Deena Bernett

Chicago, IL


  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Chicago

Deena spent a decade as a middle school and high school teacher before she transitioned to teaching the GRE in 2015. She also has a master’s degree in cognitive studies in education, which basically translates into studying how people think and learn.

She began her teaching career shortly after graduating from college, spending four years teaching high-school science in Brooklyn followed by five years teaching middle-school science at one of the nation’s highest-performing charter schools. Over the years, she earned a lot of high praise for her teaching, but one of her all-time favorite compliments came from a 9th-grader who, in comparing her with another teacher, said, “But when Ms. Bernett explains something, if you don’t understand it, there must be something wrong with you,” which is teenager-speak for “she explains things very clearly.”

After nearly a decade in the classroom, Deena decided that she didn’t just want to help twenty-five students a year learn science, she wanted to revolutionize the whole educational system. With that ambitious goal in mind, she began a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, focusing on how elementary-school children learn math. She hopes to one day transform math education, so that future generations of third-graders won’t be scarred for life by the trauma of learning multiplication tables.

When she’s not officially teaching or studying teaching and learning, she does a bit of informal teaching at home, imparting important life lessons to her children, such as why it’s not a good idea to drag your baby sister down the hall by her arms. In her pre-children life, she did quite a bit of hiking and backpacking in places as far flung as Kauai’s Napali Coast Trail and Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park, and is eagerly awaiting the day her children are old enough to carry their own packs.