The 2020-2021 LPS teachers

LPS Teachers

Alex Pinto

Alex Pinto1Ms. Pinto is a 7th grade math and science teacher at Busbee Creative Arts Academy in Cayce, South Carolina. This is her 5th year teaching and 3rd year hosting LPS in her classroom. When she’s not teaching she can be found traveling, attending concerts, and playing with her black lab mix, Cooper. Ms. Pinto strives to build relationships with her students and prepare them to be lifelong learners. Letters to a Pre-Scientist is an exciting program that Ms. Pinto enjoys hosting because she’s able to watch her students relate to STEM professionals and learn about careers many of them have never heard of. Her students enjoy being creative and explore their talents by participating in dance, drama, theater, chorus, visual arts, band, and strings through Busbee’s magnet arts program. Follow her on twitter @MsAlexPinto.

Watch Ms. Pinto’s teacher intro video.





Allison Hoyle

Allison Hoyle1
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 6th year teaching. This is her 2nd year with LPS. When she isn’t teaching she can either be found reading or buying toys for her kitty, Kaylee. 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.

Watch Ms. Hoyle’s teacher intro video.






Amanda Haney

Amanda Haney1Mrs. Haney teaches 5th grade gifted students at Chardon Hills Magnet School in Euclid, Ohio. This is her 11th year teaching and 7th 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 4th 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 travel and hike, but lately she’s been spending more time playing in the backyard and reading Magic Tree House books with her 3 young sons. Mrs. Haney can’t wait to get her students excited about LPS via remote learning!

Watch Mrs. Haney’s teacher intro video.



Annette Licata

Annette Licata1Miss Licata is a 5th grade teacher at Tracy Elementary School in Baldwin Park, California. She has been teaching for 21 years and this is her 2nd 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.

Watch Ms. Licata’s teacher intro video.








Bridget Heneghan

Bridget Heneghan1Ms. 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 fifth 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.

Watch Ms. Heneghan’s teacher intro video.



Ed Mallillin

Ed Mallillin1Mr. M. is a STEM-focused teacher who enjoys working with Middle School students in Southern California. He is excited to enter his 2nd year hosting LPS, which is an excellent way to bridge the numerous academic disciplines and introduce students to professionals from different STEM-related backgrounds. Mr. M enjoys “blurring the lines” between individual academic subjects to present concepts in a more relevant, collaborative way that he feels most people will encounter in their adult lives. Mr. M. likes to promote student engagement by providing opportunities that can inspire them to make the world a better place! When he’s not spending a bazillion hours at work, he enjoys cycling, writing, movies/music, and continuing his quest to visit all seven continents.

Watch Mr. M’s teacher intro video.




Jamie Radford

Jamie Radford1Mrs. Radford teaches 4th and 5th grade math and science at Phoenix High School in Braithwaite, Louisiana. This is her 10th year teaching and her 2nd 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 and friends or relaxing at home.

Watch Mrs. Radford’s teacher intro video.






Julie Wojnar

Julie Wojnar1Mrs. Wojnar teachers 5th grade at Chardon Hills Magnet School in Euclid,Ohio, which is east of Cleveland. This is her 21th year teaching and her will be her 5th 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 scientists to help foster all of the potential and curiousity her students have to offer.

Watch Mrs. Wojnar’s teacher intro video.






Kara Lorenzana

Kara Lorenzana1Ms. Lorenzana teaches K-5 STEM at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy – Jose A. Castellanos Campus in Los Angeles, California. This is her 7th year teaching, 3rd year teaching STEM, and 2nd year hosting the LPS program in her classroom. When she is not teaching, Ms. Lorenzana can be found food tripping all over LA, attending the various events and cultural affairs her city has to offer, or spoiling the school pet Frida the bearded dragon! She is looking forward to connecting her students to REAL scientists in the field, and hopes that giving her students a personal experience with a scientist pen pal will continue to encourage their curiosities and enthusiasm for science. Ms. Lorenzana values inquiry, openness, grit, commitment, and a positive attitude in her classroom. See what her classes are up to at @msklorenzana on Instagram and Twitter, or visit her classroom website at!

Watch Ms. Lorenzana’s teacher intro video.



