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Professional Learning Leader
Charity is a creative leader focused on innovation in learning. She's an author, professional learning designer,
and facilitator, speaker and over Deeper Learning enthusiast, thought partner, and learner.
She feels honored to be involved in designing and supporting high-quality teaching and learning environments that empower meaningful, connected, and authentic learning experiences in schools and in industry. Her repertoire of experience working in multiple countries and in the United States, with dozens of states, hundreds of schools, as well as multiple provinces in Canada, regions, international organizations, consortia, educational service centers, and charter management organizations has equipped her with skills and knowledge about the best ways to promote, scale and sustain innovative classroom practices and educational environments.
Charity has designed, developed, and delivered professional development workshops, sustained support sessions, and leadership coaching to dozens of clients throughout the nation and world. She has also played key roles in capacity building program development, organizational development, transformational planning, new school visioning, design, space design, hiring, and curriculum development as well as faculty mentorship, systems design, and implementation. She’s worked in industry, for Boeing, as an Instructional Systems Designer on an agile methods and technologies team to design world-class training and development programs. As a former teacher herself, she taught French language to students in grades 6-12 as well as to college students and adults using Project-Based Learning and authentic intellectual work.
She just completed a term as co-chair for the National Center for Restorative Justice.
Leader and Curriculum Designer
through powerful and authentic learning experiences. As a team member for PBL Consulting, Jaclyn has coached, facilitated, and developed workshops with the goal of making PBL accessible to teachers and students all over the world. She has been instrumental on a team developing and authoring NGSS-aligned Project Based Science curriculum.
Jaclyn has been a passionate teacher in public schools since receiving her Masters in Education and Elementary Teaching Credential from University of California, San Diego. Immediately out of grad school she worked at a traditional public school in San Diego teaching 4th grade. Jaclyn longed for a progressive environment in which projects and student voice would drive the learning and in which she could provide kids with a unique and innovative schooling experience.
In 2013, Jaclyn was hired as a founding Kindergarten teacher at High Tech Elementary in San Diego, CA. In collaboration with a team of seven founding members, Jaclyn co-constructed a Project Based school model with the values of community, personalization, and high expectations at the forefront. This work brought progressive learning to students and families in North County, San Diego.
In 2014, Jaclyn accepted the opportunity to launch another new school with a dynamic team in an urban environment in central San Diego. Since opening their doors, Thrive Public School has been recognized as a Next Generation Learning Model and one of the “Top 100 Schools Worth Visiting” in America by Tom Vander Ark, founder of Getting Smart. Thrive Public School is now one of several schools in a growing progressive charter school network and is home for Jaclyn, where she continues to grow as an educator, lead PBL curriculum development and do great things for kids.
Jaclyn is an enthusiastic and innovative educator who is dedicated to serving students in the elementary grades
career as a small business owner, electrical engineer, and renewable energy systems consultant before serendipity guided him to a second career in teaching.
After starting his teaching career at High Tech High, Scott went on to found a Project-Based Learning and Social and Emotional Learning consultancy called GRITLab and is now the assistant director of the Innovation Lab at The Nueva School.
Scott's work with students has been recognized in the documentary films Most Likely to Succeed and Beyond Measure as well as by the Paul G. Allen Foundation, Google, San Diego Foundation, Aerospace Physiology Society, McGraw Hill, Education Week, and the Teaching Channel. In his free time, Scott enjoys pondering, writing, and lecturing about constructivist math education, reaching introverted students, high-quality student work, and designing a feasible alternative to college.
Scott facilitates complex interdisciplinary STEM projects with a focus on developing GRIT in students. He started his
She has a passion for blending together Design Thinking, Personalization and Project Based Learning to create hands-on, engaging projects that connect students to the world outside the classroom.
Mindy has taught in various grades, school environments and locations from rural Northern California to urban San Diego for the past 17 years. She studied Project Based Learning techniques in depth and earned a M.Ed. degree in teacher leadership from the High Tech High charter school organization This is where she first became interested in the Design Thinking method and began to focus her teaching on the 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. She was part of the founding staff of an innovative public school in Poway School District, Design39Campus, which has a Design Thinking and Personalization focus.
Mindy and her students participate in Maker Fairs, learning conferences and public exhibitions often in order to share their work and educational philosophy with the world.
