Meet Our STEM Team!

Program Directors

Carey Christensen
Carey ChristensenPoudre Director

Carey grew up in the great state of Wisconsin.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a degree in Education and Sports Medicine. She moved out to Colorado upon graduating and loves and has embraced all that Colorado has to offer. She began working at Poudre High School in 1999 both as a teacher and Certified Athletic Trainer.  In the summer of 2015 she finished her Masters of Education and Human Resource Studies at CSU and started as part time Assistant Principal in the fall of 2015. She is passionate about providing opportunities for all students and helping them realize their potential! She is excited about the upcoming STEM institute and all of the incredible opportunities that are awaiting our students.

John Howe
John HowePreston Director

John graduated from the University of South Dakota and received his masters in administration from the University of Wyoming. He was awarded the Secondary School Assistant Principal of the year award in Wyoming. As the assistant principal at Preston Middle High he inspires students on a daily basis to achieve more than they think possible. One of his great loves is flying. He is a pilot and an officer in the Civil Air Patrol. He has taught Flight Simulator for over 20 years and has motivated countless students to continue on with aviation in their adult lives.

Program Coordinator

DJ Reed-Keally
DJ Reed-KeallyProgram Coordinator

DJ was born is St. Louis but spent her youth moving around the country living in National Parks. She has lived in Colorado for 25 years and loves spending time in the outdoors with her husband and two sons. DJ began working at Preston Middle School in 2011 coordinating STEM and Gifted Education. She has a knack for putting together large events and she loves seeing the smiling faces of the students every summer at the STEM Institutes.

Instructional Team

Marianne Aiken
Marianne Aiken

I began teaching Science in Chicago  35 years ago. I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Secondary Education and later earned a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

I have attended the University of Oregon Marine Biology Program, Fermi National Laboratory Institute for Teachers, Space Camp for Teachers in Huntsville, Alabama, Inquiry for Science Teachers and most recently Mission Cognition.

I knew I would become a teacher when I held “summer school” in my parents’ basement. In high school, I had a science teacher who was a role model and I knew then I wanted to make a difference in children’s’ lives just like my teachers had done for me.  I love teaching because each day brings its own rewards and challenges.

Matthew Bensen
Matthew Bensen

Matt Benson has been the Poudre High School Media Specialist/Teacher Librarian for 2 years. Prior to that, he taught middle school computer technology and social studies in both the high school and middle school levels. He is passionate about educational technology, makerspaces, game programming, video/audio production, and virtual reality (VR). And he especially loves teaching all these things during the STEM Institute! When not in the library, you will likely find Matt outdoors playing disc golf, fly fishing, cycling, or camping with his wife and crazy 3 year old.

Adrienne Brandenburg
Adrienne Brandenburg

Adrienne studied Microbiology and Spanish at CSU and graduated with her B.S. in 2005. She completed extensive research in bacterial genetics and comparative lipidomics in a Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology lab at CSU before attending graduate school at CSU 2006. She received her M.A. in Spanish and M.A. in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language in 2009. She taught high school Spanish in Minneapolis for three years before returning to Fort Collins in 2012. She currently teaches Spanish and Spanish for heritage speakers at Poudre High School. Her passion is empowering traditionally disenfranchised students to find what they are passionate about and to have the courage to follow those dreams.

Rob Breshears
Rob Breshears

Rob has been teaching for 10 years in math, business and computer science.  He loves to help students explore, create and share their work.  Currently, Rob teaches computer classes such as AP Computer Science Principles, Game Design, and Intro to Computer Science in the Headwaters Lab at Poudre High School. Rob also loves to coach swimming, backpack, and play with his kids.

Kristina Brown
Kristina Brown

Kristina Brown is from Houston, Texas, and has lived in Fort Collins for over 8 years. She started her career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center working for United Space Alliance on a team that developed the Portable Computer System for the International Space Station. After almost 10 years at the JSC space center, she left to pursue her dreams of being an entrepreneur. The bulk of her business was at the forefront of the social media revolution as well as administering and building websites for small businesses. She began to look for supplemental work during the recession of 2008, when she was hired at Front Range Community College to teach computer classes. She fell in love with teaching and went back to school to obtain her teaching credential. She currently works at Rocky Mountain High School teaching computer science, game design, web design, and business classes. In her free time, Kristina likes to spend time with her daughter and husband, mountain bike, run, garden, do yoga, and read.

Devon Burke
Devon Burke

Devon is a native Coloradoan; born in Fort Collins and raised in Durango, Devon now lives in Pueblo. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Colorado State University and a Master’s degree in Teaching from The Colorado College. She has been teaching science at Pueblo County High School since 1990. Devon loves getting students excited about science and helping them understand how science if a part of their daily lives.

Stacey Cornmesser
Stacey Cornmesser

Stacey Cornmesser grew up in Chicago and graduated with a Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She worked as a process engineer for many years before staying at home with her three children.  First, she worked for FMC in West Virginia making various Phosphorus specialty chemicals.  Then, she moved to Texas to work for Haldor Topsoe, a Danish catalyst manufacturing company.  She often travelled to Denmark, working with their Research and Development Groups, as well as coordinating the startup of their processing plant.  She has lived in Fort Collins since 2012 and loves all Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking, and running.  Currently, she substitutes with the Poudre School District. Stacey is looking forward to teaching with the STEM Institute this summer, hoping to inspire young women to pursue careers in the chemical sciences.

