FableVision Resources for a Summer of STEAM


Get ready for a STEAM-infused summer! The integration of the Arts into STEM adds a dash of creativity into summer learning. Here are just a few of our favorite STEAM projects for you to play with. This list is perfect for parents looking to keep their kids engaged over the summer months—and have fun while doing it!

Looking for something more hands-on? Check out our kite-making activity below, created by FableVision’s Christina Kelly!

Geniverse, Concord Consortium
Geniverse is a free virtual lab environment that allows students to learn about biology through interaction and experimentation. In Geniverse, students are able to investigate dragon phenotypes and genotypes, run breeding experiments, and solve genetic problems. Geniverse encourages students to have fun while learning biological concepts through interaction with mythical beasts but each concept is rooted in science and can be directly applied to both the classroom and the real world.

Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science, Smithsonian Science Education Center
Good Thinking! is an engaging and entertaining free web series designed to enhance K-8 science education, and deepen understanding of STEM topics for teachers and students alike through exploration of pedagogical ideas across a range of subject-matter topics like energy, natural selection, and gravity, as well as cognitive research findings on topics such as student motivation, or the myth of left- and right-brained people. Each episode has been vetted by experts and adheres to next generation science standards.

Weather Lab, Smithsonian Science Education Center
Weather Lab is a free online game that allows players to select different ocean currents and air masses that visualize the result of the combination. As a tool used in classrooms, care was taken to ensure the correct symbols and movement of air masses correspond with the weather pattern and land at the exact point on the map. Teachers use the Weather Lab to encourage students to think critically and make predictions. The overall goal is to teach students about the relationship between climate and how it affects them on a personal level. 

Zoombinis, TERC
In Zoombinis, players test their logical reasoning, data analysis, pattern finding, and problem-solving skills as they help Zoombinis complete unique challenges. Through Zoombinis, players learn important life skills including algebraic thinking, data analysis, and theory formulation in a fun and engaging setting. With 12 puzzles and four levels of increasing difficulty in each, players are constantly challenged, improving their problem-solving skills as they advance through the game. Hip, hip, Zoombinis!

Sid the Science Kid, Jim Henson Company/KCET/Los Angeles for PBS Kids
The website created for Sid the Science Kid allows 3-5 year olds to explore and practice scientific methodology through several games that integrate progressive learning and open-ended play. The site encourages collaborative learning between adults and children by providing interactive teachable moments that extend the learning within each game. The Parent/Teacher sections contain free extensive information about the show and the website, and they provide resources to aid adults as they explore science and help answer their children’s questions.

Renegade Buggies, National Center for Families Learning
With retail wrapping, Renegade Buggies encourages free financial and mathematical literacy for the whole family. By combining gaming with money management skills, Renegade Buggies is a fun way for both children and parents to learn basic budgeting skills. The game has four levels: unit prices, buying in bulk, coupons, and promos. The entertaining gameplay meets the educational goals seamlessly, and customizations up the fun factor: visit the virtual body shop with your earned coins for a stunt suit, bunny ears, and more!

Fab@School Maker Studio, FableVision Learning
Fab@School Maker Studio is an easy-to-use web-based digital design and fabrication tool that invites students in grades 3-8 to experience STEM and STEAM learning in a more engaging, personally meaningful way. Fab@School Maker Studio offers a unique on-ramp to engineering with cross-curricular activities ranging from simple to sophisticated. The program supports a variety of materials and a large set of tools from scissors, rulers, and pens to 2D cutters, laser cutters, 3D printers, and more!

Get Crafty with Christina Kelly, FableVision's Production Designer!

Meet Christina, the mastermind behind our new summer banner full of cats and kites. She’s taking inspiration from her summerscape to show you how to make (and fly!) your own handmade kite this summer. Let your imagination soar with her step-by-step instructions.





Collect your supplies. You will need:

  • Tissue paper
  • Tape
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Markers
  • Ribbon for the tail
  • String

1. Sketch and cut your kite sail
Fold the paper in half and taking a pencil, trace a half diamond the length of your dowel. Carefully cut out the shape and unfold your paper.

2. Build your kite structure
Take your wooden dowel and lay it down the center of your sail, from the top of the diamond to the bottom. Tape at the ends to secure the dowel to the sail. Take the second dowel and lay it down to form a “t” with the first piece. Tape the ends together.

