Exploring Science Technology Engineering and Math

Presenter Biographies

2017 FEEC Presenters


Brian Agard, Calculus Project Lead, Orange County Public Schools

Brian Agard was born in Brooklyn, New York and worked in the U.S. Army National Guard as a field artillery officer and retired after 20 years. Brian utilized geometry and advanced algebra to calculate trajectory of artillery rounds during missions. Brian also worked at Xerox Corporation in New York City as a computer network analyst for 18 years.  Brian completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology and then went on to complete his master’s in Educational Leadership at Nova Southeastern University.  Brian also is an entrepreneur and community leader assisting as a real estate broker by providing financial seminars to increase home ownership in several communities. Working with communities and conducting free workshops led Brian to wanting to become an educator.  Brian Agard is now pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Central Florida in Educational Leadership. Brian has been an educator for the past 9 years teaching high school algebra and geometry both in the Miami-Dade school district as well as in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS). Brian is now one of the Calculus Project leads at the district level for OCPS. Brian believes in building relationships and providing equity for all through education.


JoAnn Archer, STEM Teacher, Stenstrom Elementary School

JoAnn Archer is the STEM teacher at Stenstrom Elementary in Oviedo, FL as well as a SCPS District STEM Resource Specialist.  At Stenstrom Elementary, she is responsible for implementing an engineering based curriculum for all students as they rotate through the STEM Lab. Before starting her second career as an educator, JoAnn spent 11 years as an engineer for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. JoAnn’s work at KSC spanned the Space Shuttle, Spacelab, and International Space Station programs where she served as an Industrial Engineer, Payload Operations Engineer, Middeck Experiment Engineer, and a Launch Site Support Manager. JoAnn is passionate about bringing her engineering experience to the elementary classroom. Her goal is for all students to have engaging, real world problem solving experiences in the STEM Lab and to broaden the spectrum of students who pursue STEM related careers in their future. When not teaching, JoAnn spends her time with her family of 4 active girls ranging in ages 6 – 16 and traveling to historic places.


George Bartuska, Science Teacher, Kathleen High School

Mr. George Bartuska has a distinguished and diverse background in the fields of Engineering, Business Development and Geoscience, and is an advocate and practitioner of lifetime learning.  While in the U.S. Navy, he served as an aircraft mechanic aboard the U.S. John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier and following his tour of duty, received his B.S. degree from a school well-known for its engineering programs – Purdue University.  Over the course of a 22-year career, Mr. Bartuska has participated in a variety of engineering projects throughout Florida, including a project for NASA involving the Space Shuttle Orbiter and projects for Palm Beach International, Sarasota – Bradenton International, and Orlando International airports, addressing airport noise monitoring and radar upgrades.  He has also worked and collaborated on projects spanning the globe, including places like Puerto Rico, Canada, Denmark, and the Mediterranean. Today, he proudly serves as an AP Environmental Science, Biology, Marine Science, and Earth-Space Science teacher for Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida, where he instructs and inspires high school students.

In 2006, Mr. Bartuska gained national recognition as the recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Citizen Engineer Award”, given in recognition of his creation and 15 year presentation of an “All About Bridges” program for students grades K-12.  Former employers, Martin Marietta and Bruel & Kjaer, have also honored him with awards for being outstanding in his field.  As a result of his lifetime avocation of studying weather and weather instrumentation, Mr. Bartuska founded the “Project Weather” program, which provided teachers and students in Orange County, Florida with decommissioned weather instruments from the FAA and National Weather Service to be used for hands-on study.  He also coached students in the “Odyssey of the Mind” program for 6 years and was honored when one of his teams qualified to attend the “World Competition”.

