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Karen Fogle is a progressive educator and Founder/Director of Chrysalis School, an independent K-12 school in Woodinville, Washington. She started Chrysalis in her home 38 years ago and developed it into one of the most creative and compelling schools in the greater Seattle area. Karen has dedicated her life to the study of how people learn and communicate, having observed and worked with parents, teachers, and children of all ages from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Her expertise in child development, psychology, the brain, and schooling has led her to inspiring conclusions about how students can reach their full potential, and motivates her leadership in school reform and learning alternatives.
Karen grew up Dayton, Ohio, attended Miami University, and completed a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification program at Wright State University in 1974. It was followed by the completion of her graduate-level teacher certification at the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University. Her education and teacher training are based in progressive educational philosophy and beliefs that focused on changing the school environment to be more personal and meaningful for children.
Karen began her teaching career in a public school in Ohio that was committed to alternative approaches to education, which included year-round scheduling, individualized learning, open classrooms, multi-age student groupings, and team teaching. These unique teaching experiences helped form an understanding of such alternative approaches and possibilities, but also highlighted the limitations of individualization in large groups and prescribed curricula.
Her experience in the public schools led Karen to homeschool her own children. In the 1980s, only teachers in the state of Washington could homeschool their children, which prompted her to advocate for parents who were looking for alternatives to traditional schooling and the expansion of homeschooling rights. She quickly became a leader in the field and was active in the legislative process that developed current homeschooling law. During this time, she also co-founded the first homeschooling support group organization, the Teaching Parents Association (TPA), which served as a model for homeschooling support throughout the state in the years to come, and served as a speaker at annual homeschooling conventions. Karen developed a course to qualify parents to homeschool and served as an adjunct faculty member at Seattle Pacific University for many years. She is also the author of Simply Homeschooling.
Chrysalis School began as a homeschooling extension in Karen’s home, where students could check in with their teacher(s) 1-2 hours a week and then work independently on projects or assignments at home. It gave them access to a teacher’s expertise and guidance, yet allowed them the freedom of the homeschooling experience. Years later, the school grew to include more time spent at school, with more small group classes, subject variety, and college preparation. The school is an embodiment of Karen’s educational principles and philosophy, which values personalization, learning partnerships between teachers and students, developmentally appropriate practices, and respect for children. The result is a transformative educational experience for the children and families involved.