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 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 –
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.
Fiona Watson, Program Director
Fiona joined Kidizens in March 2015 as the Program Director. She recently moved to California from England, where she gained her undergraduate degree in math and geography, with additional teaching status, from Bath Spa University. She has spent the past 20 years working in a number of UK schools. Most recently she was brought in to an underperforming school as a Vice Principal to support the school’s raising in standards. The school successfully achieved this under her leadership. Fiona has also worked for several years for Southampton University; lecturing under graduates and mentoring student teachers.
Fiona is passionate about providing an interactive, fun learning environment where children are prepared for the ever changing world ahead of us. In her own time, Fiona loves to spend time with her family and friends, hike in the beautiful local mountains, cook and bake, read and explore California.
Alex Smedile, Teacher
Alex joined as a teacher at Kidizens in April of 2016. Originally from Washington State, he recently returned to the States after four years working as head teacher of an English academy in South Korea. He completed his degree in cultural anthropology with a minor in teaching English as a second language(TESOL). He has a deep interest in linguistics and language acquisition in young children. His mother and father were both elementary school teachers and he has fallowed in their footsteps and dedicated his life to education. He plans to continue his own education and complete a MA in elementary education. Alex has a very high energy teaching style and prides himself on being able to connect with his students and create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable and are actively engaged in their own learning.
Alex is thrilled to be newly settled in the beautiful bay area. He enjoys hiking, running, camping, sea kayaking and snowboarding among other outdoor sports. He has also well-traveled and loves to try strange new foods and learn to cook some of them!
Rachel Cedar, Teacher
Rachel Cedar joined Kidizens in October 2015 as our newest teacher in the Los Altos center. A recent transplant from New York City where she had a private parenting education practice, Rachel earned her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of California-Berkeley. Rachel has an area of specialty in child development with an emphasis in early childhood, toddlers and preschool-aged children. She has taught parenting courses and conducted workshops and training as well as facilitated support groups for new and second time parents. Rachel also published the sibling preparation children’s book “When Mommy Has Our Baby” in 2014.
Rachel stays busy as the mother of two young boys. Together they enjoy watching and playing sports, hiking, biking, and traveling. In her own time, Rachel is an avid reader, and enjoys book club and literary readings, photography, farmers markets and cooking.
Scott Gentile, Teacher
Scott has been with Kidizens since Fall, 2015. Scott has a BA in English with a Secondary Education minor from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA, and a BS in Biology, with a minor in Theatre from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Scott has taught children for seventeen years, cumulatively, including the past fourteen years as a Naturalist Instructor at the Web of Life Field School in Santa Cruz County; also, Scott has taught hands-on science lessons for the past fourteen summers at Renaissance Camp, an Art and Science day camp in Aptos, CA. Scott loves to make learning fun! An avid baseball (Red Sox) fan, Scott plays on and manages an adult baseball team. He also enjoys cooking/dining, hiking, writing, listening to music, camping, and relaxing to Nexflix with his wife, Katie.
Drew Jones, Consultant
Drew has been working with Kidizens as a consultant for over 3 years. Drew is a kindergarten teacher at Synapse. 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 and spreading smiles and cheer at Kidizens birthday parties as the main birthday party coordinator!
Anjali Pathak, Teacher
Anjali has been involved in teaching children of all age groups for about ten years now. She has always enjoyed counseling and teaching kids from pre-K to high school in various settings, with a Bachelors in Psychology and Gender Studies and MS in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Counseling, Human Development and Educational Psychology.
She has had experience in counseling individuals, couples and groups through internships and at private agencies. Anjali has also worked as a grant coordinator for her graduate school, which financially assisted student/parents by providing them with the security of semester-based grant money that went towards childcare for their child/children while they were in school. She is a driven person and loves to see others happy. Teaching children has always been a part of her life as many of her family members are or have been teachers. She moved to California from Texas in early 2014 after getting married. She loves the beauty of California and wants to continue exploring the area more!
Steve Putz, Consultant
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. He 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.
Kimberly Lee, Consultant
Kimberly is our resident LEGO Social skills expert and a consultant to the Kidizens team. She worked at J.P. Morgan for 14 years doing project management, research and analysis before returning to her roots in Human Development. Kimberly has an interdisciplinary degree in Biology and Society from Cornell University. The birth of her first child reignited her passion to work with families, and she has been teaching children for over 10 years. Kimberly is a Children’s Director at a local church and heads their Special Needs Program. In addition to being a parent mentor and teaching kids with and without learning differences, Kimberly enjoys time with her family and golden retriever Daisy, and loves skiing, scrapbooking, event planning and all sorts of arts and crafts.
Norna Ross, Teacher
Norna was drawn to Kidizens because it combines so many things she loves into one program: creativity, learning through play, building awareness of social and environmental issues, and much more. As a Kidizens teacher, she wants her students to gain a deeper understanding of how our civilization works, but be independent thinkers who can question the status quo and think outside the box.
Norna has been working with kids between the ages of 5 and 15 for 2 years. Before that she was a freelance graphics designer who worked for various nonprofit environmental organizations in the Netherlands. She also has a background in fine arts. In her free time she likes to cook, draw, go on long bike rides and grow her own vegetables.
Stephen Stauffer, Teacher
Stephen Stauffer graduated from the Academy of Art University with an MFA in 3D Modeling. Though he originally moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue a career in the entertainment industry his passion for working with children was reignited when he started volunteering at Epic Church as a Kids Program Teacher. A Lego enthusiast from a young age Stephen is excited to bring his passion and skills to the Kidizens program and help children learn and grow while also having a great time. Aside from Legos, Stephen also enjoys board games, video games, movies, theatre productions, reading, just about anything Disney and spending time with his wife and three cats
Suzanne Gibson, Teacher
Suzanne is the newest member of the Kidizens team. She is finishing up her first year as a Master’s of Social Work student. She grew up in Colorado, but received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After graduating, she moved back to Colorado to spend time with her family. She moved to Mountain View to attend graduate school and experience all that California has to offer yet again. She just finished up an internship at an elementary school as a school counselor where she realized her passion for working with children and youth and is really excited to be now a part of the Kidizens team. Suzanne enjoys coffee, reading, and the outdoors.