Mr. Bartuska has authored two published works (one publication, Career Fastrax offers tips for a successful career), several white papers and has pioneered some of the curriculum being taught in Polk County.  Active in the community, Mr. Bartuska is a member of the Civil Air Patrol where he serves as a Safety Officer, the Coast Guard Auxiliary where he serves as a Weather Instructor, the American Society of Civil Engineers (2006-2008 served as Education Chairman), and a number of weather-related organizations. Over the past several years, he has been selected for:

  • National Educator’s Conference Presenter, NASA’s 2011 Space Exploration Conference, NASA’s Johnson Space Center – Houston, TX  – February 2011
  • Physical Oceanography – United State Naval Academy – Annapolis, MD
  • Astronaut Training; NASA’s Educator Space Camp – Huntsville, AL; July 2010
  • Graduate-level Meteorology studies – The National Weather Service Forecast Center – Kansas City, MO; July 2010
  • Featured Educator – Teachers.net Newsletter – a publication of the nationally recognized Educational speaker and author, Dr. Harry Wong, PhD. Education; 02/2010.
  • Teachers’ Math and Science Training – NASA’s Kennedy Space Center – Cape Canaveral, FL; July, 2008.


Christopher Belser, Doctoral Student, Counselor Education Program – UCF

Christopher Belser is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education & Supervision program at the University of Central Florida.  He is currently a Graduate Teaching Associate for the NSF-funded UCF COMPASS Program, which seeks to recruit and retain undergraduate students in STEM majors.  He has previously served as a career coach and as a middle school counselor in Louisiana.  He is a National Certified Counselor, has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has presented at a variety of state, national, and international conferences.  His research interests include career development across the lifespan, STEM career initiatives, child and adolescent counseling, and school counselor preparation.


Jennifer Borges, STEM Program Specialist, Orange County Public Schools

In her career as an educator, Jennifer Borges, has held several educational positions in secondary science in the Orange County Public School System (OCPS). She is currently the only STEM Program Specialist for the school district. Previously, Jennifer was a Secondary Science Instructional Coach in which she served over 50 middle schools and high schools. Jennifer started her career as a Science teacher at Carver Middle School and Oak Ridge High School. She has also been on several Leadership teams for each school, was a model classroom teacher, and mentored numerous Pre-Service and Beginning In-Service teachers. She was considered a leader in her department and would share her knowledge and love of Science education through professional developments she would provide.

Jennifer Borges’ formal education included a Bachelor’s degree in Science Education with a concentration of Earth and Space Sciences from Florida Institute of Technology; a Master’s degree in Science Education in Teacher Leadership from the University of Central Florida; and is currently in pursuit of a Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision/Educational Leadership from National Louis University.


Letizia Branz, Secondary Math Program Specialist, Orange County Public Schools

Letizia Branz is a Professional Educator in the state of Florida, who has served the entirety of her educational career in Orange County Public Schools (OCPS). Her academic background consists of a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education, both of which were attained at the University of Central Florida. She is currently in the process of getting her Specialist in Educational Leadership at National Louis University.

Her instructional experience involves two years of computer education in middle school, three years in high school teaching Geometry and Algebra 2, as well as Probability and Statistics with Applications Honors and AP Statistics, and one year as a district instructional coach supporting secondary mathematics.

As a Secondary Mathematic Program Specialist for OCPS, she focuses on writing curriculum and raising student engagement by helping coaches and teachers implement modeling mathematics problems into their lessons. In supporting this type of instruction, she hopes for students and educators to understand that in today’s world, mathematics and science work in harmony to create globally competitive citizens that can implement their respective concepts into effective engineering design and technology.


Nicole Bronson, Calculus Project Lead, Orange County Public Schools

“I am NOT going to be a teacher!” – a declaration that Nicole repeated several times throughout her math undergraduate studies.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Florida, Nicole returned for a Spanish bachelor’s degree, and then a Master of Arts degree in International Business.  She was ready to take on the business world! In 2002, Nicole began her first job in said business world as a financial analyst with Harris Corporation in Palm Bay, Florida.  Although she loved the company and her colleagues, Nicole felt she was not answering her life’s calling. In 2004, she switched fields and became a math teacher at Palm Bay High School.  Nicole has been in the education field for thirteen years now and has not looked back since!

Nicole has nine years of full-time high school teaching experience, four years of international work experience at a bilingual school in Honduras, two years of experience as a middle school principal, and participation in three study abroad programs. In addition to her current role as a Calculus Project Lead in the Minority Achievement Office of Orange County Public Schools, Nicole is working on her doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Central Florida.

