Birch School : Maker Rings

Sharing the Story of "Students supporting Students to MAKE their best work"


Our Team



Our team combines a diverse mix of skills to deliver a unique program that blends the lines between school and out of school learning. Our staff have experience in public schools, alternative schools,  summer camps, afterschool programs, environmental and outdoor education programs.
We work collaboratively, leading and learning side-by-side. The MakerRings project has given us the opportunity to focus our diverse skill set on a specific desired exploration. Our project’s goal is to gain experience and gather useful information for our further development, and also to expand the conversation about a new, inspired, and individualized style of learning for young people.

Kate Fox co-founder of the Birch School, spent 15 years designing and supervising after school programs for youth agencies in suburban and urban environments, such as Boys and Girls Club, and YMCA as well as other youth service agencies. She has Directed Free Spirit Nature Camp for 17 years. The Birch School has it’s roots in that work.  Kate earned her MA in Environmental Education in 2012, studying systems thinking. Kate will coordinate the design and delivery of the proposed program, and oversee the evaluation and report writing. She will also assist students in writing projects, utilizing her background in English Literature (BA).

© Kathie Austin Photography, LLC

Ed Helbig is the Birch School’s Principal Teacher. He spent 10 years as a public high school classroom teacher. Ed’s experience of the limitations of public education led to the collaboration with Kate that created the Birch School. Ed teaches math and history, implementing the new project-based and self-guided techniques we are developing with cohorts of students. He is a gifted musician and skilled craftsman, and he offers support for building and creating in the physical realm, as well as getting everyone to sing regularly.

© Kathie Austin Photography, LLC

Harry Sweet is Technology Coordinator. He is a recently retired public school Technology teacher, growing his skill set and expertise as the technology evolved. Harry teaches Programming and Electronics, develops and maintains the school’s Open Source school data systems and computer networks and offers extensive support to students as they learn to program, build circuits, work with Arduinos and RaspberryPi’s, and other things they dream up.


Gaye Sable is Math and Science Teacher. She holds a BS in Biology, has experience with technical writing, teaching traditional handcrafting and creating children’s programming. She teaches Math, Computer Coding and Lego Robotics, Art & Math, Fashion Design, Board Game Design, and other project based learning . Gaye helps students gain confidence in computer programming and science, as well as provides concrete support for creating “Things” in the real world.

© Kathie Austin Photography, LLC

Rebecca Carter has extensive experience programming for kids outside of school.  She has been responsible for after school programs in New York and Phoenix, Az, as well as summer camps in those states plus Vermont.  Her particular expertise is Character Education, Team-building and Student Community Design.  She studied Early Childhood Education at SUNY New Paltz and Arizona State University and is currently working towards her MS in Teaching at Mt. St. Mary’s.

© Kathie Austin Photography, LLC

Karen Lee comes to the Birch School after decades of work with students in alternative settings.  Before coming to Birch she was the headmaster of Children’s Country Day School.  She has great skill in respecting students and honoring each one’s individuality.  Karen teaches English Language Writing and Creative Writing, Journaling, Storytelling, as well as handcrafts.

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