Jean Kaneko, Founder, Chief Tinkerer
Jean is a 7 year old boy in a 40 something year old female body. She gets a lot of her love of technology and creativity from her father who was an electrical engineer who loved photography. Her early days of tinkering in the garage and the dark room with her father led her to a career working in media that combined science, technology and art. She studied psychology and film in college and went on to work with the world’s first HDTV production companies in NY in the 80′s. Among many firsts, she worked on live HDTV satellite broadcasts from NY to Japan and was part of a team that developed programming that showcased the new technology. NHK, the public broadcast company of Japan then recruited her to manage a new startup – HDCG ( High Definition Computer Graphics ) to develop creative programming its new HD and computer graphics technologies. Together with her husband, their company Inertia Pictures, she has developed programming for interactive technology think tanks, computer graphics production companies and developed an all CG IMAX film which was a proof of concept that data used in 2D could be used to create stereo 3D large format films. She has also produced creative content for interactive, virtual reality projects, TV series, online games, and online comics.
Jean’s obsession with creative uses of technologies led her to create The Exploratory as her son entered elementary school and she couldn’t find programs that enabled him to do hands on, inquiry-based learning that uses both sides of the brain. She has volunteered countless hours in preschools and her son’s elementary school classrooms as well as participated in teacher workshops around the country. She has visited schools that utilize project-based, inquiry-based and reggio inspired curriculums to put together unique programs that combine her love of tinkering, making, creative media and psychology for children to prepare them for the 21st century.
Now, if she could just figure out how to get her son to get all his clothes in the hamper…..
Paola Cervantes, Early Childhood Educator
Paola Cervantes has over ten years experience working with children. She began as an alumni mentor in her teens for a local community arts education program called Inside Out and proceeded to become a teaching artist to empower at-risk and underserved middle school age youth through visual arts, performing arts, and media workshops. After embracing motherhood, she decided to emerse herself into the study of early childhood. She studied child development at Santa Monica College and is working towards her MA in Human Development at Pacific Oaks College. She worked as a teacher at the New School-West Preschool in 2005-2013. At NSW, she taught and worked to make learning visible, interpreted data and created curriculum off the data collected. She has served as a mentor for interns from Santa Monica City College in their pursuit to work with young children. Passionate about sharing the value of quality education in early childhood to the greater community, she has presented her work on using sound and music as a language to support learning at North American Reggio Emilia Alliance and consulted with Brightworks in 2011. Prior to working at NSW, she worked in Venice as a teacher at First Years Preschool. Growing up in a family learning to live with special needs and raising a son on the spectrum has motivated Paola to advocate for children of all needs. She has presented with Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children to help parents through the process and was invited to join a panel on KCET’s family resource program “A Place of Our Own” special needs episode.
Anne Dang, Parent Educator, Early Childhood Educator
Anne Dang holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education. She has over 12 years of experience working with young children in a school setting. Anne started tutoring six graders when she was a junior high student and realized that was what she wanted to do. As she got older, her students became younger and found herself working with kindergartners. While gaining her units at San Jose State University, she accepted a student teaching position at the Children’s Center for Stanford University. Her time at Stanford allowed Anne to develop an understanding and respect for children that no textbook could offer. It also gave her the chance to put theories into practice, and that was an invaluable opportunity in it self. Anne taught at several schools, studied and learned different philosophies until she learned of the Reggio Emilia Approach. As swiftly as possible, she immersed herself in learning of the approach and soon was a Reggio inspired teacher at The Growing Place in Santa Monica. After many years of teaching, Anne made the choice to leave the classroom to welcome her newborn. Anne with her husband and two children now live in Westchester. Both her children attend a Reggio-inspired school and have now found the time and the right environment to work with young children again.
Educator Advisory Board
Dr. Evan Beachy
Evan Beachy is currently the Dean of Faculty, K-12 at New Roads and Director of New Roads’ Malibu Middle School a private k-12 school in Los Angeles. He has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels at both private and public schools in Los Angeles, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Costa Rica. Evan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology (Cum Laude) from Harvard University and completed the Harvard Undergraduate Teaching Education Program as part of this degree. In addition, he holds a doctoral degree from the University of California Los Angeles in Educational Leadership, with an emphasis on the transition from elementary to middle school settings in private independent schools.
Kristin is currently a preschool Director at The New School-West in Los Angeles. With an M.A. in human development, Kristin serves as a Director Mentor with the CECMP (California Early Childhood Mentor Program) and coordinates with Santa Monica College in the development of early childhood educators through internships and observation. As a member of the Westside Collaborative, she continues her dedication to the constructivist approach to learning through study in Reggio Emilia, Italy with Reggio Children and NAREA (North American Reggio Emilia Alliance). Serving on the advisory counsel for The Exploratory, she brings the need for exploration of mathematic and scientific properties and a heightened image of the child to public awareness.
Michele is a graduate of Michigan State University with a major in Elementary Education, Child Development, and Language Arts, with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. Michele previously taught at The Growing Place, a Reggio inspired program for 3 years. She worked collaboratively with a team in a multi-aged preschool room with children from 3 1/2 to 5 years of age. She was also selected as a mentor teacher to a Santa Monica College student. Through this program, Michele was chosen to participate in a regional study tour, Dialogues On Education in Reggio Emilia, Italy. With her knowledge in literacy and experience in movement, Michele led two professional workshops for educators and parents one titled, Knowing and Using the Language of Movement, Gesture and Expression with Young Children and Ourselves and the other titled, Literacy and Movement Intertwined. With her strong background in performing arts, she has also created dance and yoga after-school enrichment programs for young children. In addition to movement, she has a passion for using recycled and traditional art materials as tools for learning. Thus, kinesthetic and visual learning are two of the teaching methods she utilizes.
Previously, Michele student taught in an urban kindergarten classroom in Michigan, and a diverse pre primary setting in Perth, Australia. She has also had the incredible opportunity to volunteer at the International School of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland, working with special need’s children and English language learners.
Michele has also presented her work on creating scientific and mathematical environments, using unconventional and unique materials.
Michele is currently working with preschoolers and toddlers at Branches Atelier in Culver City.