Faculty Bios

Faculty Bios

About the Executive Director

Steve Coxon, PhD is associate professor and executive director of the Center for Access and Achievement (CA2) at Maryville University. CA2 focuses on partnerships with schools and nonprofits to prepare pre-collegiate students for college and the careers of the future through STEM education. CA2 oversees the:

Steve conducts research on developing STEM talents and is author of more than 50 publications including the book Serving Visual-Spatial Learners. Visit stevecoxon.com and follow him @STEMaryville.

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 has volunteered as a judge for FLL competitions. She also volunteers and teaches as a Master Gardener with Missouri Botanical Gardens.

Managing Director of Special Programs

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 of the Center for Access and Achievement

Gretchen Roberts holds her BA in early childhood and elementary education from Maryville University. She previously provided gifted enrichment in mathematics and robotics in Ladue Schools. She previously served as the program manager for the Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology, and Math (CREST-M) and C3 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. She is currently the Associate Director of The Center for Access and Achievement.

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.

Sara Beg is a 2nd grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Saint Louis University, a Bachelors in Secondary Education from University of Missouri St. Louis, and a Masters degree in Reading from University of Missouri Columbia. Sara has been with the Robotics program since 2017. She loves science and all things robots and is super excited to start teaching! She loves Harry Potter, all things Disney, and doing puzzles.

Nikkole Briggs holds her MA in Gifted Education, BA in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology and her STEM Certificate from Maryville University. Nikkole has served since 2012 in the program as assistant director, Young Scholars. She teaches gifted in the LEAP Center for Lindbergh Schools and is a teacher in the Maryville Young Scholars Program Summer Academy.

Stacy Donovan, PhD is an associate professor of biology and forensic science and Apple Teacher at Maryville University. She has been teaching introductory and advanced science courses at Maryville for the past 6 years. Prior to her career in teaching, Dr. Donovan spent 8 years doing scientific research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She published 15 peer-reviewed articles on understanding neuronal development and degeneration of the nervous system. Dr. Donovan’s passion for training future scientists continued at Maryville University, where she mentored over 20 students on various research projects. When she is not in the classroom or lab, Dr. Donovan spends time pursuing her other passion – educational outreach. She is thrilled and excited to work with the program this year!

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 the robotics mentor at Immanuel Lutheran in Olivette where she has taught preschool and currently teaches fourth grade. She has taught various ages for summer programs, and is excited to continue to work with Maryville’s 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.

Erin Gaubatz holds her BA in Middle Level Education and English, and she has worked with the Maryville Science and Robotics Program since 2017. Her teaching experience includes practicums in the Rockwood, Kirkwood, and Ritenour school districts.

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 Education Specialist. She has been teaching for 20 years in the Hazelwood School District. The last 10 years have been spent teaching in the district’s GALACTIC Gifted Program. Kasey holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education. This will be her fourth year teaching the Maryville Robotics Camp and looks forward to another great summer program.

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. Lindsay has taught in the Maryville Science and Robotics program since 2015.

Sue Miller is a retired math/language arts teacher with a masters in educational administration. She has taught in MEGSSS for 6 years and IMACS for 2 and, has also taught in afterschool programs for talented students grades 1-8. Sue has been a member of the Robotics Camp for 2 summers. She is currently a substitute teacher at Kirkwood and Webster Groves School Districts.

Bethany Oesterle holds her Bachelors Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Maryville University. She has been a part of Maryville Science and Robotics program since 2014, beginning as a Teacher’s Assistant and then a Lead teacher in 2017. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education as well as serving as a first grade TA and interventionist at Mark Twain Elementary School.

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 has been teaching in the Maryville Science and Robotics program since 2015.  She graduated from Maryville University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, and has been teaching middle school science at Preclarus Mastery Academy since then.  She also enjoys teaching a variety of STEM electives at Preclarus, creating and crafting at home or in Maryville’s Makerspace, and judging FIRST Robotics events.  Victoria has worked with a wide variety of technologies throughout her time in the Science and Robotics program, including Lego WeDo 1 and 2, Arduino, Makey Makey, Snap Circuits, Dash and Dot, Scratch and Scratch Jr., and Bloxels.

Carin Rook has taught gifted education in the Ladue School District, as well as math enrichment and LEGO® Robotics. 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 and is currently working in the Ritenour School District as a Library Media Specialist.  Carin is an active member of the Gifted Association of Missouri (GAM), Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) and is beginning her 7th 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.

