What makes someone a star? During the month of December, we’ve shared some of the brightest stars in our community with you. These individuals are sharing their talents and skills to make a difference in their communities and beyond. At Touchjet, we think that dedication and inspiration is something worth celebrating. From working with children in the classroom to introducing new technological innovations, each and every person has the opportunity to be a star in his or her daily life.
As part of our #TouchUponAStar program, we are excited to introduce our next group of Touchjet stars – keep reading to meet them all.
Meet Michael Lebowitz
As founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, Michael Lebowitz keeps a pulse on the digital space. His interest in technology began as a child, then with an added interest in design, it continued to grow. Michael went from playing games on the original Mac 512 as a child to founding his own digital agency in New York.
Throughout his career, he has seen the many waves of innovation that hit the technology space. “I mean everything has changed. The world gets disrupted by new technologies and platforms every few years,” he explains. “You always get more tools in the toolkit and then you have more opportunities to create.”
Now, as the advisor to Touchjet, Michael is making a difference in the world of digital creativity and big screen interactivity. However, he claims it is less about his abilities and more about the talent of everyone around him. “My job has been to assemble a big 110-person group of people smarter than me… Hopefully I have inspired [them].”
Meet Bill Maggs
Between life as a consultant in the technology industry and life as a father, California local Bill Maggs has always lived life with a sense of curiosity. It is the same trait he hopes to teach his boys, ages 8 and 11, as they grow up. “Allow your curiosity to run free,” Bill says. “[Technology] provides a broader perspective we couldn’t normally see.”
Introducing his children to technology early, and teaching them how to utilize it properly, has been one way that Bill hopes to inspire curiosity in his family. Whether it’s playing a game like Math24 at the Bay Area Science Festival or discussing how to use technology in carefully measured ways around the house, he has focused on leading by example. “I continue to be curious and to explore… Trying to be a role model that they [see] using technology instead of it ruling their lives,” he explains.
Meet Amber Kraver
As a first-year elementary teacher at Sunnyvale Christian School, Amber Kraver might be new to the classroom, but her passion for learning and technology has been around much longer. Amber spent 15 years of her career in the technology industry, followed by another nine years working in the Central IT Department at Stanford University. But it was her special knack for simplifying and teaching complex topics to others that helped her transition into the classroom. “I was encouraged to pursue teaching due to that very skill,” she recalls.
As a life-longer learner herself, Amber brings a natural curiosity and passion with her to the classroom. “I jumped into the deep end of the pool when it comes to STEAM (STEM + Art), technology, and innovation in teaching,” she explains. “I believe children are very capable; I expect a lot from my students.”
Outside of the classroom, Amber is involved with educational organization CUE (Computer Using Educators). She also works with fellow educators at her school to introduce learning tools such as the Touchjet Pond Projector in innovate ways. This teacher’s love for technology and education shines inside of the classroom and out.
Meet David Perry
David Perry founded his San Francisco-based marketing firm about 16 years ago, but his passion for communications started long before that. As a child, David was first introduced to the industry when his mother went to work for Chesapeake & Potomac Phone Company, a part of the original AT&T. “My passion for the industry has only increased with time,” explains David.
The host of a popular interview series, David has turned his work into a mission to excite and inspire others around learning. “I hope the content we produce, both at David Perry & Associates, Inc. and via my show 10 Percent, is interesting and stimulating to people,” he says. These days, the chance to craft these unique experiences has become David’s focus, but the personal excitement still hasn’t worn off: “No matter whom I’m about to interview or meet, I know I’m about to hear someone’s story. I’m going to ‘learn’ something.”
Meet Lora Saarnio
According to education guru Steve Leinwand, education professionals change their teaching practices about 10 percent each year. Based on those numbers, teacher Lora Saarnio isn’t afraid to say she is a very different teacher now than when she started – maybe even up to 80 percent. Lora began her career with dreams of becoming a college professor, but found her calling in teaching as a high school English early in her career.
Now in her current position as a math and technology integration specialist, Lora is still in love with the profession. “I’m still driven by my passion to teach and the strong desire to learn alongside my students,” she explains. “But I now love integrating technology in engaging and meaningful ways.”
When it comes to working with students, there is great joy in the work Lora does. From organizing Family Math Nights for schools in the Bay Area to reaching more than 20,000 students each year as incoming director of the Julia Robinson Math Festival, she is constantly finding new ways to make a difference in the community around her.
If you know a star in your own community, we want to hear from you! Use #TouchUponAStar to share your message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Then follow along this month as we celebrate even more inspiring individuals. When you touch upon a star, a universe of possibilities opens up.