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.
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 strived 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. She designed writing curriculum for students in college and interned as a writing tutor at 826 Valencia. She is a founding staff member at 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.
Lower School Lead Collaborator
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.
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.
Piper has two legs, two arms and two wheels. She has been described as an all-purpose renaissance grrl–part fabricator, part biker, part teacher–but considers this more of an aspiration than an accomplishment. Piper comes to Brightworks from, most recently, Burke’s where she spent two years teaching and learning as an associate teacher. At Burke’s she was surrounded by experienced educators, who encouraged her to try, and gave her the freedom to fail. She built relationships with each of her students, while pushing for inquiry and interest driven curriculum and advocating for the competence of each student. Piper believes that each student can try anything with the right structure and support. While working at Burke’s, Piper began working at the Tinkering School, in both the summer day camp and weekend workshop programs. This allowed Piper to continue to interact with children in an environment driven by curiosity, ambition and just enough uncertainty. Piper’s first experience teaching was with the Bamboo Bike Studio in both Brooklyn and San Francisco, where she helped develop the cheapest bicycle for the developing world and led workshops for adults on composite-based bicycle frame building. Her work with the Bamboo Bike Studio also informed her senior thesis on the social construction of sustainable development.
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.
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. Last year, he founded 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.
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.
A Bay Area independent school teacher for over ten years, Jane has found an extraordinary source of inspiration at Brightworks. She loves experiential learning, which she has facilitated at Marin Academy and Head-Royce School in the past. She is thrilled about designing creative interdisciplinary projects at Brightworks. Having gone to high school in San Francisco, Jane got a BA in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and Masters degrees from UC Berkeley and Middlebury College. A collaborator, photographer, reader, road-tripper, camper, theater-goer, improv-lover, listener, Russian-born immigrant, mother of a middle-schooler, and collector of pineapples, Jane could not be more excited to learn from and go on adventures with high school students!
Day School Support
Lower School Assistant Collaborator
Assistant and Aftercare Collaborator