Our Founder, Marissa Pienaar, is a lifelong lover of books and knowledge. She has an insatiable curiosity that never lets her stop learning, studying, and exploring. Marissa studied Pan-African Studies at California State University, Northridge for her undergraduate degree before pursuing a Master's Degree in Education with a Reading Specialist Certification.
She lives to help others through liberatory education, literacy and community development work that centers the voices of marginalized groups. Marissa loves helping people learn, grow and connect with themselves by using liberatory pedagogy.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
A lover of books and knowledge, I have allowed my insatiable curiosity to lead me. I studied Pan-African Studies at California State University, Northridge and was amazed to learn the power of Ethnic Studies not only on my knowledge, but on my spirit. I learned the value of culture, intersectionality, and community.
During and after those learning years, I began my journey as an educational practitioner. I tutored at a placement for young men labeled "delinquent". What I found were "my brothers" who had been failed by multiple systems. It was then, I supported several students in learning to read. At 20, I had found my calling. I vowed never to let another student I knew to fall through the cracks. How savior-like of me! At that time, I was not aware of the sociopolitical context, that by design, would continue to widen the opportunity gap that my students would come to reflect.
In the coming years, I took “my boys” with me everywhere I went. They were there with me as I taught independent studies, as I ventured to the Peace Corps in Namibia as Schools and Community volunteer, during my years teaching across from the housing projects I had once lived in. They were with me through getting my Master’s and reading certifications, and their stories resonated with many of my adult reading students whose cultural and linguistic backgrounds were weaponized instead of valued.
They are with me still 20 plus years later. However, they are now joined by countless others who have taught me lessons on humanity and community. It is my mission to share these lived experiences as well as knowledge gained via study and practice with others as we work together for a preferred collective future where all have the opportunity to thrive. I hope you’ll join me.
OUR ORIGIN STORY
Founder Marissa established Educating Marissa after leaving the nonprofit-industrial complex. Feeling the restraints of profits over people, and the need for bending of values for funding led her to create something new.
At Educating Marissa, we are building a sacred space at the intersections of education, liberation, healing, and design thinking, a homeplace for all educators especially those that are marginalized, and fighting for their students against institutions. Those disruptors, decolonizers, and dismantlers who are ready to co-design the future of education are our people, and we can't wait to get to work!