Meet Our Team
Executive Director & Founder
Maria was born and raised in northern New York and left for ten years before moving home with her husband to raise their two children. She returned to school when her children were small and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from SUNY Potsdam in 2003.
Maria is a seasoned facilitator with eighteen years of experience in alternative educational settings. She received her certification in mental health first aid in August of 2020. Maria founded Deep Root Center in January 2014, because she was discouraged by the lack of self-directed learning options in Northern New York and wanted to provide a safe, non-coercive environment where young people are free to choose their own unique path. Maria firmly believes that learning is an individual pursuit - driven by curiosity, interests, and aspirations. And, within that, education is a collaboration, which includes a supportive community, mutual respect, deep conversations, questions, hands-on experimentation, and playfulness.
Maria will split her time between the Canton and Lawrenceville Centers.
Deep Root Center - Canton
Regular Program Staff
Elian is originally from Iowa, and went to school in Delaware. He came up to Canton to go to college. School hasn’t turned out to be for him so while he was pursuing his degree in Early Childhood Education, he decided to leave and finish his teaching assistant certificate on his own.
In his free time, Elian likes to embroider, paint, and write creative non-fiction. He has also been playing guitar since he was 8. He volunteers sometimes at various places around Potsdam. His guinea pig, Emmie, is his world and he has Finn, his sidekick, who takes the form of a white, wiry-haired terrier with an overbite.
Like Steve Miller’s “The Joker,” Elian has a lot of jobs. He reviews off-brand Fruit Loops on Facebook, he’s a pet dad, a volunteer, a writer, an artist, a guitarist, an embroiderer, and he bakes mean gluten-free, sugar-free cookies. He now works at Deep Root, which he can add to his long list of things that excite him.
Chase spent the last two years of his high school career at Deep Root Center and graduated in 2019. He was the DRC Apprentice last year, and we are delighted that has agreed to return this year as our Senior Apprentice.
Chase, over the past three years, has become a beloved fixture at DRC. If younger kids need help with any project, he is the one they call on. He is the cool one who will paint Nerf guns with you, help you draw superheroes, watch a how-to You-Tube video with you, and explain it, or race around the backyard in the latest imaginative game with the entire crew.
We are excited to provide Chase with his first job, where he can develop his skill-set, and decide what in the world he wants to explore next.
Ryan finished his High School career at Deep Root Center this past June. We are thrilled that he accepted our invitation to be our apprentice this year.
Ryan is a chess player. He can usually be found in front of the game board with an opponent on the other side of the table and a cadre of kids surrounding them, offering tips and advice on the next move. Yes, at DRC, chess has become a team sport.
Ryan also has a deep interest in psychology and spends a good deal of time reading psychological texts. This fascination has given him the opportunity to explore various methods of working with people.
Ryan has a rare ability to be completely present in each moment and every single conversation. This gift will serve him well as he transitions from student to staff person.
We are so pleased to have him as member of the team and that we will continue to have the opportunity to watch him learn and grow.
Deep Root Center - East, in Lawrenceville
Trish, a native of Chicago, has been a dedicated volunteer at DRC- Canton for three years. For two years she developed and coordinated our Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Program every Tuesday.
She is an avid outdoors person and conservationist, who through years of observation and nearly constant immersion, has an amazing, experiential cache of knowledge about our natural world. As a clinical psychiatrist, she is devoted to promoting outdoor education as a means of eradicating the disconnection, she has witnessed in her patients, between we humans and our environment.
Trish's role as Lead Staff person at DRC-East will give her the time and space to use her innate observational skills and astounding ability to completely immerse herself in the moment to develop honest and caring mentoring relationships with the student members.
Board of Directors
Interim Board President, Steve Hamilton, joined the board in February 2019.
Board Secretary, Kara McLuckie, exemplifies some of the best traits of her Capricorn birth sign: She is patient, disciplined, humorous and reserved. These characteristics come in handy in her role as Secretary of the DRC Board of Directors. Free time usually inspires Kara to read, garden, play with dogs, ride a bicycle long distances, and call people out on subtly racist or homophobic rhetoric on Facebook. For the future, Kara would like to prepare meals in batches for convenience, make gallons of salsa with homegrown tomatoes and hot peppers, be early for appointments, resume teaching writing, and run a Half-Ironman triathlon before she turns 43. Kara also occasionally works with a Nigerian non-profit organization on sexual and reproductive health education for adolescents living with HIV.
Board Treasurer, Candace Cowser, is a local entrepreneur who grew up in the Syracuse area and moved to Canton in 1994. She opened her hair salon, Shapes and Colors by Candace, in 1997. She is the eldest of nine children, eight girls and one boy, and was homeschooled from 7th - 12th grade. She taught for a major hair product manufacturer for seven years. Those who know her would not be surprised to learn Candace is a skydiver. She currently lives in Canton with her two sons, an outdoor enthusiast and a fifteen year old chef, who prefers to cook sans shirt and shoes.