At Clearwater adults are referred to as "Staff" rather than "Teachers" reflecting that they are equals to students. Staff take on many different roles: mentor, facilitator, administrator, and friend.

Stephanie Sarantos - Clearwater Staff
Mathew Riggle - Clearwater Staff

Stephanie Sarantos

Stephanie has always had a passionate interest in human development and education that led her to pursue eclectic careers working with children—as an oncology nurse, improvisational dance instructor and a parent. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with specializations in child temperament, cognitive and social development and statistical analysis. Her interest in the Sudbury model was inspired in equal parts through her studies of education and through watching three-year-old children play imaginary games for hours, days and weeks on end.  Her faith in the model has grown in proportion to seeing those children and many other students grow into adulthood. She was involved with the original Clearwater founding group and has worked at the school ever since.

Stephanie’s official duties include many tasks: administration, book keeping, communications, bandaging wounds, enrolling new students, educating and supporting parents and sometimes teaching classes. She loves her job and feels incredibly privileged to count so many amazing children as friends. In her spare time she especially enjoys learning new things and staying active with distance running, and soccer. The pursuit of something brand new profoundly informs her work at Clearwater. Through her own learning curve, she discovers first hand, the value of failures and plateaus in the process of seeking mastery.

Mat Riggle

Mathew Riggle has been interested in alternative education since he was very young. When he was nine, he returned home after a two-year family adventure which took him from the northern border of the United States to southern tip of the Baja peninsula to find himself two years ahead of his peers in public school. At that time he began searching for a school that would be a better fit. By thirteen, Mat’s search ended: he and his twin brother enrolled in Oak Grove, a school based on the educational teaching of Krishnamurti. Mat’s experiences there were world-opening, and helped form a long-lasting love for education. From there, he went on to attend several colleges and pursue several careers, before finally finding himself a rising star in the culinary and restaurant world. Mat’s passion for teaching lies in the opportunity to help students explore their curiosities about the world around them. Mathew brings many unique interests and skills to Clearwater that range from a passionate love for the culinary arts to a deep knowledge of computers.

Marissa Griffin-Luna - Clearwater Staff
Gray Newlin - Clearwater Staff

Marissa Griffin-Luna

Marissa joined the Clearwater staff team in 2015. She is a graduate from a free-democratic school in Minneapolis, MN. Her own early education experiences deeply informed her outlook on education. She experienced her own difficulties trying to fit into compulsory schooling that eventually led her to discover free-democratic schools and unschooling. As you can guess, this proved to be a much better fit. The benefits that Marissa received from leaving public school is what inspired her to support youth on their own unique journeys.

Marissa has explored autodidactic education in various ways, from interning with other schools, to directing summer camps, and nannying for an unschooled family in Italy. 

Marissa believes that learning is a life long journey and strives to embody that in her own life.

Outside of Clearwater you can find her practicing yoga, dabbling in photography, hiking and camping, and engaging with her local Seattle community.

Gray Newlin

Gray has worked in community based education and empowerment for the past 10+ years both as a youth and as an adult. In 2015 they graduated from Fairhaven College with their self-designed major titled "Queering Education Through Social Justice, Creative Expression, and Somatic Psychology" which tries to get to the root of why school is important, how it does or does not serve us, and how our bodies, minds, and souls learn, unlearn, and thrive. They constantly strive to answer those questions and more through their work with The Queer and Trans Youth Music Project and in their everyday life. Their skills and interests include: music (acoustic, electronic, and more), herbalism, food justice, poetry, creative writing and creative nonfiction, YA Lit, trauma studies, art therapy, experimental theater, viewpoints theater, community organizing/event planning, queer history and theory, and more!

Evan Spog - Clearwater Staff

Evan Spong

Bio Coming Soon!


Emmett’s Intern Bio


My name is Emmett, and I'm the guinea pig for Clearwater's internship program. So far I'm delighted, challenged, and feeling right at home. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to join this community.

A quick synopsis of my background: I graduated from Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies in ‘14 with a concentration in American Cultural Studies and History, with an additional emphasis in queer and colonial theories and methodologies. Much of my work experience has centered in the fields of social work with homeless youth and adults with developmental disabilities. I'm drawn to opportunities where I can partner with someone else in their own development, which makes this internship a pretty great fit. I’m passionate about music as well, and have been playing piano, guitar, and singing since my early teens, with two years of coursework completed on music theory and performance at Willamette University in the 2000s.

As a learner, I’ve undergone some awesome changes in the past ten years, from competitive and high-stakes to relational and theory-informed. This internship is coming at the perfect time in my broader development as a learner and in my longer path in education. I’m in the information-gathering process of looking into masters programs and possibly PhD programs while I consider a future in teaching, researching, and writing.