It's nice to meet you.
At Armada, our work is entirely people-powered, and the strength of our team is our number-one asset. We're a multi-generational group of lifelong learners, and we've come together from all over the world to accomplish something we couldn't do alone.
Through living, working, and learning together, we help each other grow in all of our many comprehensive interests.
Nicolas Zhang is a Beijing native who attended Tsinghua University, China's top college, for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. After receiving a Ph.D. in Precision Instruments, Nicolas worked for IBM China's sales department for two years before leaving IBM to focus on independent business ventures and projects.
In our rapidly changing world, Nicolas aims to discover suitable philosophies, methods and environments for today’s learners to go beyond their limitations and achieve their goals. This is also a learning process for himself. Since founding Armada, he has encountered many difficulties and challenges, but what we’ve achieved despite these obstacles has strengthened his resolve. He believes we can break through the boundaries and barriers of traditional education systems, and help people feel the joy that comes from real learning. Nicolas dreams of helping young people all over the world become life-long learners and creators - guiding them to meaningful lives.
Cassie Jin was born and raised in Qingdao, China. She was one of the first graduates of Tsinghua University's art program. After university, she worked in product design, sales, and production, and served as ICI Dulux Paint's chief Asia Pacific color consultant before leaving to pursue entrepreneurship on her own.
Cassie hopes the children she works with can grow up as healthy, knowledgeable learners who have enough real-world experience and self-discipline to achieve their dreams. In the process of building Armada, she has worked with adults and young people from America, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and France, and these collaborations have helped her develop an international perspective. Cassie is proud of how much Armada’s learners have grown, and she is excited and confident for the future.
Felix Zhang is a 9-year-old kid born on November 30, 2005 in Beijing. He loves pigs, especially little ones. He also likes playing board games, especially Settlers of Catan. He likes hiking, too.
Felix has been learning at Armada from the very beginning of the organization, and has helped experiment with and develop almost all of our programs. Since leaving traditional school at the age of 7, Felix has learned German and started to learn French, taken up the piano, drums, and guitar, composed a song, created 3 board games, and co-published a children’s book - and that's just a small part of what he's been up to.
Brendan Ternus is an educator, photographer, and graphic designer who grew up moving all over the world. Before moving to China to join the team, he studied at Yale University and worked as a teacher and arts educator in New Orleans, Louisiana.
At Armada, Brendan loves to experiment with creative curricula, and he’s grateful for how often he can build his graphic design and photography skills through working on projects and products with the team. He’s also growing as an improv comedian – our performing arts programming gives him the perfect chance to improvise with some of the most creative people on earth!
Kassandra Lee is an educator, published poet, and creative entrepreneur who graduated from Columbia University in 2013 with a Bachelor's in Comparative Literature and Society. Prior to joining the Armada team in Beijing, she was the head of the secondary school social studies department at Atitlán Multicultural Academy in Guatemala. She was recently selected to read at the Bookworm International Literary Festival, and her chapbook of poetry was published in August 2014 by a small press in Chicago.
As part of the Armada team, Kassandra has taken advantage of the opportunity to pursue her comprehensive interest in experimental education design , arts mentoring, and youth-led learning. Armada provides her the perfect laboratory to try out the world's most innovative pedagogy. At the Base, she has experimented with product-design learning, place-based education, and travel-integration.
Take a look at Kassandra's portfolio website here.
Ryan Campeau is a yogi, baker, theater artist, and language enthusiast. In college, Ryan double-majored in French language and literature and in theater arts with a focus on directing. She graduated in 2013, and spent a year living and teaching in Provence, France before joining the Armada team the following summer.
Ryan has experimented with teaching toddlers, kids, and adults, and she is especially interested in how drama- and game-based activities can help people experience the joyful interconnectedness of learning in their lives. Blending her passions for baking, drama, languages, and travel in her work with learners has helped Ryan to lead a flourishing life – and she loves supporting people in discovering their own passions and growing towards their goals.
Click here to read Ryan's blog about life in Beijing!