President and Executive Director

Michael Beckwith is the founder of Jacaranda Education. He was born and raised in London, UK. After studying for an under graduate degree in Hebrew and Arabic language at University College London and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Michael’s early career began in Washington DC as a research assistant and translator for a Middle East think tank. Disillusioned with the pessimistic reality of modern-day Middle Eastern politics and development initiatives he pursued a Master’s degree in International Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University with the aim of participating in more constructive activities. After several years coordinating adult, international and public education projects in NYC he established Jacaranda and set up an office in Oaxaca City, Mexico. He is currently setting up and establishing a second office in Mexico City where he resides and works. He has lived in Europe, the Middle East, The United States, and Mexico.


Liliana Castellanos is a co-founder of Jacaranda Education. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Europe and Washington D.C. She began her university studies at Pratt Institute in NYC and concluded her studies at Columbia University in NYC. In her early career she worked for investment banks and law firms handling pension funds in the competitive financial industry of New York. She soon found the desire to help the underdog and have a stronger impact in changes she foresees necessary in the world. Her focus moved to theatre film and development. She received a two-year post graduate degree in theatre in NYC. After working in the film-documentary industry for several years she began aiding immigrants with their education and writing grants for an education based non- profit in NYC. Soon after she moved to Oaxaca, Mexico to help establish Jacaranda Education and is now happy to be connecting education to film making by coordinating the Adobe Youth Voices Project.

Director of Operations: Oaxaca

Christopher Lockwood is the Director for Operations for Jacaranda Education in Oaxaca City. He is from Halifax, U.K. and studied English & American Literatures at the University of Keele, U.K. and Loyola University New Orleans, U.S.A. He went on to gain a place at Girton College, University of Cambridge, U.K. to read an M.Phil. in American Literature. He is a specialist on the role of the American Frontiersman in the Nineteenth-Century, and the literary and artistic movements surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Christopher oversees and directs a range of projects, staff and iniatives in Oaxaca and is actively involved with new project development in collaboration with the public and private sector in the State. In addition to his directorial duties, Chris maintains a teaching schedule which brings him into direct contact with a range of students in a variety of contexts.

Director of Operations: Mexico City

John Gray was born and raised in the UK. After graduating with a BSc in Anthropology from University College London he moved to Spain where he worked, variously, as a publisher, translator and teacher. He has a long history of involvement in the field of education, in England, Spain and Mexico. He is also a published author, and is working on a book about the literary history of Mexico City. John´s reputation as a teacher preceded him and was an individual who was known to Jacaranda long before his current appointment. John´s principal focus of activities will be the Customized Business English (CBE) project in DF along with the publishing arm of the organization where it is hoped that John´s proven expertise will allow the organization to grow and exapnd further.

Community Educator/ Teacher: Oaxaca

Christopher Prossnitz is an artist and an educator from the United States. He grew up in Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. After spending a year in Thailand as a foreign exchange student, he attended the University of Illinois where he pursued a degree in Cultural Anthropology. During this time he also began to learn Arabic. After studying for a semester at the Jordanian University in Amman, Chris spent six months working with a cultural center and a news organization in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. The following year he spent six months interning in the Education Department of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Beirut, Lebanon. In addition to his interests in education, Chris is also a practicing musician. He began playing the guitar at age 13 and quickly became interested in a wide variety of musical styles, particularly hip-hop. As a producer and MC he has collaborated with artists from all over the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Inspired by his time spent working with youth at the Ibdaa Cultural Center in the Dheisheh Refugee camp in Bethlehem, Chris became very interested in the role of arts in education, particularly how arts may be used to address issues of social justice and to build community. After completing his undergraduate studies in 2011, he went on to earn a masters degree in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Andrea Vargas was born and raised in Mexico City. She has always had an affinity for the arts and graphic media, which led her naturally into a career in graphic design. Since finishing her university studies she has worked for a number of private companies where she has gained experience in corporate branding, managing, and print. In 2008 she began to work as an independent and to add to her education through drawing and painting courses with Mtro. Guillermo Getino and Mtro. Alfredo Nieto. She has also added an degree in illustration to her resume from the Academia de San Carlos, UNAM, where she studied under Mtro. Gerardo Suzan. Most recently she began to collaborate with the team at Jacaranda Education working on design and layout for a number of education and textbook publications.Andrea loves art & crafts, and believes in high quality work and the creation of images.

English Language Studies Teacher: CBE: Mexico City

James Gibbsis from Washington, DC where he began his career in education by working with under-priveleged minority youth in urban parochial schools. This, combined with volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity and several seniors assistance programs, has shaped and inspired a personal belief system which puts others first and guides his career and life choices. After teaching in primary schools, James ventured into the travel and tourism industry with the hope of living and working abroad. He was soon back in the classroom, this time teaching adults travel geography and automation while arranging travel for U.S. Government officials by day. The next decade saw additional positions in travel and in retail and restaurant management as well as educational pursuits. He attended The University of Maryland System, Prince George's Community College, Career Advancement Training with The Catholic University of America and obtained his TEFL certification through Oxford Seminars of Los Angeles and New York. Now, finally living his dream of living and working overseas, James has dedicated himself to English Language Teaching and is attempting his first novel.

Adobe Youth Voices: Media Mentor: Mexico City

Christian Reyes was born in Mexico City in a very dangerous neighborhood called “Doctores,” a place where violence converges with popular culture through the “lucha libre” and “talleres de grafica.” Christian studied a first degree in the arts and visual arts in ENPEG “La Esmeralda” dedicating his work principally to graphic art with a focus on drawing and “grabado.”