Despite her initial resistance as a college student, Nicole has now fully embraced her calling as an educator.  After completion of the doctoral program, her goal is to open a bilingual, STEM school. Nicole views education as the way towards equity and a better quality of life for all. Her philosophy of education is based on empowerment, encouragement, and challenge. Nicole’s motto is “If not education, then what? If not me, then who?”

Jim Clamons, Retired, Central Florida STEM Education Council

Mr. Clamons is a retired Vice President of Engineering at Harris Government. He was responsible for talent management and professional growth of over 3000 engineers. He joined Harris in 1977 and has held positions of increasing responsibility throughout his career in the areas of planning, organizing, managing, and directing and plays a key role in successfully achieving financial and business objectives. Jim received both bachelor and master of science degrees in mathematics and computer science, respectively, from Purdue University.

Jim is a member of the Board of Directors on the Central Florida STEM Education Council (CFSEC), Board of Directors of Brevard School Foundation, Board of Directors of Space Coast STEM Council, Florida Institute of Technology Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, Aerospace Industries Association’s Rocket Contest (TARC) Industry Advisory Board and VEX Robotics Industry Advisory board. Mr. Clamons is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Space Coast Early Intervention Center.

John Clark, Physics Teacher, Deltona High School

John Clark is entering his tenth year teaching chemistry and physics at Deltona High School in Deltona, Florida. Mr. Clark is also the science fair Coordinator and coach of the Science Olympiad and Physics Bowl teams. He has worked with the local community to raise over $90,000 to recognize and promote student excellence is science. Mr. Clark is also involved at the national level to promote STEM education through higher standards and enhanced teacher preparation. He has shared his innovative lesson plans and teaching strategies at over a dozen science related conferences around the country. During his summers he has worked to expand his teaching skills by taking part in academic and research fellowships at the University of Central Florida, the University of Missouri, Penn State, Cornell University, the National High Magnetic Field Lab, and Jefferson National Labs. His work as an educator has been recognized with outstanding teaching awards at the local, state, and national levels including the Governor’s SHINE Award for inspirational teaching in STEM.


Michael Clark, STEM Teacher & CTE Program Assistant, Volusia County Schools

Michael Clark is a STEM teacher at Southwestern Middle School in DeLand, FL. He also serves as the assistant director for Volusia County’s CTE Program. Before coming into his current role, he worked for a company that creates advanced underwater electrical and fiber-optic communications systems.


Dr. Melissa Dagley, Executive Director, Initiatives in STEM UCF

Dr. Melissa Dagley operates as the Executive Director of Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM) at UCF where she serves as Director and Co-PI of the NSF-funded STEP 1a and 1b programs “EXCEL:UCF-STEP Pathways to STEM: From Promise to Prominence” (2006-2012) and “Convincing Outstanding-Math-Potential Admits to Succeed in STEM (COMPASS)” (2012-2017). She is currently a Co-PI for the industry funded women’s mentoring initiatives Girls EXCELling in Math and Science (GEMS) and WISE@UCF. Dagley has extensive experience in directing undergraduate and pre-college STEM education programs and leads a fellows program for faculty interested in STEM education and education research. Her research interests lie in the areas of student access to education, sense of community, retention, first-year experience, living-learning communities, and persistence to graduation for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs.


Christine Danger, STEM Coordinator, Hillsborough County Public Schools

Christine Angel Danger recruits and trains superheroes who will save the world through STEM education. She believes that the problems we face such as climate change, energy and food shortages, pollution, disease, etc. will be solved through STEM superheroes. The STEM superheroes of tomorrow are today’s children. The Superhero Trainers are today’s teachers.

Mrs. Danger has taught elementary school and middle school science, mathematics, computer programming, and robotics.  She provides STEM training for pre and in-service teachers in Hillsborough and Polk County Schools Districts and the University of South Florida.

Her recent awards include the Promoting Regional Improvement in Math and Science (PRISM) award, the National Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture award, National Association for Geoscience Teachers Outstanding Earth Science Teacher award, and Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year Finalist. Mrs. Danger is a National Board Certified Teacher and currently serves as the Math and Science Coordinator for Hillsborough Public Schools.