Julie Schneider holds her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Science from Maryville University. She currently teaches at Willow Brook Elementary in the Pattonville School District. She has also taught at the Teton Science Schools and Litzsinger Road Ecology Center. She has assisted teachers in the Maryville Summer Science and Robotics Program since 2016 and looks forward to another great summer of hands-on learning!

Chris Sellers is a secondary education teacher with a wide range of teaching experience in the Midwest including stays at Bloomington HS South (IN), MICDS in Ladue, Des Moines Hoover (IA), and now Jennings Senior High in North St. Louis County. Sellers is a cum laude graduate of Westminster College (PA) where he earned his BS in mathematics and chemistry and of Indiana University Bloomington where he earned his MAT Chemistry while conducting research with cobalt dicarbollides. His university involvement includes Westminster, Indiana, Washington University in St. Louis, Iowa State University, University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL), and now Maryville University. With certifications in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and STEM, Sellers has taught over a dozen subjects ranging from forensics to biochemistry to astronomy and has coached thousands of kids in soccer and swimming. Sellers also serves as the NextJenn STEM TEAM Head Coach where he oversees 40+ students and four assistant coaches. The STEM TEAM participates in multiple competitions including the Boeing Engineering Challenge, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), CyberPatriot, Lenovo App Challenge, WWT Student Forum Hackathon, Show Me Manufacturing Video Contest, and the GAMA Aviation Challenge. Current learning resources that he incorporates into his curriculum include DuoLingo, molview, Cisco Packet Tracer, Code.org, IXL, Khan Academy, Codecademy, App Inventor 2, SketchUp, Code Monkey, WordPress, Google sites, scratch, RF7, and X-Plane 10. Sellers is married to UMSL head women’s soccer coach Wendy Dillinger and the couple has two children, Braydon and Kayla.

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).

Becky Spellmeyer holds two master’s degrees in education.  Her first degree was from Lindenwood University in gifted education and her most recent master’s is from Lindenwood with an emphasis on character education.  Her undergraduate degree is a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with a MO Art K-12 teaching certification also from Lindenwood.  She has taught elementary art in the Ferguson-Florissant School District since 2013 and was a Special Education teacher two years prior.  She has worked with the Maryville Young Scholars Program Summer Academy since 2014 and enjoys teaching a variety of academics to gifted youth.  Becky also teaches a Scholar Bowl team for her home school and competes with other schools in her district.  They have won many awards including the Sportsmanship award.  Teaching is her dream job and she loves every minute working with young people.

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 and has submitted for additional patents utilizing unique light path design in absorption spectroscopy. At of the start of 2017, Dr. Spudich is an eCYBERMISSION ambassador (www.ecybermission.com) and is 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 at BioGenerator, an organization that supports new company formation and provides crucial investment in early-stage bioscience companies in St. Louis.

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 secondary education from SIU-Edwardsville, and is currently working on his EdD in STEM education. 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 mentors a robotics club for aspiring engineers, writes and assesses STEM curricula for a local residence camp, and volunteers as a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America encouraging scouts to pursue STEM-based merit badges. 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 is the Science Coordinator for Our Lady School.  She has served in this capacity since 1990 while teaching science for various grades including 5th through 8th.  She received her BS in education from Southeast Missouri State University and certification through the University of Hawaii in DASH and FAST inquiry based instruction.  Along with her regular teaching duties she is the spearhead of the Maker Space room at Our Lady which allows for all students to participate in continual Maker Space education.  She also teaches science enrichment classes during the summer made available through the school.

Michael Vordtriede, MEd earned his MA and certification in gifted education through Maryville University. He has taught with the Ferguson Florissant School District since 1995. He currently works as an instructor with the PROBE: Gifted Education (2-5) and at the FFSD 6-8 Steam Academy. He embraces creatively and integrates LEGO robotic platforms into their Project Based STEAM units. He has been involved as faculty with the Summer Robotics and Maryville Young Scholars Program  since 2014.

Dr. Dustin York is the Undergraduate Communication Director and Assistant Professor at Maryville University in St. Louis and advises the school’s video, audio and written student medias. Prior to entering academia, Dr. York worked in public relations for the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign, Pepsi Co., Nike, and Scottrade Financial Services. Dr. York’s specialties include media training, social media, and campaign development, which he now brings to life in the classroom. Beyond his primary passion in teaching in the undergraduate and graduate programs, Dr. York acts as a subject matter expert for KSDK News Channel 5, writes for PR Daily, researches in the area of nonverbal communication and technology and consults when available. Dr. York was awarded the 2016 St. Louis Business Journal 30 Under 30 Award, Maryville University’s 2016 President’s Award for Strategic Leadership and Transformation Innovation as well as a 2017 Apple Distinguished Educator.