I had one extraordinary teacher when I was a teenager—Joel Wittstein. “Mr. Wittstein” strayed far and wide from the curriculum, challenged and inspired us with edgy content, and treated us like the young adults we were all becoming. He was my English teacher in the 9th grade when I was 14 years old. That year I started writing poetry and I never stopped.
I received my calling to education at the age of 15 on the first day of the next school year while sitting in English class. As I listened to my new English teacher introduce a mediocre agenda for the year, I realized that I was looking at 3 more years of this—it was not a happy feeling. In my heart, on that day I became an educator. I knew that education could be different—engaging, illuminating, restorative—I had experienced it.
That commitment has helped guide me towards extraordinary mentors—innovative school founders like Carol and Tom French-Corbett (The New School in Cincinnati, Ohio) and Annemarie Roeper (The Roeper School), unschooling visionaries like John Holt (Growing Without Schooling network), Participatory Design innovators like Bela H. Banathy (The Asilomar Conversations) and Barbara Vogl, and many, many others.
That same commitment guides me today as I seek out people, programs, and content that honor and strengthen the tremendous capabilities of teenagers. Oddly, I have that English teacher in grade 10 whose name I have long forgotten to thank.
Hand in hand with this calling to education is my creative partnership with technology in the service of the Greater Good. I am an early adopter—I taught myself how to get on the internet the year after Apple announced the Macintosh at the Superbowl—ancient history for any teens reading this, and very pre-Web. My education + technology work includes co-founding multimedia labs (Digital Media Studios, Cyberlab 7), projects with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, NROC (Connected PD), NFTE Bay Area (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurism). I directed education programs for Linden Lab—innovators of the 3D internet (2006-2010). I advised universities, colleges, large urban school systems, small rural schools and international Ministries of Education on how to use the 3D internet for engaging learning. I met some amazing learning innovators and made some lifelong friends.
I have an awesome daughter, Catherine Zohara. She is my greatest mentor. I lived on the Big Island of Hawai’i for a year. We swam together often with wild dolphins.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I love jazz, early morning birdsong, and walks in the hills.
I love learning.