Meet the JUMP START team.

We’re committed to delivering great results for your customers—educators and the students they teach—by delivering exceptional content to you.

Mary Pearce, President

Mary has spent her entire professional life as an educator. She started her career as a teacher at St. Ann’s, a New York City private school. Then Mary entered educational publishing, beginning as an associate editor at Scholastic and working her way to becoming an editorial director at Children’s Television Workshop and at the Galef Institute. Mary founded JUMP START PRESS in 1995. Since then, she has established an impressive roster of educational publishing clients by focusing on what she and her staff do best: developing materials in reading/language arts, science, math, and social studies for grades preK–8.


  • Client success
  • Project conceptualization and supervision
  • K–2 expertise in all curriculum areas

Gari Fairweather, Vice President

Gari has more than 40 years of experience in educational publishing, focusing primarily on content development and editorial management of PreK–6 digital and print products. During her tenure, she has worked with clients to conceive, develop, manage, write, and edit materials in reading/language arts, social studies, science, and math. A hands-on editor, she works on all aspects of the creative process to successfully meet client expectations and deadlines. Gari began her career in educational publishing in 1980, after receiving her BA in English and Economics from Bucknell University.


  • Phonics and foundational skills
  • Reading/language arts
  • Product conception and prototyping

Tiffany Gaestel, Supervising Content Developer

Since joining JUMP START in 2009, Tiffany has worked on numerous digital and print products for reading/language arts, math, and science. Recently, she has written and edited decodable passages and readers for both core and supplemental programs. In a project management role, Tiffany has developed and maintained schedules and coordinated with freelancers and art representatives. Tiffany holds a BA in psychology and worked for a youth mentoring agency prior to obtaining her teacher certification. She is dually certified as a Teacher of English and a Teacher of Students with Disabilities.


  • ELA and math assessment
  • Decodable texts
  • Project management

Christina Wilsdon, Content Developer

Christina has worked in the educational publishing industry for nearly 40 years since graduating from Wesleyan University with a BA in English. She specializes in writing and editing decodable readers as well as creating other K-5 digital and print products for reading/language arts and science. Prior to joining JUMP START, Christina served as a senior editor at the Children’s Television Workshop and The Wright Group. She has also written a wide variety of magazine articles and trade books on topics involving science, natural history, and environmental education.


  • Decodable texts
  • Science content
  • General nonfiction

Jeff Byrd, Content and Business Development

With more than 25 years of experience in edtech and educational publishing, Jeff focuses on the creation of K–8 digital and print products for reading/language arts. In previous editorial, marketing, and leadership roles at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Heinemann, Jeff led cross-functional teams to develop comprehensive literacy solutions for grades K–6. Jeff received BA and MA degrees in English Literature from Florida State University.


  • K–6 literacy market
  • Instructional design
  • Phonics and foundational skills

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