The IDEA School employs life-long learners who are committed to our philosophy, engaged in the practice of inquiry, and bring a special combination of experience, skills, talents and passion to the table for the benefit of our students and their families. If you feel that you would be a great fit with our school, or wish to volunteer, let us know.
Debbie Towle, K-1 Collaborator
Bio coming soon.
Sally Rodgers, 2nd-3rd Grade Collaborator
Sally recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Poetry, from the University of Alabama. While pursuing her MFA, Sally was a Writer-Instructor with the University of Alabama’s Writers in the Schools program, through which she led weekly creative writing lessons with the 4th grade at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and previously with sophomores at Northridge High School. Sally also volunteered as a creative writing instructor in various 4th and 5th grade classrooms in Tuscaloosa. Sally was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Alabama, leading classes on Late American Literature, Intro to Creative Writing, and Composition 101 and 102. Sally also is a veteran of Second Street Children’s School here in Tucson, where she focused on social-emotional development and early literacy.
After teaching the Wildcats (4th-5th graders) at IDEA last year, Sally is now the lead collaborator with our 2nd and 3rd grade students, in addition to providing Workshops for, and facilitating Project work, with our 2nd through 6th grade students. Sally’s passions include helping our students develop their communication skills, especially in the area of creative writing.
Matthew (“Faffs”) Riederer , 4th-6th Grade Collaborator
When Faffs was little, he attended a student-led school much like the IDEA School. He loved having the freedom to get totally immersed in projects, as he does today. Faffs’ creative interests include sewing, making and recording music, video, animation, wood working, drawing, comics, painting and team sports. In college, Faffs studied chemistry and ethnic studies.
Faffs brings years of professional and volunteer experience to his role at the IDEA School, including:
– being a counselor at a summer bike camp in Denver, where he teaches safe urban riding skills and basic maintenance and mechanics to 8-14 year olds;
– formerly a substitute teacher at the Montessori School of Denver;
– tutored reading and math for elementary students in TUSD with Stepping Stone Tutoring;
– tutored high school and college math, physics and chemistry as well as SAT and ACT prep; and
– volunteered as an instructor in an after school elementary lego robotics club.
Faffs is our lead collaborator for the oldest classroom, in addition to providing Workshops for, and facilitating Project work with, our 2nd through 6th grade students. On any given day, you will find Faffs engaging students in engineering challenges, imaginative play, music-making, taking things apart, documentary film making, logic games… and most recently, bicycle maintenance! Faffs is also the co-parent of our students Sula and Violet.
Liz Hazer Prohaska, Science & Engineering Collaborator
Bio coming soon.
Adrienne Crawford, Special Education Coordinator
As her children grew, Adrienne became involved in multiple schools including a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool where she learned the value of play-based education. It was through her connection with and commitment to the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit that Adrienne experienced more deeply the role education can play in building community. Instilling a sense of social justice, building empathy, and fostering activism have become key parts of her educational philosophy. Adrienne shares her strengths in collaborative problem-solving, her passion for inclusion, and her love of beautiful, creative spaces for play with her students.
Having a child with an intellectual disability, Bentley, has shaped Adrienne’s view of education. She supports an inclusive classroom model which values each child for his or her own individual abilities and personality. She looks for ways to help children with special needs, and all children, spread their wings and learn to fly. Adrienne’s three children, Bentley, Clayton and Lillian, all attend IDEA School.
When Adrienne isn’t at the IDEA School you’ll find her riding the streets of Tucson on her cargo bike, loaded with her kids or hiking the trails of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. She is also involved in disability advocacy in the local community, serving on a parent advisory committee to the Children’s Clinics and on an adaptive bike committee that is focused on raising awareness, funds, and opportunities so that all children, regardless of diagnosis, can enjoy that childhood rite of passage, riding a bike.
Shana Cinquemani, Documentation Specialist
Shana, the first collaborator hired when we opened our little school in the fall of 2014, is completing her PhD at the University of Arizona in art education while raising her beautiful baby boy, Iko. Shana rejoined the IDEA School team part-time during the 2016-17 school year to be our Documentation Specialist, providing our parent community — and the wider community — a window into what learning looks like at the IDEA School on any given day. As a student and practitioner of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, as well as a student and strong advocate of young children’s use of art to communicate and share power with grown-ups in the process of learning, Shana provides invaluable insights into student learning at IDEA School. You can read her vignettes on our IDEA School Blog.
Bisbail Kline, After-School Program Coordinator
Bio coming soon.
Teresa Rillos, Substitute Collaborator
Bio coming soon.
Thøger Tetens Lund, Substitute Collaborator
Thøger is from Denmark. He found his way to Tucson playing bass in local indie rock legend Howe Gelb’s band Giant Sand. He also has toured, played or recorded with: M.Ward, Alex Chilton, John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Andrew Bird, KT Tunstall, Mark Lanegan, Isobel Campbell, Naim Amor, Gabriel Sullivan, Brian Lopez and others. Before his music career took off, Thøger studied Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark and has always fed his interest for design, building musical instruments and restoring the house he lives in.
After serving as our part-time STEM Collaborator during the IDEA School’s inaugural year, Thøger now supports the school as a substitute collaborator when needed. Thøger and his wife, Mellow, have their 8-year-old son, Baltazar, at the IDEA School. Mellow also serves on the school’s Board of Directors, was the founding Chair of the Board and is a co-founder of the school.
Jaime Johnson, Co-Director and Lead Collaborator
Jaime is a co-founder of IDEA School and serves the school as Co-Director and Lead Collaborator — in charge of the pedagogical vision and its implementation. She began her career teaching first grade and kindergarten for the Tucson Unified School District where she met the challenges of overflowing classrooms, narrow state standards, and report cards. At TUSD she had an epiphany: To realize their full potential, children must be intrinsically motivated; but to preserve intrinsic motivation, education must be child-led and play-based. Informed and inspired, Jaime moved on to a private preschool, Second Street Children’s School, teaching two-, three-, and four-year olds. This work, coinciding with the powerful experience of becoming a mother, gave her new insights into how children learn through active, purposeful play.
In 2011, Jaime co-founded Downtown Community School as a child-led, play-based preschool in Barrio Viejo. Her vision there was to support students in their discovery as they grow through the years. It is at Downtown Community School that the seeds of the IDEA School were planted.
Jaime’s strengths in classroom design and collaborative creativity allow her to engage her students with real tools, creative materials, and literacy and numeracy in all their forms, within a safe environment in which children can take healthy risks and be themselves. Along with Faffs and Sally, Jaime is co-collaborator in our 2nd-6th Grade Classroom, and provides professional development support to all our collaborators.
Jaime has her 8-year-old daughter, Tula, at the IDEA School.
David Higuera, Co-Director, Administration and Development
David is a co-founder of IDEA School and serves as Co-Director, primarily responsible for administration, finance, outreach and development. David began his career in youth development, public education reform and teaching, spent some time in communications, politics, and government, and now has come full circle. As a former classroom teacher in public schools in San Francisco, David appreciates all the potential that public schools hold, but also saw firsthand how the strict focus on individual achievement, narrowly defined, led too many students to lose heart and tune out. David had students as young as 6th Graders who already had come to the conclusion that school “isn’t for me,” and he knew instinctively that it was the school — and the rigid framework in which public schools and districts must operate — that was failing the students, not the other way around.
David is dedicated to making children’s lives better, believes fiercely in the potential that IDEA School represents, and will gladly work day and night to ensure the school’s success.
David is married to Jesse Evans-Schroeder, a local immigration attorney, and they are the proud parents of 8-year-old IDEA School student Elliot, and his baby brother, Samuel!