Instructor Biographies

 

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Fadya Bekta

Fadya has taught cooking classes in Marin County for  over 10 years working with kids of all ages. Her love of cooking developed early on as a child, inspired by the Mediterranean flavors of her mother’s kitchen. Her enthusiasm for cooking has led her to share that knowledge, and ignite a culinary curiosity for this lifelong skill in others. Nutrition and the environmental impact of the food we choose to eat are weaved into discussions during her immersive classes. When not teaching, Fadya is a Producer, Manager and Marketer of digital content for Dominican.

 

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Joe Dines

Mr. Dines has been teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English and history since 2002. Before becoming a teacher he spent 15 years working in the TV-commercial production and commercial services industries. In addition to a BA in English literature, and an MS in Organization Development, Mr. Dines has a certificate in Film and Video Production from the New York School of Applied Arts.

 

 

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Micah Franks

Micah Franks brings thirteen years of diverse teaching experience to our Summer Odyssey Program. His passion for mathematics is n-dimensional, but his love of beauty, joy and art is salient, earthbound and expressive. He’s learned the meaning of life with 7th graders in Los Angeles, and painted tesselations in Berkeley. He’s trained teachers at San Francisco State with exponentially adding pennies, and told stories with Icosahedra in Larkspur. Micha's excitement for working with gifted and talented students is evident in the diverse projects he’s developed for the class, Geometric Art and the Cerbro-Visual Pattern.

 

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Jennifer Lipson

Jennifer Lipson studied drawing at Oberlin College in OH., fabric design in Berkeley, CA., and received her BFA in painting from the School of Visual Arts in N.Y.C. In pursuing her passion for art, she has worked as a fine artist, a surface designer, a product design assistant, and an arts educator. She loves experimenting with new mediums and sharing her enthusiasm for art-making with others. Jennifer currently teaches 1st-8th grade art at St. Patrick School in Larkspur, K-5th grade art at St. Anselm School in San Anselmo, and is a facilitator with Drawbridge, an arts program for homeless youth.

 

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Brian Nielsen

Bryan Nielsen is a technology and design teacher at Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon. He has taught for over 25 years in all grade levels and holds a MS in Educational Technology. He recently joined our Summer Odyssey staff bringing with him the philosophy that every student learns best with a growth mindset. Bryan embraces project-based learning and creates an engaging and fun environment. Students in Bryan's classes design and create simple machines and then infuse technology to make the machines work by programming the microcontroller and wire small motors to the projects.

 

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Ron Pembleton

Ron Pembleton comes to our Summer Odyssey program from Kent Middle School, in Kentfield. He has been teaching middle school physical science for fifteen years. His first year teaching was at Vandenburg Middle School, the west coast rocket base for the U.S. Air Force. Having witnessed several rocket launches on the base, Ron enjoys teaching rocketry to future astronauts and engineers. He has received numerous education innovator grants and awards over the years, including most recently an "A+ for Energy" grant from BP Oil, which allowed Ron and his students to build Rube Goldberg simple machines using solar energy as a power source. He refers to teaching about rocket science as “a real blast”.

 

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Luis A. Santos

Luis A. Santos studied electronic technology, and earned a Masters degree in Multi- Media Design at California State University, Chico. He also minored in music and recording arts. While a student, he produced and composed music for stage performances, wrote one-act plays, and produced mixed media performances that incorporated video, dance performance, computer graphics and animation. He worked in media production in the private sector as a graphic designer, interactive media producer and did freelance multi-media projects. He continues his creative work blending technology and art and has been teaching technology classes, robotics. He is currently a Technology Coordinator while teaching graphic design and digital media art elective and piloting the maker lab exploratory wheel at Piedmont Middle School.

 

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Norma Guerra-Shaner

Norma Guerra-Shaner’s teaching experience spans grade levels from preschool/kindergarten to adult education. A native Californian, Norma loves to work with the middle grades. Teaching Spanish, the writing process, and art are her passions as her students write and illustrate their original stories every year. Every year brings new faces, new opportunities, and new ways of looking at life for each student as he/she taps into his/her strengths, voice, and talents. Outside of the academic world, Norma loves to garden, travel, read endlessly, spend time with her family and friends, and go to flea markets in search of antiques.

 

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Erin Sorensen

Erin Sorensen is an artist and art educator living and working in Marin County. She is a large scale artist and painter of 30 years international experience. Erin has completed hundreds of commissions worldwide with an emphasis on abstracted natural form and dynamic color. Commissions range from public historic works, modern installations, to private and community based works, including a large mosaic mural for the Kentfield centennial with the student body of Kent Middle School. Erin has trained and taught in traditional European art practices including modern and historic paint making, large scale art, painting, making and design. With a deep belief that assisting young artists towards a deeper level of creativity and expression will bring more creative solutions to the world. Erin works as an art specialist and community art educator and facilitator. Erin also offers inspired fine art works and dynamic collections produced from uniquely developed techniques that include metals, sands, wax, acrylics, and natural pigments.