BootUp trains teachers to empower all students in ways they never thought possible.
“I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.”
– Booker T. Washington
Through our research-driven professional development initiatives, the team at BootUp is committed to providing access to computer science and coding. As former public educators we are lifelong learners, deeply engaged, and passionate about what we do. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, our status allows us to focus solely on our mission and vision.
Clark MerkleyExecutive Director
Clark Merkley is the Executive Director of BootUp PD, a nonprofit focused on preparing and empowering teachers and implementing elementary coding programs nationwide.
Immediately prior to joining BootUp PD, Clark was Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel of Emerald Data Solutions, which provides the industry-leading eGovernance solution – BoardDocs – that is used by over 1500 school districts across the United States. Clark served as a school board member for the School District of Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, has served on several nonprofit boards and has also served in human resources for Nebo School District, a large school district in central Utah serving over 31,000 students. Clark has also practiced law and represented several nonprofits, health care organizations, and businesses in their corporate and regulatory matters.
In the middle of his professional career, Clark was a junior high teacher at Springville Junior High School in Springville, Utah where he taught Algebra, Physical Science, Earth Science, and Law & Government. He loved being in the classroom and helping to shape the minds of future lifelong learners. He considers teaching to be the greatest of all professions.
Clark received his J.D. and MBA from the University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University. He and his wife, Sheryl, are the parents of five and the grandparents of nine.
Abby FunabikiAssociate Executive Director
Abby Funabiki has worked with school districts across the country to implement district-wide computer science for all initiatives. She has facilitated workshops for the CSforAll Consortium to help district leadership understand what is needed to support computer science for all.
Abby worked in the nonprofit sector for nine years most recently supporting public schools in Park City, UT. At the Park City Education Foundation Abby supported over 50 district programs, developed and led fundraising campaigns, implemented a CRM database, and analyzed data trends and key indicators to evaluate performance and impact. In 2013, Abby led Park City School District’s rebranding project as their Communications Director and created processes for a newly formed communications department. Abby has presented at state and local conferences on data analytics and fundraising.
While attending Willamette University in Oregon, Abby interned for the Willamette University Foundation and the McCormick Foundation in Chicago. She played on the tennis team and served as Team Captain her senior year. She has earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah and wrote her thesis on nonprofit capacity building.
Abby is passionate about equity in public education and believes access to computer science during the school day can be a true equalizer. Abby leads strategic initiatives and enjoys collaborating and creating partnerships for BootUp.
Jared O'Leary, PhDDirector of Curriculum and Professional Development
Jared O’Leary has over a decade of teaching experience and is committed to supporting teachers and districts by sharing open source resources. He has shared hundreds of resources with other educators and has given over 40 presentations worldwide. Most recently, Jared facilitated district-wide K-8 coding courses, as well as a media arts makerspace and a music production course.
Jared has a Ph.D. in Music Education from Arizona State University. His dissertation is titled “A corpus-assisted discourse analysis of multidisciplinary practices within chipmusic.org.” His research interests include the nexus of music engagement, learning, and computer science; music engagement and learning through video games and interactive learning; affinity, hybrid, and participatory music making and learning; skill acquisition and expertise; and critical discourse studies and discourse analysis. He has designed and facilitated undergraduate and graduate education courses at Arizona State University.
Jared in one of ten worldwide recipients of the Awards for Teaching Excellence in Computer Science from the Infosys Foundation USA, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and was also awarded an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) award in 2017.
At BootUp, Jared designs projects and resources for elementary coding teachers and coders and consults with districts on implementing these resources and professional development.
McKay PerkinsProfessional Development Facilitator
McKay Perkins is dedicated to developing creative instruction to make education come alive for elementary learners. He believes that when teachers devote time and energy to insert education into a child’s imagination, it unlocks the student’s potential, and willingness to pursue it. He has five years of elementary teaching experience and has loved every minute of it.
McKay left the full-time teacher role to receive a Master’s degree in Instructional Design at Brigham Young University, where he wanted to learn how to improve the learning experience for elementary children. He found coding. Since then, McKay has worked for three years teaching elementary students, elementary teachers, and elementary education students how to code and how to integrate technology in ways that transform their classrooms. He has led professional development sessions on coding and he understands students’ desire to learn this exciting medium. He also understands many of the stressors that teachers face, and has had practice helping to alleviate them.
McKay is married to Kristen, and is expecting a baby boy in June. A few of the things he enjoys are: technology, games and game development, stories and storytelling, family time, Star Wars, music, video editing, barbershop singing, classroom design and setup, and coding. He believes that all of these hobbies and activities can be creatively used to enrich and enliven instruction.
Brenda BassProfessional Development Facilitator
Brenda Bass has over 30 years of teaching experience, most recently as the Science/STEAM Lab Teacher for Fort Bend School District in Sugar Land, Texas where she taught K-5 coding, STEAM challenges and physical computing to help support science standards. She was also the coding/robotics sponsor. Prior to the Science/STEAM Lab, she was a Digital Learning Specialist supporting multiple campuses with technology integration, facilitating Professional Development as well as supporting coding/robotics clubs. At the District level, she provided support for district-wide initiatives such as STEM/LOGO Institute, Scratch Day, training coding/robotic sponsors and Film Festival.
Before moving to Fort Bend, Brenda taught in Frenship and Lubbock School Districts. She taught 6-8 grade Multimedia and Web Design where she incorporated Project Based Learning. Brenda assisted with BEST Robotics Team. She was a Curriculum Technologist Specialist as well as a Computer Technologist. She was a student sponsor for TCEA Robotics Contests where students placed 2nd in 2006 and 2nd and 3rd in 2007 at the Regional Technology Fair.
Brenda has presented on technology integration in the classroom at TCEA and ISTE. She was a part of the We Teach CS Collaborative Grant where she received over 60 hours of Computer Science Training.