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This interview with Krystal Dillard was conducted remotely via Zoom on August 13, 2020, while Krystal was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Krystal is the co-director of the Natural Creativity Center, an educational center for families that choose an alternative to school. The center encourages self-directed learning and works with young people ages 4-18 and their families who have chosen to homeschool, to identify learning goals and to support young people in achieving them. Krystal grew up in and around Inglewood, Los Angeles and describes her experience accessing education outside of her neighborhood as what started her on her path to working as an educator. She describes how her exposure to varied life paths gave her a spaciousness in which to consider her own life possibilities. She later attended Howard University, and reflects on how her experience attending a Historically Black University taught her about her own identity as a Black woman and drew her towards a career involving social justice and work with children. After college, Krystal received a Masters Degree in Education and taught at public and private schools, large and small, both around the United States and internationally. She describes being introduced to alternative education while working at the Children's Community School in Van Nuys, California. Krystal transitioned from working in Philadelphia public schools to joining the leadership of Natural Creativity in January of 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Krystal says she was still learning how to inhabit her new role. Krystal discusses the changes the center had to make to support the learners and parents in it's community after shelter in place began. She discusses the experience of having more free time to do her pursue her own creative endeavors and planning for a hybrid in-person/virtual learning environment this coming school year.
This interview may be of interest to people interested in Germantown Philadelphia; the experience of parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative education; self-directed learning; unschooling; leadership in education; school administration; teacher support networks; home schooling; non-profit education; racially diverse learning communities, and schools in traditionally African-American neighborhoods.
Annelise Finney is a European American cis-woman, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works as a radio journalist covering reparations in California and breaking news in the Bay Area. Previously she worked as defense investigator for public defenders offices in New York City and San Francisco. She is an alum of the 2016 Oral History Summer School. She is also an avid sewist, hiker and cook.
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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.