LPS Teachers

Aisha Nurredin

Mrs. Nurredin teaches 6th grade at College Hill Fundamental Academy located in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been teaching for 13 years and this is her second year participating in LPS. When she's not teaching, she can be found spending time with her family and providing community outreach with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. She is so excited to provide an opportunity for her students to have an another adult in their lives to help support their future dreams. Science and math have always been passions in her life, so she loves providing students with other opportunities to connect their learning to the real world. She is excited that her students will have the opportunities to hear from real scientists and start to consider a future in science.

Allison Hoyle

Miss Hoyle is a 7th, and 8th grade science teacher at Fort Madison Middle School in Fort Madison, IA. This upcoming school year will be her 9th year teaching. This is her 5th year with LPS. When she isn't teaching she can either be found reading or restoring her new old home. This opportunity will give her students the chance to learn about new places and new ways that science is done. In her classroom, Miss Hoyle values respect over everything. Respect for oneselves, respect for each other, and respect for the learning environment. Miss Hoyle is on Twitter - you can follow her @Hoyle_Science.

Amanda Haney

Mrs. Haney teaches 5th grade gifted students at Chardon Hills STEM School in Euclid, Ohio. This is her 13th year teaching and 9th year working with gifted students. Gifted students have their own unique brand of fun, and are the reason she loves her job! Mrs. Haney teaches all the academic subjects, but science is by far her favorite. Science lends itself to hands-on experiences that 5th grade students just love. Science class is always a favorite for the kids! This is Mrs. Haney's 6th year with LPS, and each year gets better and better. LPS is a great way for students to be connected with a mentor, especially someone more ‘exciting’ than their parents and teachers. Mrs. Haney hopes the scientists understand how much of an impact their letters can truly make, and how exciting it is for the kids to get a letter from a real scientist! Mrs. Haney loves to read, travel, and hike, but lately she's been spending more time exploring local parks and playgrounds with her 3 young sons.

Amy Wert

Mrs. Wert teaches 5th and 6th grade in National City, California. This is her 17th year teaching and she is excited to participate in the LPS program for the first time this year. Mrs. Wert is eager to bring LPS into her classroom to expose students to a wide variety of STEM careers and the diverse community within those fields. When she is not teaching, Mrs. Wert can be found reading, watching hockey, traveling, or on an adventure with her 8 year old daughter and husband. Fun facts...Mrs. Wert spent her childhood living in Canada (hence the love of hockey) and her favorite season is Autumn. @AmyWert4 on Twitter

Annette Licata

Miss Licata is a 5th grade teacher at Tracy Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California. She has been teaching for 24 years and this is her 4th year hosting LPS. Science is her favorite subject to teach and she enjoys sharing her love of science with her students. Her hope is that LPS will help bring science and careers in science to her students in a more authentic way.

Ariana Afshari

Ms. Afshari is an 8th grade science teacher at KIPP Excelencia Community Prep in Redwood City, California. Although this is her second year teaching as a Teach for America Corps member in Northern California, this is her first year rolling out Letters to a Pre-scientist with her students. Ms. Afshari is a dedicated STEM advocate for her students and has a core value that all her students are capable of great success. In her classroom: joy, curiosity, and grit are at the forefront of student's minds and can be felt when you walk in her room anytime of the year. Her instructional vision is to teach with rigor and to hold the bar high because most of the time students will rise to the occasion. Ms. Afshari is the kind of teacher that never leaves any student behind and holds her promise to follow them through the many years it takes to be scientist themself. In a unique position, she is an aspiring physician who will hopefully be the scientist to future 8th graders at her school one day in a full circle moment.

Miss Aurora Johnson

Miss Aurora Johnson works in Moreno Valley, CA teaching 7th Science at Vista Heights Middle School. This is her 23 year teaching middle school Science and her 16th year at Moreno Valley Unified School District. Miss Johnson is enthused to participate in her second year of Letters to a Pre-Scientist with her students. Students are able to practice their writing skills in the program, and obtain a mentor for a year! She views letter writing as a lost piece of history and skill set that needs reviving and views that letter writing can improve student's sense of self and motivate them to want to improve skills, while encouraging a Positive Mindset. In the classroom, Miss Johnson wants her students to improve in both skill level, content knowledge and career awareness. When Miss Johnson is NOT teaching, she can be found reading her Kindle, viewing the latest Marvel movie, or spending time with her niece and nephews.

