Antonio Buehler is in partnership with Marie as a co-facilitator at Abrome and as life-partner of six years. Antonio founded Abrome to fundamentally change the way the world views education. He wants society to reject the notion that education should be a standardized product in which children are expected to be passive recipients of instruction that is chosen and delivered by adults. Antonio wants learners to be able to direct their own education so they can live rich, fulfilling lives.
Prior to founding Abrome, Antonio worked as an admissions consultant to individuals applying to top colleges and MBA programs. He also worked as a middle school and high school teacher at an alternative school in Austin, TX. Before he dedicated his career to education, Antonio spent time in private equity, investment banking, and the military. Outside of work, Antonio founded the Peaceful Streets Project, served on the board of a child bereavement non-profit, volunteered at an orphanage in Bulgaria, volunteered for the West Point and Stanford admissions offices, coached high school football, and has personally mentored and tutored dozens of children. In his free time, Antonio likes to read, travel (37 countries and counting), ski, and volunteer for his favorite causes.
Antonio earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy, an M.B.A. from Stanford University, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University.
Marie Carlson, Ph.D. is in partnership with Antonio as a co-facilitator at Abrome and as life-partner of six years. She obtained her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her primary research focus has been on adolescent development with a focus on environmental adversity, including chronic stress and trauma, and externalizing-spectrum behavior. Much of her research has focused on the role of gene-by-environment interaction in adolescent outcomes, with an emphasis on the impact of environmental context on health-risk related behaviors.
Marie’s clinical training and experience has focused on trauma, including complex trauma and race-based stress and trauma, as well as more severe forms of mental illness including psychosis and adult externalizing spectrum disorders including Antisocial Personality Disorder. Marie has worked with veterans through the VA system, refugees and asylum seekers from around the globe through the Center for Survivors of Torture, and with individuals with low-income, including homelessness, through community based mental health. Prior to graduate school, Marie was involved in social work at a community mental health agency in Minneapolis, MN that specialized in vocational rehabilitation, housing, and wellness for individuals coping with severe mental illness.
Observations from her clinical and academic work led Marie to increasingly question the role that many of our institutional practices and norms – and the school context in particular – play in needlessly exacerbating life stressors and in unjustly stigmatizing millions of young people’s intellectual potential; and particularly as a function of global life stress and contextual hardship, including intergenerational trauma, socioeconomic standing, and privilege – factors well beyond the control of an individual child or adolescent.
To date, the predominant emphasis has been on changing the child (or adolescent) to accommodate the norms and demands of the traditional school environment. Yet this steadfast loyalty to the traditional school environment is perplexing as it has virtually no empirical support for it being the optimal context for the promotion of learning in the first place. As someone trained to think like a scientist, this was a troubling reality. The face validity of the traditional school environment, and its trappings, remains strong, despite the fact, that face validity is in fact not a meaningful form of validity.
Consequently, Marie believes that it is time for a change in the collective consciousness of our nation such that we begin to consider and apply what we know about how humans learn and thrive physically, emotionally/psychologically, and spiritually, and work to change the environment (including adult mindsets and loyalty to tradition, including measurement traditions) to accommodate young people, rather than the reverse.
Marie earned a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Minnesota, and an Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Ingrid and Ivan are our resident Cuddle Buddies. They are committed to bringing happiness and joy into the lives of all Learners on a daily basis. Both are eager to nuzzle up to Learners and are quick to lick hands and faces, although Ingrid needs a little time to warm up to new faces. Ivan is particularly attentive to the needs of people who are in distress and feeling sad. Ingrid focuses on not getting stepped on.
Ingrid was rescued from a shelter in San Diego, CA. Ivan is originally from the Cuernavaca neighborhood where Abrome is located, and was taken in after living off the land for an unknown amount of time.
Both Ingrid and Ivan love eating, sleeping, cuddling, and wrestling with each other. Ingrid also loves biting Ivan's ankles!
Mridul Batra co-founded Abrome with the belief that children are natural learners, and that learning will happen if children are allowed to experience and explore their world. He believes that every learner should be given the opportunity to construct his or her own educational experience. He also believes that learning should be relevant to the needs of the immediate environment, context and culture, rather than directed by someone from the outside imposing a canon of knowledge. Mridul is driven to transform education globally, and create access for everyone, especially those in resource constrained and rural environments.
Prior to founding Abrome, Mridul worked as a high school economics teacher. Concurrently, he founded a photographers collective where he also served as a teaching artist, and also founded an alternative elementary school in New Delhi. Before becoming an education entrepreneur, Mridul spent time in economics research and banking. While working as a banker, Mridul voluntarily spent his weekends counseling and tutoring children for a local non-profit.
Mridul earned a B.A. in Economics from the University of Delhi, an M.S. in Economics from the National University of Singapore, a Photography Design Certificate from National Institute of Design, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University.
Ariel Dochstader Miller is the founder and director of Skybridge Academy, a private middle school and high school in Dripping Springs, TX. Before Ariel launched Skybridge, she spent three years homeschooling her children so that she could care for her terminally ill mother. When they were ready for a new beginning, Ariel and her children imagined the most vital learning environment they could dream of, and Skybridge was born.
Prior to Skybridge, Ariel was on the board of an innovative private school her son was attending. As the Communications and Development Director, she increased admissions by 69%, and created a mission based fundraising program that increased fundraising from $2,000 per year to over $125,000 per year. She also started Biorhythms Publishing with her husband Lucas Miller, developing education programs and several award winning products. Before she founded Biorhythms Publishing, Ariel worked for the Walt Disney Company.
Ariel is a lifelong learner who took herself out of high school so that she could homeschool herself in order to make her education meaningful. Ariel then attended Hampshire College, where she focused her studies on creating nurturing learning environments for children and adults. She earned her master’s degree at the Seminary of Spiritual Peacemaking.
Peter Gray is a professor emeritus of psychology at Boston College. His research and publications span a wide range of fields, including neuroendocrinology, animal behavior, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. Most of his recent work has to do with the value of free, unsupervised play for children’s social, emotional, and intellectual development.
Peter has expanded on these ideas extensively, for the general public, in in his book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013). His research includes follow-up studies of young people who did not attend conventional school, but directed their own education either at home (unschooling) or at a democratic school. He is also author of a highly regarded college textbook, Psychology (Worth Publishers), now in its 7th edition, and he writes a regular blog for Psychology Today magazine.
Peter graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in psychology. He received his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Rockefeller University.
Ben Munoz is an e-commerce entrepreneur, social entrepreneur, and patient advocate. In 2013, Ben cofounded Nadine West with friend Sidney Williams. Nadine West is a fast-growing e-commerce startup based in Austin, TX. Despite no background in retail or e-commerce, Sidney and Ben have grown Nadine West into one of the largest fashion subscription companies on the internet.
In 2008, Ben cofounded Ben's Friends, a nonprofit that runs online patient communities for people with rare diseases. Ben started Ben's Friends after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a rare disease. After searching for support online, Ben started his own support community, which later became Ben's Friends. Ben's Friends helps 100k+ patients a month and has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and TechCrunch. Before Ben's Friends, Ben was a software engineer and then a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.
Ben earned a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
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