Mary Lynn Hess, K-5 STEM Resource Teacher, Goldsboro Elementary Magnet School

Mary Lynn Hess is a K-5 STEM Resource Teacher at Goldsboro Elementary Magnet School.  She has spearheaded programs that include 750 square foot garden on the school campus and raised over $10,000 in grants to enhance the programs she organizes.  Her accomplishments include being a featured speaker at the state and international levels, presenter at EPCOT’s Flower and Garden Festival, a book reviewer for National Science Teachers Association, and being a featured teacher on PBS for “How Kids Learn in the Modern World.”


Rachel Knight, Instructional Coach, Orlando Science Elementary

Rachel Knight is an Instructional Coach and STEM Coordinator at Orlando Science Elementary School in Orlando, Florida. This is her 16th year in the education profession, with 12 of them being at a science school. Rachel has taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade, previous to her becoming a coach. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with degrees in Human Learning, Public Relations, and also has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership.


Jesse Kokotek, Curriculum Coordinator, FLATE

Jesse Kokotek: Curriculum Coordinator of the Florida Advanced Technology Education Center-FLATE, a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in high-technology education focused on manufacturing.

B.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership and graduate of the Engineering Technology A.S. program and has an extensive background in leading and monitoring formal apprenticeship and intern programs in manufacturing and engineering.

As curriculum manager, Jesse ensures that the curriculum supports STEM education standards and aligns with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), helps to support FLATE’s industry partnerships, and educational synergy throughout the state of Florida by connecting industry and workforce needs to targeted educational endeavors at many community and state colleges across Florida.


Kylie Koscoe, Chief Mad Scientist, Mad Science of NE Central FL

Biography Mad Science provides high-energy and hands-on Science programs for kids aged 2-14. We are the world’s leading fun science provider! Mad Science is on a mission to spark the imagination of children everywhere with exciting, live, and interactive programs that instill a clear understanding of what science is really about, and how it affects the world around us. Mad Science is proud to offer a large selection of after-school, summer, and preschool programs, as well as workshops, special event shows, and birthday parties. All of our programs are led by highly qualified instructors using unique equipment, and are performed at the location of your choice, or at our Mad Science Laboratory! Mad Science of North East Central Florida has won numerous awards, including the Business Innovation Award for 2014 from the Oviedo/Winter Springs Chamber, the Gold Daisy Award for Favorite Children’s Birthday Party Location for Oviedo Macaroni Kid, and many “Best Of” awards. Check out Mad Science online at CFL.MadScience.org. Call today and find out just how easy it can be to Spark Imaginative Learning for your students!


Walter Legan, P. E. (Retired), Flying Stars Mentoring

Walter Legan earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Norwich University in Vermont in 1970 and an MBA from UNC-G in 1973. Walter worked for 41 years as an engineer for seven different companies, including five years in aerospace at Lockheed-Martin in Orlando, with the final 21 years in power generation at Siemens. He was licensed as a professional engineer in Florida from 1976 until retirement in 2011. Walter began mentoring kids interested in engineering as a Big Brother in 1978 and since retirement six years ago at age 62 has been a full-time independent volunteer “Introducing Kids to Engineering” through his self-funded Flying Stars Mentoring program (FlyingStarsModelAviation.com).


Dr. Lee Mangold, Vice President, Florida Cyber Alliance

Lee Mangold is the Co-Founder and CEO of GoldSky Security, the Vice President of ISSA Central Florida Chapter, the Vice President of Florida Cyber Alliance, the founder of the Central Florida Cloud Security Alliance, and a Director at Security BSides Orlando.  Over his career, Lee has worked with government, commercial, and non-profit organizations, developing a diverse profile of successful high-tech projects and security solutions.  His work in these organizations has included applied research; technology optimization and integration; security governance; consulting; and more.

In 2012, Lee co-founded the Florida Cyber Alliance: a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to security education, fellowship, and industry growth throughout the state of Florida.  In 2012, he and his colleagues launched the first annual FCA CyberCamp: a free 4-day high school summer camp taught by local security professionals and academics and
co-sponsored by Daytona State College and the National Science Foundation. In 2013, Lee was awarded with the (ISC)2 Community Service Star in recognition of his work with the FCA CyberCamp program1. Lee is also an (ISC)2 Safe and Secure Online instructor, teaching predominantly elementary school children how to be safe online and avoid cyberbullying.

