Faculty Bios

About The Executive Director

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

Steve conducts research on developing STEM talents, especially spatial ability, mathematics, and creativity with a special focus on talent development in populations traditionally underrepresented in gifted and STEM education. He is the author of more than 50 publications including the book Serving Visual-Spatial Learners and has given more than 100 presentations and workshops on these topics.

Steve earned his PhD from the College of William and Mary in educational policy, planning, and leadership in gifted education administration. He was the 2010 recipient of the Joyce VanTassel-Baska Award for Excellence in Gifted Education and the 2020 recipient of the Laura Joyner Award from the Mensa Foundation.

Managing Director

Mara G. Berry, MEd, is the Director of Identification and Student Programs 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 Special Education Administration from Lindenwood University. Mara has coached FIRST® Lego® League & Jr. FIRST LEGO teams for many years, and volunteers as a judge for FLL competitions. She also volunteers and teaches as a Master Gardener with Missouri Botanical Gardens and University of Missouri Extension. Mara is an adjunct teacher and supervises student teachers for the School of Education. In 2020 Mara was named Outstanding Adjunct Teacher for Maryville’s School of Education.

Associate Director Of The Center For Access And Achievement

Gretchen Roberts, BA, is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Access and Achievement. She holds her BA in early childhood and elementary education from Maryville University. Previously, she provided gifted enrichment in mathematics and robotics in Ladue Schools and directed a preschool gymnastics program. Gretchen also served as the program manager for the Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology, and Math (CREST-M) and C3 grant project Monsanto Fund to create math curricula that engage diverse children in STEM fields through the use of robotics.

Christine Behlmann has received her Bachelor’s Degree in education from Maryville University in 2017. From there, she was able to land a paraprofessional job learning the ins and outs of every grade level. After taking a year to learn from some amazing teachers, Christine was hired as a third grade teacher in Pattonville School District to apply what she learned. Since 2018, Christine has called Drummond Elementary her home away from home. Aside from obtaining a Bachelor’s in education, she also earned her STEM Certification in the summer of 2017. For three years, Christine has had the opportunity to work as a teacher’s aid for the Maryville Science and Robotics Program. She is thrilled to have her own courses to teach this year!

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.

Ronda Egbert is a passionate teacher-learner who loves kids, creativity and making learning fun. She is currently a gifted specialist at the Center for Creative Learning in the Rockwood School District. She holds a BA in Elementary Education, an MA in Educational Processes with elementary, art and gifted certifications. She’s taught in a variety of environments ranging from a self-contained second grade classroom to elementary choice-based art to middle school STEM, Robotics, and 3D Design. This will be her third year teaching at Maryville’s Science and Robotics Camp and she’s excited to explore with the students this summer!

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 Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Level Education and English, and she is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Educational Technology through Lindenwood University. She teaches 8th grade English Language Arts and Publications at Bernard Middle School in the Mehlville School District, where she coaches the school’s FIRST LEGO League team. Erin has worked with the Maryville Science and Robotics Program since 2017, teaching summer and winter courses on LEGO robotics.

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.

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 Masters in Gifted Education K-12 from Maryville University and a Bachelors in Elementary Education 1-6 from Fontbonne University. She is the gifted specialist at Conway Elementary in the Ladue School District where she teaches LEGO WeDo 2.0 and EV3 robotics. This is her 5th year teaching gifted education. Lindsay has taught in the Maryville Science and Robotics program since 2015 and is looking forward to this summer of learning.

Bethany Oesterle holds her Bachelors Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education as well as her Masters Degree in 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 teaching fifth grade in the Brentwood School District.

Shannon Riley is a second grade teacher at Wilkinson ECC in the St. Louis Public Schools District. She has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Maryville University. She also has a certificate in STEM Education from Maryville. Ms. Riley has been a teacher at Wilkinson for over 8 years. She has experience working in the classroom with gifted, special education, early childhood, and elementary school students. During the summer months, Ms. Riley teaches The Young Scholars (a Maryville University Program) and the Summer & Winter Robotics programs at Maryville. This is Ms. Riley’s fifth year teaching our summer robotics program. Ms. Riley loves hands-on learning and investigating with her students! She also loves spending time with her humongous dog, Bear, being outdoors, and dancing.

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.

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 Maryville University. With certifications in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and STEM, Sellers has taught over a dozen subjects ranging from forensics to biochemistry to astronomy to computer science and has coached thousands of kids in soccer and swimming. Sellers also serves as the NextJenn STEM TEAM Head Coach where his team has participated in multiple competitions including the Boeing Engineering Challenge, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), CyberPatriot/CyberUp, Lenovo App Challenge, WWT Student Forum Hackathon, Show Me Manufacturing Video Contest, and the GAMA Aviation Challenge. Sellers is married to Wendy Dillinger and the couple has two children, Braydon and Kayla.

Becky Spellmeyer holds two Master’s degrees in Education from Lindenwood University. Her first degree is in Gifted Education and her most recent Master’s is in Education 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. Becky currently teaches grades 3-5 art at Halls Ferry Intermediate and also serves at the Donors Choose liaison for her school. She has worked with the Young Scholars Academy and Maryville’s Science and Robotics Program over the past few summers. She enjoys teaching a variety of academics including geology, advanced art techniques, the science of art and the science of slime. Teaching is her dream job and she loves every minute working with young people.

Rasmiliya Sporny is an educator in the Hazelwood School District. She taught private school in Texas for more than a decade and received her Masters in Elementary Education from Maryville last year. Rasmiliya is a STEM Champion for the Hazelwood School District and is passionate about video-editing and stop-motion animation. She serves on the leadership team for ConnectED Learning STL. Rasmiliya has a background in photojournalism and received her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. The Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) selected Rasmiliya as one of Missouri’s Outstanding New Teachers for the 2020-2021 school year.

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.

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.