Mindy designs meaningful and relevant learning experiences with students in elementary
and middle school grades.
JOSEPH D. ACKER III
Leader and Designer
Joe went to the University of Florida where he received a Bachelor in Science of Engineering with a
specialization in Environmental Engineering. He began working as a project and field engineer for an international company designing systems to clean up hazardous and petroleum contaminated sites throughout the country. During off times, he found himself drawn to his wife’s elementary school classroom and the students who inspired him to bring the wonders of math, science, and technology into the classroom. In 1996, he transitioned from engineering into teaching high school AP Physics, Earth Science, and Pre-Engineering at the same pre-engineering magnet school that he attended as a student. Additionally, he was fortunate to mentor both a nationally acclaimed pre-engineering design team and FIRST robotics team.
Since 2000, Joe has been involved in numerous innovative education projects. He supported the creation of the Design and Technology Academy (D.a.T.A.) and ran a robotics program that supported an international award-winning robotics team. He also held a position for 5 years at High Tech High Point Loma as a mathematics and physics teacher at High Tech High North County. There he developed a cross-curricular PBL environment for math, physics, and humanities. He also pursued and received a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on teacher leadership from the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. He was a founding staff member at "e3 Civic High" located in the new San Diego library. He taught PBL Physics, supported the technology on campus and then became the Facilitator of Innovative Learning Design.
Joe now works with Thrive Public Schools, a Next Generation Breakthrough Model School and named one of the “Top 100 Schools Worth Visiting” in America by Tom VanderArk, founder of Getting Smart. Joe has served as Dean of Students and is now teaching Middle School Math, Physics and Science through PBL .
Joe truly enjoys sharing his understandings of PBL, STEAM and Blended environments with a special affinity for getting others involved in tinkering and the Maker Movement!
Cale Birk is a District Head of Innovation in British Columbia, Canada. Drawing upon his prior experiences as a school-
based administrator over the past 15 years, Cale works with leaders to co-create and model the deeper learning environments that we want for our students at every level: from the classroom to the boardroom. Cale helps leaders to see every class, faculty meeting, professional learning day, administrative meeting and Parent Advisory Council session as an opportunity to create experiences that build capacity and connections throughout their learning organizations.
Using our model for Learner Centered Design (LCD),
Cale has worked with schools, districts and health care professionals in Canada, the United States and in Asia to
re-imagine the use of their existing resources to design and implement engaging and thought-provoking learning experiences for members of their organizations - their learners. Guided by the principles of design, user-experience, Project-Based Learning, Instructional Rounds and Agile Schools, Cale constantly pushes leaders to ask themselves "Would I want to learn this in this way?" This question and guided practice with the LCD model work together to ensure learners are at the center of every experience.
Leader and Designer
Aaron began her career as a special education teacher after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Utah State
University. Her curiosity and interest in innovative school design has shaped her ongoing learning and experiences in education. In her 15 years, she has worked as a teacher, instructional coach, professional development specialist, elementary principal and program coordinator. Aaron currently works as a program coordinator for her local district.
Her breadth of experience supporting and leading education teams includes differentiating for special populations, proficiency-based grading and assessment, project-based learning, and innovative school design. These have allowed her to deepen her own learning and connect with educators across multiple states and districts.
Aaron was a founding teacher of The Academy of Arts and Academics (A3) in Springfield, Oregon, an innovative school based on the practices of project based learning and arts integration. In her seven years at A3, she partnered with her colleagues to develop cross-curricular projects for science and humanities, leading staff through assessment and grading realignment, and developing an internship program. She completed her Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Arts Integration from Lesley University and completed Administrative Credential at the University of Oregon.
As a team member for PBL Consulting, Aaron has coached, facilitated, and developed workshops with the goal of making high-quality learning accessible to teachers, as designers, and students all over the world.
agoal is to get her students outside making observations about their environment. She wants her students to see how the landscapes around them form and how scientific issues play out in their local communities. Around her school’s campus you can find her leading nature walks, digging up granite chunks and soil samples for a lab, or uncovering colonial artifacts with her students. Katharine enjoys developing new curriculum and she teaches courses in earth and space sciences, engineering, and local history and environmental studies.
