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Summer Program – Faculty Bios


About the Executive Director

Steve Coxon, PhD

is associate professor and director of programs in gifted education at Maryville University including this program, the gifted education graduate program for teachers, the STEM Education Certificate, the Maryville Young Scholars Program to identify and serve high ability children from groups traditionally underrepresented in gifted programs, and the Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology, and Math (CREST-M) curriculum development project. He holds his PhD in gifted education from the College of William and Mary and conducts research on developing STEM talents in pK-8th grade gifted children, especially spatial ability, mathematics, and creativity. Steve has more than 40 publications and 30 juried presentations, is the science education columnist for Teaching for High Potential, the book review editor for Roeper Review, and is the author of the book Serving Visual-Spatial Learners. He serves as an educational consultant, project and program evaluator, and professional developer. In 2014, the Missouri Commissioner of Education appointed Steve to a 4-year term on the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children. He also volunteers as a judge advisor for FIRST® LEGO® League events in the St. Louis region and as a member of the St. Louis FLL Planning Committee. He has helped to start JFLL and FLL teams at several low-income schools in the St. Louis region.

Program Leadership

About the Managing Director

Mara G. Berry, MEd is an adjunct teacher in Education at Maryville University where she also serves as the site coordinator for the Maryville Young Scholars Program to identify and serve high ability children from groups traditionally underrepresented in gifted programs. Formerly, she was Director of Gifted and English Language Learners as well as principal for the GALACTIC gifted program in the Hazelwood School District. Mara has presented at state and national level gifted conferences. She holds her BS from the University of Missouri-Columbia, her MEd from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and certification in both Special Education and Elementary Administration. Mara has coached FIRST® Lego® League & Jr. FIRST LEGO teams for the last five years, plus she volunteers as a judge for FLL competitions. She also volunteers and teaches as a Master Gardener with Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Academic Year Director

Michelle Ryder Schoeck, M.A., Ed. S. is a veteran educator with 34 years of experience in a K-12 setting. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at Maryville University with responsibilities in the Master of Education program. In addition, she is also the Director of Parent and Teacher Education the Maryville Young Scholars Program which seeks to identify and serve high ability children from groups traditionally underrepresented in gifted programs and the Academic Year Director for Maryville’s Science and Robotics Program. Formerly, she was Director of Gifted Programs in the Lindbergh Schools for 25 years. Michelle also works as the Program Manager for the STEM Education Certificate Program and STEM Sprouts Grant. Michelle has presented at local, state, and national level education conferences and serves on national committees for gifted identification and special schools. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in elementary education, a Master of Arts degree from Maryville University in gifted education and an Education Specialist degree from Webster University in administrative leadership. Michelle volunteers with various events in the community and at Maryville University.

Associate Director

Gretchen Roberts holds her BA in early childhood and elementary education from Maryville University where she is a graduate student in gifted education. She previously provided gifted enrichment in mathematics and robotics in Ladue Schools. She now serves as the program manager for the Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology, and Math (CREST-M) grant project that Drs. Coxon and Dohrman hold from the Monsanto Fund to create math curricula that engage diverse children in STEM fields through the use of robotics.

Faculty Biographies

Tom Bast is an action-oriented Information Technology instructor and software developer with expertise in secondary, post-secondary, and adult technical education. His experience includes Oracle, Microsoft Access, and mySQL database design and applications; ASP.net and HTML web site development; SQL, Java, Javascript, and Alice3 coding; and Xcode / Android app development. Tom began as a process engineer and software developer for 14 years with Monsanto and Sunnen Products Company. He transitioned to his true passion in 2004 within Information Technology education as a Career Technical instructor at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy. He is in his 13th year teaching at Career Academy, and has also become an adjunct instructor at Maryville University since 2016 in the School of Business with app and web development courses. Tom has a proven ability to educate students using organized classroom management strategies and rubrics, and lead and motivate students to repeated winning achievements at district and state levels in computer, business, web, and app competitions for Future Business Leaders of America, Black Data Processing Associates, and the Urban Financial Services Coalition. Tom encourages his students to “think outside the box” and “bring value” to the technology they learn and must apply in their intended career fields. His Seniors have gone out successfully on Internships their Spring Semester for the last 12 years in business and computer technology support roles. Some of the companies they have supported include the Army Core of Engineers, Urban Strategies, Ameren Missouri, the Science Center, Laclede Gas, Saint Louis University Chemistry and Computer Science departments, BJC, and multiple business incubators and small start-up businesses. Tom has been happily married to his wife Sandy for 27 years. They have four daughters and two sons.