His work has been selected for different competitions both in Europe, with the competition of "Ex Libris" Biblioteka Gliwice Polonia 2010 and in Mexico with the national competition "José Guadalupe Posada." His work has also been published in books such as Mexican Graphics, edited by Jorge Alderete and in varias editions of the publication B México.

Recently, Christian has been developing his teaching work delivering art workshops to youth and infants for the program Alas y Raices of CONACULTA as well as in the Centro Cultural España México. In 2011 Christian joined up with AYV taking the online course for educators and began to work with youth from the Centro Historico in workshops and to support educators from the Adobe Youth Media Club at the Save the Children site. This year Christian hopes to expand his work and involvement with AYV Mexico in his role as Media Mentor which will give him wider access to the range of sites and educators involved throughout the DF region.

Adobe Youth Voices: Media Mentor: Mexico City

Edgar Fibela Tapia is a visual artist, promotor of art and art education and independent curator who lives and works in Mexico City. Edgar graduated from ENPEG "La Esmeralda" where he was part of a number of exhibitions, both individual and group. He currently works as a educator and facilitator for Save the Children Mexico and Jacaranda Education where he uses the language and processes of the arts to create educational tools which promote and develop participation, reflexion, and creation on the part of youth in downtown Mexico City. In his work as a visual artist Edgar is constantly reflecting on the everyday life of the city and its inhabitant, their lives and their structures.

Communications Advisor: Mexico City

Georgina has six years of experience with audiovisual production. Her experience working with government agencies and production companies in the UK and Mexico has equipped her with a global perspective that helps her understand the communication needs of each project she works in. She has collaborated on the production of TV and radio spots, e-learning packages, educational programs and documentaries. Georgina began her career in communication with the Mexican Institute of Youth where she was Public Relations Manager. Subsequently she worked as Direction Assistant in several production companies such as: The Image Shop and Watson Films. Before going to London she worked in the Federal Electoral Institute as Chief of Media and Audiovisual Production. In 2009 she completed a Masters degree in Documentary Practice at Brunel University (UK). Upon returning to her native Mexico she joined the Ministry of Public Education as Communication Advisor where she has developed materials such as: websites and brochures. Most recently, Georgina has been teaching Audiovisual Communication at Ibero University in DF. She is about to emabrk on an exciting new position with the publishing company Santillana

English Language Studies Teacher: Oaxaca

Claudia Constantine Roca was born and raised in Mexico City. Her father was an American and her mother is Mexican. She is married with two sons. Her husband is a doctor and currently working in Secretaría de Salud here in Oaxaca. Her oldest son is 22 and studies Phylosophy and the other is 11 and studies 5th grade in La Salle. Claudia studied a bachelor's degree in UNAM and later took a diploma for English teachers at a professional level certified by Cambridge University. She has given English and History classes for more than 25 years from primary school through college. For the last 8 years, she has worked in two private schools in Mexico City as a History teacher but kept on teaching English privately. She has also taught at Universidad Iberoamericana and at UNAM. For seven years, she worked at the National Archives as underdirector of the Historic Archives and afterwards became coordinator of a long distance education centre. Other than teaching, she loves to be with her family and her friends. She enjoys reading: history, literature, phylosophy, etc. She likes to visit museums, art galleries and travelling, as well as sports. She is hoping to keep on giving classes for a long time and would very much like to become a writer specially writing about history and historic novels.

English Language Studies Teacher: Oaxaca

Maria Gabriela Avendaño Cruz was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. She has been an English Language Studies teacher with Jacaranda Education with the Blaise Pascale project since 2007. In 2002 she graduated from UABJO with a teaching degree in foreign languages. In 2006 she was the recipient of a Fullbright scholarship to study and work at Gardner Webb University in North Carolina. Gabriela currently teaches both secundaria and preparatoria classes. In 2009 she began to focus her teaching on Beginner level studies and has had a lot of success in developing this area of studies for the English Language Studies Department at Blaise Pascale. Gabriela is constantly looking to further her skills. In the fall of 2009 she successfully completed a diploma course with the University of La Salle which focused on Classroom Management and constructivism in teaching.

English Language Studies and United Nations Teacher: Oaxaca

Tara Nichol Born and raised in Toronto, Tara is happy to be the first Canadian to join the Jacaranda team. She completed her degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2003. She then moved to the West Coast of Canada to begin her career working with special needs children and marginalized youth. Tara is very proud of her work with kids needing special attention as this experience has helped her learn a lot, including how to approach problems creatively and looking at things from different perspectives. From here she went on to pursue her love of travelling, particularly in Latin America, visiting over ten countries in the region. After completing TOEFL certification in 2006 Tara taught English to both adults and children in Nicaragua and Panama. While working with Jacaranda Education she hopes to incorporate issues of social justice from around the world in her classes in a way that young people in Mexico can relate to. Tara believes that thinking critically is an important part of education including keeping an open mind and always looking at issues from more than one point of view.

English Language Studies Teacher: Oaxaca

Corinna Irwin moved to Oaxaca this February to complete her TESOL certification to open up possibilities for working abroad and to expand knowledge of teaching and language development. She comes to Jacaranda with five years experience working with at risk youth in various positions as a mentor, advocate, group facilitator, health educator, and teacher. Moving to Mexico was important to her because of her work with Latino youth and families in the States, and her interest in the relationship between The United States and Mexico. In 2007, she earned her Bacholers degree in Social Sciences/Community Development from Portland State University, and during this time worked as coordinator for a social justice and human rights education student group. Seeking the intersections between social justice, youth empowerment and education are very important to her. She has traveled extensively in parts of Central and South America, including studying Spanish in Nicaragua. She is also a yoga teacher, tarot card reader and aspires to be a great photographer, story teller and dancer.