President, DesignWorlds for College
Frona L. Kahn, Vice President and co-founder of DesignWorlds, has helped shape the
education technology industry for over 20 years. Her work with top Fortune 500 companies
and non-profit organizations, including Apple, PBS, Compaq and Fisher-Price,
Computer Curriculum Corporation, Microsoft, Grolier, and Gateway Learning Corporation
have made technology desirable and accessible to schools and families.
In 1981, as a co-founder of The Learning Company (TLC), Ms. Kahn pioneered innovative, award-winning educational computer software products for young children. Frona developed the strategy for addressing the home market. She built and directed the Educational Sales and Marketing Division, which became a cornerstone of TLC’s business.
As a conference speaker, Ms. Kahn addresses audiences both in the U.S. and abroad. Frona is also an award-winning author and recipient of the Parents Choice Award, for Play Together, Learn Together, one of the first combination book and software products for parents and children. She serves as an advisory member to state and national committees. Frona was member of the founding Board of Directors of the Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose, California, a major museum which has since won national and international acclaim.
CEO and Chief Creative Learning Strategist & Careers Coach, DesignWorlds for College
Dr. Ted M. Kahn is the co-founder, President and CEO of DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. and Chief Learning Officer for DesignWords for College and Careers. Dr. Kahn is Founding Creative & Executive Director, Bay Area Science Museum/Education Collaboratory and The Mindseum. He has been actively involved in developing and marketing innovative uses of interactive technologies for creative lifelong learning for more than 40 years. Over the past 18 years, his special areas of expertise have been in the uses of digital video and multimedia, as well as the Internet and the Web, as media for supporting distributed learning and knowledge design communities. Ted is known internationally as a pioneer and innovator in action-research projects involving technology and learning in both K-12 schools and higher education, homes, workplaces and museums. His commercial business background includes being the founding Executive Director of the Atari Institute for Educational Action Research (Atari/Warner Communications), Picodyne Corporation and Digital F/X, as well as advanced learning technologies research and development experience at the Lawrence Hall of Science (U. C. Berkeley), the Center for Educational Technology (Israel), Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL), and the Galef Institute. His extensive experience has resulted in the development and marketing of numerous award-winning educational multimedia products, hypermedia computer-based training systems and complete user education strategies and support materials for new kinds of tools for lifelong learning and creativity.
Ted and his DesignWorlds team applied this background in creating the key web content and web educational marketing messages for Apple in 2000 to support their launch of iMovie, and some of this web content still remains on Apple's digital movies and education web site today. He has recently been the founding director of the Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory. This project, initially funded by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, is a dynamic web-based resource and learning community for middle school science teacher.
Ted is a frequently invited keynote speaker and workshop presenter at national and international conferences on creative education, technology and learning. He consults for Fortune 500 companies, museums, school districts, and non-profit organizations, and has been a board member or advisor for numerous museums, government organizations, and public-private collaborations. Ted has been a Senior Fellow and taught at the UCLA Grauduate School of Education & Information Studies. He is an adjunct faculty member with the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, where he teaches online professional development courses for K-12 teachers and parents in integrating technology into K-12 education and informal learning. He has been a GLEF Fellow and was a member of the Speakers Bureau of The George Lucas Educational Foundation. In 2003, the NMC: New Media Consortium named Ted as its first NMC Fellow, its highest individual honor, for his lifelong work in the development and use of digital media and interactive technologies for learning, teaching and creative expression. More recently, he was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar with the MediaX Project at Stanford university; Founding Director & Chief Curator of the Mindseum; member of the mentor network of the new MichelsonRunway Accelerator and Chief Learning Architect & Sr. Scientist of U.K.-based Vivo Technology Inc. Ted received his B.A. in computer science (with distinction), and his M.A and Ph.D. in psychology from University of California, Berkeley.
Susanne Commisso, M.S., M.A.
Computer Scientist; Science, Computer Science & Gifted Education Advisor (Middle Grades)
Susanne Commisso is a computer scientist, usability specialist and educator. She has recently completed her Master’s in Education at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA (May, 2008), concentrating on Curriculum and Instruction. Her Master’s thesis focused on building and studying the use of simulation software for extracurricular science kits geared for 5th grade students. She is also finishing up a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at the same school. Her previous education was a B.S. and M.S in Computer Science (University of Colorado at Boulder). Ms. Commisso worked as a software engineer, graduate research assistant, consultant, and usability engineer in companies and organizations such as Eastman Kodak, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, KPMG, Moai Technologies, and Macromedia (now Adobe).
She has recently won a grant to teach an elective class with a teacher at College Park elementary school in San Mateo, CA. This is a project based learning class experience that focuses on energy related to transportation in the past, present and future. She is currently working on proposals for incorporating simulation software into the elementary science curriculum through teacher training and possible grants for specific schools and has been a contributor and user of DesignWorlds for Learning's Bay Area Science Education Collaboratory for middle grades science teaching and learning.
Shannah Markow Whithaus
I am a teacher, writer, and entrepreneur who has appeared on TV and radio talking about her work coaching women entrepreneurs for a business incubator in the New York area. My experience includes creating courses and promotional materials for 1, 2, and 3-day training sessions on a variety of technical and communication topics, teaching people how to communicate their values in high pressure situations, teaching advanced undergraduates how to communicate in business and scientific settings, and helping individuals talk about themselves in compelling ways.
