Our Teachers

Josh Briggs

Acera Engineering Teacher,  Math Mentor, Woodshop manager
B.S. Civil Engineering, University of New Hampshire

In this video, Josh explains how students discover engineering at Acera. Josh’s bio will be posted here soon!



2015-12-16 09.59.28Marie Delaney

Acera Craft and Construction Coach

For Marie, there is so much more to woodworking than just working with wood. Trained in furniture making at the world-renowned North Bennet Street School in Boston, her teaching focuses on developing character and intellectual capacity as well as technical skills. At Acera, Marie works to build hand skills along with an understanding of materials, tools, processes and a commitment to excellence. In a previous life, Marie worked as a furniture maker for a Boston Design company (ask her about making a few things for Rupert Murdoch.) She still crafts individual pieces on commission, and enjoys creative lathe work (yes, we had to look that up, too.)

Danny Fain

Software Developer, STEM Teacher, Game Designer
B.S., Geoscience, MIT

The desire to understand how learning happens, and how best to prepare kids for the world of the 21st century, drives Danny’s quest into serious games. Through 15 years as a STEM teacher (in a variety of schools and student populations, including at the Learning Prep School in Newton, MA), Danny increasingly immersed himself in the classroom use of computer games & simulations. Coupled with his previous career as a software developer, this experience gave Danny a multi-level perspective into the uses and limitations of educational software. Danny teaches table top game design in our After School program. He was a team leader and coach in the Learning Games Network’s Game Design summer camps of 2010 – 2013, and the lead instructor of the Videogame Design workshop at URJ’s 6Points Sci/Tech summer camp in 2014 and 2015. Danny also has a new game about endangered-species conservation out in app stores, for which he was the lead-designer on a multinational team. Danny earned his SB in Geoscience at MIT, and he also completed the Teacher Education Program there. This summer, Danny joins our STEAM camp to teach table top game design in week 1 and digital game design in week 11.

Michael Hirsch

Acera Science Teacher, Lab Manager, Curriculum Creator
B.S., Molecular Biology, Clark University
M.A.T. Biology, Salem State University
Michael began his work life as a scientist in the exciting world of Kendall Square biotech, researching therapeutics for metabolic disease and inflammation. After helping to place over 20 drugs in clinical trials and frequently publishing papers in the field of diabetes, Michael decided that his favorite part of being a scientist was teaching others and sharing his passion of science.  He pursued a masters degree and Massachusetts teaching certifications, and taught Biology and Chemistry in public high schools for 3 years before joining Acera. Michael’s belief — that everyone can be a scientist — is reflected in his summer offerings: Michael will be teaching biology and chemistry basics to young elementary students via real experiments in our science lab, and he will take middle school students into the world of DNA. Look for his sessions in week 2 and 7. Michael talks about his approach to teaching in this clip.


Kim Machnik

Upper Elementary School Teacher
B.A. International and Global Studies, Brandeis University
Kim came to the Acera School from Heifer International, where she specialized in curriculum design, teacher training, and global education outreach. Kim has taught elementary gifted students in a variety of settings and schools, and is passionate about teaching children to be global citizens of a healthy, thriving planet. Kim also very successfully launched our first summer program in 2015, and will be teaching some of her favorite subjects — from strategic thinking to neighborhood ecology — during weeks 2 and 3 this year.

Nicole Notaro

Acera Upper Elementary School Teacher
B.A., Child Development, Tufts University
M.Ed., Education, Child Development, Tufts University
Nicole joined the Acera staff in 2014 after teaching at the Atrium School for 7 years. She is a passionate, enthusiastic and creative teacher with a strong desire to help each learner grow to his or her fullest potential. Nicole believes teaching is an art form that requires the swift coordination of subject content and knowledge of ones’ own students, a process she finds intellectually challenging and extremely rewarding.


2016-05-18 08.12.07Alisha Panjwani

Acera Design Learning and STEM TeacherPreneur
B.Sc., Fashion Design, Annamalai University
M.S., Media Arts and Sciences, Media Lab, MIT

Alisha is a designer and educator, and the founder of the Acera SEEDS StudioLab. SEEDS stands for Science, Engineering, Esthetics, Design and Storytelling. By engaging students in playful, experiential, inquiry-based, and collaborative learning experiences, Alisha works to nurture children’s creative confidence with new technologies and encourage their involvement in creative acts within their communities. She is the co-author or the upcoming book StartMaking! and co-founder of the Duct Tape Network. Alisha comes to our school from the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. She will run her innovative SEEDS StudioLab programs throughout the summer. Look for SEEDS sessions in weeks 2-11!



20150304Acera_gm_081Anthony Reynolds

Acera Art and Music Teacher

Watch Anthony Reynolds talk about how he teaches art at Acera.


2016-01-07 14.07.14Vanessa Roman

Acera Teacher in Friendship Skills, Kinetic Mathematics, Human Sexuality, and Theater Arts
M.A. Magna Cum Laude, Theatre Arts, Salem State College
Prior to joining Acera, Vanessa was a Yoga Instructor. At Acera, she teaches Kinetic Math for young students, Human Sexuality in the Middle School, Theatre Arts for all ages during Creativity Morning, Friendship Skill-Building during recess, and leadership in our After School Program. Vanessa specializes in understanding, honoring and experiencing the joy and uniqueness of each child. This summer, she will teach her popular improv theatre sessions (weeks 9 and 11), as well as a creative outdoor arts session (week 9 AM) in collaboration with Acera Art and Music teacher Anthony Reynolds. Vanessa talks about her work at Acera in this clip.



2016-01-27 16.55.33

Mark Weinzierl

Acera After School Physics and Science Teacher





Chris Woodard

Art Teacher
Chris has been an artist all her life. From the age of 3, digging in the dirt to make African Masks with her father, to today, she has pursued numerous creative outlets — painting, cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, and woodworking among them. After working as a graphic designer for 30 years, Chris decided to follow her true passion, earning a painting degree from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. This summer, Chris will bring her talents and creativity to Acera again, working with children in a variety of art forms, from drawing and painting to printmaking.