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).
Head of School
Liz Jaroslow has worked in a variety of educational settings since moving to San Francisco from NYC eighteen years ago. While in NYC, Liz earned a MS in the field of Child Development and and Ed.M in the field of Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. Liz comes to Brightworks after serving in leadership roles in early childhood settings and a K-8 charter school with a focus on the arts. Liz has also served as a school admission consultant to San Francisco families and on an Advisory Council to the San Francisco Unified School District.
Liz lives in San Francisco with her husband, their four children, two dogs and a tarantula. When not working, playing and building with the Brightworks community, Liz can be found taking long walks, agility training with her dogs, or learning to be creative through fiber arts.
Director of Slowness, Care, and Encouragement
Anthony started working with children in his junior year of high school and never looked back. For the past twenty-eight 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 striven to work with them as individuals to help them pursue and explore their interests and let their 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, teaches a high school philosophy class and works closely with the parents. Mostly he loves the joyous challenge of discovering the passions of the children and pursuing all the amazing paths that open in these transformative moments.When not in school Anthony delights in spending time with his family and exploring deeply the world through the lens of his four year old son Gus who continues to show him that each day is a beautiful adventure to be savored and enjoyed.
As program coordinator, Justine manages the school office, blog, library, the admissions process, the daily park hour, and the bandaids. Before Brightworks, she designed writing curriculum for students in college and interned as a writing tutor at 826 Valencia. She is a founding staff member of Brightworks, and has focused her efforts at the school on inspiring students to find delight and inspiration in the written word, through both reading and writing stories. She greatly values all time spent with students, and believes that building trust and community with children is one of the most important things that educators can do to foster happy human beings.
Libby Catzalco, Office Assistant
Mackenzie Price, Curious Educator Division Manager
Kimberly generally can’t contain her passion and excitement for the things she truly loves, and it usually comes bubbling out in a somewhat random fashion. Twelve years ago her interest in social justice and love for helping people inspired her to begin working in special education. Her greatest joy was witnessing her students’ bravery and persistence as they navigated all they did with a contagious spirit that was impossible not to be swept up in. She has also taught first and second grade in SFUSD where she honed her teaching abilities and shared in her students’ victories and struggles as they journeyed the various worlds of learning.
Trained in ballet throughout childhood and adolescence then yoga as an adult, Kimberly is a firm believer in the healing power of movement. Outside of school, you can find her running, playing, dancing, stretching and on some occasions-baking her famous caramel apple pie.
While Nicole is a native Californian, she has spent most of her time working with international families and English language learners. She began her work with young children with Jumpstart, a national non-profit focused on developing literacy and language skills in low-income neighborhoods, and volunteering at schools in San Francisco and Pacifica during her time at San Francisco State University. After studying child development, Nicole student taught in Salinas, California while attending CSU, Monterey Bay to obtain her teaching credential. She worked for two years at a child development center in Monterey with teeny tiny babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. After relocating to the bay area Nicole worked at a bilingual immersion school as a teacher in their early years program. She enjoys wandering San Francisco with her husband, people watching, traveling near and far, music, and movies. She loves reading children’s books, magazines, blogs, instructions, and recipes. Her tool belt would hold a needle and thread, a whisk, a pen, and a notebook.
Lisa considers herself, always and at once, a learner, before all else – and is happiest taking in the rolling ocean waves and dips and heights of her native city, San Francisco. She began working in elementary classrooms over 15 years ago as part of her undergraduate and California teaching credential work at San Francisco State University, and throughout these years, she is continuously struck by the fulfillment that learning and growing with a group of students and a school community can bring. Lisa began her teaching career in SFUSD in the 3rd grade classroom – developing and refining a curriculum that spoke to the interests of the students, as well as maintaining a sense of continuity and connectedness. Following her time in San Francisco, Lisa taught in Raleigh, North Carolina, working in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades. A desire to dive deeper into her own positionality in the classroom, as well as interrogate her very visceral responses to the (over)standardization of education, brought Lisa to New York City, where she pursued a Masters in Teaching and Curriculum in Elementary Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. During this time, she concurrently taught 5th grade in the South Bronx, continuing to redefine her place in the classroom as a collaborator and shared builder of understanding with students. Her work in schools and the communities they serve has fed a passion for social justice by way of a compassionate, self-aware, and empowered learning community. As a second generation SF native, Lisa has always been keenly aware of what a special place this city – its families, its landscape, its history – and is delighted to be back home once again.
