and how they tailored the program to all LGBTQQIAAP students and families. I became their volunteer in 2014 and was offered a full-time position Spring of 2016 as their school advocate and events coordinator. When I am not active in Pride School Atlanta, Inc., I can be found in the community continuing my educational efforts.