Diane Murphy - Founding Director

Diane works with young people by accepting them exactly where they are and offering support and ideas to help them grow. When Diane met North Star & Liberated Learners, it was all she had been dreaming school could be. She believes self-directed education is the most authentic & innovative way for teens to live and learn. BigFish is her leap of faith and leap out of the system where she'd been teaching for many years.

Diane holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology from The University of Maryland and a Masters Degree in Literacy & Learning from Walden University. Primarily a Maine public school teacher, Diane has also worked as adjunct faculty at York County Community College and creative writing instructor at university of New Hampshire's Summer Writer's Academy. 


Beth Tykodi - 

 Beth graduated from Cornell University with a BA in Economics and Government and a specialization in International Relations. She has a certificate in computer programming from the New Hampshire Community Technical College System and a certificate in genealogy from Boston University.
Beth has a passion for inspiring people to learn and problem solve.  Her love of genealogy, history, and computer programming all link to her early interest in mysteries and logic puzzles.  She has taught computer programming in the New Hampshire Community Technical College System, numerous genealogy classes for historical societies and community learning programs, and many history and political science classes in the homeschool community. 
Beth has homeschooled her two children for several years and considers herself a lifelong learner.

Emily Jones Samuel

Emily experienced the power of a democratic model of education while a student at Souhegan High School in Amherst, NH, and became hooked on the idea of what school and learning could be.  She earned a B.Sc. in Geology from Beloit College and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Plymouth State University. She taught middle and high school science and math for several years and helped design and run a self-paced learning program within Denver Public Schools before moving into the tech industry.  Emily spent the last five years working as a Product Manager for digital curricula. She left this role to homeschool her daughter and is currently working on developing her own digital tools to assist self-directed learners. Emily is a firm believer in the power of play and hopes to inspire BigFish Members to explore mathematical and scientific ideas with a childlike sense of curiosity and adventure.

Mike Lang

Michael Lang completed a B. S. in Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire. Due to his own experience of living with vision impairment, he chose to complete a concentration in Adaptive Programming. He spent nearly a decade working as a ropes course facilitator and wilderness guide. In 2011, Michael began using music and stories, both oral and written, as a medium for educating and entertaining audiences of all ages. Michael facilitates weekly community meetings and teaches a variety of classes through imagination and creative expression.

Patrick J. Murphy IV
Born a seeker of knowledge, Patrick spent a number of years as a professional student before becoming disillusioned by modern academia. Patrick earned an Associate’s Degree in General Education from Montgomery College in Maryland. He spent six years as a caretaker for elderly relatives, a few years in construction along the way, all the while trying to practice yoga and meditation as much as possible.

Patrick’s approach to learning is the same as his approach to life: Be honest. Living with narcolepsy has been a challenge. Patrick finds himself philosophically at odds with modern consumerism and some of the more superficial aspects of popular culture. He loves nature and the study of different cultures, religions, and philosophies, and considers himself as much a student as a teacher.  

Mikayla Smith - Gap Year Intern




Darren Tapp

A science & math enthusiast since childhood. Darren earned physics and mathematics degrees from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in Algebraic Geometry from Purdue. Darren advises an international group on applications of cryptography.

He teaches math and advanced computing at BigFish using algebraic geometry, which focuses on interpreting algebraic questions as geometric, and geometric questions as algebraic. Students can focus on their preference: geometry or algebra, eventually gaining a command of both subjects.

More teacher bios coming soon...

Damla Aktekin

Aleka Monroe

Sheila Esten

Steve Bargdill

Deloris White

Julie Serrano

Board of Directors

  • Ms. Holly Elkins (Mme. President) Holly is the embodiment of a self- directed learner: She is the BigFish Board President, an artist, printmaker, massage therapist, Reiki master, home builder, experimental baker.
  • John Rimetz (Treasurer) Jack has owned and run small businesses in Connecticut over the last 30 years. A few years ago, he made his way to NH to care for a relative. Jack has since become a healthcare provider for seniors in Exeter and Durham. BigFish appreciates his vast knowledge & meticulous nature!
  • Jim Livermore - A self-taught metal smith. Jim’s work is juried in all shops of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, the prestigious organization that hosts the oldest crafts fair in America. Jim’s work can also be found at fine jewelry shows throughout the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Peter Berg - Author, Speaker, Holistic Mental Health & Health Coach and Educational Consultant. Empowering Youth, Families, Educators & Schools to meet their health and educational needs while elevating their voice. Author of The Tao of Teenagers: A Guide to Teen Health, Happiness & Empowerment.