Mike Beck holds a Master’s degree in gifted education earned through Lindenwood University. He has taught in the Hazelwood School District’s GALACTIC Gifted Program for the past 11 years. He teaches EV3 robotics, Coding, Sculpture, and inventive art classes.  Mike has presented at state and national level gifted conferences and has coached FIRST® Lego® League teams for many years.

Bethany Bozzay holds her Bachelors Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She has been a part of Maryville Science and Robotics program for the past three years, as a Teachers’ Assistant and now a Lead teacher. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Nikkole Briggs holds her BA in elementary education with a minor in Psychology from Maryville University where she is a graduate student in gifted education. Nikkole serves the program as assistant director, Young Scholars. She teaches gifted students at four schools in the St. Louis Public Schools and is a teacher in the Maryville Young Scholars Program Summer Academy.

Karli Brown holds BA in elementary education, with a concentration in mathematics. She is pursuing a masters degree in gifted education. She has had internships in the Rockwood, Ritenour, and Parkway school districts, and has been a part of the Maryville Summer Science and Robotics program for the past two years.

Tad Droste, M.A. Ed., has been teaching self-contained 4th grade gifted students at Kennard CJA in St. Louis Public School District since 2007. As a a self-proclaimed upcycler, he tries to reuse things as often as possible, as anyone who has been to his classroom can attest. Before coming to teach in the city, he held positions in Alton, IL, and Ashland, MT, as well as a plethora of other sub teaching positions throughout west central Illinois. Tad holds a B.S. Ed. with a Theater Arts emphasis from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a M.A. Ed. with an emphasis in Gifted Education from Lindenwood University. For many years, Tad, a resident of Illinois, held positions on the board of the Gifted Association of Missouri (GAM) and has presented at state and local GAM conferences. At school, he holds multiple positions within his building and district levels, most notably Building Tech Liaison. In his free time, Tad enjoys outdoor activities such as fishing and gardening and being a Cub Scout leader, as well as basic home remodeling and furniture building.

Esther Dunlop holds her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, both from Maryville University. She is completing her first full-time year of teaching at Immanuel in Olivette. She is excited to begin her fourth summer with Maryville’s Summer Science and Robotics Program.

Kathie Eckelkamp, MAEd holds two master’s degrees in education. Her first degree was from Webster University with an emphasis on inclusion education and her most recent master’s is from Lindenwood University in gifted education. She has taught over 20 years full time in elementary schools in the St. Louis area. She currently teaches in the Hazelwood School District’s GALACTIC Gifted Program. She enjoys teaching a variety of STEM classes and has mentored for the FIRST Lego League in the past.

Kelly Eggers, MA holds her BA in Art Education, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and MA in Education from Maryville University. During her studies, she completed internships in Kirkwood, Affton, and Parkway. This will be her 3rd year helping to integrate art and creativity into the Summer Science and Robotics Program. Currently, she serves as a high school art teacher in the Normandy Collaborative School District. Kelly is a painter and focuses on imagination in her own work.

Jessica Fisher, MAEd holds her BA in psychology as well as her MA in elementary education from Maryville University. She is a third grade teacher at Orchard Farm Elementary School in the Orchard Farm School District.

Evan Goff is the creator of Smart Kids Robotics (www.SmartKidsRobotics.com), which offers kids challenging STEM learning opportunities year-round using robotics. He has coached robotics teams in global competitions for several years. Evan holds a BS in business management, a BS in computer science, and several IT professional certifications obtained during the growth of his IT career.

Dan Healy holds his BS in elementary education from UMSL and a MA in education with certification in gifted education from Lindenwood University. He has taught in the middle school gifted program in the Hazelwood School District for the past 7 years. He works with other educators to incorporate science, technology, engineering, art, and math into the middle school curriculum. This will be his third year teaching at the Maryville Science and Robotics Camp.