3. Make a tail
Using your ribbon, add a few tails to your kite. For a fun look, you can curl the ribbon with your scissors. See directions here to learn how.

4. Attach your line
Take the string and tie it to the right and left hand sides of the horizontal stick. Then tie the string to the center of that string for your flying line.

5. Decorate your kite
Add a dash of personality to your kite! I really like cats so I’m making my kite a purr-fect blend of kittens and pizzazz.


6. Go out there and fly your kite!
You’re ready! Just find a strong breeze and watch your kite soar!



June FableFriday: Mia Doces, Director of New Mission Ventures at Committee for Children

Mia Doces lives and works by the “walk a mile in someone else's shoes” idiom. Turns out there’s a fair amount of perspective taking that comes with developing classroom tools that teach empathy and social-emotional learning (SEL) skills—but that comes as no surprise to the Director of New Mission Ventures at Committee for Children.

FableVision has partnered with Committee for Children on the award-winning ParkPals: Kindness Rules game, which teaches SEL and anti-bullying skills like fair play, responsibility, safety, and respect for 2nd and 3rd graders. As a former classroom educator, Mia has brought her expertise and experience to a number of like-minded environments and organizations such as Sesame Workshop and the Born This Way Foundation.

“For every product I’ve developed I put myself in the shoes of the users and imagine how the tool or the curriculum or the program is both helping kids and also making a teacher’s life easier,” Mia explains. “That’s always the starting place, but of course we test in classrooms because they are dynamic and unpredictable.”

Walk a mile in Mia’s shoes to learn more her adventures—from Committee for Children’s mission-driven work to hunting for the latest edtech tools and innovation, to traversing across America to find delectable donuts, to her riveting tales of bulls and carnivals in the rugged, rainforested land of Costa Rica.  

Committee for Children's Second Step program suite of resources

Committee for Children's Second Step program suite of resources

Committee for Children is a global non-profit dedicated to fostering the safety and well-being of children. Tell us more about the organization’s guiding principles.
Committee for Children’s mission is to foster the safety and well-being of children through social and emotional learning and development. We do that through both advocacy and education. The core work of the organization is to develop and disseminate evidence-based, social-emotional learning programs that are fun and engaging for young people and easy for educators to implement. The programs are developmentally specific to grade level and are aligned with best practice pedagogy.

You currently explore new avenues for broadening Committee for Children’s mission impact as the Director of New Mission Ventures. What does that role entail?
I spend a good deal of time out in the field talking and listening. I look for organizations and individuals who are taking innovative approaches to improving outcomes for kids and families. I look for opportunities to partner with others to help address unmet needs, especially when it comes to underserved populations. I consider how emerging technologies, like VR for example, might enhance or harm young people’s ability to learn empathy and social skills.

Then, the NMV team explores and experiments with new ideas—seeking to test hypotheses and continuing to iterate as proof of concept advances. In some cases, those hypotheses turn into actual products that our teams develop.

Mia Doces on the  Anti-Bullying Panel at Sesame Workshop

Mia Doces on the  Anti-Bullying Panel at Sesame Workshop

You’ve been in the education space for a long time, first as an educator, then working with Committee for Children. How has your teaching experience informed the work that you do?
I know first-hand how demanding and difficult—and rewarding!—it is to be an educator. Sometimes you imagine something, say a lesson, working one way and you try it out in a real classroom and realize you hadn’t accounted for one factor or another and it turns out completely differently than what you’d expected. There’s so much iteration and retesting that needs to happen. Having been an educator really helps with the notion that even in the workplace you need to constantly be a learner.

As technology continues to expand, how do you see digital tools boosting social and emotional skills in teaching and learning?
I think digital tools are most effective when they support and scaffold adult-child interactions, especially when it comes to teaching and learning SEL skills. Most adults do not necessarily feel like “experts” in the field of social and emotional learning. We make curricula and tools that are simple and fun to implement, allowing the adults to really learn alongside the children. Among the many goals of our programs are sparking relevant conversations, helping adults provide “in the moment” scaffolding to children as they work through challenges and creating a structure for skill practicing in a supported environment.