I have helped MBA candidates at Drexel's Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento to communicate clearly when writing, speaking, or developing PowerPoint presentations. I have also taught technical, business, and scientific writing to advanced undergraduates at the University of California, Davis, Old Dominion University, and Thomas Nelson Community College. Previous clients include the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University Research Foundation, Baruch College's Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute, Hoboken's Monroe Center for the Arts, and professors and advanced degree candidates in various disciplines, such as sociology, biology, religion, and psychology.
I work with students in one of two ways:
In group settings in long or short courses focused on specific topics like "Writing for Science Majors" or "Developing the Personal Essay."
One-on-one in individual or a series of coaching sessions to develop particular pieces of writing, from college essays to dissertations.
Besides writing, editing, and teaching, I enjoy riding bikes around town, doing yoga with my kids, hiking, reading, and gardening. I look forward to getting to know you.
Ginger first coached teenagers on their writing during her own teen years. Her abilities prompted the Writing Center at Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon) to set aside precedent by hiring her to tutor fellow students while she was still a freshman. After enjoying six years of successful competition in high school and college speech and debate, she also started coaching the Gresham High School Speech Team in 1992. By the time she graduated with University Honors in History and Literature in 1993, a lifelong love of working with young people and words was solidified. Her experiences in the Honors Program at Pacific also left her with a persistent thirst for justice; her thesis included previously unpublished Holocaust testimonies from the Archives at Yad Vashem. To provide a wider audience for the survivors’ voices, Ginger presented her paper at the International Holocaust Conference at Middle Tennessee State University in 1996.
After volunteering at the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, serving as a docent at the American Advertising Museum, working as a Licensed Tax Preparer, and continuing to coach speech, Ginger earned her M.Ed. from Portland State University. She began teaching at Sprague High School in Salem, Oregon in 1999. For four years she led classes in English/Language Arts, History, and Public Speaking. She later taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in Silverton, Oregon, her hometown. Ginger remained a speech and debate coach; Silverton High School won the State Speech Championships twice during her time there, in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010 her coaching priorities shifted to guiding the homeschool journeys of her two children. Ginger founded and administered an educational non-profit serving more than 130 homeschooled children and their families in Ogden, Utah during the spring of 2015. Although she moved back to Oregon in 2016, the Ogden Weber Learners Society continues to flourish and now boasts a waiting list for its services.
Ginger views writing as a complex craft involving purpose, audience, creativity, and style. She finds it enormously gratifying to help others perfect their techniques, and always looks forward to working with students.
Liz Tadman, Designworlds’ Project Manager, works diligently to ensure our numerous programs are running smoothly. She loves working with our students and parents as well as our coaches.
Liz believes deeply in all of the students and is often amazed at their many talents. She particularly enjoys uncovering their passions and talents by meeting with them and listening closely to their stories.
Liz was active as a parent volunteer when her children were school age, and served as President of the Parents Teachers, and Students Association. She also has been a member with the Quota International Mountain View/Los Altos club, which raises fund to assist under-served children and women in our community.
Born in Taiwan, Liz moved to California at the beginning of her High School years. She holds a BA in Computer Science and a BS in Mathematics from University of California in Irvine. She has worked as a Software Engineer, Release Manager, Project Manager, and Marketing Consultant.
Born and raised mostly in the Bay Area, Erin is the middle child of three. She feels very fortunate that her family hosted many exchange students and traveled to Europe as these experiences helped broaden her view of the world. Her Freshman year of high school she spent with a French family and attended school in Paris, France. She credits this experience with fostering her confidence and independence. In high school she was active in many clubs, ran long-distance track for a season, participated and planned many retreats, and enjoyed service to others. Her favorite classes were English and Philosophy.
After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in English with a French minor from The University of Portland, she continued with her Master of Arts in Teaching from Portland State University. She taught French and Religious Studies at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California for three years before moving to her husband’s alma mater in Salem, Oregon. She has taught English and French at Sprague High School in Salem, Oregon the last 17 years. This spring, she will instruct a French for Travelers class at the local community college.
She enjoys challenging students to reach their potential. She is always looking for more effective ways to reach her students with engaging curriculum and connections. She can often be found in her room at lunch or late into the afternoon helping students. It is important for her to breakdown the aspects of good writing to demystify the writing process and help students build awareness of their craft.
Summer is a chance for Erin to refresh herself. Once an avid home gardener, she now appreciates the bounty and variety of fruits and vegetables--as well as great comradery--she finds while volunteering summers at her friend’s farm. She enjoys jumping waves with her youngest, dancing with her middle child, and sharing good books with her oldest. She would love to travel more, but she doesn’t always get the chance to go very far. Luckily for her, the Oregon Coast and Cascade Mountain Range are both close by, and she sneaks in hikes or camping trips when she can.
WE ARE DEDICATED TO MAXIMIZING YOUR STUDENT'S POTENTIAL FOR COLLEGE SUCCESS -- AND BEYOND.
I am convinced that Frona Kahn helped my son learn to believe in himself through her own belief in his potential and talents and abilities.