Beverly Bernardino

Mrs. Bernardino teaches 5th grade in National City, California. She has been teaching for a little over 20 years and this is her first year with LPS. She enjoys traveling, outdoor adventures, arts, reading, learning new things, and spending time with her family and friends. Her goal this year is to build a connection between scientists around the world and to bring excitement to her students' learning.

Bill Cavanagh

Mr. Cavanagh teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Sycamore Junior high School in Anaheim California. He has been teaching Middle school science for the past two decades and looks forward to introducing the Letters to a Pre-Scientist to his students. He has always enjoyed science and finds teaching rewarding and a great way to connect students with the natural world. Some activities enjoyed in his spare time include: fishing, birding, and mountain biking.

Christina Benson

Mrs. Benson is a 5th grade teacher at Central School in National City. A product of the district, she has been teaching for 16-years, and this will be her first year implementing LPS. In her spare time, she plays co-ed softball with her husband and runs around with her 3 dogs & 2 cats! Mrs. Benson is a big believer in giving back to her community & continues her career with this principle. For the past 10-years she has taken her students to Paradise Creek wetland, and wants to instill a sense of autonomy & responsibility in helping improve National City in the 21st century. Science, sustainability, mathematics, leadership, and community service can play a huge role in what students pursue as adults. She would like STEM professionals to help foster this in her students, as well as, help to ignite the things they are passionate about (art, music, dance, or theater). An instructional goal this year for Mrs. Benson is to get her students to THINK. STEM professionals can support by providing students real-life examples of the challenges they experienced in the journey to their profession, and the ones they may face daily. (Her students LOVE stickers, plushies, fidget toys, puzzles, and riddles)

Cynthia Martin

Ms. Martin teaches 7th and 8th grades at Isbell Middle School in Santa Paula, California. She has been teaching for over 20 years, and this is her first year with LPS. Hiking, camping, and spending time with her family are her favorite activities, and she brings her dog Zoey along as much as possible! Connecting her students with working scientists around the globe is her goal for this year with LPS.

Emily Goblirsch

Ms. Goblirsch teaches 7th and 8th grade science at C.J. Jorgensen in South Phoenix, AZ. This will be her second year teaching and her first year hosting the LPS program. She is excited to show her students what the STEM world has to offer and see their curiosity grow through the LPS program. She anticipates that she will also grow as an educator this year by implementing a stronger focus on connecting real-world applications of science to her student's lives. She aspires to to grow in her own endeavors as a teacher and learner, and can't wait to learn from her students as well during the program. When not teaching, she loves to hike, play trivia, learn to throw pottery, read library books, and snuggle her three amazing cats.

Essence Perry

Originally born and raised in NYC ("Where Brooklyn At?"), Ms. Perry teaches 7th and 8th graders in the Bayview Community of San Francisco, CA. This is her 5th year teaching, but first year joining LPS. Ms. Perry teaches so that she can educate and inspire every children in her classroom daily. Ms. Perry credits her science teacher from Middle School for the great memories and shaping who she is now. By participating in LPS, Ms. Perry hopes to change the stereotypes students have about Science and expose them to other STEM professions besides herself. When Ms. Perry is not teaching, she can be found playing video games such as Fortnite, traveling around the world, or reading a book.

Danae Crownover

Mrs. Crownover teaches at Coalinga Middle School in Coalinga, CA, which is in the central valley of California, south west of Fresno. This is her 8th year teaching and her first implementing LPS in her classroom. Mrs. Crownover teaches mostly 7th grade science and math but also has a STEM class. Mrs. Crownover loves to read and hang out with her daughters and granddaughter on her off time. She also is the coach for Coalinga Middle Schools softball team. She loves teaching science because her family has instilled in her a sense of wonder that she wants to pass on to future generations. Her family would regularly go up to Kings Canyon National Park and hike and explore the wilderness. She thinks that the LPS program is an excellent way for underserved populations to learn more about STEM careers and to not be afraid to explore the many opportunities that STEM has to offer.