In addition to community service, Lee also has a high regard for professional and academic scholarship.  He has presented both locally and internationally on various security topics including security training techniques, open source enterprise technologies, compliance management, software defined radio, and more.  Lee currently has a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science, a Masters of Business Administration, a Doctorate in computer and information security.

Annmargareth Marousky, Computer Science Instructional Specialist, Broward County Public Schools

 Annmargareth Salyer Marousky is a Computer Science Instructional Specialists for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She is currently working with Debra Kelly Thomas, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Milenkovic (Principal Investigator), on a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM + Computing Partnership Exploratory Integration grant, “Investigating Conceptual Foundations for a Transdisciplinary Model Integrating Computer Science into the Elementary STEM Curriculum” (NSF Grant # 1542842).  She is also Code.org District Facilitators.

Annmargareth is a Florida Atlantic University alum and a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) with 20 years of teaching experience.  Prior to her current position, Annmargareth has worked in the private, charter, and public educational system in various positions. She has been a STEM Teacher, Science Coach, 5th – 8th grade classroom teacher, and an active member of Leadership teams. She has experience writing curriculum for both Broward County Public Schools, Science4Us.com, and for other NSF grants, as well as provided a number of professional development trainings for teachers in elementary Education.

Peter McCormick, STEM. Teacher, Corner Lake Middle School

Peter McCormick is a local STEM teacher.  He has been teaching at Corner Lake Middle School for the last six years.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Middle School Science Education from Indian River State College.  He has developed a STEM program at his school that accelerates students through a series of courses. Starting in the 6th grade student’s matriculate through a program that culminates with a High School Honors Introduction to Engineering & Design STEM class, offered to 8th graders that have passed Algebra I.   Although he teaches some modeling and simulation to his students, he often uses simulations to supplement his instruction.


Dr. David Metcalf, Researcher, UCF Institute for Simulation and Training

For more than 20 years, Dr. David Metcalf has been at the forefront of adapting mobile technologies to higher education, developing 500-plus online courses and multimillion dollar projects. In 2006, he founded the Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL) at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation & Training. METIL partners with industry, academia and the military to create resources and develop innovative solutions with mobile technology and Web 2.0 applications. Dr. Metcalf holds a B.A. in Computer Graphics from the University of Texas, an M.S. in Computer-Based Learning and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University. He loves running, surfing, Bible Study, travel, investing, and charitable activities.

Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, STEM+Computer Science Curriculum Supervisor, Broward County Public Schools

Dr. Lisa Milenkovic is STEM+Computer Science Curriculum Supervisor at Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest district. She is a strong advocate for computer science education for all students, helping lead Broward Schools to be a national model for implementing access to computer science education for all students K-12. Dr. Milenkovic is also the District Director for the K-12 STEM Olympiad, the P3 EcoChallenge and other programs to engage students and teachers in STEM. She has a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry, with experience as a consultant in laboratory automation and training adult learners in technology applications. Dr. Milenkovic has elementary classroom experience as a K-5 science resource teacher and 5th grade classroom teacher. She is a grant recipient and awardee for innovative programs, currently leading a National Science Foundation sponsored study to develop a model for introducing computer science in K-5.


Jaclyn Myers, Teacher, Indian Trails Middle School

Jaclyn Myers, middle school math teacher at Indian Trails Middle School in Winter Springs, Florida. I have been teaching for 8 years from inner city Philadelphia to Central Florida. I really enjoy bringing authentic, real-world experiences to the classroom through the use of STEM. I invite you to come experience a three act mathematical task and begin creating your own task to take back to the classroom as well as a list of various tasks that have been created and aligned to the standards!


Danielly Orozco, Associated Director, FLATE

Mrs. Danielly Orozco is the Associate Director of the Florida Advanced Technology Education Center-FLATE, a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence in high-technology education focused on manufacturing.

