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Talon & Travis Holleman

Program Directors

Meet Talon and Travis Holleman, the Directors of ROOTS!

Talon Holleman is a wife, mother of two (Bella-7 and Emmett-5), Palliative RN Program Coordinator, and homesteader. Her husband, Travis, owns his own business, and runs the grounds of the homestead. They grew up in Baltimore, MD and have been together since they were 14yo. They both came from typical “rat race” lifestyles, working over 50hrs/wk, living to work, not working to live. Until after they had children and saw the world through their children’s eyes. They moved to DE in 2017 and began to create a life that they love and that they would be proud to raise their children in.

Talon and Travis like to travel, enjoy farming, are permaculture advocates, hikers, and are always pursuing new hobbies to try or passions to follow! Talon has early childhood education in her background; together they have been homeschooling for the past four years. Talon and Travis look forward to watching and helping children to grow outside of their comfort zones. They consistently apply the lesson of the day to real life experiences- whether through outdoor play, role playing, hands on learning, practicing the actual skill, etc. They enjoy teaching practical life skills, self-care, mindfulness, character building, critical thinking, problem solving skills, and student autonomy. Talon and Travis decided to homeschool their children to provide them with the necessary tools to live a successful, enjoyable life, while creating well-rounded, GOOD human beings. They realized these tools or practical skills were not going to be the focus of public school, and were not all found in any other private sector- so they created their own! Talon and Travis recognized the need for change in traditional schooling as our world is constantly changing/evolving. They designed their homeschool (and ROOTS) tailored to everything they put value on or found important in life. After collaboration with another family (Rhonda- our Pioneers Group Leader), this has now become a school that all of their kids LOVE- and now we need to share it with the world! Talon and Travis teach the following classes: Language Arts (Reading, Writing, LA skills), Health, Geography, Cultural Studies, Research-based Mindfulness, Social Studies, and Yoga; Talon and Travis co-teach: Independent Study and Practical Life Skills within their Collaborative Homeschool, Fernweh by the Coast Consortium.

The ethics of permaculture is adjacent to their personal and schooling philosophies “Care for the Earth, Care for People, Share the Abundance, and Education.”

Talon and Travis are inspired by the characteristics of Permaculture to not only change agricultural landscapes; but to change the way children are taught (and learn), to empower children to better understand themselves, to build a community, to become better people, to learn, and then learn some more! They believe the power of a collaborative community can change the world (or the life of our children)!

Talon and Travis are very excited to begin our 2nd session of ROOTS; to bring many more families on their journey with them. They see this program as becoming not only a part of a huge family, but being a part of a generational movement! They want children to learn how to live self-sufficiently!

Their vision for this program is to be able to offer it to ALL children, including those in Foster Care/underprivileged, through scholarships. They have begun partnering with other youth groups, small businesses, libraries, and more to increase community outreach efforts.

Talon and Travis will be present during workshops, helping, teaching, directing, etc. They look forward to building a relationship with you and your children!!

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Rhonda Cipolla

Growth Coordinator

Meet Rhonda McDowell Cipolla, our Pioneers' Group Leader (ages 7-12yo); Growth Coordinator! 

Rhonda McDowell Cipolla is a wife, mother, student, teacher, and explorer of new things. Rhonda and her husband, Dominic, have been married for 11 years and own a construction and flooring business. Rhonda and Dominic have been foster parents in Delaware for 6 years and they have fostered 12 children from newborn to 18-years of age. They have two biological children and two children they have adopted from foster care; Rhonda is expecting their fifth child in April of 2022. Rhonda holds a bachelors from Stayer University in Business Administration and an MBA with a focus on Human Resource Management. Rhonda is also halfway through her doctoral journey with Regent University in Organizational Leadership. Rhonda is the President of the Sussex County Foster Parent Association, a 501-C organization focused on youth in foster care in Sussex County, Delaware. Rhonda is passionate about people, both big and small and developing skills and characteristics to help individuals grow.

Rhonda enjoys cooking with her children, reading books, speaking at various events, volunteer work, writing and reading about transformational leadership practices, learning about growing her own fruits and vegetables, and planting new and different pollinator flowers throughout the spring and summer; she’s also quite excelled at killing all kinds of indoor plants! Rhonda has published articles on foster care, transformational leadership, and several exegetical studies of women in leadership in the Old Testament.

Rhonda began homeschooling her first-born son four years ago when he was in PreK-3 and has continued homeschooling since. Rhonda and Dominic decided to homeschool because they found there was no school available to their children that would meet their desires of schooling: by meeting their children where they were academically, having creative and alternative methods of teaching, providing generous flexibility to allow their family to explore, and most importantly, a school that was committed to not only teaching core subjects but to teaching “little” people to become well-rounded “big” people.

Rhonda began collaboratively schooling with Talon two years ago and found much success with the integration of core subject matter, character building, mindfulness training, and practical life skills that she felt compelled to work directly with the ROOTs afterschool program to bring these life-lessons to more children! Rhonda enjoys finding fun and creative approaches to learning; from games, art, projects, adventures, and all-types of hands-on learning. Within the collaborative school Fernweh by the Coast Consortium Rhonda teaches: Fine Arts, Math, Character Building, Integrated STEM, and gym; Rhonda co-teaches Independent Study and Practical Life Skills.