Gary Boulier

Coach Boulier is in his 27th year of teaching middle school. He has been a science and math teacher at South Central/Red Top middle school in Emerson, Georgia for his entire career. When not teaching he coaches basketball and other sports, as well as traveling as often as possible with his family. Coach Boulier enjoys teaching science because he wants to help prepare his students for the future and help them to have a better life than the previous generations and participating in the LPS with STEM professionals will help them realize what it takes to do that in their lives.

Holly Spivey

Mrs. Spivey is currently an 8th grade physical science teacher. She has not always been a science teacher. Special education and English have actually comprised most of her 30 years in Georgia. Mrs. Spivey is excited about bringing LPS into her classes this year as her main goal is to expand the minds of her students and push them to dream big. She loves to support her students and personal children by attending the sport games they play. Outside of school related things, Mrs. Spivey reads fantasy fiction and drama, plays brain puzzle type games (scrabble/sudoku), and has started traveling more.

Bridget Heneghan

Ms. Heneghan is a 6th grade math and science teacher at Hibbard Elementary in Chicago, Illinois. She loves teaching science mainly because she loves learning about science, especially anything to do with astronomy and space exploration. This is her sixth year with LPS and loves the opportunity it gives her students to connect with scientists in professions and places that they never would have considered before. The best part watching the students' expand their understanding of what it means to be a scientist as well as what it means to be a good person. Ms. Heneghan loves teaching at Hibbard because of the way it embraces and celebrates its cultural diversity. With students from all over the world, many of whom speak languages other than English at home (from Spanish to Romanian to Arabic to specific dialects of Swahili), students come to Hibbard with a wide variety of background knowledge and experiences that makes it such a wonderful community. Follow her class on Twitter @msheneghansroom.

Cynthia Valle Lone

Jackie Ma

Ms. Ma teaches 6th grade at Lincoln Acres Elementary located in National City, California. She has been teaching for 9 years and this is her second year participating in LPS. When she's not teaching, she can be found on a hiking trail with her golden retriever, Waffles, and husband. She is so excited to provide an opportunity for her students to have another adult in their lives to help support their needs. Science and math have always been passions in her life, so naturally it transferred over to her teaching. She has been able to watch students develop their communication, become problem solvers, and practice perseverance through engaging science content. Now her students will be able to hear from real scientists, continue to foster a love for science, and have them start considering a future in science.

Jamie Radford

Mrs. Radford teaches 6th grade science and social studies at Independence Leadership Academy in Independence, Louisiana, which is about an hour north of New Orleans. She earned her masters degree in STEM curriculum and instruction this summer from Louisiana State University at Shreveport. This is her 14th year teaching, but her first year in Tangipahoa Parish. She has facilitated LPS for several years, but is excited to bring the program to a new school. Her instructional vision is to help kids find what helps them learn the best. Helping to inspire a love of learning and science is why she teaches. She values creativity, sharing, and hands-on learning opportunities.

Jenna Biggs

Mrs. Biggs teaches 8th grade physical science at Red Top Middle School in Emerson, Georgia. This will be her 13th year in education. She is excited to be hosting LPS in her classroom for the first time this year! Mrs. Biggs received her Bachelors in Biology from Georgia Southern University, her Masters in Science Education from Georgia State University and will graduate with her Specialist degree in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University in December 2022! When she is not in the classroom, Mrs. Biggs enjoys spending quality time with her husband and daughters, playing with her dogs, tending to her chickens, and boating on the lake. You can follow Mrs. Biggs on Twitter @jenna_lynn986.

