Writing Team

The 5 Dimensions of Engaged Teaching contains the wisdom and experience of thousands of educators. The writing and development team included K–12 teachers, assistant principals, principals, researchers, curriculum designers, and university faculty who have integrated the practices and principles of engaged teaching in their own learning communities. In writing and developing this book, our team drew upon our own action research and personal experiences, as well as the experiences of thousands of educators we have been in touch with over the years through courses, professional development, interviews, focus groups, and research projects.

Laura Weaver (Co-Author)

Laura Weaver, MA, is the Co-Executive Director of the PassageWorks Institute, an educational nonprofit providing innovative practices and principles that support educators in developing a reflective and authentic teaching approach; integrating social, emotional, and academic learning into classrooms; and building meaningful and effective learning communities and school culture. In addition to her role as Co-Executive Director, Laura has taught courses and workshops, offered presentations at schools and conferences, led all-faculty professional development, consulted with school leadership, developed resources for educators and parents, and facilitated transitions programs for young people. She is the coauthor of two PassageWorks’ curricula for the transitions years and a primary editor and contributor on three other transitions curricula. Laura’s articles, chapters, essays, and poems have been published in numerous journals, magazines, and books. Before joining PassageWorks, Laura taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Colorado. She was also the Co-Founder and Director of Bridges, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the needs of people living with hunger and poverty in the greater Philadelphia region. Laura earned her Master’s Degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder and her Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Laura lives in Colorado and is the parent of two young adults who inspire her every day.

Mark Wilding (Co-Author)

Mark Wilding, MA, is the Co-Executive Director of PassageWorks Institute. He is a member of the core faculty of PassageWorks and teaches courses and workshops, facilitates conferences and dialogues, and presents keynotes and lectures. Mark has been teaching and facilitating professional development programs and graduate courses for over seventeen years. Before joining PassageWorks in 2009, Mark was a staff and faculty member of Naropa University, where he continues to teach graduate courses in leadership and systems thinking. Mark joined Naropa in 1994 and served as Director of Environmental Studies and helped launch a new graduate degree program. In 2001, Mark founded Naropa’s professional development center for leadership and business, and served as its director until he left to become an Executive Director of PassageWorks. Previous to his tenure at Naropa, Mark helped found a public computer software company and served on the board and in several roles until he left as president and CEO. Mark is currently a member of the national Leadership Council for Contemplative Teaching and Learning at the Garrison Institute. Mark earned a BS from Syracuse University and State University of New York (SUNY) and an MA in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University. Follow Mark on Twitter @mwilding and Google+ at gplus.to/EngagedTeaching.

Vivian Elliott (Writing Team)

Vivian Elliott, PhD, is a senior consultant with Learning Forward and with ESSI Solutions, Inc. She provides professional development and leadership coaching to teachers, school administrators, and managers in organizations throughout the United States. Vivian earned her PhD at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying organizational change, equity, and leadership. For more than thirty years, she has conducted educational research, designed and facilitated workshops, and published educational writings to promote cultural responsiveness and bias elimination. Vivian is known in school districts, universities, and nonprofit organizations for skillful facilitation, excellent team leadership, and quality project management. She co-created the Colorado Coalition for Equity in Education, and served in leadership roles for the National Coalition for Equity in Education and the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal.

Catherine Fink (Writing Team)

Catherine Fink is a Los Angeles–based educator and writer who has taught English and human development at three independent schools for grades 7 and 9–12 and at Los Angeles Community College. She also taught three PassageWorks transitions curricula in school advisory programs. Catherine was a student of a PassageWorks transitions program in Colorado in 1997, was a founding board member of the PassageWorks Institute in 2001, and has been a faculty member with the institute since its inception. She helped to revise and edit several PassageWorks curricula and coauthored a chapter on social and emotional learning in The Handbook of Moral and Character Education. Her creative writing has been published in print and online.

Susan Keister (Writing Team)

Susan Keister is an author, speaker, workshop facilitator, and educational leader with more than thirty years of experience in leading the research, development, and training of international programs and professional development in comprehensive school reform, social and emotional learning, positive prevention of drug use and bullying, character development, conflict management, and service-learning. As president of Integral Vision Consulting, Susan provides international consulting and professional development services to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Leaning (CASEL), Lions Clubs International Foundation, the Service-Learning and Life Skills Network, Learning for Living Institute, and PassageWorks.

Ari Gerzon-Kessler (Writing Team)

Ari Gerzon-Kessler, MA, is the principal at Arapahoe Ridge Elementary School in Westminster, Colorado. Before his current position at Arapahoe Ridge, Ari served as an assistant principal at four other elementary schools. He has also taught third, fourth, and fifth grades, as well as high school Spanish, and worked as an educational consultant, journalist, and oral historian. In addition to completing extensive research on best practices in education within the United States (particularly in the area of social and emotional learning), Ari also traveled as a Fulbright recipient to visit schools in Japan and taught briefly in Mexico and Thailand. Ari is the author of two books, and his writings on education have been featured in a variety of publications.

Carrie Simpson (Writing Team)

Carrie Simpson has taught kindergarten and first grade at Friends’ School in Boulder, Colorado, and Stanley British Primary School in Denver. Carrie has also taught adults in a variety of ways: mentoring intern teachers, presenting on child development and social and emotional topics, and facilitating PassageWorks courses. She co-authored, with Rachael Kessler, the PassageWorks kindergarten transitions curriculum and served as an editor on the fifth-grade transitions curriculum. Currently Carrie is enjoying being at home as a new mom, while she continues to write and teach for PassageWorks.

Rona Wilensky (Writing Team)

Rona Wilensky is an educational consultant and social entrepreneur working in the areas of leadership development, contemplative teaching and learning, and the transformation of K–12 education toward an emphasis on relationships, relevance, and rigor. Rona is founder of New Vista High School in Boulder, Colorado, and was principal from 1992 to 2009. Prior to that, she worked as an education policy analyst for the governor of Colorado, the Education Commission of the States, and various education reform initiatives in Colorado. During the 2009–2010 academic year, Rona was a resident fellow at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. A contributor to state and national conversations on high school reform, her essays have appeared in Education Week, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, and Education News Colorado. Rona is currently a board member of PassageWorks Institute and SOAR Charter School (Denver). She is also cochair of the Leadership Council for the Initiative on Contemplative Teaching and Learning at the Garrison Institute. Rona holds a BA and PhD in economics from Yale University.

Rachael Kessler (In Memoriam 1946-2010)

Rachael Kessler (1946-2010) was the original Founder and President of the PassageWorks Institute, the author of the groundbreaking book The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion and Character at School (ASCD 2000), and a co-author of Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators (ASCD 1997). Throughout her career, Rachael published, taught and lectured widely in the fields of social and emotional learning, transformative learning, teacher education, and leadership. Additionally, Rachael offered professional and curriculum development for teachers and administrators nationally and internationally. Rachael also collaborated with educators to develop a language and framework for nurturing the inner life of students and teachers and to co-author a series of curricula for the transitions years into and out elementary, middle and high school. Rachael’s commitment to collaboration and stewardship helped to foster a strong team of staff, faculty and allies who have carried on and expanded the work she began decades ago.