Upper School Lead Collaborator
Phillip began teaching as a science, math, art, and graphic design educator in 2008 at Joseph George Middle School in San Jose for five years through the Teach for America organization. He currently holds a Multiple Subjects (K-8) Clear Credential and a Supplemental Credential in the Visual Arts. After teaching core subjects for a year, Phillip was asked to pioneer the introduction of digital arts and sculpture curriculum to the school. Joining Brightworks in 2013, Phillip drew and expanded on his experiences in public education to create his own curated, project-based 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, Synopsis Inc., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Phillip recently completed a Family Engagement Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education in order to broaden his understanding of what students need to be successful, creative, collaborative, confident adults. He believes in teaching students to be lifelong self-learners, through collaboration, rooted in the design thinking process. Outside of teaching, Phillip is a practicing graphic artist, sculptor, and event designer. He is the founder of CORECULT, a five-member 3D art collective focused on creating unique environments outside of the gallery for community and private events in the Bay Area.
One of Rachel’s most impressive skills is her ability to name every teacher she had between kindergarten and 8th grade. She can also list at least one project or curricular unit she did each year of school. This connection to her childhood educational experiences is what led Rachel to pursue a career as a lifelong learner and teacher. A San Francisco native, Rachel received her Masters in the Science of Education at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she student-taught at a number of project-based schools. It was in this graduate program that Rachel studied hands-on, child-centered, and experiential education theory. After returning to the Bay Area and before joining the Brightworks team, Rachel taught in the Oakland Unified School District and at San Francisco Day School.
Molly joined the IAT in 2016 as part of the Tinkering School Summer Program and was a Brightworks Magenta Collaborator and Tinkering School Site Manager in 2016-2017. Molly comes from New Hampshire and loves maple syrup but doesn’t miss shoveling snow. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she completed an M.Ed. with a focus in secondary science education, a B.S. in Microbiology, and a minor in French Language. She also did plant genetics research, ballroom dancing, and art classes for fun. She holds three teaching credentials in secondary level science in both New Hampshire and California, and taught math and science at two public schools in New Hampshire before moving to Sonoma County to work as a wine scientist and a gymnastics coach for two self-designed sabbatical years. She is excited to lead the Magenta band and continue to help create the most amazing, Brightworks-y high school possible! She loves ice cream, enjoys drawing, sings when she drives, washes her feet when she showers, and sorts M&Ms by color.
Mary Catherine Muniz
Mary Catherine feels that she is at her best both as an educator and as a person when she is sharing her joys with others and learning from everyone’s curiosities. She is drawn to education because of the opportunity to be surrounded by a community of inquiry, exploration, and discovery. Before coming to Brightworks, Mary Catherine co-taught at the Chinese American International School and earned her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from BATTI (the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute). She also spent two years building and teaching in the educational garden at Glen Park School through the non-profit Education Outside. Mary Catherine got her start in education while working at outdoor schools and environmental summer camps, noticing how powerful it can be to learn about nature through observing what is going on around you. In her free time, Mary Catherine likes to get lost wandering in San Francisco or going on an adventure in the mountains.
As a native, Melissa has always believed San Francisco to be the best playground and classroom to foster her creative and curious nature; now she loves sharing its gifts with her students. After a decade of honing her skills as a collaborator and creative thinker in residential and retail design, Melissa decided it was time to take these skills, follow her love of children and learning, and go back to school to share her passions with others by becoming a teacher. She was drawn to BATTI (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute) and their vision of “Learning By Doing,” allowing her to simultaneously be both student and teacher. While completing her credential and master’s, Melissa put her learning into practice co-teaching at an independent school in Oakland focused on critical thinking, service learning, and a diverse student body. Becoming partners in learning and wonder with her students has fueled her passion for teaching in both independent and public schools. Just as she always needed to become a part of the build team, making her vision a reality with her own hands, Melissa is committed to ignite that same creative, hands-on passion in her students. On her off days or evenings, you can find her at AT&T park, cheering on her beloved Giants and teaching others about baseball.
This is Sierra’s first year at Brightworks, arriving from four years of developing and implementing a Fashion Design program for San Francisco’s Youth Art Exchange. Sierra is a sixth generation Northern California Native and Bay Area artist and educator who works within the fields of education, and sustainable fashion and textiles. She earned her BFA in Textiles from the California College of the Arts, and MA in Art Education through the Maryland Institute College of Art. Sierra’s pedagogy focuses on holistic learning through hands-on projects and reflection upon contemporary works of art and design. She has worked within all areas of clothing production: the cotton farm, the sheep ranch, the spinning mill, knitting production, commercial sewing houses in India, and small production in California. And when she is not in the classroom, you can find her mending, making or dyeing clothing for herself and friends.
