LPS Teachers

Aisha Nurredin

Mrs. Nurredin teaches 6th grade at College Hill Fundamental Academy located in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been teaching for 12 years and this is her first year participating in LPS. When she's not taeching, 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 the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science teacher at DePue Unit Schools in DePue, Illinois. This upcoming school year will be her 7th year teaching. This is her 3rd year with LPS. When she isn't teaching she can either be found reading or cleaning up the state parks near her town. 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 Magnet School in Euclid, Ohio. This is her 12th year teaching and 8th 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 5th 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.

Annette Licata

Miss Licata is a 5th grade teacher at Tracy Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California. She has been teaching for 23 years and this is her 3nd 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.

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 8 years and this is her first 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 - 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 teachers 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary in Elk Grove, CA. She has been teaching in EGUSD for 18 years and this is her first year joining LPS. When she is not teaching, She can be found with her family enjoying hiking and biking in Sacramento or Lake Tahoe. LPS will allow our student population to learn about the STEM field from people all over the world. Mrs. Sullivan values students that come curious about the world and ready to creative and adaptive problem solvers in the world. She believes LPS is one of the fun ways to achieve this goal.

Julie Wojnar

Mrs. Wojnar teachers 5th grade at Chardon Hills Magnet School in Euclid,Ohio, which is east of Cleveland. This is her 22nd year teaching and her will be her 6th year implementing LPS in her classroom. When she is not teaching, she enjoys family time with her husband and 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 Cronmiller

Ms. Cronmiller has been teaching middle school science in Santa Ana, California for 8 years. She chooses to teach science because it is so exciting! She hopes her own interest in science sparks new curiosities for her 6th grade students. Ms. Cronmiller wants her students to be inspired by their world and the people in it, which includes our Scientist Pen Pals! She has seen first hand how her students are happy to have gained new friendships through Letters to a Pre-Scientist. She is thankful to partner with Letters to a Pre-Scientist for a 4th year because she has seen how scientist pen pals have opened her students’ eyes to ideas, careers, and possibilities beyond what a traditional classroom can teach alone.

Kevin Ohama

Mr. Ohama teaches 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove, California. Originally from Chicago, IL and by way of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Ohama has been teaching in Sacramento and Elk Grove for the last 18 years. And, yes, he is a long-suffering, but recently-redeemed Cubs fan. Active in his profession, Mr. Ohama is a member of professional organizations such as International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). You may run into him at a conference or two. He’ll be the quiet one in the front row taking notes. He values divergent thinking, equity, exploration, grit, and the practice of questioning everything. His continual goal: to make this the greatest year that his students ever have in education. Being in the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program should help fulfill that goal. Follow Mr. Ohama on Twitter, remembering that he is a Twitter neophyte: @KevinOhama.

Libby Bertacchi

Ms.Bertacchi teaches 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove California. She has been teaching for 6 years and is excited to start her 7th year teaching at the same school she started. This will be her first 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, or finding adventure with friends, family, and lab shepherd pup Tucker. She is excited to bring LPS 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.

Melissa Kwan

Mrs. Kwan teaches 5th grade multiple subjects at Lincoln Acres Elementary in National City, California. This is her 23rd year teaching and her 2nd year hosting LPS in her classroom. When she isn’t teaching, you can find her hiking (summer!) or snowboarding (winter!). 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.

Michele Zollars

Ms. Zollars teaches 6th through 8th grades (all subjects) at a small rural school in northern California. This is her 6th year as a classroom teacher, though she's worked with children for more than 20 years. Fun Fact: she's lived in Japan (6 years), North Carolina (8 years), Missouri (1 year) and several California cities. When she's not teaching and grading, she's singing, chilling at home, throwing a ball for her terrier, or her new favorite: kayaking! She's very excited to be hosting LPS a third year. This program really expands students' view of science, college, and the world around them. Michele sees her role as a facilitator, helping students learn more about themselves and access the vast world of possibilities before them. Interacting with real scientists gives students excitement and hope.

Michelle Davis

Mrs. Davis teaches 5th grade at Arbor Elementary School in Euclid, Ohio. This is her 23rd year teaching and will be her first 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 life long career or passion for the sciences. Also, she hopes the students value the memory of the communication with the pen pal program. Mrs. Davis values respect for all living things and their connections to the world as a whole which connects to her number one expectation of respecting self, others, learning, materials and all living things.

Robin Gerzema

Mrs. Gerzema is a 7th grade science teacher at Busbee Creative Arts Academy in Cayce, South Carolina. She has taught for 24 years and is excited about participating in LPS. This is her third year hosting the pen pal program. When not teaching, Mrs. Gerzema coaches archery, participates in RunDisney 5k’s, cruises, and watches Columbia Fireflies baseball. Mrs. Gerzema 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.

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.

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.

Stacy Katzenstein

Mrs. “Katz” teaches engineering and physics at Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, California. The 2021-22 school year will be Mrs. Katz’s 14th year teaching and third year hosting LPS. When not teaching, Mrs. Katz can be found going on adventures with her family --even if it’s just in the backyard. She also loves cooking, going on hikes, or learning something new or building something crafty with her kids. She is very excited to host LPS in her engineering class because it connects students directly to STEM professionals and broadens their ideas and perceptions about STEM careers. Mrs. Katz values curiosity, collaboration, diversity, and creativity. Mrs. Katz can be found on Twitter and Facebook at @STEM_Shindigs.

William Gabriel

Mr. Gabriel teaches 8th grade science in Los Angeles, California. He has been teaching middle school for 16 years and this will be his 3rd 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.