Ka-Lo Academy is named for Kató Lomb, an audodidact who taught herself 17 languages.  Like Lomb, we believe that we learn what we care about and what we dedicate ourselves to knowing or mastering.

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Our name also echoes that of another beloved audodidact, Frida Kahlo, the extraordinary self-taught artist.

Our Team

We are passionate about supporting youth and families! We deeply believe in each person’s ability to find their own path.  We bring warmth, patience, and inventiveness to every step of this journey.

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Alanya Snyder is a credentialed teacher who has taught in classroom and independent study contexts for close to 20 years. Alanya's expertise includes facilitating youth-designed, individualized learning programs, and supporting youth in improving their organizational and relationship skills.  Her scholarly research focuses on the connection between self-directed learning and social justice.  She has homeschooled her children for nine years. Alanya’s pronouns are she/her.

Alanya is also a community activist with Neighbors for Racial Justice and the Co-Chair of her Neighborhood Council. She is an avid reader and a lifelong beginning yoga student.

Michlene Cotter is a grassroots educator who combines out-of-the-box thinking with extensive education research.  She has a passion for seeing youth transform their inner and outer worlds through mindful self-discovery.  Michlene is the Oakland Representative for AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization) and a homeschool parent/teacher for over 15 years. She has also been a childbirth doula and educator since 2000. She has a BA in Social Science from New School University, NYC.  In addition to practicing mindfulness and meditation, Michlene also enjoys reading and nurturing her various writing projects. Michlene uses the pronouns she/her.

Our mission at Ka-Lo Academy is to support young people to create their own meaningful education, outside of traditional school.

Whom do we serve?

We serve students who are interested in leaving school.  Our students have many reasons for seeking alternatives, including boredom or frustration.  They may also show high or low academic skills. In their work with Ka-Lo, students rediscover their natural love of learning and develop ways to apply this new focus to a variety of worthy challenges.

What do we do?

At Ka-Lo Academy, we work one-on-one with students, beginning with a personalized educational options consultation. Our non-traditional institute offers an uniquely meaningful independent studies program and a high school diploma option.

Our students develop discipline, pursue passions, find mentors, and establish solid plans for their next steps. Young people who learn in our supported self-directed program are impressed with their own accomplishments, maturity, and improved academic and people skills.  

Parents notice their children taking increased responsibilities and showing more engagement with their own learning.

What we believe

At Ka-Lo Academy we believe everyone is motivated, even driven, to pursue the things they care about.  We believe that most people who struggle with school-based learning (or against it) do so because they are disconnected from decisions concerning their own education and life.

Young people value justice and social change, in a world that can be oppressive and demanding. We believe that self-directed learning is a direct vehicle that supports and empowers them in their quest for social justice.

It is revolutionary to free young people from the narrow limitations of modern schooling and to guide them instead towards self-determination, personal growth, meaningful work, and a sense of purpose.

We believe that families and communities, as well as individuals, benefit from being released from institutions and supported to craft their own learning and life paradigms.


Our Roots

Our work at Ka-Lo is grounded in a long history of community-based, mentor-supported, self-directed education.

Until the 19th Century it was common for children throughout the world to learn within their families or communities. They typically worked alone or in small multi-age groups with chosen mentors, apprentice supervisors, or other teachers.

The revival of community-based education was led by Black activists with the creation of the Civil Rights Movement Freedom Schools. These temporary schools created spaces to not only teach African-American heritage and citizenship rights, but also to encourage critical thinking and activism. Much of the creative and progressive educational trends that have surfaced since the 1960s owe a debt to the Black Liberation Movement, under the leadership of Septima Clark, Charles Cobb, and Staughton Lynd, among many others.

Important writers who furthered the discussion of the type of educations that feel meaningful and useful to learners include Ivan Illich, Paul Goodman, and John Holt, and later, Grace Llewellyn, who wrote extensively and persuasively about the ability of children and families to create their own educations.

Based on the resurfacing of homeschooling in the 1980s, there is now a large body of data supporting the success of self-directed learning.  Our experience at Ka-Lo is based on the founders’ combined 30 years of experience with personalized education, as well as their deep and vigorous study of thousands of other independent youth who find joy and meaning through the empowering process of directing their own learning.

For more info, please write us at info@kaloacademy.com or call us at 510.410.6686