You were a key member in bringing the Second Step program to life. How does Second Step support and optimize SEL learning to improve student outcomes?
Second Step is a multi-component, research-based social and emotional skill-building program. The unique lessons at every grade level are carefully created and presented in an order that helps students build skills over the course of the school year. The elementary school program begins with a unit called Skills for Learning, in which children learn about and practice skills and strategies for becoming great learners. The activities are based in neuroscience, building executive function capacity via games and reflections. Then, children build skills in empathy and compassion, practicing skills like perspective taking and offering help. As the program progresses, students learn skills in recognizing emotions, regulating strong feelings, friendship-making, social problems solving, and a host of other skills and competencies that are integral for success in school and in life.

In addition to student-facing lessons, there are many resources for teachers, counselors, administrators and parents that give them the tools they need to support a child’s social and emotional growth.

How did Committee for Children come to cross paths with FableVision?
I met Gary Goldberger at a Serious Play conference a few years ago. We were excited to discover we had worked with a number of the same colleagues on aligned projects. Gary has great energy and humor in addition to deep roots in children’s media, so I knew he and FableVision would be great thought and work partners.

Studies show that mindfulness in the classroom can help create a happy, calm, and positive culture. How did you come up with the concept for Mind Yeti?
For years we’ve known about the benefits of a mindfulness practice for adults. But the research about the benefits of mindfulness for children was still nascent, albeit encouraging. We saw an opportunity to not only enrich the Second Step experience in the classroom by strengthening attention and calming skills through mindfulness exercises, but we also saw an opportunity to create a product that could easily bridge the home-school divide.

We designed Mind Yeti to be as easy to use and effective in the home as well as the classroom. To do this, we knew we wanted to create a light narrative that would both engage children and help them understand some of the fundamental components and benefits of mindfulness exercises. We did a lot of testing with young people to help guide our creation of the Yeti character, Yeti’s world and the Hubbubbles. The audio sessions include a diversity of voices and everyday sounds that help them feel interesting and familiar to kids. We have a saying that we strive to go “beyond the gong” and really make this experience relevant to the lives of today’s youth.

Are there new projects on Committee for Children’s horizon that you’re excited about?
There are so many! But one I’m particularly excited about is an experiment we’re doing within a Minecraft multi-player space. We’ve partnered with Connected Camps (Katie Salen and Mimi Ito) to explore how SEL content might be embedded in virtual environments. Situated within the social space of a Minecraft server, the peer-mediation program explores ways in which kids can develop problem-solving skills in the face of authentic and naturally arising conflict. The server allows many kids to play together in a shared virtual space, providing a framework for conflict resolution and communication tools. The program will pair SEL-infused online moderation strategies with a scaffolded conflict resolution program. It is being designed for middle school youth participating in afterschool programs.

We hear that you are quite a voracious traveler. Tell us an adventure story from your travels!
Recently, I was in the Arenal region of Costa Rica. When I travel I like to find events or activities that the locals enjoy, so when I heard a traveling rodeo was in the nearby town and that it was a big deal for locals, I had to go. When we got there, we found a rickety arena set up with lots of families in the stands, kids climbing all over the structure and, in the middle of the arena, there was a large group of children playing typical carnival games—wheelbarrow races, three legged races, etc. We thought it was a bit strange that an entire arena was set up for spectators to watch this. Until…they let out the bull. On the children.

Before we really realized what was happening we found ourselves watching a large group of children practicing what could only be described as rodeo clown training; taking turns trying to touch the bull or running wilding around it, attempting (not always successfully) to not get trampled. For the only two Americans in the crowd, the spectacle was terrifying—No helmets! No pads! But for the locals it was terribly exciting. And best of all—no one was seriously hurt!

Speaking of travels, rumor has it that you’re a foodie. What are some of your favorite spots to chow down in your hometown of Seattle, Washington…and around the globe?
I do have a notorious sweet tooth, so a 1 a.m. Voodoo Donut in Austin, Texas with Gary Goldberger and crew is always a delight! If you’re visiting Seattle and you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat! There are so many great restaurants to choose from! If you’re looking for great NW seafood in fun locations try:

Spotlight on ParkPals: Kindness Rules

with Rachel Kamb, Senior Program Developer
at Committee for Children

What was your experience like working with FableVision on ParkPals: Kindness Rules?
It was great to collaborate with such an experienced team. At Committee for Children, our primary focus is on teaching social-emotional learning skills and concepts to students in the classroom. A game-based product is a new approach for us. Bringing their expertise together with ours was a fun and creative process.