In 2016 Katharine was selected as an educator collaborator for Science Friday, a nationally syndicated science news show on public radio. As part of their first cohort of educators, Katharine contributed online content and curriculum to their growing educational outreach initiative.
As an Earth Science teacher of over a decade of experience working with students from grades 7-12, Katharine’s
Learner-Perspective Coaches are recent graduates of schools where they have had substantial opportunities to
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Maya, is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Maya has been a student of project-based learning since the age of ten and is eager for the opportunity to help provide other students with the same type of education. Originally from Chesapeake Virginia, Maya and her family moved to San Diego when she was eight, where she attended public schools until receiving a spot at Explorer Elementary, the elementary school partnered with High Tech High.
In 2012 Maya entered high school at The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High where she would spend four years as a student senator collaborating with both staff and students implementing ways to better the school. In addition, Maya was also able to attend the Deeper Learning conference for three consecutive years where she had the opportunity to assist with and participate in workshops covering a wide range of alternative learning methods, including PBL.
Currently, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Maya is entering into her second year with plans to major in Psychology with a minor in Film & Television. When she is not out at a softball field cheering on her two younger sisters, Maya can be found at home expanding her film repertoire or at the beach with friends.
her students to design solutions, be creative and use teamwork to solve authentic problems. She currently leads professional development workshops in the US and abroad for educators interested in Project-Based Learning, Deeper Learning, and STEAM.
She graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.A. in Visual Arts Media and Film. In 2007, Zoë
began her teaching career with the High Tech High organization as a multimedia teacher. She created interdisciplinary multimedia projects while gaining her teaching credential and eventually earning her Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. After graduating, she started working for the GSE as a PBL Workshop Facilitator and eventually as a Tour Coordinator where she designed adult learning experiences welcoming over 2,500 visitors to the High Tech High schools.
In 2014, she returned to the classroom as an Elementary Engineering and Design Teacher at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista. She creates interdisciplinary engineering projects and curriculum based in the design process and engineering habits of mind (conscientiousness, creativity, collaboration, persistence, systems thinking and optimism).
Zoë loves helping her students see themselves as creatives and dreamers. She believes that doing work that matters and making meaningful connections to the community is essential in education. She hopes to empower others to pursue their passions and create projects from the heart.
Zoë is a positive and enthusiastic educator. She loves to spark creativity in others and help them discover their passions. She hopes to inspire
Luna is an energetic and innovative educator working with middle school students in Houston. Since 2017, she
has utilized PBL to address academic gaps in her students at her Title I school. As a team member for PBLC, Luna draws upon her experiences both as an educator and as a former student of High Tech High to facilitate workshops and create strong, personalized curriculum.
In 2015, Luna was hired as the founding Admissions Coordinator for Portfolio School, a mixed-age, project-based school in Manhattan. During her time at Portfolio, she drew upon her experiences working in the High Tech High Graduate School of Education to connect with educators and curate meaningful, creative, and rigorous projects for her elementary school students.
Luna received her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a concentration in English from Columbia University, where her work focused heavily on problems of equity in education. While at Columbia, Luna utilized these passions to develop a course for high school students around educational inequity in New York City. Her education culminated in her thesis, "Life-Based Learning: Project-Based Learning as a Response to America's Failing Education System and Love of Testing." Luna's writing on project-based learning has also been published by the Buck Institute and EdWeek.
Learner-Perspective Coaches are recent graduates of schools where they have had substantial opportunities to
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Sam, is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Samantha is a student at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California currently working on attaining her Biology undergraduate degree. Being a recent graduate of High Tech High, and having benefited enormously from her time there, Samantha is passionate about the future of education and what creative methods, such as PBL, can do for it. Her interest in pedagogy began when her freshman year at High Tech High was documented in the film Most Likely to Succeed. The reactions and excitement that she witnessed from viewers of this movie inspired Samantha to share more about her experience at this unique school and how it affected her learning and growth. Samantha hopes that in continuing to share her story, as well as those of her successful peers, she can inspire others in the education world to make school something deeper and more transformative than it has been for the last few decades.
In the future, Samantha plans to continue her studies in Biology, conduct her own research, and eventually travel the world exchanging ideas and collaborating on projects with brilliant minds in science. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys watching movies with her family, slacklining at the beach, and googling her two favorite species: bonobos and tardigrades.
