CONTACT US

Phone: (309) 808-1192

Email: info@bloomcommunityschool.org

LOCATION

1100 N. Beech Street, Building #11

Normal, IL 61761

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BLOOM LEADERSHIP

The Bloom Community School Board of Directors grew out of a founding core leadership team including Dr. Laura Kalmes, Karin McDowell, Rachel Lapp Whitt, and Grace Sheese, and has grown into a group bringing diverse vocational, organizational, and parenting experiences. This team is committed to creating an independent, progressive school serving the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, area with a uniquely innovative mission: To cultivate joyful, independent learners in an educational environment that nurtures individual development by integrating high academic standards and community engagement. This mission is served by the learners, teachers, parents, and collaborators of Bloom who are interconnected with our community and its diverse, vibrant organizations, businesses, and institutions.

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Stefen Robinson is a father, partner, teacher, music maker, and revolutionary. He currently earns remuneration as a sociology and history teacher at Normal Community High School, where he also sponsors a meditation club.

 

Initially, Stefen never wanted to do anything except make music. He studied music technology and composition at Illinois State University, then moved to Chicago and started a band. But while touring, co-managing a record label, and starting to focus on music as a career, his priorities shifted, and Stefen decided his energy might be better spent focusing on activism. This led him to teaching. After moving back to Bloomington-Normal and graduating from ISU a second time – this time with a degree in geography education and a minor in sociology – Stefen began teaching sociology and history at Normal Community High School. He sees his work as an educator as part of a larger project of helping to create a more peaceful and just society. Other school-building work includes helping create the Common Action Free School, a radical, democratic, social justice-focused, community education project. Stefen believes that genuinely democratic, non-coercive education, focused on social justice in our community is one necessity for creating peaceful, sustainable, democratic communities.

 

He still makes a lot of music – composing, performing, and recording solo and with the bands Disorganizer and Shoshin Trio.

Board President

Stefen Robinson

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Rachel Lapp Whitt's vocation in storytelling is expressed in work as a writer/editor, graphic designer, and multimedia producer. She began career life in public radio and print journalism, then moved into public relations and teaching. She is now a designer and creative for Art Class Curator, an organization with a mission to help art educators provide meaningful art appreciation experiences. In 20+ years of freelancing, Rachel has focused on supporting artists of all kinds, nonprofits, schools, and small businesses, supporting that which illuminates and activates our connectedness to people and the planet.

 

For six years, Rachel directed a busy department at Goshen College in wide-ranging strategic relations, print, online, video, advertising, event support, and media relations efforts. A political activist since her stroller-riding days, she joined an academic colleague in a Peace and Justice Journalism Initiative to connect college students with opportunities in international social justice journalism, including immersive multimedia reporting in Swaziland (HIV-AIDS) and El Salvador (coffee markets).

 

Rachel earned a master’s degree in Multicultural Communication at DePaul University during the same year she and her co-author and mother, Anita Stalter, published an all-ages book on Indiana women in history. She joined the faculty of GC’s Communication Department, teaching courses in public speaking, intercultural communication, PR, mass media, comm research, expository and feature writing, film, and women in media representation. She also advised student organizations and studied Spanish in El Salvador. Rachel later served as an editor for multimedia publications in intercultural and international education and represented her brother's Americana band, The Steel Wheels. 

 

Rachel spends as much time as possible with her wonderful daughter, a Sprouts Class member at Bloom, and political-junkie partner. They're often found reading, drawing, traveling, playing, laughing.

Board Vice President

Rachel Lapp Whitt

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Trisha Malott is a Bloomington-Normal native and nearly life-long resident. She holds an undergraduate degree from Illinois State University in economics and a graduate degree in social work, while also being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her clinical work has included work with children impacted by trauma and sexual abuse, adult survivors of sexual assault, those with severe and chronic mental illness, and women’s issues. While she has loved her clinical path and the patients she’s encountered through the years, her true passion is at an administrative level and more, to impact change at a macro level.