Kasey Healy is a gifted certified teacher. She has taught for 16 years in the Hazelwood School District.  She currently teaches elementary gifted children.

Brittany Kinealy, MAEd holds a BA in elementary education and MA in early childhood education from Maryville University. This is her 4th summer teaching robotics camp. She is currently a first 1st grade teacher in the Riverview Gardens School District.

Lindsay Lombardo holds BA in elementary education from Fontbonne University and is currently completing her Masters in Gifted Education at Maryville University. She is the gifted specialist at Conway Elementary in the Ladue School District where she teaches LEGO WeDo, EV3, and NXT robotics.

Megan Margherio holds a MA in Gifted Education from Maryville University.  She has been teaching for ten years, the last four at the Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students (PEGS) in the Lindbergh School District.  She has presented at the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) Conference, as well as at the District Gifted Association of Missouri conferences. She teaches critical thinking and creativity skills using MinecraftEdu.

Jennifer Martin has been a FIRST Coach since 2010. She has coached or mentored all 4 levels of FIRST Robotics. Jennifer was a presenter at 2015 FIRST(r) Championship Conferences and a STEM Advocate and Education al Professional since 2010. Jennifer is responsible for the development, delivery, implementation, and monitoring of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum, initiatives, and educational opportunities. Jennifer collaborated with stakeholders in education and the community to organize and promote interdisciplinary STEM activities that are aligned with content-area standard – and with the goals of our learning community. She is responsible for the implementation, oversight, and reporting requirements STEM grants. In addition, she is responsible for outreach to local community organizations, schools, and businesses to provide enhanced, experiential learning opportunities for all students.

Jamie Pegg, MAEd is a gifted education specialist for the Francis Howell School District at Central Elementary School. Jamie has taught for seventeen years specializing in gifted education for the last eleven years. She holds her master’s degree in gifted education from Lindenwood University In addition, Jamie enjoys participating in education-focused programs and has attended Educators @Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. Jamie teaches LEGO robotics in the Spectra gifted program at Francis Howell. She participates in the First Lego League as an assistant coach mentoring students and utilizing the EV3 Mindstorm System.

Matt Raithel has brought some of the most famous brands to life through video games including My Little Pony, Play-Doh, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Ben 10, Garfield and the Zhu Zhu Pets. As the Studio Director and owner of Graphite Lab, Matt has helped produce games for numerous platforms ranging from the Game Boy Advance to the Wii U. As an advocate for the video game industry, Matt speaks on topics such as gaming violence and game production at major universities throughout the state. Matt hold a BS degree in Electronic Art from Missouri State University, and has taught classes in animation and game design for Maryville University as an Instructor of Game Design.

Victoria Reinders graduated from Maryville University with a degree in chemistry and a minor in education. Victoria has taught a breadth of courses in the Maryville Science and Robotics Weekend involving robotics, circuitry, computer hardware, and programming. During the academic year, Victoria teaches MakerSpace at Chesterfield Day School where she works with grades 1-6 in all areas of STEM.

Kathie Reuter, MAEd spent more than 30 years teaching grades K-5 and has taught robotics for more than 15 years. She holds her Missouri gifted certification and two master’s degrees in education. She has studied advanced robotics at Carnegie Mellon University through their enrichment program for educators at the Robotics Institute. Kathie volunteers as the FIRST® LEGO® League Partner for Eastern Missouri.

Carin Rook taught gifted education in the Ladue School District, as well as math enrichment and LEGO® robotics. She currently is working on her Master’s in Gifted Education. She holds her BS in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from Missouri State University. Carin is certified to teach Gifted, Early Childhood and Library Media. Carin is an active member of the Gifted Association of Missouri (GAM) and is beginning her 6th year at Maryville Summer Science and Robotics. She also helps teachers learn STEM techniques for their classrooms within the STEM Certification program at Maryville and CREST-M.