Learner-Perspective Coaches are recent graduates of schools where they have had substantial opportunities to
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Dayyan is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Dayyan is an undergraduate student at UC San Diego . With diverse passions, Dayyan has spent his youth engaged in a wide-range of endeavors including film, technology, education, and social action. Recognizing service as the driving force in his life, he has aimed to devote these endeavors towards the upliftment of individuals and the empowerment of his community.
Always entrepreneurial in spirit, Dayyan developed a mobile app for Judo Math Inc. at the age of 16, co-founded the film production company Dawntide Pictures age17, and by the time he graduated high school, had independently developed and released another educational mobile app and won awards for several short films.
After graduating high school, his passion for education led him to South Carolina to spend a year at the Louis G. Gregory Baha’i Institute in South Carolina, training mentors for junior youth – middle schoolers ages 12 through 14 – through the Junior Youth Empowerment Program helping them study materials aimed at their own social, intellectual, and moral development, and helping them organize various service projects for the betterment of their communities. While working with the students, he was actively involved in the analysis of the social conditions of the communities surrounding the school, applying methods and strategies related to service, education, and social action influenced by Baha’i principles to contribute to the development of these communities.
Dayyan is currently a Computer Science major at UC San Diego, aiming to better dedicate his passions in technology, science, art, and education towards service to humanity.
Brandon Lee is a creative designer of educational experiences, a husband to the raddest woman alive, and a
and a fantastic curator of Spotify playlists. He is excited to be a part of the PBL Consulting team and hopes to share his love of tearing down outdated educational paradigms to support students in having deeper learning opportunities.
Brandon graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Child Development, focusing on linguistic development and STEM education. He continued to get his Masters in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston with a focus in teaching English as a second language. Combining his passion for language access and STEM education, he launched Boston Public School’s first elementary school engineering program at Dever Elementary, a dual-language school. After 2 years, he walked outside Boston one day with a wind chill factor of -15 degrees and realized he had made huge mistakes in his life. So he made the only logical choice and moved to San Diego, where he launched the engineering program at High Tech Elementary, North County. There he collaborated with teachers across the board to design over 50 interdisciplinary projects that integrated design thinking, explorative learning, and student agency with their classroom content. Currently, Brandon is the Director of Projects at Khan Lab School, the independent school associated with Khan Academy. There he supports teachers in planning their projects, aligns the school’s vision with the classroom pedagogy, and ensures top quality project-based learning in the school.
When Brandon is not in the classroom, you can most likely find him climbing a wall, whether outside or inside, in his kitchen cooking, or trying to teach his rescue dog that the world is not a scary place.
Wes Davis has a diverse background in science and progressive education. Since earning his degree in Biological
Sciences at California State University, Chico. Wes has cloned DNA in Santa Cruz, studied carnivores around Lake Tahoe, and filmed coral reef communities in French Polynesia. In 2005, Wes earned teaching credentials in Math and Science and began working as a STEM educator at a project-based middle school.
Wes's passions center on project-based, place-based, and social-emotional learning. His students have used photo surveys to reduce trash on campus, USB microscopes to produce videos that inspire inquiry, and woodworking tools to build structures that increase positive interactions among students. In order to gain a deeper understanding of place, Wes’s students organized and documented fourteen student-led field trips in one semester! His most impactful projects have blended stewardship, science, media, and student-led discovery to create lasting impacts on the local community.
Wes hopes to leverage his creativity and experience by coaching educators as they work to develop meaningful projects that go beyond the four walls of the classroom.
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Evon is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Evon is a student at Gibson Ek High School with a passion for innovative education and student's voice. Having experienced both traditional and innovative school settings, Evon is a strong proponent of project-based learning and aims to bring the joys of PBL to the people around him. A self-proclaimed storyteller and activist, Evon has devoted himself to recognizing and utilizing the power of community building for positive change.
In his time in PBL environments, Evon has developed and conducted workshops for educators, juvenile justice workers, and other professionals on both LGBTQ+ literacy and restorative justice. Along with that, he has worked on numerous projects pertaining to social justice and activism, as well as been an intern with his school district working on their equity policies.
Evon is planning on continuing his work in education, with plans on addressing equity issues and spreading the use of innovative education models. Currently a high school senior, he hopes to use his experiences in a PBL school to continue contributing to his communities.