 

Trisha has served as a Director of Development for a non-profit agency, served on fundraising committees and chaired annual events, been an Executive Director for a community mental health program, taught psychiatry residents at a medical school, and more recently been a Chief Operating Officer of a large multi-state group psychology practice. She currently works for McLean County Government as the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council Supervisor and strives to impact systemic change relative to behavioral health in our community through collaboration and new and innovative programming.

 

First and foremost, she is “mama” to a sweet son who first attended Bloom for the 2018-2019 academic year and is proud to call Bloom “home” again. In their free time, Trisha and her son love exploring the outdoors, hiking, reading, playing card games in coffee shops, and creating adventures together.

Board Secretary

Trisha Mallot

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Jennifer is a Certified Public Accountant with MCK CPAs & Advisors in Bloomington, IL. She has more than 15 years of experience working with both non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to assist with all aspects of their finances. She also volunteers with a variety of community organizations usually helping with their financial information. A Central Illinois native, she is an alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She enjoys making pottery, a hobby she originally learned from Bloom’s Blossoms Class teacher, Grace Sheese.

Board Treasurer

Jennifer Gentes

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After staying at home following the birth of her son, Jamie joined Bloom Community School as Administrative Coordinator in the summer of 2018. A social justice activist, she is one of the former organizers of the Common Action Free School, a community-organized education project in Bloomington-Normal. Jamie is certified through DONA as a postpartum doula, and holds a bachelor of science degree in Fashion Merchandising from Olivet Nazarene University. Jamie wholeheartedly believes that what Bloom Community School is doing for children will make the world a better place!

Administrative Coordinator

Jamie Breeck

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Louis Goseland is a community organizer and strategist who moved to Bloomington in 2015. He is currently an organizer with the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, serves as secretary on the board of directors for One People's Campaign, and volunteers with Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal and Bloomington-Normal Democratic Socialists of America. 

 

Since 2006, Louis has worked as a professional community organizer, campaign strategist, and international consultant. He has collaborated with faith-based communities, labor unions, neighborhood organizations, and student groups throughout the United States and Europe on an array of social justice issues. His commitment to transformative community organizing is rooted in his belief in the power of collective action to not only change systems, but to create the arena for demonstrating the dignity and worth inherent in all people.

Board Member

Louis Goseland

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Devon Lovell spends her energy and time engaged in learning, creating, and discovering, both professionally and personally. She has worked in education since graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in speech education and English, teaching high school English, speech and theatre for 10 years in suburban Washington, DC and rural central Illinois.

 

Devon currently works as the Learning Director at Family Matters, a community-based, not-for-profit in Rogers Park that is committed to building an equitable society. Her work there has centered around education and learning, advocating for families within the public school system, running a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, creating a summer learning program, and most recently working to launch a Kindergarten classroom. And she lives in Bloomington, which makes for some interesting challenges trying to balance her commitments to the communities where she and her family live and where she works in Chicago.

 

Devon enjoys involvement in the Bloomington-Normal arts community, especially Heartland Theatre and The Next to Normal Story Slam, social justice work through her church, New Covenant Community, and simply hanging with her two kids, her husband and their dog.

Board Member

Devon Lovell

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Gary Weilbacher’s educational career began in Wales, Wisconsin, at Ethan Alan School for Boys during the mid-1980s. He taught students with special needs while working in a program for juvenile sex offenders for four years. He then moved to Madison and spent the next nine years serving with the Madison Metropolitan School District as a special (Marquette Middle School) and regular education (Sherman Middle School) teacher. 

 

Gary’s work and continuing post-graduate program in education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison changed his life, as most of those years were spent working with Barbara Brodhagen and James Beane using an integrative curriculum. Upon receiving a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University, Gary and his family moved to Bloomington, where Gary began his work at Illinois State University, where he currently serves as an Associate Professor in the College of Education in Teaching and Learning. For the past 20 years he has worked with “pre-service” teachers – people who want to become middle school teachers. He has published research, perspectives, and other articles in a range of educational journals and magazines.

 

Gary’s interest in Bloom Community School stems from his work in Madison, as the integrative curriculum is a democratic, student-led approach to learning that takes seriously the needs, questions, and concerns of students. 

Board Member

Gary Weilbacher