With a focus on bullying prevention, how does ParkPals aim to create a safe and supportive environment for kids
ParkPals was designed to focus on the behaviors and attitudes that prevent bullying from happening: respect, responsibility, fairness, and safety. These behaviors and attitudes support a positive social climate. Creating a positive social climate helps children feel safer and sets the expectation that they will treat each other with respect. It can reduce the likelihood of bullying and help students feel more comfortable reporting bullying if it happens. ParkPals is a virtual playground where children can practice these skills that contribute to a safe environment in safe space.

Join us for a discussion on
digital learning and SEL tools at ISTE!

Hear more from the ParkPals development team! Join FableVision and Committee for Children in San Antonio at ISTE for a session on fostering empathetic learning experiences in the classroom and at home. Committee for Children’s Rachel Kamb and FableVision’s Gary Goldberger and Leigh Hallisey will share insights on merging content with gaming to develop social-emotional competencies and reduce bullying.

What: Empathy Empowers: Digital Learning Strategies
When: Wednesday, June 28, 1 p.m. in San Antonio, TX

Click here for more session info!



Drawing from Memory: Wrapping up 20 years with our Wall of Inspiration

We’re strong believers in the power of play. The Wall of Inspiration at FableVision Studios serves as a reminder to keep our inner child’s sense of wonder alive. The wall is one of the first things to catch your eye when you walk through our front doors. FableVisionaries are encouraged to add to the wall with memorabilia, toys, or books—whatever it is that sparks inspiration and imagination in their work. Over the years, the wall has grown to include items from the newest staff members. The pieces each have special, nostalgic significance and it’s a testimony to our 20 years of creating lasting stories that matter, stories that move.

As we wrap up our celebrations, be sure to check out our 20th anniversary page here for more personal anecdotes on what makes FableVision the special place that it is as we continue on our 200-year mission.


1. Gary Goldberger, President and Co-Founder
The Blue Shoe was the project that started FableVision and launched my career. It was the first movie I directed and had a hand in animating. I remember spending nights and weekends working to bring this movie to life. It was a true passion project and it set me on the path towards creating stories that matter and move.


2. John Lechner, Art Director and Co-Founder
In the early days of FableVision, Peter Reynolds created a cast of characters called the NaviGuides, who live underground and help people achieve their dreams. One of our interns in the early days, Karen Kukta, created a plush version of the main character, Candu, as a gift for FableVision. Candu has been gracing our studio ever since, inspiring us. 


3. Karen Bresnahan, Executive Producer
Many of us grew up in the days of lunch boxes, and we created the FableVision lunch box as a fun marketing tool. We would fill it up with surprises and send it out to special people, and it was always a hit. There are still a few of these rare collector’s items left. 

4. Bob Flynn, Director of Art and Animation
I had a lot of fun learning about Pokemon and playing the new game this year. I’m probably biased, but I think these are the best Pokemon starter designs since the original ‘90s game. (I chose Popplio!)

5. Jordan Bach, Senior Developer
These two pins were made for Kickstarter supporters of Zoombinis, a game we made with TERC and Learning Games Network. They're a reminder of all the great fans who pitched in to help fund the project, and also of the fun time we had making the game.


6. Sarah Ditkoff, Marketing and Client Services Manager
I got this little trophy from the National Spelling Bee booth at my first ISTE Conference. I was new to FableVision and overwhelmed by how big and busy the conference was. It acts as a little reminder of a time I was scared of something but it all turned out okay—lucky for me it's shaped like an actual trophy!

 7. Loren Lee-Flynn, UX/UI Designer
Shortly after I started at FableVision, my parents attended an open house at the studio. My dad immediately noticed the Wall of Inspiration, and loved it. For him, the shelves cluttered with toys and random objects meant that his daughter had found a fun and friendly place to work. The next time I saw my dad, he handed me three grotesque plastic figures that he had painted as a kid. He suggested they would be a good addition to the Wall of Inspiration, and I think he was right.

8. Christina Kelly, Production Artist
While I didn't make the stars inside this jar, I watched multiple people in the office come together over the weeks to fold stars and fill the jar. It started as an activity for a project wrap party, and as people showed others how to make them, filling the jar with stars became an office-wide activity. It inspired me to see the filled jar, a physical embodiment of the studio coming together.