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Marc is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Marc is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with a BS in Business: Innovation for Social Change. Throughout his academic career Marc engaged with project based learning for 12 years at the middle school, high school and college levels.
Ever the entrepreneur, Marc has been involved in launching startup companies since high school. Now a college graduate, Marc continues to work on his current startup while also working at WPI in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship department, helping others bring their own entrepreneurial ideas to life. He is extremely passionate about designing business to help transition the world to a more sustainable, healthy and honest future.
Marc has a wide range of interests, including: backpacking, traveling, photography, culinary, oenology, reading and more. During the first semester of his junior year of college he created an information database and brochure of available resources in Worcester for climate migrants displaced by Hurricane Maria. These resources are now used by city officials and local non-profit organizations. He then took off his second semester to live in France for two months and then hike the Appalachian Trail (March 9 - July 11). For his senior capstone project he helped a local non-profit redesign their financial model for long-term sustainability. His capstone project was a finalist in business school.
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Ravan is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Ravan Nahal is a student at Western Washington University where she is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Sociology and a minor in Education Social Justice. Her experience with Project Based Learning began with Highline Big Picture schools, an innovative project and internship-based school that combines student’s interests with real-world experiences. At Big Picture, Ravan held many different leadership roles in her community and took part in consulting projects to advocate for student voice and project-based learning to developing schools and/or learning environments looking for enriched student engagement. Ravan also took an interest in Restorative Justice Practices at her school where she was able to go through mediation training and assist in the implementation.
In the future, Ravan is looking forward to connecting with Western’s Fairhaven Interdisciplinary College to build a path that will prepare her to empower youth in the educational and justice system. Project Based Learning through Highline Big Picture has helped Ravan find her passion of working with young adults and helping them cultivate skills to thrive in the world outside of classrooms.
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Ashley is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Ashley has been a student of project-based learning since kindergarten: beginning as a student at Explorer Elementary, onto middle school at High Tech Middle, through graduation from High Tech High International in 2017.
In the Fall of 2017, Ashley started as a student at Syracuse University and as a Tutor at Syracuse City elementary schools through Syracuse University Literacy Corps. Being apart of a traditional classroom for the first time, Ashley realized the impact project-based learning had on her development and success. She is passionate and excited to bring alternative education to more students and educators across the nation.
Ashley is currently entering into her third year at Syracuse University with plans to major in Business Management with double minors in Psychology and Atrocity Studies and the Practices of Social Justice. She plans to pursue a path in educational consulting in the future. In her free time, Ashley enjoys musical theater, baking, and spending time at the beach with friends
experience meaningful Project Based Learning, as students themselves. Ryan is one of PBLC's in-house Learner-Perspective Coaches and engages alongside our experienced facilitators to support educators in high-quality learning experience design and development during our immersive workshops.
Ryan is a student at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven interdisciplinary college. His experience in Project Based Learning began at Highline Big Picture high school. Where, through internships along with Project Based Learning culminated in many rigorous and rewarding projects. At Big Picture, Ryan’s projects included studying school design by helping develop curriculum for a multimedia, Project Based middle school called Out of the Box Learning Studio (OBLS). He also developed an interest in Restorative Justice (RJ) practices and eventually took a leadership role in implementing RJ practices at his school. This drastically lowered his school's suspension and expulsion rates. Ryan continues to study and be involved with Restorative Justice both in and out of school. He now works with the National Center for Restorative Justice on curriculum and helping co-facilitate their workshops.
In college, Ryan is currently creating a degree titled: Bridging Education, Culture & Justice. The bulk of the work that he does at Fairhaven College is Project Based and interdisciplinary. Seeing the world through an interdisciplinary, Project Based lens has aided Ryan in his success inside and outside of the classroom. He’s minoring in both American Cultural Studies and the Education Social Justice minor. Ryan’s experience with Project Based Learning has influenced the way he interacts with youth and peers. When working in the classroom he is often helping develop creative ideas with the students that he serves connecting content, to interests.
Ryan hopes to work in the education sphere working directly with youth and advocating the implementation of restorative practices as a disruption to the school-to-prison pipeline. Ryan believes in PBL as the future of education needs to be dynamic and flexible while maintaining the academic rigor that prepares youth for life beyond the classroom.