Kelsey Cronmiller

Kelsey Cronmiller1
Ms. Cronmiller has been teaching middle school science in Santa Ana, California for 6 years. She chooses to teach science because it is so exciting! She’s amazed by the science she sees each and every day as it sparks her interest and curiosity–just as she hopes science will do for her 6th grade students. She is thankful to partner with Letters to Pre-Scientist for a 2nd 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. Ms. Cronmiller wants her students to be inspired by their world and the people in it.

Watch Ms. Cronmiller’s teacher intro video.






Kevin Ohama

Kevin Ohama1Mr. 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 17 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.

Watch Mr. Ohama’s teacher intro video.




Marc Verbryke

Marc Verbryke1Mr. Verbryke teaches 8th grade integrated science at Fesler Junior High in Santa Maria, California. This is Mr. Verbryke’s 3rd year teaching and 2nd year hosting LPS in his classroom. Outside of the classroom he enjoys working in his woodshop and exploring California’s Central Coast trails with his family and dogs. Mr. Verbryke strives to get students to become critical thinkers and make real-world connections. He believes LPS will give his students the opportunity to dismiss misconceptions about scientists and make personal connections, thus fueling their desire to question, learn, and grow in all things science.

Watch Mr. Verbryke’s teacher intro video.






Melissa Kwan

Melissa Kwan1Mrs. Kwan teaches 5th grade multiple subjects at Lincoln Acres Elementary in National City, California. This is her 20th 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.

Watch Mrs. Kwan’s teacher intro video.







Michele Zollars

Michele Zollars1Ms. Zollars teaches 6th through 8th grades (all subjects) at a small rural school in northern California. This is her 4th year as a classroom teacher, though she’s worked with children 20+ years. She’s very excited to start hosting LPS this year and believes students are going to get so much from this program! Michele sees her role as a facilitator, helping her students to learn more about themselves and access the vast world of possibilities before them. Fun fact: she’s lived in Japan, North Carolina, and several California cities. When she’s not teaching and grading, she’s probably throwing a ball for her little dog, or singing.

Watch Ms. Zollar’s teacher intro video.






Morgan Stevenson

Morgan Stevenson1Mrs. Stevenson teaches at Fall River Elementary in the Northeastern corner of California. This is her 5th year teaching and 2nd year implementing the LPS program. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and taking her daughter on trips. She is excited to bring LPS to her school to encourage her students to become more engaged in the scientific community and show them all the exciting things in the world that revolve around science. Mrs. Stevenson believes the thing that inspires her teaching the most is watching the excitement in her students eyes once they fall in love with a concept and show success with it. She teaches science because she has such a passion for showing students more than a traditional concept of science. Science is all around and she hopes to bring that knowledge and understanding to her students.

Watch Mrs. Stevenson’s teacher intro video.





Nahdia Kchouri

Nahdia Kchouri1Mrs. Kchouri currently teaches 6th grade math and science in Moreno Valley, California. She has been teaching since 2008 and this will be her second
year hosting LPS. When she is not teaching, you can find her singing her heart out, immersing herself into photography, loving art, or experimenting with cultural recipes. Mrs. Kchouri is excited to bring LPS to her classroom this year because she wants to bring the scientific world into the classroom and provide students with scientific access. Her instructional vision is to encourage interest and awareness in the STEM fields by helping to make knowledge relevant. Mrs. Kchouri values her students and believes that with hard-work and dedication, anything is possible.

Watch Mrs. Kchouri’s teacher intro video.






Robin Gerzema

Robin Gerzema1Mrs. 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 second 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.

Watch Mrs. Gerzema’s teacher intro video.






Salma Shehto

Salma Shehto1Ms. Shehto (pronounced Sha-ha-toe) is a middle 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 over 10 years and is starting her second year with LPS. Ms. Shehto is excited about incorporating reading and writing in her classroom and exposing students to STEM careers. She values discipline, self-growth, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity in her classroom.

Watch Mrs. Shehto’s teacher intro video.







Stacie Cocca

Stacie Cocca1Ms. 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 2nd 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.

Watch Ms. Cocca’s teacher intro video.






Stacy Katzenstein

Stacy Katzenstein1Mrs. “Katz” teaches engineering and physics at Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, California. The 2019-20 school year will be Mrs. Katz’s 13th year teaching and second 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.

Watch Mrs. Katz’s teacher intro video.






William Gabriel

William Gabriel1Mr. Gabriel teaches 6th grade science in Los Angeles, California. He has been teaching middle school for 14 years and this will be his 2nd 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.

Watch Mr. Gabriel’s teacher intro video.