9. Mitul Daiyan, Marketing Coordinator
As I celebrate my first year at FableVision and help wrap up our 20th anniversary celebrations, I wanted to pay tribute to this meaningful year. This framed gallery includes the artists and former FableVisionaries who contributed their take on what makes FableVision FableVision. It inspires me to see the strides we’ve made with the help of a loving, wonderful, crazy-talented community.   




Preview of 2017 Content in Context Conference!

One of the cool things about going to Content in Context (CIC) for several years is seeing how educational publishing changes over time—with new challenges, trends, tools, and best practices. Technology is a big factor, impacting everything from content development to assessment. Publishers are facing issues related to Open Educational Resources (OER), data interoperability, and more. And, of course, there are several trends that are important to FableVision, such as the increasing use of games, growing interest in AR and VR, tracking and reporting of learning data from interactives and games, and integrating media into student-centered resources.

FableVision founder Peter H. Reynolds accepts the 2013 Visionary Award, part of AAP's Lamplighter Honors.

If you don’t know about CIC, it’s the annual conference of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) PreK-12 Learning Group. This year, I’m honored to be on the planning committee, working with a group of top professionals in the educational publishing field. The planning committee is working to make the conference a lively, valuable place to learn about edtech, product development, pedagogy, policy, and sales and marketing. And, of course, it’s a great place to network.

CIC includes pre-conference forums, the two-day conference, and a ceremony for the Golden Lamp Awards and the Lamplighter Honors. FableVision is thrilled that this year, as in several recent years, a product we developed is a finalist for a Golden Lamp Award. This year it’s the Good Thinking! free, animated professional development series, which we developed for the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The series supports K–12 science educators through targeted short-format videos that explore common student ideas and misconceptions about a range of science topics, such as energy, chemical reactions, and natural selection, as well as pedagogical subjects like student motivation and the myth of left- and right-brained people.

As part of the conference planning committee, I’ll be drawing from my experience in planning and developing educational media to moderate three sessions in different parts of the conference.

The first session I’ll present is Using Sales & Marketing Insights to Inform Technology Product Development. This conversation between Matt Keller, Chief Marketing Officer at Capstone, and me is part of the Content Forum. In working with FableVision clients, I’ve found that they don’t always understand the needs of administrators, teachers, and students in regard to technology products. Matt and I will explore these constituencies, and we’ll use case studies to identify ways in which developers can ensure their products meet the varying needs.

I’m most deeply involved in the EdTech Forum. After a series of presentations about the key technologies that support student-centered education, I will moderate a group discussion in which all of the panelists and attendees will generate 4–6 use-case scenarios. I’ll prompt and help shape the discussion with topics like variables like computer availability, the role of technology within the instructional design, needs for tracking and reporting, the mix of media to be used, and the degree to which the curriculum is student-driven vs. managed by the educator.

As the session progresses into the afternoon, participants will break out into groups and examine each use case in terms of the key technologies that were presented in the morning. The conference planners hope to turn the results of this entire forum into white papers for the industry.

The last session I’ll moderate is part of the conference itself. This session is called How to Make a Winning Play with Games. I’ve been fortunate to get several exceptional people to join my panel:

  • Steve Isaacs, a middle-school teacher in New Jersey, teaches a course in Game Design and Development. Steve is also one of the founding members of Games4Ed, an organization dedicated to increasing the use of games in the classroom. I recently joined the Board of Directors of Games4Ed.
  • Ryan Schaaf is a professor in the Technology for Educators Program at Johns Hopkins University. Ryan has written four books on educational gaming, and has a deep understanding of research into games.
  • Suzi Wilczynski, CEO of Dig-IT! Games, is one of the nation’s leading experts in game-based learning. Dig-IT! Games produces fun, engaging, research-based cross-curricular games, and FableVision has had the good fortune of developing their games Mayan Mysteries, which has won numerous awards, including a Parents’ Choice Award, and Can U Dig It!, a fun puzzle-based app.

During this session, we’re going to answer questions such as, What’s the difference between game-based learning and gamification? What are games good for? How can you make the best use of gaming’s strengths, and design games that are engaging and effective? How can you gather useful data from game play? And What can we expect in educational games in the next few years?

This year’s CIC conference promises to offer practical value and usable information to participants, along with an opportunity to exchange ideas with professionals across the educational publishing industry. Hope to see you there—find me and say hello!


