Thomas Vacca has been teaching students in grades K-12 in San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles for over 15 years. He will be working with the 4th graders this year. He is an educator and improviser, as well as a meditation and mindfulness practitioner who is passionate about helping students of all ages grow and explore this world with excitement, curiosity, and compassion. After completing his B.A. in Theatre Arts, Thomas began his teaching career which spanned a variety of settings from urban public-school classrooms to farm-based homeschool communities. Thom also spent a year as a full-time resident and novice monk at a Zen Buddhist temple in Chicago, where he trained in meditation, mindful living, and organic gardening. He strongly believes in incorporating the techniques and philosophies from that experience to teaching and mentoring, helping develop concentration, confidence, awareness, and peace of mind in students. Thomas lives in Highland Park with his wife Alex and his rascally 3 year-old daughter Dharani. He is thrilled to be a part of the amazing community at Manzanita!