At first glance, Joahna Tupas’s road to becoming a leading expert and advocate of experiential and character education may seem circuitous, but her achievements and recognition so far are the sum of all her varied experiences and pursuits along the way.
She started college as a Psychology student and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Arts at De La Salle College of Saint Benilde in the Philippines. Once out of college,, she founded a multimedia arts agency and production company ToInk Productions. She had taken on roles in marketing, editorial, and social media management for the top media companies in the Philippines. This was followed by consulting and executive positions for companies like Getaround in the San Francisco Bay Area, My Health Mags in Australia, and Tangy Lab in Singapore. With her experience and expertise as an entrepreneur, she consulted for clients in Hong Kong and the US, and even founded several startups with several trusted friends. She curated art exhibits for Filipino artists and dabbled in performance arts as a dancer, rapper, lyricist, and spoken word artist.
In 2010, she taught Multimedia Arts at her alma mater, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, reawakening in her the love for education that made her study Psychology in the first place. And much like she has done in her career, Joahna threw herself into this new pursuit wholeheartedly, with all the lessons and skills she had developed through the years. She even authored and co-authored curriculums for an international school and for the Department of Education in the Philippines from 2010 to 2017.
And when she became a parent and started raising her son, this creative entrepreneur and educator mom devised ways to make his education more “experiential.”
Thus School in a Backpack was born. This revolutionary approach to homeschooling engaged both children and like-minded parents in transformational events that took them outside, using things in nature as tools for learning. For this program, she created School by the Shore, Applause Fun Theater, and schINAbp, a brand under travel agencies holding company inteletravel. For the latter, Joahna creates experiential education-based travel opportunities around the world for families, educators, and learning enthusiasts.
Joahna studied and earned a certificate for Special Education which gave her the opportunity to be a Special Education Teacher at a Native American school district in Arizona. She dove into this field of study and eventually pursued a Master’s degree in Education Management at Pacific Intercontinental College. Joahna is also a District Team Member for Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) and a Community Immersion program designer for her school’s junior and high school students with disabilities. She serves as a member of the Arizona Education Department (AZED) Data Review Committee for the Arizona High School Science State assessments.
As an advocate for conscious parenting, Joahna became a Curriculum Director for Parent Led Academy in 2020-2022, and a Council Member for the Parent Advisory Council for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program under the Arizona Education Department.
Since 2020, Joahna has shared her love for learning as a professional development speaker for educators and partner parents. She was also invited as a presenter for prestigious events such as the National Arts Educators Association (NAEA) 2021 Conference, the Neuroscience in Classroom Virtual International Conference in 2021, and the Kennedy Center Office of VSA and Accessibility in 2022.
As she continues to grow and flourish into her role as an educator, Joahna is working on her book Courage First, transitioning her workshops into conference pieces for programs that will enhance socio-emotional learning among learners, and planning to write children’s books.
She is launching School in a Backpack, the revolutionary way of learning that she began in the Philippines, in the USA in October 2022, as well as workshops, talks, coaching services, events, and more through www.schoolinabackpack.com.