A New Chapter & An Open Path


I reached the decision to leave Personalized Education Group, DBA Christa McAuliffe School of Arts & Sciences (CMASAS) – resigning my position in the company I cofounded in 2009.



From piloting a similar program in 1997-99, to a decade later synthesizing 1000s of pages of doctoral research for initial accreditation, CMASAS initially seemed like a capstone for my career.

A fantastic proof of concept, at the time of its inception it was one of the most personalized accredited schools offering Carnegie Unit standard credits. It also became one of the pioneers paving the way for other personalized learning programs.

One of my favorite moments was reading about a university class in Ireland responding to an article I wrote about my personalized education philosophy.  They liked the idea – it resonated with them – but thought that trying to do all of that at once was “too radical.”  I told several colleagues, “dudes, we’re radical!” and wrote the professor to explain that it can and had been done.

Since then, that philosophy has been refined, and many colleagues in the field have continued to create exciting student-centric programs of various forms and niches. CMASAS will likely continue to grow and morph over time as well.

It wasn’t a capstone after all; it was a chapter.


Turn the Page

I am both moving forward and coming back full circle to what started me down this path: nurturing individual voice, choice, and well-being, with education being one of the vehicles. Neurodiversity and trauma healing continue to be top focus areas. Also, recent family events clarified priorities and created a sense of urgency to focus more on the work that Luna and I started a long time ago.

I also realize now that this path is an Open Path… 


Open Path

What is a message, skill, or other gift you would like to share with the world? Or perhaps there’s more than one?

Kevin, Cass, Dan and I are teaming up to help outside-the-box thinkers present their ideas through seminars, workshops, and online classes. Instructional design, videography, and marketing are part of what Open Path Studio offers, similar to a publishing company but while being respectful of people owning their own intellectual property.

We’re all in this together.


Abuse Culture Project

My first Open Path project is with Luna. For years, in fits and starts, Luna and I have been collaborating on how to raise awareness of abuse culture as well as how to promote a culture of compassion, consent, and respect. Now we’re diving in, and many of you have already said you’re with us!

We’re starting with Luna’s research on cults, specifically brainwashing tactics, and how people can heal from such experiences.

Then stay tuned to learn about the next topics and activities, including seminars that will be both face-to-face and live-streamed online. We want to build a community of support for all of us.


What More?

Well, part of that might depend on you. Let me know if you have an idea for Open Path, or if you see another area where I can serve.  No pun intended, I’m open to ideas – just so long they align with my values and personal integrity. My LinkedIn profile states my current interests and activities.

And ferrets. Seriously: creating a class on how to be a good ferret owner in collaboration with a veterinarian and a shelter in Washington is literally on my current to do list. Because ferrets.



Thank you to everyone who has been there for me through this time, and continues to be there. Several of you wanted me to make a different decision, and yet every single one of you were understanding and remained unwavering in your support. I look forward to… a nap, actually. But then I look forward to where this current path seems to be heading.


With love,

~ Tamra


Revisiting Past Trauma: Let the Voices Speak

quotes_silence_writing_1440x900_17474When I try to talk for the first time about a traumatic event from the past, especially childhood, I find it difficult to get any words to come forth. I will open and close my mouth several times, like a fish gasping for air. When I do manage to speak, the word choices are those that I would have used when that age. I am not talking about “baby talk” because I had a ridiculously expansive vocabulary at a young age. I mean that the words reflect my perspective of the time, such as a lack of understanding or what to call something. I can then switch to my current self’s perspective and analyze what was, but I have to leave the mode of describing the actual event itself.
When trying to write about events as part of my focus this month, I shouldn’t have been surprised that this same struggle happened. It wasn’t until I allowed for this dual voice to “take turns” that I started to get any flow to the writing coming forth. There are some events that I still haven’t tried to describe yet, and there’s a fear there that causes me to hesitate. I think it’s because I have to, at least once, “go back” to that time and place for at least the first telling; after that, I can retell from more of a distance. There are some places that are very difficult to revisit and I wonder if there is such thing as being strong enough.
Why do this? I have found that the events I have been able to describe no longer hold power over me, plus I gain a source of wisdom or power from facing them. If you think of it as a game, this is a way to level up. I have helped hundreds of others, and this is a way of helping myself (which, in turn, enables me to help others even more).
Meanwhile, I have to live current day life, so I have to pull myself back together after writing – sometimes easier said than done – to do other things, even go places and see people. There’s been some tough days, but so far I’m making it. Luckily there is a finite number of these stories to transcribe, and this won’t take me forever to do. And then what will I do with them? Stash them away, throw them in the Beltane fires, or share them? Not something I have to decide today. 

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My daughter wants to be Neil Gaiman, and I’m good with that.

Note Cass left me before taking off on her adventure, promising to not die.

Note Cass left me before taking off on her adventure, promising not to die.

My daughter Cass is traveling the country with a cat named Juan and a chicken named Vanna. I could blame Neil Gaiman, but it’s probably my fault.

Here’s what I think happened.  Over the years, I would frequently ask my daughters the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We would then talk about how they can be anything and many things, even all at once.  And how they could change their minds along the way. It was a question that would inspire smiles, sometimes giggles, and I enjoyed how the answers changed over the years. Physical therapist. Astronomer. Teacher (where’d they get THAT idea?). One of my favorite responses from my youngest daughter, Heather, was “Scooby Doo.”

One day, however, my daughter Cass gave this answer: “Neil Gaiman.” That was the one she finally stuck with into adulthood.  It reflects her varied interests and creative pursuits. She saw a video of Neil advising aspiring writers to go live life, so Cass is on the go, working various jobs and having adventures.  And writing. And hopefully meeting Neil at an upcoming event.

Cass is what Emilie Wapnick would call a multipotentialite – someone with varied interests and creative pursuits. Emilie recently gave a TED Talk on multipotentialities where she explained that “the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have any interests — it’s that I had too many.” She described anxiety of the question, what do you want to be when you grow up (oops – sorry kids!).  However, she explains that this way of being doesn’t have to be a bad thing just because it doesn’t align with our current culture’s ideal of having one single true purpose.

It might even be in line with a reality that’s been around since the Baby Boomers who, per the USBLS, have held on average over 11 jobs in their lifetimes. Now the number of careers – not just jobs, but careers – is reaching the same level in our dynamic society. I know of people who have stayed in the same career so long that they found themselves among the long-term unemployed because their field of expertise or way of doing things disappeared.  Brian Fippinger of Q4 Consulting echoes this observation, and offers some great advice in his article The Job of a Lifetime No Longer Lasts a Lifetime.

The bottom line is that it is more important than ever to prepare students to be lifelong learners.  Being curious, exploring new pathways, and building a diverse resume can be a strategy for our modern world.  And when you ask them that question – as many of you will – use it as an opportunity to also discuss how life is really an adventure with lots of bends and forks in the road.

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Pictures of Cass

Cass and her partner Dan dressed up for a special adventure.

Cass and her partner Dan dressed up for a special adventure.




Cass after participating in a Run or Dye marathon.

Cass after participating in a Run or Dye marathon.




Cass and her kitty Juan on the road.

Cass and her kitty Juan on the road.







Cass has been in 6 or 7 states her first year on the go.






















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