Jennifer Holland

Ms. Holland is a 6th grade science teacher at Anacapa Middle School in Ventura, CA. She has been teaching for 12 years and this is her second year participating in LPS. When she isn’t teaching, she can be found hiking with her dog, nature journaling, and camping on the Channel Islands. Ms. Holland believes students learn science by doing science, and strives to provide as many real world, hands-on experiences for her students as possible. From engineering challenges to raising trout in the classroom, she tries to make her science classroom an engaging place to be. Ms. Holland is excited to bring LPS to her classroom and provide her students with the opportunity to connect with scientists around the world. She believes this will not only help get her students excited about science, but will help make STEM careers more accessible to all of her students.

Jessica Gastelum

Mrs. Gastelum teaches 6th grade at Lincoln Acres Elementary School in National City, CA. This is her 14th year teaching and her second year participating in LPS. When she’s not teaching, she can be found at the beach with her family. She is so excited to help her students see themselves as future scientists by engaging in authentic letter writing. In her classroom, Mrs. G. is passionate about STEM subjects and she can’t wait to share a love of science with her students in a new way.

Jamie Radford

Mrs. Radford teaches 6th - 8th grade science at Phoenix High School in Braithwaite, Louisiana. This is her 12th year teaching and her 3rd year hosting LPS in her classroom. She is excited to provide her students with an opportunity to be able to connect with scientists and explore the world outside of their small community through this pen pal program. Mrs. Radford values hard work and perseverance in her classroom. She enjoys teaching science and watching her students become better problem solvers and creative thinkers during the investigation process. When not teaching, you can find Mrs. Radford spending quality time with her family.

Julie Sullivan

Mrs. Sullivan teaches 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove. California. She has been teaching for 20 years and this is her second year implementing LPS. LPS creates opportunities in the classroom for students to feel energized about STEM careers and visualize their future selves in the unlimited possibilities.

Julie Nelson

Ms. Nelson teachers 5th grade at Chardon Hills Magnet School in Euclid, OH, which is east of Cleveland. This is her 24th year teaching and her will be her 8th year implementing LPS in her classroom. When she is not teaching, she enjoys family time with her 5 daughters, traveling, running, yoga, and reading. Mrs. Wojnar teaches science because she wants to guide her students to connect their learning to the world around them. By participating in LPS, her students have opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and see what is possible for them in their futures. Mrs. Wojnar would like STEM professionals to help foster all of the potential and curiosity her students have to offer.

Kelsey Watt

Mrs. Watt has been teaching middle school science in Santa Ana, CA for 10 years. She chooses to teach science because it is exciting, and she hopes her own interest in science sparks new curiosities for her 6th grade students. She is thankful to partner with Letters to a Pre-Scientist for a 5th year because she has seen how STEM pen pals have opened her students’ eyes to ideas, careers, and possibilities beyond what a traditional classroom can teach alone. When she is not in the classroom, Ms. Cronmiller enjoys cooking, reading, and hanging out with her two cats.

Kevin Ohama

Mr. Ohama is a 6th grade teacher at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove, CA. This year could be year 21 for Mr. Ohama's teaching career, but he's not sure. He's doesn't organize his internal hard drive by date. With that said, this could be year 7 of hosting LPS. It has been a while, anyway. "I teach every student at their level in every subject every day," says Mr. Ohama, summing up his instructional philosophy. Adding, "LPS fits in perfectly with that mindset." Teaching aside, Mr. Ohama dabbles: guitar, chess, robotics, coding, watercolor, bread baking, home brewing, but mostly he likes to read. Twitter: @KevinOhama

Kim Jones

Ms. Jones teaches sixth grade science, math, and Food: From Farm to Face at Thomas Starr King Middle School's Environmental STEAM Magnet in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Jones is entering her 26th year of teaching for Los Angeles School District. The 2022-23 school year will be Ms. Jones's first year hosting LPS. She and her students are looking forward to meeting scientists through letter writing. In her spare time, Ms. Jones spends time cooking and eating good food with her friends and family. She loves movies (in theaters) and hiking. Also, Ms. Jones writes grants to study science in different places. She travels during summer break. This past year, she traveled to Jordan to learn about how water scarcity impacts and changes cultural traditions. Ms. Jones grew up on a farm in Tennessee and has always loved science. She didn't love the way science was taught to her in school, ""Read chapter six and answer the questions at the end of the chapter."" However, the observations on the farm were the inspiration for her science learning. Being part of an environmental program and spending time in the school garden with students is the best part of teaching for Ms. Jones.

