The Kidizens team is made up of experienced teachers, dedicated volunteers, and creative people who are committed to designing a highly interactive LEGO learning environment that students love.
Interested in working with Kidizens as a teacher, camp counselor or student volunteer? Contact us.
The Kidizens Team
Prerana Vaidya, Kidizens CEO
Prerana Vaidya is the CEO of Kidizens. She is focused on growing the company by expanding our programs, partnering with educational institutions and opening new locations. Prior to joining Kidizens, she was Director of Technology Investment Banking at UBS where she provided corporate finance advisory services to companies in the software and IT services sectors. Earlier in her career she was at Philips Electronics with responsibility for new business development. She is also the co-founder of USHA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use and education of the Hindi language in Bay Area schools.
Prerana has an MBA from the Stern School of Business, New York University where she was the recipient of the Dean’s Award, and an MS in Computer Science from Iowa State University. She enjoys hiking, biking, traveling, and tennis. Above all, she is passionate about working with children – finding it one of the most challenging as well as fulfilling things in her life. She is committed to sharing all that she learns with the kidizens in the hope of inspiring them to love learning, to celebrate their individual strengths and above all to have fun.
The Role of the Kidizens Teacher
Teachers have a number of roles at Kidizens, but they are never decision-makers in the council meetings. Rather, teachers act as neutral and non-voting members of each city. The teacher guide discussions, provide perspectives and often historical background on various topics as well as teach lessons on the subjects at hand…but it is never their job to interfere or to say “No” to the kids innate abilities to think, problem solve or take decisions. These are cities run by and for our kidizens and they learn often times by making mistakes and through the consequences of their decisions. Each week, the staff (with help from kidizen journalists) also writes a Kidizens News post that describes the events in the city.
Meet our staff that provides a fun, guided discovery and a highly interactive, social learning environment for your kids -
Louise Kraft, Teacher
Louise has always had a passion for education. Before moving to the Bay Area this summer, Louise was a Teach for America Corps member in Boston. There, she taught 5th and 6th Grade English at a KIPP Academy charter school. Louise graduated from Cornell University in 2009 with degrees in English and Psychology, and earned her Master’s in Education from Boston University in 2011. Louise grew up just outside of Philadelphia and currently lives in Palo Alto.
Nora Richman, Teacher
Nora is delighted to be taking on a teaching role at Kidizens! After earning her undergraduate degree in developmental linguistics from Earlham College, she received a master’s in school counseling from Vanderbilt University in 2011. She spent the past year working with migrant students in Monterey County and teaching with Galileo Learning in Los Altos. Nora is passionate about helping young people learn in ways that are innovative, effective, and FUN! She loves spending time outside in the sunshine, cooking, making art, playing guitar, making new friends, and exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer.
Drew Jones, Teacher
Drew is very excited to have joined the Kidizens team! He graduated from Radford University in Virginia with a BS in Environmental Biology. He has spent much time teaching environmental education to children across the country in Virginia, Mississippi, California and Alaska. His passion and dedication toward teaching environmental activism and civic awareness made him a popular teacher with many outdoor education programs. In his free time you can find him hiking, longboarding, playing music, running and smiling at the beach.
Kristina Lindsay, Teacher
Kristina is in her second year as a Kidizens teacher. Currently, she also works as a resource aide at Duveneck Elementary School in Palo Alto. She grew up in Palo Alto and went to Duveneck, Jordan and Paly. After graduating from Humboldt State in Women’s Studies, she went on to serve in AmeriCorps for two years. During those two years, she worked with elementary & middle school students in Humboldt County and East Palo Alto. One of her AmeriCorps terms was spent working for YCS (Youth Community Service). She loves dancing, drums, outdoor adventure, travel, animals and kids. This summer she was in Costa Rica volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary with 28 monkeys. And her grandpa was once the mayor of Palo Alto!
Steve Putz, Teacher
Steve Putz has coached award winning FIRST LEGO League teams since 1999 and has been teaching LEGO robotics, computer programming and animation classes at local schools and summer programs since he founded RoboticsLearning.com in 2002. Steve was a member of the LEGO Mindstorms Developers Program (MDP) and helped test the LEGO Mindstorms NXT product before it was released. Steve has a degree in Computer Science from U.C. San Diego, did software research at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and has several software patents.
Mandy Ice, Teacher
Mandy leads the efforts of our Young Kidizens program. Since earning her Master’s in Museum Studies, with a focus on learning theory and multiple intelligences, Mandy has been teaching at and developing curriculum for many Bay Area schools and museums. She is interested in creating meaningful educational experiences for students of all ages by designing curriculum projects that meet a variety of learning styles, with a particular emphasis on interactive learning environments. When not teaching, Mandy is finding opportunities to learn more about everything around her. Mandy grew up in Georgia and has lived in the Bay Area since high school. She earned an undergraduate degree in Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and used what she learned about primates to study Howling Monkeys in the jungles of Costa Rica. She spends her free days hiking and camping with her husband and her dog.