Room 402 believes learning should feel less like a school-based activity and more like a natural human habit characterized by joy, curiosity and purpose.

Photo credit: Danish Kurani

Photo credit: Danish Kurani

Christina M. Jenkins

Founder, Room 402

On my first morning as a social studies teacher at a middle school in the Bronx, I got lost after picking up my students in the yard. With 23 seventh graders trailing behind, I couldn't find the way back to my new classroom. That early embarrassment was the least of my problems my first year, and I quickly learned what all teachers know: "Teaching" is only part of the job.

I taught and coached in New York City public schools for nearly a decade – including in the original Room 402 – and helped hundreds of teachers and thousands of kids do powerful projects with a civic purpose. My formal background is in design (Parsons), education (Pace University), and urban studies (UCLA and Columbia).

In 2015, I joined Emily Pilloton at Project H Design, a Berkeley-based non-profit that teaches young people how to use design and architecture for transforming communities. At Project H, I founded Unprofessional Development, an initiative that invited educators to reflect on pedagogy through active, engaging experiences like speed dating for cultivating empathy, design challenges for creative problem solving, activist art, and more.

Today, I lead Room 402 and continue to read, write and speak widely about the intersection of design, learning and civic life. I'm also an amateur printmaker and a rower.

– Christina Jenkins
Los Angeles, 2018