Gever Tulley, Founder & Education Architect
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 Hathaway, Director
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.
Anthony Consilio, Immersive and Personalized Education Consultant
Anthony started working with children in his junior year of high school and never looked back. For the past twenty-five years, he has worked in almost every facet of schools from pre- to high school. Through a multitude of classroom, play based, administrative and hands-on experiences Anthony has always been a firm believer that there is no single approach for all children and has strived to work with them as individuals to help them pursue and explore their interests and ideas to be the driving force of their educational experience. Since the beginning of Brightworks, Anthony has been a fierce advocate for the hearts and minds of the kids, seeing their need for love and support as paramount to a good educational experience. He acts as advisor to the collaborators for curriculum planning and supporting kids’ projects and loves the joyous challenge of discovering the passions of the children and pursuing all the amazing paths that open in these transformative moments.
Justine Macauley, Program Coordinator
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 and seeks to help children find that same kind of inspiration and creativity in the written word.
Shawna comes from eight years of social constructivist teaching at Cow Hollow School in San Francisco, where she refined her skills in classroom inquiry, project work, teacher research, parent education and participation, and the respect for and use of a variety of media and materials. She believes in nurturing a child’s innate love of learning so that the pursuit of knowledge, beauty, and truth becomes a habit that enriches their lives far beyond the formal schooling period. Committed to advocating for the rights of children, Shawna has attended and presented at many conferences, including NAEYC and CAEYC. She designed one such presentation for educators and parents, entitled, “Awareness without Anxiety: Environmental Education for Young Children,” with the goal of promoting playful, thoughtful exploration of the natural world. Her nature presentation became the basis for a chapter she contributed in a recently published book, Nature Education with Young Children: Integrating Inquiry and Practice. Shawna is passionate about hands-on, meaningful teaching and learning with children, especially in nature.
More at home in nature than at home, Mackenzie has spent her life playing in the dirt. Before becoming one of the founding collaborators at Brightworks, 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. Her strength lies in her willingness to learn alongside the kids with the same excited curiosity, and in her careful questioning that guides her students to new discoveries and deep learning.
Lili is a theater-maker, writer, and puppeteer, whose life as an artist is instrumental in her work as an educator. She has taught drama in several Bay Area elementary schools, developed plays with students in Vermont and in Boston, and facilitated several Bay Area Inner-City Youth Theater Programs, including working with the SF Mime Troupe. 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, where she spends time each summer creating puppet acts, playing music, gardening and cooking. She is now developing a small theater company of her own in the Bay Area. Lili loves that Brightworks’ small size and innovative structure allow her to get to know her students deeply, and to help them chase their own passions with excitement and determination.
Christie has spent the last four years teaching middle school, three as 7th grade language arts and social studies teacher at Joseph George Middle School in East San Jose, and one as a Brightworks collaborator. 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.
Phillip has been a teacher of science, math, art, and graphic design at Joseph George Middle School in San Jose for the past five years. Similarly to Christie, he also started teaching through Teach for America. His experiences there influenced his decision to throw out the textbook and create his own curriculum for students at all ability levels. Phillip is drawn to learning that incorporates multiple disciplines and weaves the sciences within the arts as often as possible. He has held fellowships at Stanford’s College of Education and Lockheed Martin Space Systems in order to broaden his understanding and experience of what students need to be successful, creative, confident adults. He believes in teaching students to be lifelong self-learners through collaboration rooted in the design thinking process. Outside of teaching, he is a practicing graphic artist, painter, and event stylist.
Keaghan Townsend, After School Collaborator
Keaghan has spent his entire life around children, and as such, can sometimes only be distinguished in the classroom by his relative height and has worked with many programs that engage, encourage, and expand upon children’s innate curiosity. He has led groups of children through survival simulations in the wilderness at Trackers, built collaborative teams and manifesting design dreams as a Team Leader at Camp Galileo, and held impromptu kid-curiosity led lectures with groups of excited children at a number of other childcare centers, using these experiences to guide his mission to participate in educational environments and communities that truly allow young humans to be the agent of their own learning. When not teaching or thrifting, Keaghan can often be found in makeshift forts (indoors and out), writing, or recording with homemade, found, and/or tinkered analog equipment.
Auxiliary and Projects Staff
Joshua Rothhaas, Auxiliary Programs Coordinator
Joshua has been working to create wonderful moments for kids for the past seven years. He helped create and shape after school tutoring programs in math and literacy for inner-city youth in Cleveland, created Madden Open Hearts camp’s first science curriculum, founded his own one-on-one child-care program called Science Sitter, and worked in music and theater programs in Chicago with the Old Town School of Folk Music. He founded Tinkering School Chicago and was the first collaborator hired at Brightworks. He is currently the coordinator for Tinkering School San Francisco and the after school tinkering programs hosted at Brightworks.
Sean Murray, Libero/Project Specialist
Sean is an innovator and educator with more than eight years of experience designing hands-on experiences for children to build their own creations and foster problem-solving skills. He has renovated and run a greenhouse with students of New York’s City’s only all ADD/ADHD-high school, engineered and open-sourced methods for making the developing world’s most inexpensive good bicycle through the Bamboo Bike Studio, crafted fine furniture at Varian Designs, and built houses, among dozens of other projects with the intention of bringing knowledge and know-how back to the community. He emphasizes iteration, teamwork, and plenty of failure in his work with kids. He works with Josh and Gever for Tinkering School after school programs and summer camps, and with Brightworks students on their projects in the workshop.
Uyen Ly, Researcher-in-Residence
One year ago Uyen came to Brightworks to observe the Arc learning process as an educational researcher. Today, she is part of the Brightworks community working as in-house videographer, documentarian and researcher-in-residence. Uyen’s work at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education focused on how young children learn science. Her doctoral dissertation analyzed data from video interviews with elementary school students to determine their grasp of evolutionary science—and their capacity to enlarge it. Her work also looked at the learning conditions that promote conceptual change and deep science learning. At Brightworks she continues in the same vein. Drawing upon a passion for documentary and hands-on research and a strongly-held belief that kids can learn “big ideas” at an early age, Uyen is compiling a video archive of interviews with Brightworks students about what they are learning, how they are learning and how they view the Brightworks experience. This year she looks forward to working with the school’s founders and collaborators to apply this data to curriculum planning, student mentoring and day-to-day operations.