Kristen James

Mrs. James teaches 8th-grade science at Phillips Preparatory School in Mobile, AL. This is her 11th year teaching and 1st year implementing LPS in her classroom. When she is not teaching, she is spending time with her husband and son. Mrs. James loves teaching science because she loves introducing her students to how the world works and introducing them to real-world applications of science. By implementing LPS, her students are given opportunities to learn about STEM careers from around the world and even careers they never knew existed.

Laura Rapsawich

Mrs. Rapsawich teaches 7th grade science at Euclid Middle School outside of Cleveland, OH. This school year will be her 18th year teaching and her second year with LPS. She is very excited to bring LPS to her classroom and connect her 7th grade students with STEM professionals to widen their horizons about STEM careers and opportunities. She values connections with students and providing a science classroom where students can explore and think critically. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and three kids, jogging, reading and spending time outside.

Libby Bertacchi

Ms.Bertacchi teaches 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove California. She has been teaching for 8 years and is excited to start her 9th year teaching at the same school she started. This will be her third year bringing LPS to her students, and she can't wait. When not teaching Ms.Bertacchi is visiting Disneyland, which she is a HUGE fan of, or playing volleyball for rec leagues, watching the SF Forty Niners, SF Giants, or Sacramento Kings, or finding adventure with friends, family, and lab shepherd pup Tucker. She is excited to bring LPS back to her classroom to show students that ANYONE can be a STEM professional, and help students visualize what they might enjoy doing in their futures. She believes it is important that students build inquiry for the topics they study, and science is the perfect subject to lead students down a path of many wonderful discoveries and ongoing inquiries. Ms.Bertacchi values making connections with each and every student that crosses her path in her career. When students feel safe, the journey in learning is so much more meaningful. She hopes that her students will be life long learners, and remember how to do so by being in her class.

Lindsey Chervenak

Lindsey Chervenak teaches 7th grade science in Euclid, Ohio. She has been teaching in Euclid for 10 years, and has taught 17 years overall. This is her first year being part of the LPS program. She is excited to bring this program to her students because she thinks that this will be an excellent addition to her already electrifying classroom. When Lindsey is not teaching she is spending time with her daughter, exploring the world.

Lisa Balazs

Ms. Balazs teaches 7th and 8th grade math at Magic City Acceptance Academy Charter School in Homewood, AL. She has been teaching math and science for 20+ years, and is pleased to be hosting LPS at her school for the second year. One fun fact is that Ms. B once worked for NASA as an educator at the Goddard Space Flight Center. LPS is going to be a great way for Ms. B to bring her love of science into her math classroom this year. She values the inclusion and diversity this program offers for her students! In her spare time, Ms Balazs loves to read, garden and play with her 3 dogs.

Mark Leeper

Mr. Leeper teaches at Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School in Philadelphia, PA. Mark teaches 6th and 7th grade STEM and is entering his 3rd year after a career change mid pandemic. This will be his first year hosting LPS and is excited to share the enthusiasm with his 6th graders. Mark can be found hiking, walking his dog, working out or going to concerts (working them as an audio technician or seeing them for pleasure). LPS seems like such an amazing opportunity for the students to see the relevance in STEM to their interests and how they can attain their goals. It will be so inspiring for Mr. Leeper and his students to connect with professionals around the world.

Michelle Davis

Mrs. Davis teaches 7th grade at Euclid Middle School in Euclid, OH. This is her 25th year teaching and will be her third year implementing LPS. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, long walks with her dogs, and being outside in nature. Mrs. Davis teaches science because she enjoys the curiosity the students bring to the classroom about all topics in science. She was once told that she asks too many questions, and she does not want to stop students from observing, wondering and asking about the world around them. Her hope is to bring real people who have careers devoted to science and help foster a lifelong passion for the sciences.