Mrs. Orozco’s background includes B.S. and M.S. degrees in Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Her professional experience features more than ten years as a researcher focused on environmental design, testing and construction projects. Mrs. Orozco has been working with FLATE for more than 8 years as a subject matter expert and curriculum coordinator. In her current role as associate director, Danielly helps to promote and support manufacturing and advanced technical education, best practices and educational resources by ensuring the continuation of exemplary industry partnerships, workforce opportunity, and educational synergy throughout the state of Florida.


Larry Plank, Director of K-12 STEM Education, Hillsborough County Public Schools

Larry R. Plank, Ed.S., is the Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education for Hillsborough County Public Schools, in Tampa, FL, the 8th largest school district in the United States.  Mr. Plank began his post-secondary education at Michigan State University, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Florida State University in 1997, and Master’s (Biological Sciences) and Specialist’s degrees (Educational Leadership) from the University of South Florida in 2000 and 2006, respectively.

He currently chairs the Professional Development Committee of the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA), co-chairs the Tampa Bay Technology Forum TechStart Board of Directors, and is a member of both the Florida Aquarium Board of Directors and the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) Board of Directors in Tampa, FL. Mr. Plank also sits on the Executive Committee of the Coastal Areas Climate Change Education (CACCE) partnership, a cooperative endeavor with the University of South Florida, the University of Puerto Rico and the Florida Aquarium.

Mr. Plank’s most recent work with the Florida Department of Education is focused upon the adoption of new state standards for K-12 science and developing the next generation of science assessments.  In addition, Mr. Plank currently directs 11 STEM-related educational projects in Tampa Bay area, with current and past funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, NOAA, the Florida Department of Education and the Helios Education Foundation, totaling over $17 million.  The most recent Math/Science Partnership award of $4.3 million will focus upon integrative lesson development and associated professional development for K-12 STEM teachers.

Mr. Plank was nationally recognized in 2014 as one the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers by the Center for Digital Education.  Most recently in 2015, the USF College of Education recognized Mr. Plank as the college’s Partner of the Year, and he received a similar award from the Hillsborough Education Foundation in 2013 for working with partners in the Tampa Bay community.  In 2008 he was honored by the Council for Educational Change as a Mentor of Distinction for working with new mathematics and science teachers in Florida.  In 2007 as a high school biology teacher, he was selected as the Teacher of Excellence in Science by Hillsborough County Public Schools.  He was elected by his peers as Robinson High School’s Teacher of the Year in 2005 and as the Sigma Xi Science Teacher of the Year for Hillsborough County in 2004.

Mr. Plank has been published in peer-reviewed journals and has presented at a multitude of professional conferences sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Science Educational Leadership Association (NSELA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), Southern Regional Council on Educational Administration (SRCEA), Florida Association for Staff Development (FASD), Florida Association of Science Supervisors (FASS), Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST), and Florida Leadership Academy (FLA).

Larry grew up in Saginaw, MI, and prior to his career as an educator, he worked as a marine biologist for the State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he monitored commercially and recreationally important grouper, snook, and redfish populations in the Gulf of Mexico.  He has been an enthusiastic hockey fan his entire life and currently lives in the Channelside neighborhood of Tampa with his girlfriend Tracy.


Nicole Rivera, Education Specialist: Curriculum and Instruction, Orlando Science Center

Nicole Rivera obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry from Stetson University. Nicole worked in education at the Central Florida Zoo before joining the Orlando Science Center in 2013. Currently, she is the Education Specialist of Curriculum and Instruction where she provides professional development, develops curriculum, and implements STEM program curricula with youth in preschool-12th grade.


Rosemary Rizzo, Marine Science Teacher, New Smyrna Beach High School

I’ve been a marine science teacher for the past 10 years and throughout those years I see more an more examples of how marine science itself incorporates a lot of STEM when you include the oceanography and all the technology that has always been a part of marine exploration.  I enjoy having the opportunity to share this with my students and have them return to me with information on new technologies that are being used in marine science.  I am also a regular classroom teacher on a teacher budget, so an always looking for inexpensive labs that give my students a hands on approach to the concepts that we cover.


