Gever founded Tinkering School in 2005 in order to learn how children become competent and to explore the notion that kids can build anything, and through building, learn anything. A self-taught computer scientist with no formal education, Gever's expertise is really in... thinking. Gever has taught workshops and made presentations to both kids and adults around the world. He has spoken at TED, twice, written articles for MAKE:, and authored the book Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do).
Ellen has worked in the classrooms, offices, and boardrooms of preschools, colleges, music schools, study abroad programs, and law school, giving her a unique perspective on how education supports students’ changing needs from preschool through adulthood. Ellen’s love for the world of early childhood education and her belief in children’s innate desire to learn independently keeps her searching for cutting-edge educational movements that support play, creativity, and student-centered learning consistently throughout childhood and into adulthood. Ellen was the founding board president of San Francisco Rock Project, a performance-based music school for kids, and remains active on their board. Ellen’s three children attend Brightworks.
Joshua has helped create and shape after school tutoring programs in math and literacy for inner-city youth in Cleveland. He has worked summers with Madden Open Hearts Camp, a camp that serves children who have survived open heart surgery. While in Chicago he founded his own one-on-one child-care program Science Sitter and worked in music and theater programs in Chicago with the Old Town School of Folk Music. Adventures in attempting to start his own summer camp led him to Gever and eventually to be the first teacher at Brightworks. He currently works with Gever to create afterschool and summer programming for both Tinkering School and Brightworks, as well as serving on the Brightworks collaborator team.
Along with being program coordinator, Justine is the office manager, daily blogger, librarian, phone-and-email answerer, calendar and admissions finagler, and band-aid distributor at Brightworks. Before starting work with the school in March of 2011, she taught creative writing, language arts, and college essay writing to students ages 6 to 18 at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, where she also helped with editing student writing, event planning, and program coordination. She mentored college students as a community facilitator and peer educator while in college and has developed curriculum for university-level English and writing courses. She is a young adult novelist in her spare time and always seeks to help children find that same kind of inspiration and creativity in the written word.
More at home in nature than at home, Mackenzie has spent her life playing in the dirt. Most recently she served as a nature awareness instructor for the Reikes Center for Human Enhancement where she fostered in her students a sense of wonder for the natural world through explorations of ecology and stewardship. She coordinated the Sustainability Lecture Series with the Education for Sustainable Living Program. In 2008 she founded Dirt to Dinner, a program that connects families to food though gardening and cooking. As a part of her honors thesis research she worked in Chiapas, Mexico establishing school gardens and teacher training programs in order to better understand the value of school gardens as a pedagogical tool. She is an avid storyteller and possesses an infections sense of curiosity. She is honored to be a part of the Brightworks staff.
Chane's greatest commitment in her role as educator is creating relationships with her students and facilitating their creation between peers. She uses the framework of artistic expression to guide children to deeper understandings of math, science, language arts and nearly anything else. Committed to making learning visible, she helps children and adults alike frame, assess and derive meaning from their experiences. After creating her own undergraduate major mixing Sociology, Anthropology, Women's Studies, and Multicultural Studies she went on to secure a Masters in Arts and Education from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. As an educator, a semi-professional dancer and an experienced long distance cyclist, Chane brings a delightful mix of passions, skills and perspectives to Brightworks.
Christie spent the last three years teaching 7th grade language arts and social studies at Joseph George Middle School, a low-income visual and performing arts public school in East San Jose. She found her way to JGMS as a Teach for America corps member. The challenge of helping her students make up 2-3 years of lost academic growth led her to her own experimentations with project-based learning (and reinforced her deep conviction regarding its effectiveness). Above all, however, she believes in the power and joy of building deep relationships with kids. While in San Jose she recorded and produced albums with her students; directed musicals, volleyball practices, and guitar classes; and saw a handful of full-length plays, novels, short stories, and collections of poetry into their first stages of completion. Christie also taught extracurricular classes at Nueva School, wrote and implemented curriculum for Nueva Summer, and spent a few formative summers in rainbow spandex as a sleep-away counselor at Camp Tawonga.
Lili Weckler is a theater-maker, writer, and puppeteer, whose life as an artist is instrumental in her work as an educator. Her experiences with children include working as a kindergarten arts and reading specialist, as a school drama teacher creating plays with Vermont students struggling to understand the effects of Hurricane Irene within their community, as an in-class aid and as a one-on-one tutor. Her passion for play leads her in her work with children as well as toward her artistic endeavors. She studied Mask and Mime at the International School of Theater Jacques Lecoq in Paris, directed her original production in the San Francisco Fringe Festival, and toured the East Coast and Midwest teaching and performing with Bread and Puppet Theater, a political company based on a farm in rural Vermont, where she spends time each summer creating puppet acts, playing music, gardening and cooking. She is overjoyed to be part of the Brightworks community, where the experience of discovery through play inspires a great passion for learning in students and collaborators alike.