Michele Zollars

Ms. Zollars teaches 4th to 8th grades (multi-subjects) at a small rural school near Redding, California. This is her 5th year hosting LPS, and she's been involved in education for many years, but six years at her current school. When not teaching, she's singing, playing with pets (1 dog, 2 cats, & neighbor's chickens), traveling or kayaking. She loves teaching students about the world around them and all the possibilities available to them. Successful teaching not only prepares them for adult life, but inspires them to consider all avenues. Despite growing up in other small rural towns, Ms. Zollars has lived in Japan, on both American coasts, and visited several countries and cities. She hopes science professionals, exposure to their science and varied locations will inspire her students to dream big!

Melissa Kwan

Mrs. Kwan teaches 5th grade multiple subjects at Lincoln Acres Elementary in National City, California. This is her 22nd year teaching and her 3rd year hosting LPS in her classroom. When she isn’t teaching, you can find her practicing yoga or hanging out with her two kids. She is so excited to watch her students engage in authentic writing through LPS while also broadening their horizons with STEM careers. In her classroom, Mrs. Kwan is passionate about perseverance, kindness, and integrity.

Morgan Denkert

Mrs. Denkert is a 3rd-8th Grade ELA & Science teacher (among many other classes) based in small town Suring, WI. She teaches alongside her husband, and together they make up HALF of the school's teaching staff. This is the first year she will be hosting LPS and she, along with entire Suring community, is very excited to make the STEM careers more achievable for her students.

Mr. Murray

"Mr. Murray is a 7th/8th grade science teacher in Ventura County California. Mr. Murray has more than 7 years of teaching experience and this will be his first year with LPS. Mr. Murray enjoys creating music and working out at the gym with his friends. Mr. Murray looks forward to any opportunity that will help motivate his students to pursue careers in the STEM fields. Mr. Murray believes that every student should be given the resources necessary to explore careers in science. As a middle school student, Mr. Murray loved science but felt discouraged at times because the right supports were not in place. Mr. Murray now takes every opportunity to motivate his students in the STEM fields within his classroom. Mr. Murray is very optimistic about working with LPS and the opportunity to motivate future scientists."

Niamh Burke

Niamh Burke is an artist, activist, and educator who lives and teaches in Chicago, IL. I currently teach 7th and 8th grade science and am excited to implement LPS for the first time in my 11th year of teaching. As a teacher I believe in the importance of preparing students for life's challenge and am always looking for ways to increase student voice. Outside of school she enjoys reading, taking bike rides, and hanging out with the dog.

Nahdia Kchouri

Mrs. Kchouri has been teaching for the past 14 years and is currently a 7th grade teacher in Southern California. This is her third year hosting LPS. She enjoys cooking, baking, and spending time with her family. One fun fact: she had bright pink hair in high school and dyed her hair blue several years back. She is excited to host LPS this year because she hopes that participation for students will help to connect her scholars to STEM professions (that they may have never known existed!). Mrs. Kchouri is appreciative of the STEM professionals that become role models in her students’ lives!

Olivia Scott

Olivia Scott is a 5th grade teacher in Charlotte, NC. She has been teaching for ten years. This is her first year hosting LPS. Outside of teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and cycling. She is excited to bring LPS to her classroom to expose her children to STEM professionals and careers!

Quenya Tuck

Ms. Tuck is a 6th grade teacher at Marion Mix Elementary School located in Elk Grove, CA. This is her 10th year in education, 2nd year hosting LPS, and she loves how positive the program is for her diverse students. Being able to connect and interact with REAL scientists shows young people that they too can be involved in STEM, and that it is a worthwhile pursuit- instead of just yearning to become a "YouTuber." Thank God for Science! When she isn't teaching or eating, you can find her at the beach reading a horror or sci-fi novel. She also is a part time cat- wrangler, pumpkin carver, and natural food forager.

Rob Moore

Mr. Moore is a 6th grade Math, Science, and AVID Elective teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School in Baldwin Park, CA. The 2023-24 school year will be his 27th year in education. He also enjoys cooking plant-based meals for his family, attending concerts, and learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is his second year hosting the LPS program. He is grateful for the experiences the LPS program creates for students to inspire a future for themselves in a STEM profession.

