meet the mentors

Hello, my name is Caitlin Macklin. I'm originally from Bloomington, Indiana, which is another college town saturated in music, though it's much much smaller than Austin. My Texan parents like to say they were considering Austin as a place to raise a family, but found it too big - in 1970! I'd like to tell you a bit about who I am and how I came to be here doing this, because all of my life experiences flow into my teaching style.

Though today I'm really into alternative education, I went to a pretty standard public elementary school. I still remember the projects from my gifted and talented elementary program, and the contexts our teachers designed to make learning exciting and connect it to real outcomes. I had a wonderful before and after school care situation where we were often on our own to keep ourselves busy. I got to run around in the woods a lot too, and I think those opportunities for free play outside is where my love of Nature was first kindled. Music is an important part of my life as well. I started studying trombone when I was twelve, and I'm still at it today. I enjoy performing with bands here in Austin and gathering friends for old-fashioned piano sing-alongs on our porch.

At Earlham College, I earned a BA in Women's Studies, and focused on Ecology. I applied this feminist framework during internships on two farms, one of which was owned by the college and completely student-run. My interest in local farming systems springs from my love of the green world, my belief in the interconnectedness of all beings, and my drive to create strong communities that value life, not material things. At Earlham I experienced living in community and peacefully working through conflict, which are two important elements that guide my teaching today. Earlham was also the first educational setting in which I was challenged to seek an understanding of myself, and that was profound at the late age of twenty. I believe that guiding young children in developing self-knowledge and emotional intelligence is key to their long-term resilience and sense of well-being.
In the fall of 2003, I came to Austin and was quickly immersed in creating community based around potluck dinners, pick-up soccer, and riding bikes to get around. For me, life is about finding ways to knit folks together, to become able to rely on each other and our own resources, and to find happiness within. I love knowing my neighbors and having friends living just down the block. I love noticing the seasons change with windows thrown wide. I love getting around via human-powered transportation. I love puttering in the garden and bringing in ingredients for dinner. And I love sharing all these ways of life with kids, and basing education on those radical, earth-centered routines and place-specific knowledge.

Though I've always been at ease relating to children, formal teaching slowly crept up on me through many positions at summer camps and after-school programs. I've worked with Camp Palawopec in Brown County, IN, Earlham's student-run Miller Farm, the Sustainable Food Center's school gardening classes, the Green Classroom at Becker Elementary, and both the school programs and summer camp at the Austin Nature and Science Center. It seemed so clear that relaxed and happy kids learn so much faster and retain what they learn longer! As I heard more and more about the deficits of public schools, I realized I wanted to change education from the inside out. Basically, I couldn't see why school wasn't more like summer camp.

So I went back to school to get my certification in through the University of Texas at Austin in December 2008. I student taught and substitute taught in East Side AISD elementary schools. I was dissatisfied with the limited scope of the teacher training program, and sought out positions in experiential education settings. I spent a summer co-teaching at the Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole, WY and two summers as senior counselor and program coordinator at a family-owned teaching ranch youth camp in the Southern Rockies of New Mexico.

After achieving my credential, I taught 1st and 2nd grades at Austin Discovery School in the 2009-2010 school year. As that year was ending, I met Paula Estes and was inspired by what she has created in the Living School. I feel kinship with her home-school in which she emphasizes collaborative learning through cooking, gardening, caring for animals, nature journals, and hands on "living" activities. At that point, I embraced Black feminist author Audre Lorde's proclamation that "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," so I cut my strings to the State's coffers and began building alternative education from my own house, by creating the 9th Street Schoolhouse in the summer of 2010.


Hi! I'm Laura. I met Caitlin in 2011 at Blackshear Community garden. I was teaching 4th grade in Kyle at the time and Caitlin and I got to know each other while digging in the dirt in the garden. I was not familiar with micro schools and was blown away when she told me she taught school in her house. After sharing our educational philosophies and having endless teacher talk, we decided to teach together at the 9th Street Schoolhouse. After much deliberation, I packed up my classroom, said goodbye to some amazing teachers, and ended my time in public school. I was excited and ready to wholeheartedly take on this new challenge.
I've lived in Texas my whole life and grew up in the suburbs of the DFW metroplex. After graduating from Frisco High School in 2003, I moved to San Marcos, Texas and attended Texas State University. I graduated with a Bachelors of Science with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2007. After spending time traveling in Ghana, Africa for a semester, I had made the decision to apply to graduate school. I was accepted into the Teacher Fellows program at Texas State where I earned a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in 2009. I started teaching 4th grade at Tobias Elementary and fell in love with teaching and making those sweet connections with children.