Faculty Bios

Learn more about the amazing educators and thinkers you can learn with this August

Meet the Faculty

Sylvia Martinez

Sylvia Martinez is the co-author of Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, known as the “bible” of the classroom maker movement. She is a veteran of interactive entertainment and educational software industries, with two decades of design and publishing experience. She is currently president of Constructing Modern Knowledge Press and Constructing Modern Knowledge, LLC, and is the director of the FabLearn Fellows program out of the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Columbia University Teachers College.

Prior to that, she was president of Generation YES, a non-profit dedicated to empowering students. Sylvia oversaw product development, design and programming as Vice President of Development for Encore Software, a publisher of game and educational software on PC, Internet and console platforms. Sylvia was also involved in the company’s Internet initiatives, including Math.com, the award-winning web site that provides math help to students worldwide.For seven previous years,

Sylvia was an executive producer at Davidson & Associates/Knowledge Adventure, a leading educational software developer.She designed, developed and launched dozens of software titles including Math Blaster: Algebra, Math Blaster: Geometry and Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess. In addition, she was responsible for Educast – the first Internet service for teachers that provided teachers with free news, information and classroom resources.

Before Davidson & Associates, Martinez spent six years as a senior scientist at Magnavox Research Labs, where she developed high-frequency receiver systems and navigation software for GPS satellites.

Sylvia has been a featured speaker at national education technology conferences in areas ranging from the maker movement in education, student leadership, project-based and inquiry-based learning with technology and gender issues in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) education.

She holds a Master’s in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Read Sylvia’s popular blog here.

David Thornburg, PhD

Dr. Thornburg is an award-winning educational leader who has been a proponent of constructionist ideals for decades, with an emphasis on how technologies of several types can help foster the kinds of learning that build on the natural inquisitiveness of children of all ages.

On receiving his PhD from the University of Illinois in the early 1970’s, David joined the famed Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he worked on many projects across several disciplines and invented some technologies still in use today. On leaving PARC in 1981, Dr. Thornburg started a technology company in the San Francisco Bay Area, taught part time graduate courses at Stanford University, including an experimental graduate course in Logo called “Artificial Intelligence for the Left Hand”, and consulted for early personal computer companies like Atari and Apple. During that time, David started writing books about Logo, an activity that restarted this year with two new books (one about Lynx, and one about Snap!) in press at this time. He has also taught at other Universities both in the United States and Brazil.

David and his wife, Norma ― a fellow Logo aficionado, were co-authors (along with Dr. Sara Armstrong) of the first book for educators on the topic of 3D printing, another area of active interest for Dr. Thornburg.

Tracy Rudzitis

Tracy is a veteran educator who spends her days working with students at Marymount School in NYC where she helps them realize their awesome projects. She has been an invaluable member of the Constructing Modern Knowledge team for more than a decade.

Tracy’s goal is to provide an opportunity and a space where students can explore ideas in ways that are meaningful to them, use a variety of tools, materials, media, and make things with the innovation and creativity that middle school students are famous for. Tracy also volunteers her time with several after school and weekend coding clubs for kids in the NYC area.

Tracy was named one of “20 Educators to Watch” by the National School Boards Association and is a Senior Fab Learn Fellow at Columbia University Teachers College.

Steve Dembo

Steve Dembo is the Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence Teacher and Director of Technology at Quest Academy in Palatine, IL.  Previously, he served for ten years as Discovery Education’s Director of Learning Communities and led their Innovation and Strategy team.  He is the co-author of the book Untangling the Web: 20 Tools to Power Up Your Teaching. The National School Board Association named him one of 2010’s “Twenty to Watch,” a list honoring individuals finding innovative ways to use technology to increase classroom learning. He is currently serving as the president of the Skokie/Morton Grove District 69 School Board. Dembo is a course designer and adjunct professor for Wilkes University where he serves as class instructor for the Internet Tools for Teaching course within the Instructional Media degree program.

Steve Dembo is also a dynamic speaker on the capabilities of social networking, the power of educational technologies and interactive online tools, and the potential for digital content to empower teachers to improve student achievement. He has delivered keynotes and featured presentations at dozens of conferences globally including ISTE, TCEA, FETC, MACUL, GaETC, METC, CUE, ICE, TEDxCorpus Christi, #140Edu, EduWeb, .EDU and the Social Media Masters Summit.

Gary Stager, PhD

In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary Stager is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school administrator. An elementary teacher by training, he has taught students from preschool through doctoral studies. In 1990, Dr. Stager led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools and played a major role in the early days of online education. Gary is the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators.

Dr. Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools,” by Larry Magid of CBS and The San Jose Mercury News.

When Jean Piaget wanted to better understand how children learn mathematics, he hired Seymour Papert. When Dr. Papert wanted to create a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens, he hired Gary Stager. This work was the basis for Gary’s doctoral dissertation and documented Papert’s most-recent institutional research project.

Dr. Stager’s work has earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and he collaborated on a project that won a Grammy Award. Recently, Gary was invited by Fondazione Reggio Children to lead a public seminar on education in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Gary is also on the advisory board of the NSF-funded project, BJC4NYC: Bringing a Rigorous Computer Science Principles Course to the Largest School System in the US another NSF project. Recently, Gary has been helping the State of Alabama expand Computer Science opportunities.

Dr. Stager also maintains the world’s largest archive of text and multimedia by Seymour Papert at The Daily Papert.

Janine Maletsky

Janine Maletsky is a retired educator with decades of experience as a tech coordinator and teacher of math, music, and computing. She has led countless hands-on workshops for teachers and and is an irreplaceable member of the Constructing Modern Knowledge team. Janine and Gary Stager have worked closely together across New Jersey and New York City for thirty-five years.