Michelle Roberts, STEM Teacher, Manatee County Schools

Mrs. Roberts is a STEM teacher at Ballard Elementary School in Manatee County, where she teaches Kindergarten thru Fifth Grade students in hands-on project-based science classes. She likes to integrate engineering and technology into her lessons. She serves as the school’s Technology Student Association (TSA) advisor guiding her Fifth Grade students in local STEM competitions.


Lynda Roche, Teacher, Stenstrom Elementary

Lynda Roche is a Kindergarten teacher at Stenstrom Elementary in Oviedo, FL with over 20 years of classroom experience. Lynda recognizes the importance of making students STEM-literate in order to prepare them to be the next generation of technologists, innovators, designers, and engineers who can compete in a global economy.

Lynda has presented at ITEEA, FEEC and FAST.  She served on the SCPS Computer Science Task Force and coding writing teams for kindergarten and first grade.  Lynda was an SCPS semi-finalist for 2014 Teacher of the Year.


Laura Schendel, Outdoor Educator, Ecological Classroom Outdoors LLC

Laura Schendel is currently an Outdoor Educator. She has taught middle school Earth and Life Science for the past 8 years at Good Shepherd Catholic School. She is a graduate of Rollins College where she majored in Biology and secondary education and a native Floridian. She is passionate about protecting Florida’s waters and the ecosystems surrounding them. Laura has recently established ECO, Ecological Classroom Outdoors, in order to bring middle and high school students out of the classroom and into the “field” to participate in hands-on science investigations. These experiences connect scientific processes and critical thinking skills to real world situations, with the goal of evoking environmental stewardship in the next generation of decision makers.


Elaine Schomburg-LaFleur, Project Manager, Walt Disney World

Elaine Schomburg-LaFleur is a Project Manager at Walt Disney World.  Elaine started with WDW Engineering in 2003 and joined Project Management team in 2010. She was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and managed the DAK project portfolio as well as numerous attraction projects including Primeval Whirl, Kali River Rapids yearly down times and replacement of Safari Vehicles. In the last year she moved to the Magic Kingdom portfolio to focus on facility infrastructure projects.

She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston and a MBA from Rollins College, as well as a licensed professional engineer in Florida.

Elaine is involved in organizations outside of Disney that promote technical advancement, including being the Vice President of Professional Development for the Central Florida Society of Women Engineers chapter.  She is also on the board for the PACE Center for Girls Orange.


Abdul Siddiqui, Systems Engineer, US Army PEO STRI

Abdul M. Siddiqui started working for the US Army as a Systems Engineer in 1991. He was the Software Engineering Manager for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System, TACOM from 1998 to 2004. He is currently the resident subject matter expert in software architecture development for systems and productlines at US Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). He is the lead for Configuration Management and Information Assurance Security Officer for Program Manager Digitized Training and leads the effort to certify and accredit the Digital Range Training System since 2007. He is the Engineering Mentor and STEM Coordinator for PEO STRI. Mr. Siddiqui received his Master of Science in Software Engineering form the Naval Postgraduate School, CA in December 2000. He is married and has three boys.


Joseph Simmons, K-12 STEM Coordinator, Hillsborough County Public Schools


Dr. Patrick Simpkins, Director of Engineering, NASA Kennedy Space Center

Dr. Patrick Simpkins is the Director of Engineering for NASA at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. In this position, Mr. Simpkins leads a group of engineers from multiple disciplines in the development and operations of human and scientific payload spaceflight hardware and ground systems assigned to the Kennedy Space Center.

Simpkins began his NASA career in 1983 as a Space Shuttle environmental controls and life support systems engineer and served in various roles of increasing responsibility in the Space Shuttle Program for 15 years. Today, Dr. Simpkins is responsible for providing technical excellence and insight on three of NASA’s four major space flight programs including America’s first human operations beyond earth orbit since the 60’s, the Commercial Crew Program returning the nation’s astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. shores for the first time since the Shuttle fly-out in 2011, and launching robotic precursor and science missions on expendable launch vehicles.

Simpkins has been a recipient of a number of awards and leadership development programs throughout his career. He was selected to the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program, graduated from the Human Resources Executive Program at the University of Michigan and was a Harvard Senior Executive Fellow. Awards have included the NASA Astronauts’ Silver Snoopy Award, the NASA Exceptional Achievement medal, and the President’s Meritorious Rank Award.