About Shelby

Shelby Marshall is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Product Solutions. Shelby works with clients and partners to explore potential partnership opportunities and to map out the strategy and “ecosystem” for complex projects. He has a bachelor's in Biology from Cornell University, an MAT-Museum Education from George Washington University, and more than 35 years of experience designing and producing educational materials and experiences — including countless software products, websites, animated films, and books. Shelby is a Director of Games4Ed, an active member of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and a member of the Museum Computer Network (MCN). Learn more about Shelby



From the Classroom to the Studio: A Thank You to Our Teachers

As an educational media studio, we’re aware of the impact that teachers can have in our lives. True "Keepers of the Flame," they help shape our minds and empower us to reach our potential. Many of us at FableVision are here today because teachers in our lives helped us seek out and find our North Star. In honor of Thank A Teacher Day, we went around the studio to ask FableVisionaries who their special teacher(s) were.

Margaret Riel

Paul Reynolds, CEO and Co-Founder
Margaret Riel, Graduate School
Margaret is a late entry into my Creative Educator Hall of Fame—but I sensed an ancient wisdom about her right from that first day I met her in my graduate studies program at Pepperdine University. Her gentle, caring nature, and her encouragement that we would rise to the occasion made a deep impression at a time when I wasn't sure I wanted to continue in the program. She said one thing that has echoed within me ever since, "I want you to become more powerful versions of yourselves." It hit my heart and my mind—and has been my fuel as I journey along.  Isn't it interesting that even one phrase can change a life?

Didi with Ms. Norton 

Didi with Ms. Norton 

Didi Hatcher, Lead Animator
Ms. Melanie Norton, 9th Grade

Ms. Norton was my physical geography teacher in high school, and one of the teachers to leave the biggest impression on me. She was fresh out of college; she had come to a new country (Bulgaria), and had signed up to teach a subject different from what she was ultimately assigned. So she had a lot to learn on all fronts, but she taught herself the material, found her way around the country, and grew as a teacher in front of our eyes. She had incredibly high standards and expectations, both of herself and of us, and pushed us farther than we thought we could go. It was an English immersion high school, and I started off not speaking any English, so the cultural/linguistic element was part of my struggle too. But her example and her perseverance motivated me to keep pushing myself. Being able to identify with your teacher, and to share in a similar struggle, helped immensely. And she always believed I could do just a little better than last time, even if last time was perfect. She had bonus questions, bonus points, and bonus assignments for the students who wanted to go above and beyond. She taught me that there is no top. There's always room to grow better and reach higher.

Christina Kelly, Production Artist
Merry Beninato, 5-9th Grade

Merry was my introduction into private and focused art education. In her garage studio, she had lots of interesting items and trinkets that she encouraged her students to pull from to make unique compositions. She inspired me to decide how to challenge myself and where to look for art in the real world. If you were lucky enough to be her friend and long-term student, she had fun camping trips and retreats to the MSPCA to draw animals. I am so incredibly thankful to have had the doorway to the art world opened by her.

Ellen Hart, 11-12th Grade
Ellen Hart unlocked the treasure chest of opportunity for me when I felt like I was at my lowest. As the new kid who recently moved to a new town and knew no one, independent study art class was the retreat I didn't know I could have and needed so much. Ellen Hart and my other teacher, Ms. Nadeau-Tanner, gave me my own private half hour of the school day to use the photo-developing, art, and art supply storage rooms. Did I want to make a 5x5 foot painting? I was shown how to stretch the canvas. Did I want to take life-drawing classes? The name of a nearby place offering them was enthusiastically given to me. Ellen Hart made me feel like I was being invested in well before I was thinking about art professionally, and it has left a huge impact on me throughout my adult life.

Ric Allendorf, Sophomore/Junior Year of College
I feel very lucky to have had Ric Allendorf as a teacher at MassArt. Ric taught practical professional tips, as well as thoughtful poetic thoughts about how to look at shadows when the seasons change. Never a pushover either, he pointed out some stereotypes I had ingrained in my method of illustrating. I fondly remember him making homemade bread with everyone and that time when he made black walnut ink for everyone in my class. Every time his class was over, I’d realize that I didn't want to leave. His classes made me realize that learning was a lifelong passion.