Robin Walsh

Ms. Walsh is a 7th grade science teacher at Busbee Creative Arts Academy in Cayce, South Carolina. She has taught for 25 years and is excited about participating in LPS. This is her third year hosting the pen pal program. When not teaching, Ms. Walsh coaches archery and participates in RunDisney 5k’s. Ms. Walsh expects LPS to assist her students in the realization that they themselves have no limitations on their future aspirations. Scientists, researchers and engineers come in every gender, ethnicity and age. Follow her class and their journey via Twitter @GerzemasClass.

Sarah Malec

Mrs. Malec teaches 8th grade Science, Flight & Space, and Medical Detectives at Corvallis Middle School in Southern CA. This is her 16th year teaching. This will be her second year hosting the LPS program at her school site and is excited for her students to engage with STEM professionals and open up a new world of possibilities for them. Mrs. Malec focuses on building relationships in her classroom and fostering a safe and inclusive space for all of her students. She enjoys teaching science because it inspires a sense of curiosity about the world in her students. When she's not teaching, she can be found hanging out with her daughter at local amusement parks, reading, or playing board games with friends and family (fun fact: she owns over 300 hobby board games). Mrs. Malec has spent her whole life in Southern California and loves it there. You can follow her class on Instagram @SmartMalecScience or on Twitter @SmartMalecSci

Silvia Cuevas

Ms. Cuevas is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim, California. This will be her 9th year teaching middle school and first year hosting the LPS program. She is excited to connect students with STEM professionals and humanize them; show them that there are real people behind those titles. She is hoping that the STEM professionals inspire her students to pursue their dreams. As a first generation Latina in the sciences, Ms.Cuevas is passionate about encouraging female students to pursue a career in the sciences. Her students inspire her to continue to grow in her profession. When she is not teaching, Ms.Cuevas enjoys playing with her three year old son Lucas. She loves reading, baking, and spending time with her family.

Simran Sabharwal

Ms. Sabharwal has been teaching 8th Grade Science in San Jose, CA the past 5 years and partnered with LPS for the first time last school year (22-23). Before moving to San Jose she taught in Boston Public Schools for 2 years and got her Masters in Education. For undergrad Ms. Sabharwal studied Biology and Education Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont. She's loved all of the places she's lived, from the east to west coast, and has fond memories with each of the cohort of students she's worked with. Teaching science is never boring with constant new developments in STEM and always working with a diverse group of students who are in the midst of discovering themselves and the world around them.

Stacie Cocca

Ms. Cocca is a 7th grade science teacher at Sierra Intermediate in Santa Ana, California. She became a teacher because she loves sparking curiosity and creativity in her students. While her students gain a passion for science in her class, they struggle to visualize themselves as future scientists because of their misconceptions of what scientists actually look like. This is why she is excited to bring LPS into her classroom. This is her 4th year with this program, and she is looking forward to watching her students realize that their goals are achievable and scientists are real people just like them.

Travis Justice

Mr. Justice teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Fostoria Junior/Senior High School in Fostoria, OH. Travis has only been teaching for one year, and this is his first year with LPS. Travis is super excited to bring LPS to his classroom because his students have a never ending well of curiosity and need more connections with STEM professions! (also because Mr. Travis gets bored very easily and is excited for a new project!) Mr. Travis's teaching goals are to spark curiosity, help his students find their passions, and be the best versions of themselves. Whether they go to college to be scientists, go to trade school, or go straight to work, all of his students are valued and respected for their interests! Travis is a self proclaimed ""Science Nerd"" and is positively captivated by the natural world. Outside of school you can find him hiking, bird watching, or completing a field journal on his adventures. Travis also likes to learn, about pretty much anything and is trying, with some success, to become a jack of all trades and master of all of them! Travis also enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, and hanging out with his two cats. Twitter: @teachertravis05 Instagram: @sciteach_travis

Stephanie Portillo-de Leon

Mrs. Portillo teaches 8th grade science at math in Montebello, California. This is her fourth year teaching and will be her first year implementing LPS. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, playing soccer, and taking ballet classes. Mrs. Portillo is excited to introduce the LPS program to put a face/person to different STEM careers so her students can discover new career options and know that they have options. The discovery of new things is a big reason she teaches science as she likes to teach the students about the science that happens around them. Mrs. Portillo values collaboration, curiosity, and creativity.