Jessica Senne, AIA, NCIDQ is assistant professor of interior design at Maryville University.  She is principal architect and interior designer for Studio Lark, LLC, and has worked with Ladue and Ritenour Schools to design and implement outdoor classroom space.  Professor Senne’s recent publications include “Architecture:  A Nexus of Creativity, Math, and Spatial Ability,” which she co-authored with Dr. Steve Coxon for Gifted Child Today (January 2016).  Professor Senne has curated multiple exhibitions including “Impressions of a European Journey: 1958” (2014), “Suburban Modernism: The Architecture and Interior Design of Ralph & Mary Jane Fournier” (2014), and “Arrived Perfect [Assembly Required], sculpture and drawings by Tad Gloeckler” (2016).

Tom Spudich, PhD is an associate professor of chemistry and forensic science at Maryville University where he is the forensic science program director. In 2013, Dr. Spudich was awarded a US patent for co-creating a light-emitting element based on laser carbonized polymer substrate. as of the start of 2017, Dr. Spudich is an eCYBERMISSION ambassador (www.ecybermission.com) and was formerly the co-director for the Missouri Section of the Junior Science Engineering and Humanities Symposium. Dr. Spudich is also a co-founder of Spectrum Perception, LLC, a company that designs and manufactures low-cost, low-volume spectrometers for chemical and biological applications.  Currently the company is working with BioGenerator, an organization that supports new company formation and provides crucial investment in early-stage bioscience companies in St. Louis.

Nicole Stewart has her BA in elementary education from Maryville University. She now teaches fourth grade at Dardenne Elementary. Nicole has a background in theater. This will be her fourth year serving in this program.

DeLynn Stoneburner, MA is currently semi-retired. She began her teaching career at the Parkway School District in 1995. With an emphasis in mathematics and gifted education, she has taught K thru graduate level throughout her career. DeLynn holds a BS in Elementary and Middle School Education and has her Masters in Special Education. She has been published and presented on topics of Twice Exceptional (2e) and STEAM Education. She remains active in the Maryville Young Scholars program as well as an educator in the Maryville Science and Robotics weekend and summer programs.

Erik B. Taylor is the upper school science specialist and STEAM coordinator for City Academy School, a private elementary school in St. Louis City. He holds BS degrees in biological sciences and education from SIU-Edwardsville. He has worked as an educator and camp counselor for over 20 years engaging students in and out of the classroom through the integration of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Erik coaches and mentors an FLL team and robotics club for aspiring engineers, and volunteers as a cub master for the Boy Scouts of America encouraging scouts to pursue STEM-based learning. In summer 2009, Erik took part in the prestigious Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in addition to a workshop at the Center for Engineering Education Outreach at Tufts University. He has been recognized as an Educator of Distinction by the Independent Schools of St. Louis.

Shirley Versemann has taught middle school science for the past 27 years. She received her BS in education from Southeast Missouri State University and is certified through the University of Hawaii in DASH and FAST inquiry based science instruction. She also teaches science enrichment classes during the summer. Shirley was awarded a grant in July 2016, which she is being using to launch a school wide Makerspace room at Our Lady School in Festus where she currently teaches for the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Michael Vordtriede, MEd holds his BA in elementary education with a minor in art education from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He earned his MA and has certification in gifted education through Maryville University. He has taught 3rd grade and K-6 Art in the Ferguson Florissant School District for the past 20 years. Michael currently teaches in the Ferguson Florissant PROBE Gifted Program, where he integrates LEGOs into daily STEAM activities. He also serves as faculty in the Maryville Young Scholars Program Summer Academy.

Beth Zimmermann is the gifted education teacher at Iveland Elementary School in the Ritenour School District. She also taught gifted education in Rockwood at the Center for Creative Learning for five years before moving to Ritenour. Beth is a National Board Certified Teacher who holds a B.S in Psychology and a Masters in Elementary Education from Truman State University. She completed her gifted education certification classes, a graduate certificate in Global Awareness and Civic Literacy Education, and a STEM Education Certificate at Maryville University, and she is currently finishing a Science Education Certificate at Washington University. She teaches using Ozobots, Spheros, littleBits, Scratch, LEGO WeDo robotics, and iPads in her classroom, and she is excited to teach the cool kids of Maryville’s Science and Robotics Program this summer.