Brian's family with Mr. and Mrs. Murray

Brian Grossman, Technical Director
Mr. Murray, 9th Grade

As a lover of math and science, I had always ranked my math and science classes above my language arts, social studies, and foreign language classes. That was until 9th grade English with Mr. Murray. His class was somehow more fun and interesting than any of my others. After doing a fair amount of teaching myself, I now appreciate that Mr. Murray never taught class “by the book.” As I look back at his class, I am amazed at the amount of time he must have put into crafting his lessons. In his class, I learned everything about the Greek gods, explored the fundamental archetypes of literature, and mastered how to “show” rather than “tell” in my writing. And if that weren't enough, I met Marci Levine (now Marci Grossman) my wife of nearly 20 years in his class.

Since our time together, Mr. Murray has become Mike. We get together regularly for dinners and drinks, catching up on our latest adventures and reminiscing about our time together in 9th grade English class.

Leigh (pictured on the right) in high school

Leigh (pictured on the right) in high school

Leigh Hallisey, Creative Director
Dr. Edward Sokolowski "Socks," 11th Grade English

We were studying poetry in AP English (I still can recite "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening!”). Dr. Sokolowski taught us how to analyze a poem; every word, every punctuation mark, the historical context, every rhyme or lack thereof, for meaning and a window into the author's intent. One day, Dr. Sokolowski played us a song, "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, and said, "You can study song lyrics just like a poem," and had us focus on analyzing the instruments, rhythm, and vocalizations as well as words. My mind was blown. Later that week, he played us a music video he recorded on MTV, I think it was Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream," and added analyzing the visuals, editing, and camera movements into the mix. I would stay after class and after school to talk to him about music and film.

This class opened up a whole new world to me and I went on to study English, film, and television in college and then popular culture in graduate school. I really credit "Socks"—who was so kind, so smart, so encouraging, so engaging, so professorial in his cardigan with elbow patches—with helping put me on the path of being a media analyst and creator.

Bob in elementary school

Bob Flynn, Director of Art and Animation
Ms. Carter, 4th Grade

My 4th grade teacher Miss Carter encouraged me to draw. So much that she laminated four of my Ninja Turtle drawings and put them on the wall in the classroom. Right up front near the chalkboard! This was one of the first times I clearly remember a teacher valuing me for my passion, just as much as academic grades. I was a straight-A student, so I was used to being praised for the latter and appreciated the attention to my craft.

Jordan Bach, Developer
Mrs. Russell, 12th Grade

I lucked out with having so many inspiring, great teachers. To pick just one, Mrs. Russell taught me how to think critically and how to write. I learned to form my ideas into something with mass. In classroom discussions, she played devil's advocate, helping us to look more deeply. She challenged me, and I felt both frustrated and exhilarated. In the final weeks of senior year, with the trees budding and commencement nearing, she assigned a paper on Heart of Darkness. Who does that? She taught me I could expect more of myself.

Yvonne Bernardo

Mitul Daiyan, Marketing Coordinator
Yvonne Bernardo, College

I entered undergrad not fully prepared to take on college coursework; I couldn’t even write a proper essay! It was Professor Bernardo who took it upon herself to use her office hours to not just turn my writing into beautiful, thoughtful pieces but to show me the ins and outs of academia, listen to my stories, make me laugh, and be a mentor and friend. She invited me into her home and cheered me on when I needed the extra support. I owe a lot of my development to her and will never forget how much love and learning she has brought to my life.

Thomas Head

Thomas Head, College
Professor Thomas Head was an intimidating professor. I was terrified of both him and the rest of my classmates in the honors seminar that would change my life. I will forever be grateful to him for seeing through my shyness, for pushing me to apply to graduate school, for believing that I'd get in, for taking my parents out to dinner to convince them to let their Muslim daughter leave home to learn, for helping me scrounge up money so I could attend school, for all the empowering conversations that helped me feel less like an imposter. He passed away a few months before I graduated from Harvard so commencement day felt empty without him. There’s a sea of supportive people in my life but Tom will always stand out. I hope that I can do my best to honor his memory.

Mikaela with Mr. Barr

Mikaela Johnson, Production Assistant
Mr. Barr, 7th Grade

Mr. Barr was my 7th grade English teacher. He was one of the funniest teachers I’ve ever had. He’d send his classes into eruptions of laugher with his unparalleled jokes, wacky stories, and his famous “terminator walk” where he’d trot back and forth through the classroom in his favorite pair of clogs. He always made me feel comfortable in class, which was especially important give how shy a student I was. I will always be grateful for his warmth, humor, and patience.