Gever Tulley – Founder & Chief Collaborator
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).
Aaron Eden – Executive Director (Interim)
Aaron is an international champion of education transformation and has worked with schools and organizations around the world to “re-humanize” how we work, learn, and live. Aaron works with the Board on organizational strategy and sustainability and will be supporting the Brightworks leadership team as it fully inhabits its new incarnation. This includes bringing his experience in facilitating high performance teams, in helping schools build self-sustaining feedback loops to make sure they continue to live their vision and mission, and to buffer “human-centered” learning communities from continual pressures to normalize.
Mackenzie Price – Director of Program
As a founding member of the teaching staff at Brightworks, Mackenzie’s experiments and leadership have been key to implementing and refining the unique pedagogy of the school. During the last two years she helmed the Brightworks Curious Educators Division where she worked with the Collaborator team to distill and share the Brightworks methodology of student-driven project work with schools of all types—locally, nationally, and around the world—training others how to see teaching and learning in a new way, and to put that vision into practice. Mackenzie uses her amazing co-creation skills to lead the Collaborators and community in further clarifying our program, in keeping student agency and curiosity at the center of our work together, and in challenging ourselves and each other to continue to grow into what is possible.
Anthony Consilio – Director Of Community(Slowness, Care, and Encouragement)
Anthony started working with children in his junior year of high school and never looked back. For the past three decades, 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 surfing, working on his book, sharing joy, hanging out with dogs and spending time with his family and exploring deeply the world through the lens of his seven year old son Gus who continues to show him that each day is a beautiful adventure to be savored and enjoyed. He is so wildly happy to call Brightworks his home.
Justine Macauley – Admissions Director & Assistant Director of Program
As a founding staff member, Justine has worked since the school’s beginnings to make Brightworks welcoming, accessible, and loving for students and families alike. She was hired to assist in the admissions process, and as the school morphed and changed, so did her job. Along with admissions, she has worn dozens of hats and engaged in almost every piece of the school, from park time and curriculum planning to answering the phone and teaching kids to love writing. In addition to handling the school’s admissions process and the odds and ends as assistant director, Justine works with the high school as a humanities workshop collaborator and transition counselor for college or the next steps post-high school. 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.
Melissa Nocero – Assistant Director of Program & Collaborator
As a San Francisco native, Melissa has always believed this city 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 degree. 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 igniting that same creative, hands-on passion in her students. Beyond her role as collaborator, Melissa uses her design thinking background to be the resident ‘big picture” thinker, tending to Brightworks’ larger-scale space and scheduling needs. On her off days or evenings, you can find her at the ballpark, cheering on her beloved Giants or at home creating some new laser cut jewelry.
Libby Catzalco, Program Coordinator
Nicole loves learning how to do new things even if she never returns to them (read: novice of many traits). This spirit is what initially caught her eye about Brightworks in 2015, the idea of wading around and diving in to three new topics each year. She works, lives, and plays in San Francisco with her husband and enjoys people watching, traveling near and far, music, and movies. She loves reading children’s books, blogs, instructions, and recipes. Nicole is a certified wellness and yoga instructor. In 2006, 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 before joining Brightworks.
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 Teach for America. After teaching core subjects for a year, Phillip was asked to pioneer the introduction of digital arts and sculpture curriculum to the school. He currently holds a Multiple Subjects (K-8) Clear Credential and a Single Subject (K-12) Credential in the Visual Arts. Phillip is drawn to learning that incorporates multiple disciplines and weaves the sciences within the arts as often as possible. 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. Since 2017, Phillip has co-authored and led workshops at Brightworks for visiting educators, as spreading our pedagogy to different leaning environments remains a passion of his. Phillip believes in teaching students to be disciplined lifelong self-learners, through collaboration, rooted in the design thinking process. Outside of teaching, Phillip is a practicing graphic artist, sculptor, and event designer.
Rachel is a Memphis native who has spent her last 7 years teaching and travelling around the world. With a background in Biology and Chemistry, she trialed careers in research and in healthcare, but something was missing, and she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. While playing a game of volleyball with campers from an English language immersion camp, she finally realized what it was. The immeasurable joy kids brought to her, especially watching them play, learn and grow, could not be matched in any way. She moved to Australia to study education (and also to pursue her love of sunshine and surf) and worked as a Math and Science Specialist in Middle School and then as a 6th Grade Teacher. Itching for a new adventure after about 5 years, she sold most of her belongings, rented out her house and took a backpack and surfboard around the world for 18 months. She considers her most important task as an educator to be ensuring students feel acknowledged and celebrated. She is thrilled to be a member of the Brightworks family and can’t wait to imagine, create and explore with everyone here!