Simpkins holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., a Master’s in Human Resource Management from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.   Dr. Simpkins and his wife Beth, his high school sweetheart, and their son, Dainius, reside in Merritt Island, Florida.


Debra Kelly Thomas, Computer Science Instructional Specialist, Broward County Public Schools

 Debra Kelly Thomas is a Computer Science Instructional Specialists for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She is currently working with Annmargareth S. Marousky, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Milenkovic (Principal Investigator), on a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM + Computing Partnership Exploratory Integration grant, “Investigating Conceptual Foundations for a Transdisciplinary Model Integrating Computer Science into the Elementary STEM Curriculum” (NSF Grant # 1542842).  She is also Code.org District Facilitators.

Prior to her current position, Kelly served as STEM Magnet Coordinator as well as Science Coach for Colbert Elementary Sprouting STEM Museum Magnet School in Hollywood, Florida.  She obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Florida where she specialized in math and science elementary education and recently completed her Educational Specialist (Ed.S) degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on elementary STEM education at Florida International University (FIU). Kelly is also a certified Engineering is Elementary curriculum Trainer and Collaborator and has provided a number of professional development trainings for teachers in elementary STEM Education.

Denise Touchberry, Engineering Lab Teacher, McNeal Elementary School

I am an Engineering Lab Teacher K-5 at McNeal Elementary School in Bradenton.  I have a Mechanical Engineering Degree and have been teaching for 11 years.  I am the TSA coach for 30 5th graders at the school as well as a coach for First Lego League for 9 students.  The TSA competes countywide in catapults and water towers.  The First Lego League competes statewide with other counties and well as world wide students.  We designed and built a lemur enrichment feeding machine for our competition and they are being put to the test at Mayakka Lemur Reserve and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens.  I enjoy teaching STEM to all ages.


Amy Trujillo, Assistant Principal, Osceola Science Charter School

Amy Trujillo is currently an Assistant Principal at Osceola Science Charter School.  She is a Gifted and ELL advocate and is involved with Florida Association for the Gifted, Florida Association of Science Teachers, and Florida Council for Social Studies.  She is a PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and a Certified BrainPOP Specialist and has published numerous articles on education and creating a positive and engaging environment for diverse learners.  She can be found on Twitter @ELLTeacher and on YouTube at STEMTechTeacher.


Dr. Stacy Van Horn, Faculty & School Counseling Coordinator, University of Central Florida

Dr. Stacy Van Horn is currently a full time faculty member and School Counseling Coordinator at the University of Central Florida in the Counselor Education and School Psychology Program within the Department of Child, Family and Community Sciences. She teachers graduate students at both the masters and doctoral level primarily in the areas of career development,  counseling with children and adolescents, ethical and legal issues in professional school counseling, and coordination of comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs. She also supervises practicum students in the Community Counseling and Research Clinic (CCRC) on campus and school counseling interns throughout Central Florida schools.   Prior to her position as a Counselor Educator, Dr. Van Horn worked as a professional school counselor for over nine years in Orange County Public Schools working with diverse students, teachers, and families in Central Florida.  Dr. Van Horn has experience in creating and coordinating comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs at both the elementary and middle school level.  In addition, she has experience collaborating with exceptional education school personnel on developing strategies and counseling approaches for exceptional education students.  Her current research interests include training and supervision of professional school counselors, counseling interventions with diverse children and adolescents, and the role of professional school counselors in providing effective career development in schools.  Dr. Van Horn has presented at national, regional, state, and local counseling conferences, including American Counseling Association, Association for Specialists for Group Work, American School Counseling Association, the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Florida Counseling Association, the Florida School Counselor Association, and invited presenter at the Florida Association for Gifted Children.


Mallory Young, STEM Teacher, Osceola Science Charter School

Ms. Young is a Marine Biologist, SCUBA Instructor, and Divemaster at Disney’s Seas Epcot Aquarium. A former high school science teacher who has taught most subject areas of science curriculum, she is currently teaching STEM for grades K-3 at the recently-opened Osceola Science Charter School.