Ron Ochoa

Mr.Ochoa has been teaching 5th/6th Grade for over 15 years. He now teaches 6th Grade at Marion Mix Elementary in Elk Grove, California. This is Mr. Ochoa's First Year participating in the LPS Program. When not teaching, Mr. Ochoa performs in a variety of Jazz/Latin bands in the Sacramento area, continues to study drum and percussion techniques/applications, practices Jeet Kune Do/WIng Chun/Escrima, and is preparing to learn how to surf. He is excited to demonstrate to students that the Sciences are a Multi-Disciplinary Field. He believes that the LPS program will help students realize that fact. Students in Mr. Ochoa's class will realize that every Inquiry about the World around them can lead to a multitude of Scientific pursuits. Mr. Ochoa looks forward to guiding students toward the realization that Science was never intended to be taught/learned explicitly through text books, tests, and one annual project. Instead, Students will be able to practice science through inquiry, experimentation, and communication with experts in the many fields of Science.

Salma Shehto

Ms. Shehto (pronounced Sha-ha-toe) is a high school science teacher in Moreno Valley, California. When not in the classroom or working, you will find Ms. Shehto spending time with family, cooking, or taking a walk. Ms. Shehto has been teaching for 13 years and is starting her third year with LPS. Ms. Shehto is excited about incorporating reading and writing in her classroom and exposing students to STEM careers and mentors. She is looking forward to the exciting LPS letter opening parties! She values discipline and self-growth. Incorporating 21 century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity is important in her classroom.

Sindy Trieu

Ms. Trieu teaches predominantly 9th graders in the subject of Biology at Florin High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District, in Elk Grove Californian. This is her 17th year in education as a teacher and former administrator. This is her first year with LPS and she is super excited for the connections her students will be able to build with their Mentors. When Ms. Trieu is not teaching, you can find her with her hiking boots strapped on tight and her border collie, Hiro, by her side climbing up a hill taking selfies. Many high school students are not exposed to science and math as much as Ms. Trieu had hoped. By being part of LPS, she is able to introduce her students to other adults in science and math, where they can ask questions to build or further their interest in science. Extensive exposure to science is not common in elementary school. It is important that students get a good introduction to what science and STEM is like when the opportunity arises. Ms. Trieu finds satisfaction when her students come in not knowing or have an opinion about science and walk out of her class loving science or even walk out of her classroom asking questions and developing models.

Stacy Katzenstein

“Mrs. Katz” teaches physics and engineering at Valley View High School located in Moreno Valley, California. She has been teaching for 15 years and this is her 5th year bringing the LPS program to her engineering students. She is excited to be able to connect her high school engineering students to real-world working STEM professionals because she has seen how these connections between students and professionals help to spark interest, build confidence, and provide insights and guidance for the students as they create their own higher education/training and career path. When not teaching, Mrs. Katz enjoys spending time with her family and going to her kids’ activities. She also enjoys trying new recipes, traveling, watching movies, and reading. Anything astronomy, space, planetary science, or sci-fi are her favorite topics. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram at @STEM_Shindigs.

William Gabriel

Mr. Gabriel teaches 8th grade science in Los Angeles, California. He has been teaching middle school for 17 years and this will be his 4th year hosting LPS. When he is not teaching in the classroom, you can find him walking his two dogs around the neighborhood or trying to stay fit at his local gym. He is also trying to fill up his “Passport to Your National Parks” with a stamp from all of the established National Parks in the country. He is excited to bring LPS to his classroom this year because he wants to inspire his students to consider themselves in a career in STEM. Having wonderful teachers and education growing up inspired him to become a teacher and he hopes that he can do the same for his students.