Meet Our Team
Executive Director & Founder
Maria (pronouns: she/her) is a seasoned facilitator, mentor, and self-directed educational consultant with eighteen years of experience in alternative educational settings. Determined to provide a safe, non-coercive, self-directed learning option in Northern New York where young people can freely choose their own unique paths, Maria founded Deep Root Center in January 2014.
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, trust, deep conversations, questions, hands-on experimentation, and playfulness.
Born and raised in Northern New York, Maria left for twelve years. In that time, she earned a Fashion Design degree at Cazenovia College, worked as a nanny and then in retail (managing a cookware store) in the greater Boston area, moved to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and married her husband, Mike, (also from the NoCo) in Denver. They returned home in 1995 to raise their two children. She went back to college when her kids were young and earned a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from SUNY Potsdam in 2003. She also received her certification in mental health first aid in August of 2020.
A writer, Maria, creates a weekly blog post for Deep Root Center. She has also written two children's chapter books - one of which has been self-published.
Maria will split her time between DRC-Canton and DRC-East in Lawrenceville.
Staff - DRC Canton
Elian (pronouns: he/him) 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.
We are delighted that Elian will continue as staff at the Canton Center.
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.