About Alt Ed Austin
Until a few years ago, a certain kind of conversation bubbled up frequently among Austin parents. It went something like this:
“Tell me the name again of that amazing school your kid goes to. . . . How did you hear about it? And why haven't I ever heard of it before?”
“Well, it's mostly word of mouth . . .”
Alt Ed Austin’s founder, Teri Sperry, participated in many such conversations and recognized a pressing need for a centralized source of information about the smaller, off-the-beaten-track schools in the Austin area. She decided to find a way to solve the problem.
In mid-2011 she began research and discussions with educators at several “microschools,” some of whom she already knew and others she met through this project. From the school directors she learned that it can be difficult and expensive to get the word out to the general public about the programs they offer. They work hard to keep tuition as affordable as possible while providing enriched learning environments and opportunities for their students (and earning a livable wage for their own families), leaving little in the budget for advertising or outreach.
Teri began to see what she could do to make it easier for these schools and interested families to connect with each other. She launched the website and blog in late 2011 and began offering parent workshops and private consultations in early 2013. Alt Ed Austin quickly grew into a place to learn about, celebrate, and engage with the wonderfully varied and innovative learning environments in the Greater Austin community.
Teri Sperry grew up in Tennessee and Nebraska and earned an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the support of a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities. She spent much of her professional life as a freelance book editor, which allowed her the flexibility to pursue other rewarding roles: urban homesteader, occasional political organizer, school volunteer, and, most importantly, mom. A passionate advocate for education transformation, Teri became an educational consultant and publisher in 2011.
Teri currently spends much of her time researching and writing about education, consulting with parents about schooling options for their children, and serving on the board of the nonprofit Education Transformation Alliance to support and strengthen the local alt ed community. For a brief account of her experiences with schools and her biases about education, read “Why I Chose Alternative Education,” her guest essay at the award-winning Great Moments in Parenting.
Full disclosure: Teri has ties with several of the schools listed on this site. Her child has attended two of them. She has served on the advisory board of another. She has friends and collaborators who direct, teach at, or are otherwise involved in others. Some programs choose to advertise from time to time on Alt Ed Austin as Sponsoring Partners. She firmly believes that all of the schools featured on this site (including the ones to which she has no personal connection and those from which she receives no advertising fees) are great choices for some kids, each for different reasons.
She’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to contact Teri with questions or to make an appointment for a private consultation. And join the conversation on the Alt Ed Austin Blog, where, she promises, she will not write about herself in third person.