To grow, we must first establish strong ROOTS.
At R.O.O.T.S. Youth Development Program, we’re proud to provide a caring and safe environment for your children. By following our mission, vision and values, we create a nurturing, stimulating and welcoming learning environment for all children.
We provide our students with the tools they need for future happiness and success. Our unique programs incorporate a variety of educational theories, while always keeping the child’s best interests in mind and allowing for hands-on, experiential learning.
Meet our team!
Talon & Travis Holleman
Meet Talon and Travis Holleman, the Directors of ROOTS!
Talon Holleman is a wife, mother of two (Bella-8 and Emmett-6), 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.
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)!
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!!
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 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.
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)!
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!