Who We Are
Our Curriculum Developer
Ronald Jay Marson is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University (B.S. in Chemistry) and Harvard University (M.A.T. in Science Education). For three years he taught science and math, and supervised student teaching in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. That's where he first learned to make do with limited resources, using local materials to facilitate hands-on experimentation. Upon his return to the U.S., Ron continued to refine his shoestring approach in a private high school in Utah. He discovered that even his science-shy students responded with enthusiasm to the creative lessons he concocted. He now devotes himself full-time to developing new curricula, testing and refining his lessons on local students until they experience great success.
Ron's rich and varied experience as an educator, his talent as a writer and his love of teaching are essential ingredients in the books he publishes. As founder and president of TOPS Learning Systems, a nonprofit educational corporation, he is working hard to provide quality education based on resources that are available to everyone. Ron's goal as an educator is to help new generations learn to love learning as they become their own best teachers.
Our Art Department
Peg Nazari Marson is a free-lance graphic designer and fine artist with a colorful work history. To keep body and soul together in her "starving artist" days, she worked as a printer's assistant, apple packer, bank teller, telephone operator, legal secretary, teacher's aide, sign designer and woodworker (though not all at the same time).
One of her favorite jobs was tutoring at-risk high school students in math, science and language arts. Working with young people provided wonderful lessons for Peg. She learned how to make education clearer, friendlier and more inviting to those who had come to fear it, often sketching concepts to help her students understand and remember.
In 1979 she started her own commercial design business. Ron walked in a couple of years later, looking for an illustrator and the woman of his dreams. He found his perfect match!
Now, when she's not busy drawing friendly, helpful peoplets for TOPS, Peg works on her own art. She paints and draws a wide range of subjects in a variety of media and styles. Her works have been well-received in galleries, and consistently win high awards in juried exhibitions.
Our Customer Service and General Manager
Jennifer Zajac began working for TOPS in 2010. Jennifer found TOPS while homeschooling her kids, and realized that she should try to get more involved with this family favorite. Now, with three busy teenagers, Jennifer runs TOPS from her home in the strawberry fields. Learning to run a business is just the next learning adventure for this woman.
Our Other Authors
Hello, I'm Pat Fellers and I'm so proud to call myself a teacher. For a few decades now I've called Oregon classrooms my second home. Every September the glorious adventure begins once again. Teachers have the best job in the world! Hope you find our books helpful. (Pat is coauthor of the TOPS Master Teacher Series.)
Hello, I'm Kathy Gritzmacher. I have been teaching for over twenty years, and have assumed the position of principal for several more. I know that the processes and procedures in our TOPS books will help teachers everywhere. Have a great year! (Kathy is coauthor of the TOPS Master Teacher Series.)
Doris Metcalf is excited by "seeing students grasp an idea through inquiry and hands-on learning." In her years of teaching gifted students, she has authored nearly a dozen inquiry-based books, including many focusing on African-American studies. She is looking forward to publishing a collection of southern folklore, and plans to write about her experiences raising an autistic son. (Doris is coauthor of Rocks and Minerals.)
Don Balick radiates creative energy. He has worked with young people inside and outside the classroom, teaching them to understand and respect the natural world, especially the beautiful Southwest desert ecosystem. His creativity and experience led us into a popular TOPS collaboration: Animal Survival #37. More recently, Don has lived and worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and abroad. We wish we had his picture to share with you.
Our TOPS Peoplets
These are fun-loving folk of no particular age, race, political affiliation, or size. Because they are clever and brave, can change sizes and defy gravity, we let them demonstrate the "how to's" in all the books we publish. Their purpose in life is to help young people achieve success one step at a time.