Liz has been working with children for the last 20 years- in museum settings, theater projects, and in schools. Originally from Detroit, Mi, Liz moved to Chicago to follow her dreams of theater. She got her BA in Theater at Loyola University and got her MA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Columbia College. Liz spent some years “living the dream” as a waitress and struggling actress. Her love of theater brought her to working with children when she started working in childrens’ theater and museum education. Liz worked at the Museum of Science & Industry and The Field Museum, designing and leading Family programs. In 2003, Liz left behind cold Chicago winters and moved to the sunny Bay! She got her start working at The Exploratorium roaming the halls and playing with school groups and families. In 2006, she completed her teaching certification at New College and started teaching 2nd and 3rd grade at EnCompass Academy, an Oakland public school. Over the years, Liz has been focusing her interests on social justice teaching and Maker Education. Teaching has been an incredibly rewarding journey and Liz is thrilled to continue the journey at Brightworks!
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.
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 before starting 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. The first of her two graduate degrees was through the Arts in Education program at Harvard University, which advocated accessing neurodivergent learners through arts integration into traditional and non-traditional curricula as a powerful enrichment tool. Her masters from The School for International Training provided a foundation in social justice, training design, program management and evaluation. She wrote her masters thesis on the dual identities that activist-educators have when working in diverse communities.
Along her journeys she realized somewhere that education is relational. Surely the process of teaching involves more than the imparting of information. The people who have inspired her as truly great educators engage, challenge and inspire their students. In her efforts to become a truly great educator, her philosophy of education is based on three guiding principles: Integrity through Inquiry, Creating a Community of Diverse Learners, Joy in the Process over Product. Ultimately attitude is everything. Laughing is the best way to learn. A love of learning is infectious. Other loves she has when not collaborating include her family, art, cooking (and eating), travel, music, stories in nearly any form, more travel, and learning new things (e.g. how to play the ukulele), but not necessarily in that order.
Sam has been helping kids make projects and trust in the power of their ideas since 2009. From facilitating video production workshops in movie theaters across the rust belt of rural Ohio to teaching 6th grade English in Mississippi and Tennessee through Teach for America to partnering with Northwestern University and the YMCA to build a free makerspace for middle-school students in northern Chicago, Sam’s career in education has been (literally) all-over-the-map, yet consistently focused on improving educational equity and leveraging the transformative power of the expressive arts. He has given presentations at the National Art Educators Association Conference and Argonne National Laboratory, was named a 2016 Fellow through the FabLearn program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and was a contributing writer to Meaningful Making Vol. 2 published by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Over the past two years, Sam has juggled several roles at the IAT, including Aftercare and Park Collaborator and Site Manager of Tinkering School Overnight Camp, and is thrilled to be leading a Band this year. When he’s not at Brightworks, you might find him three rows from the front at the Roxie Theatre, catching up on the latest documentaries, drawing by Lake Merritt in Oakland, or volunteering at the Exploratorium.
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 SF in 2009 and found Brightworks 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 looking forward to grow, move and sing with the youngest students of the Brightworks community this year.
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 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.
Ruby, After Care Collaborator
One of Ruby’s greatest loves is climbing trees, and they try to incorporate that into their work as Aftercare Collaborator as much as possible. Inspired by the Brightworks mission to empower youth to lead their own educations, they eagerly joined the Aftercare team in Spring of 2019. Their experience working with youth ranges from organizing human rights oriented camps as a youth through CISV in New York, co-directing the LGBTQ+ youth-led community organization Stonewall Youth in Olympia WA, mentoring young musicians with the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp & Seattle’s Queer and Trans Youth Music Project, and working with kindergarteners on art projects in a traditional classroom setting. The core of Ruby’s praxis in youth work is self-determination, self-empowerment, and creativity, while incorporating a framework of anti-ageism and mutual respect. This is guided by the belief that each individual is most knowledgeable of their own experience and subsequent needs. They strive to engage with youth deeply, as autonomous humans working together to understand and move through the world we live in. Ruby is gender non-conforming and uses they/them pronouns.
Daniel Bigler, After Care Collaborator
Inspired by countless viewings of the film “Jurassic Park” as a kid, Daniel Bigler really wanted to be either a dinosaur or a filmmaker when he grew up. It turns out the “growing up” part never actually happened, though, and instead Daniel has made a career out of supporting children’s play and curiosity. Prior to coming to Brightworks in 2016, Daniel spent many summers building and playing with kids (and Gever) at The Tinkering School while also working as a faculty member in Children’s Studies at Eastern Washington University during the school year, where he taught courses on the Sociology of Children, the Geography of Childhood, Children’s Play, Children in Film, and more. He holds an MA in Childhood Studies from King’s College London and is finishing an MA in Children’s Rights from the University of Geneva. As an Assistant Collaborator at Brightworks who helps with Aftercare, Parktime, and the younger bands, Daniel has an immense fondness for silliness, adventure playgrounds, children’s books, playing around, movies, and trying to build the longest Hot Wheels track ever in the history of the universe.