Rhonda believes in the power of providing children with all of the life skills and practical advice we can so they will grow into children who love to explore, who can find ways to solve problems, think critically, and be independent. The addition of practical life lessons has begun to transform her children into little people who want to do “farm work”, who enjoy learning how (and why) composting works, what and when we should plant different vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and who have a growing curiosity of the world around them. Rhonda is excited to be the leading the Pioneers Group/teaching Pathfinders; while learning, growing, cultivating, and developing together.

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Brooke Rodriguez

Teacher

Brooke Rodriguez is a Delaware native who lives in Georgetown with her husband Cristian, her one year old daughter River, and just had her son Wilder, in February!

A true adventurer, Brooke has lived a lot of life for someone in her late 20s! She previously co-owned and operated a children’s store, and studied worship/inner-healing at the Center for Global Action in Gainesville, Georgia. She served as an overseas missionary with the World Race, traveling to 11 countries in 11 months while carrying everything she needed (including a tent) on her back. After the World Race, Brooke spent time working as a youth pastor in Laurel, DE before taking an internship in Harrisburg, PA with an inner city missions program where she met her husband.

Brooke is a beach-goer, hiker, loves roller skating, and taking artsy photos! She and her husband are creatives at heart, enjoy making music together in their spare time, and sing and play guitar on the worship team at their church in Greenwood.

Brooke is a “crunchy granola” nature-lover through and through, with a desire to help those around her learn to live a more holistic life. As a certified Early Childhood Educator, Brooke has a passion for helping younger generations live from a place of inner health, wholeness, and a strong sense of self-worth and identity. Brooke has worked with many families as a professional nanny for the last 12 years and has a huge heart for helping children feel seen, heard and valued. Brooke places a high value on helping children learn and explore the world around them in unique ways while always encouraging creativity (even if that creativity makes a big mess)!

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Jackie Bush

Teacher

Jackie Bush is our Explorers Leader (ages 1-2yo) and a lover of all things babies and nature! Jackie, her husband Will and their two year old daughter, Emory, (and their 2 dogs and 2 cats!) recently moved to Southern Delaware from Chester County PA in order to live life more on their terms. For their family, the goal is to focus less on insignificant things and more on things that really matter to them including each other, making a difference for others and spending quality time in the beauty of nature.

Jackie is a licensed and accredited Speech Language Pathologist who has worked with Pediatrics for her entire career, specializing in children 0-3 years of age. When Emory was born Jackie was promoted to her most important role yet of Mom and has been blessed beyond measure by being able to take some time off from seeing clients to focus on her daughter at home until the time is right to return to the out-of-home workforce.

Jackie is extremely motivated and inspired to work with children and their families in order to help them connect with one another and the world around them to assist in the building of meaningful lifelong bonds. Creating opportunities for children to interact with the world around them and express concerns, questions and happiness about what they are experiencing is a driving factor in all that she does. With this goal, her hope is that the children she comes in contact with feel safe, heard and are able to be comfortable exploring life to grow into the well-rounded, good human beings they were always meant to be.

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Elizabeth Dukes

Teacher

Elizabeth will be our Pathfinders Lead Teacher (3-6yrs) and our Community Outreach Coordinator. Elizabeth and her husband, Austin, have been married for almost 13 years and are lower Delaware natives. They have been foster parents for 6 years and have fostered numerous children from ages newborn to 10 years old. Elizabeth and Austin have 2 children, a 12 year old son and a 5 year old daughter, and a 1 year old lab

named Millie. Elizabeth’s hobbies include traveling, camping with her family, going to the beach, and helping others.

Elizabeth holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from the University of Delaware and has years of experience tutoring, teaching at after school programs, and advocating for kids in foster care. Elizabeth is

also the Treasurer/VP of the Sussex County Foster Parent’s Association , a 501-C organization focused on youth in foster care in Sussex County, Delaware. For the past several years, Elizabeth has been blessed to be a full time stay at home mom to their 2

children and multiple children who have been placed with them in foster care. Before this, she has taught at the Boys &Girls Club, tutored/taught at the La Casita Outreach Program through First State Community Action Agency, and worked in a healthcare company for 9 years.

She has a passion for helping kids in the community learn about the world around them and is excited about the possibilities that ROOTS has to offer them. Elizabeth believes that one of the ways to cultivate a culture in which children feel valued and respected is

to focus on listening to them. She feels that if children can feel confident that they have a voice and they are heard, they will feel more valued in their environment thus leading them to explore more, actively learn more, and think more critically. Elizabeth cannot

wait to help each child that comes to ROOTS, on site or off site, learn more about the world around them!

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Thea Winter

Teacher

Dorothea “Thea” Winter, will be the lead teacher of the Pioneers’ Group, when her daughter, Rhonda Cipolla is on maternity leave. Thea will also be assisting in that class in March prior to the baby’s arrival in early April.

Thea, retired in 2020 after teaching undergraduate and graduate nursing at

Salisbury University, for over 30 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in

Nursing from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville and both a Master’s and

Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Her Ph. D. specialty is Nursing Informatics. Currently she teaches Science (plants) to her grandchildren and others in the collaborative school, Fernweh by the Coast Consortium.

In addition to being a grandmother of four, almost five, she has two stepsons living at home and has been married to husband, Philip for eight years. Philip and Thea love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit China, Hong Kong, Alaska, Israel and Greece.

In her spare time, she enjoys walking, biking and kayaking at Trap Pond State Park in her home town of Laurel, Delaware. Philip and Thea have led a grief support group and teach adult and children Bible classes at the Laurel Church of Christ. Thea also loves growing flowers, both indoors and out.