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Tessa Zimmerman, Founder, Executive Director

Education: B.S. in Social Entrepreneurship from the Watson Institute at Lynn University

Favorite ASSET Tool: Deep Breathing

Bio: Tessa grew up experiencing severe anxiety in the classroom. It wasn’t until she received a full scholarship to a private high school that she learned the tools to cope with stress and anxiety. Tessa founded ASSET to bring equity to education and make sure all teachers have the tools to help their students cope with stress and anxiety. She has been recognized by Forbes as a “wildly successful millennial with an untraditional education.” In 2017, Tessa’s first book, I Am Tessa, was published by One Idea Press. As the single and childless member of the team, Tessa enjoys her free time, hot yoga practice, and cooking with friends.

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Brent Modak, Director of Operations

Education: M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame

Favorite ASSET Tool: Finger Breathing

Bio: Brent followed the example set by his grandfather and entered the classroom first as a middle school teacher before moving up to teach high school history. As a member of the ASSET team, Brent helped develop the curriculum and led in the implementation of the program across all of ASSET’s partner schools. When not teaching Brent enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife and newborn baby, Lewis.

 
 
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Gina Leach, Director of Programs

Education: B.A. from the University of Michigan

Favorite ASSET Tool: Gratitude 101

Bio: During the 2017-2018 school year, after teaching high school English for nearly a decade, Gina integrated social-emotional learning into her classroom for the first time. While she always cared about her students’ mental health, she didn’t know how to help them until Brent Modak volun-told her to implement ASSET. These 5-10 minute lessons had a profound impact on her students—they were more focused, more willing to participate, and better able to self-regulate—and ultimately changed how Gina views education in the 21st century. She now serves as ASSET’s Director of Programs and brings a teacher’s perspective to curricular and professional development materials. In her free time (when her bouncing baby boy is sleeping or in someone else’s arms), Gina loves to read, cook big family dinners, and get outside with her husband and dog.

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Casey Skillins, Mindfulness Guru

Education: M.Ed. in Special Education from SUNY New Paltz, Mindful Schools Level 2 Educator

Favorite ASSET Tool: Mindful Body Scan

Bio: Casey has been working with children in the field of education for almost two decades. For the last eight years, she has been incorporating Mindfulness and Positive Psychology techniques in her work with children of all ages. She is also a recently certified health coach from the Health Coach Institute. Casey has a personal relationship with anxiety and depression that began in childhood. This is why she is so excited to support Tessa, a former student of hers, in creating a curriculum that genuinely provides the skills and tools she herself needed so many years ago as a student. All of these things put together, Casey passionately guides and supports children and adults to find their center, feel empowered, and move forward in their lives with grace and ease. Casey currently serves as the Math Specialist and Assistant Director of Easton Country Day School. She lives with her husband, Nathan, and son, Asher, in Woodbury, CT.

 

Our Teacher Collaborators

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Beth Lakin

Teaches @: North HS in Denver, CO

Subject Expertise: Language Arts

Favorite Tool: Mindful Body Scan

ASSET Innovation: Beth is the genius behind the “ASSET menu” where teachers can diagnose the type of stress their class is experiencing and then pick a tool that is best suited for that form of stress.

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Nick Kukucka

Teaches @: DSST: GVR HS in Denver, CO

Subject Expertise: Entrepreneurship

Favorite Tool: Gratitude 101

ASSET Innovation: Whenever we observed Nick introduce an ASSET tool, he always included a personal anecdote of how he used the tool or why he was personally experiencing stress. This inspired us to include more Teacher Story Shares in the lessons.

Drew Madson

Teaches @: DSST: GVR HS in Denver, CO

Subject Expertise: Global History

Favorite Tool: Finger Breathing

ASSET Innovation: In 2017, Drew suggested we create a list of the ASSET tools that students could have on them at all times. In 2018, the ASSET Toolbox was born!

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Maleah Kagan

Teaches @: Pearl Cohn High School in Nashville, TN

Subject Expertise: Composition

Favorite Tool: Mindful Body Scan

ASSET Innovation: Maleah has championed student-led tools since her implementation began in 2017 when one of her students wrote their own version of our Mindfulness Body Scan. Now we encourage other educators to motivate their students to lead ASSET tools.