Education Team


Meliza Brilliantes:  is a certified and licensed teacher who serves as lead facilitator. She helps to anchor our curriculum and track assessment of children’s progress towards the academic and developmental goals their parents prioritize. Meliza taught in the NY and NJ city schools for over 15 years. She has worked in multi-age classrooms from pre-school through middle school and also as a trainer of teachers, a coop school facilitator, and a homeschool parent. A mother of three, she brings a wealth of energy, knowledge, love, and passion to her work with children.




Alison Cross was born and raised in the District of Columbia. She has a passion for the arts and activism and this led to her becoming a licensed educator. Alison is in the classroom five days a week. She is responsible for designing interactive units and project based learning activities for the older cohort and assisting Meliza in stewarding learning for the full Coop. Prior to working at the Coop Alison taught 4th and 5th grade in Washington, D.C. In addition, she served as an Instructional Coach for new teachers teaching grades 5-8th. Alison firmly believes that all children have the right to an enriching and fulfilling education.



Saman Dashti (“Macaco”), Arts Educator in Residence

“Professor Macaco” is a teaching artist focused on the expressive arts of Capoeira and other Afro-Brazilian liberation arts of dance, self defense, music, and song. As our resident Arts Educator, Macaco delivers two afternoon classes each week and hosts monthly “rodas” where the kids practice Capoeira with live music and the support of parents and community. Macaco’s work with the Coop also touches on theatre arts, visual arts, and character development. Macaco worked for over 10 years as a teaching artist for schools in the New York City area. He has taught across diverse socioeconomic groups and has experience working with children with special needs, autism, and behavioral health challenges. Alongside his work with us he also teaches children in the Charlottesville public housing community, at area public schools and aftercare programs, and in partnership with Luminaria Cville, an arts nonprofit. Macaco lives with his partner Mirian in another building at the Ecovillage, and he also provides leadership in maintaining the building and grounds that we use.