Catina Franklin Sweedy has over twenty years experience working in education as a private and classroom clarinet teacher, nature educator, and homeschooler. After graduating with her Bachelor of Music Degree from The Harid Conservatory of Music (now the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University) and Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, Catina led a rich and active career in the classical music community, touring Europe, Japan, and the United States as a soloist, orchestral clarinetist, and chamber musician. Catina also was a member of three (two of which she founded) woodwind quintets that specialized in writing and performing children’s concerts in New York, Virginia, and Maryland. Throughout her performance career, Catina continued to teach clarinet lessons to anyone who was interested, ages 8 to 80. In 2003, Catina moved to Northern Virginia from Miami, Florida, where she dedicated her career fully to teaching. She founded the Sweedy Studio of Music and began unschooling her children. In 2015 Catina started her YouTube Channel, The Clarinet Project, and the next year she founded the George Mason Summer Clarinet Academy, a week long camp for high school clarinetists in Northern Virginia.
In addition to her experience teaching clarinet and music classes, Catina has also worked at Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey as a local wildlife educator, the Society Hill Synagogue in Philadelphia as an assistant preschool teacher, and for ScorePrep as an SAT tutor. She has volunteered in nature education at The Wetlands Institute in New Jersey and The Sandoway House in Florida. She has been a guest lecturer at George Mason University and is scheduled to appear as a lecturer at the Virginia Home Educator's Conference in 2017 about the value of video games in education.
In 2014-2015, in order to learn more about alternative educational methods, Catina attended the Awakening Our Inner Design, Art of Mentoring, and Coyote Guiding workshops, all of which are nature-based educational programs that focus on a student's natural desire to learn, question, and hear and share stories. It was after these workshops that Catina began to synthesize her clarinet teaching philosophy (that the role of the teacher is a guide for the students to reach their goals, never to force or coerce them, but always working with them and adjusting the lesson to their needs) with that of her unschooling philosophy (that children can and want to learn, that they should never be forced to learn what someone else believes that they should know, and that they are capable of being trusted with their own education). She had heard about Sudbury Schools before, but it was only after realizing that her children needed more of a community than unschooling was able to offer and that there were no other options in Northern Virginia for students who didn’t fit into the rigid mold of the traditional school model, that she decided to pursue opening the Jefferson Sudbury School in earnest.Catina lives in Virginia with her husband, two children, two cats, two guinea pigs, one ball python, and countless fish. She is also a Minecraft Certified Educator and a volunteer with the Wildlife Rescue League in Northern Virginia.