Jules is a bit of a vagabond and would have joined the circus if that were still a thing. Though she came from a decidedly non-military family, she somehow managed to move nine times starting the 8th grade. What might have been disruptive became the foundation for her avid curiosity in people, places, ideas and experiences. While bouncing between coasts, the constant in each new place was a love of school, then college(s), then grad school(s), until she finally realized that becoming a teacher might be a more prudent way to follow at least one of her passions. Other loves include her family, art, cooking and eating, travel, music, stories in nearly any form, more travel, and learning new things (e.g. to play ukulele), but not necessarily in that order. She is ridiculously excited about joining Brightworks’ adventures.
Evan Barnes, Shop Support Collaborator
Evan first joined Tinkering School for the summer of 2015, having seen Gever’s TED Talk several years prior and deciding that Tinkering School’s philosophy was a perfect match for his own. He later joined with Brightworks and fell in love with the school whose educational model follows and encourages the growth of the students’ talents and interests. One of Evan‘s favorite aspects of working in education is getting to share his enthusiasm and deep sense of wonder about most aspects of the world with other people, and believes that one of the primary responsibilities of his job is to transfer his own burning curiosity to the students.
Grace Leary, After Care
After graduating from Brightworks, Grace decided to continue her education and make a smooth transition to City College of San Francisco. She is currently taking classes focused on child development and loves to learn new and interesting things. Over the summer, Grace worked with Tinkering School as Aftercare Collaborator & Assistant Administrator. She has been working in Afterschool Programs for four years now and is excited to start the school year again. She grew up in this fabulous city and now resides in the sunny Mission District where she loves buying fresh produce and walking Sasha, her pom-chi pup. Having had experience with two ludicrous brothers of her own, she is always down to clown with the wackiest students at Brightworks. Between juggling kiddos and tackling her GEs, Grace enjoys organizing, dad jokes, paying for the bus, and, of course, this extraordinary school.
Sam Phillips, After Care & Day Support
At various points throughout his childhood, Sam envisioned growing up to become a magician, animator, playwright, film critic, video-maker, and molecular gastronomist. As Lead After Care Collaborator, Sam can pursue all of those interests and more as he builds, plays, learns, and wonders alongside the rest of the Brightworks community. Prior to joining the team, Sam taught 6th grade English Language Arts at Nashville Prep Charter School, where he integrated technology into his instruction and led an after-school digital media club. Most recently, he has worked in Chicago as a video and animation teaching-artist at Marwen and Street-Level Youth Media, and was the founding manager at MetaMedia, a free youth makerspace which he helped launch. Sam has given presentations at the National Art Educators Association Conference, Illinois Computing Educators Conference, and at Argonne National Laboratory. He was named a 2016 FabLearn Fellow though Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and holds a bachelor’s degree in cinema studies from Oberlin College. When he’s not working, he loves obsessing over pop-culture ephemera, visiting microcinemas and ice cream parlors, making collages, and learning new games that he can play with friends.
Rich Perenyi, Science Collaborator
Richard Perenyi is a bilingual naturalist, artist, and educator from Michigan. A life-long animal lover, he has a Bachelors of Science in Zoology from Humboldt State University, and a California Teaching Credential with a focus on biology in secondary education. Starting in 2011, Rich worked as a research assistant at the renowned Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, studying the effects of climate change on pollinator diversity loss and flowering plant reproduction. Rich has worked as a naturalist at Camp Winnarainbow and the Mendocino Woodlands Outdoor Science School, and taught biology and physics at Mendocino middle and high schools. He loves the way Brightworks aims to create not only inventive thinkers, but also good human beings.
He would love to build you a super sweet obstacle course.
Nathan Savoy, Hive Assistant Collaborator
Nathan is someone who takes life as a series of footsteps, one in front of the other. He obtained a Bachelors in Colouring Development (BCD) from Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After studying community design and environmental planning Nathan came to live in SF in 2009 and found Brightworks a few years later through living in the neighborhood. For the next few years he honed his inner-child, helping kiddos try really hard to collaborate and treat each other well while making mistakes and building something bigger then themselves with Tinkering School, before beginning his role assisting the Brightworks Lower School. Nathan is excited to continue to learn, develop and play with the youngest students of the Brightworks community this year.