Mackenzie Crooks
Mackenzie Crooks

I moved to Colorado last summer from Indiana.  I grew up on a small hobby farm, and worked as a vet technician all through high school and for a few years after college.  While in college I majored in Animal Sciences, so it is safe to say that animals are my passion!  I am currently the Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Poudre High School and can’t wait to share my passion of agriculture with you!

Dawn Dupriest
Dawn Dupriest

Dawn teaches seventh-grade math at Preston Middle School. Before finding her way to teaching, she was a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies for nine years, writing programs to test cell phones and fiber-optic devices. As a college student, she taught computer programming courses and really enjoyed the logic, problem-solving, and mathematics involved. She looks forward to the STEM institute each year and loves to see the creative ideas that students put into their programs.

Shane Edler
Shane Edler

Shane Edler graduated from University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Secondary Technology Education and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at CSU. Shane has taught Technology Education at Preston Middle School since 2001, including classes such as Robotics, Aviation, 3D Design (Solidworks), and Media Technology with a live broadcast every morning. He has been teaching at the STEM Institute since its inception, including Video Production, Robotics, Advanced Robotics and 3D Design. He enjoys demonstrating cutting edge technology, where the students are able to build and program their own robot. Shane Edler also enjoys coaching Football in the fall semester and Track in the spring semester. In his spare time he enjoys hiking and biking in the outdoors with his wife and two young daughters here in Fort Collins.

Chelsea Ermer
Chelsea Ermer

I am a newer teacher to the district, and in being so I have learned an insane amount from the amazing educators I have been surrounded with in the last 2 years. I graduated with a B.A. in Art Education from CSU in the Fall of 2012. After my graduation I was lucky enough to find myself working at Fossil Ridge High School teaching Digital Design, among other art classes. The opportunity to fully dive into the realm of Digital Design and digital artwork has been a true joy these past 2 years, and in doing so I have noticed not only a growth in my teaching, but also in my own personal artwork.  My passion for these programs and their capabilities is indescribable, and having the amazing opportunity to teach at the STEM academy is something I am truly excited to experience.

Gregory Golz
Gregory Golz

I look forward to this STEM week every year. One of my favorite ways to learn is through picking a topic I am interested in and just being able to jump in without worrying about grades. Personally I can remember 3 great summer time learning opportunities of my own. They included a week of water quality on the Green River, a study of renewable energy at the School of Mines, and a 2-week sailing course. If I get to see you in class, please bring your energy and enthusiasm for learning something you are interested in.

Kyle Healy
Kyle Healy

I am currently working as a school counselor at Preston Middle school where I get to enjoy interacting with students every day. I believe strongly in helping students connect with their passions to assist in the education and development of adolescents. I am a life-long fisherman who hopes to connect STEM principles with the art and joy of fly-fishing.

Alice James
Alice James

Alice grew up in California within miles of the Pacific, and her enthusiasm for the ocean and for ocean life began early. She pursued her passion at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, summa cum laude. After working for several years in marine education, aquaristing, and scuba diving instruction, Alice obtained her Colorado Teacher License through the University of Northern Colorado. She currently teaches at Preston Middle School.

Jean Johnson
Jean Johnson

Jean Johnson is the Choir Director at Preston Middle School and is very excited to be a part of the STEM Institute this summer.  Ms. Johnson has taught music at all levels from pre-school to college and frequently serves as an adjudicator for music competitions in northern Colorado.   Ms. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Music degree from Colorado State University.  She is extremely excited to create music with student composers this summer.

Hank Kirwan
Hank Kirwan

Jean Johnson is the Choir Director at Preston Middle School and is very excited to be a part of the STEM Institute this summer.  Ms. Johnson has taught music at all levels from pre-school to college and frequently serves as an adjudicator for music competitions in northern Colorado.   Ms. Johnson earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Music degree from Colorado State University.  She is extremely excited to create music with student composers this summer.

Mary Klass
Mary Klass

Mary grew up in Missouri and spent her free time outdoors where she developed a deep appreciation for the natural world.  After college she traveled and worked in most of the western states, and that is when she found her second passion—teaching and working with middle school students. Teaching provided the outlet to share her interests with others and middle school students provided the energy to learn about the world.  Although now retired, she continues to inspire students at Preston Middle School coaching Science Olympiad, Science Bowl, organizing GSTEM (Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities and any other “science things” that present an opportunity for students.  She has taught Summer STEM institute for many years and enjoys learning about the world with her students.

Rebecca Knips
Rebecca Knips

Game On!  That’s the motto Becky Knips lives by every day in her classroom at Lesher Middle School.  Becky has taught Web 2.0, Game Programming, Web Design, and Yearbook to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders since 2007.  Her days of geeking out started back in kindergarten when she would load the 5.5” floppy disk onto the Apple IIe computer and play Oregon Trail.  Since conquering the Oregon Trail, Becky has moved on to get an undergraduate degree in Computer Education from Dakota State University and a master’s degree in Educational Technology from the University of Northern Colorado.  When she’s not glued to her tablet, phone, and/or desktop computer, Becky enjoys being outdoors at her family’s log cabin in Pingree Park and attempting to complete all of her projects on Pinterest.

Kevin Kowalski
Kevin Kowalski

Kevin is a virtual reality software engineer at HP Fort Collins. He is excited to help teach students how to create their own virtual worlds. Growing up locally, he attended Preston, Fossil Ridge, and graduated from the CSU Computer Science program. While an avid user of technology, he also enjoys the physical challenge of the great outdoors and the mental practice of yoga.

Shawna Lemons
Shawna Lemons

Shawna teaches K-8 music at High plains School in Loveland, which includes K-5 general music and 6-8 band and choir.  She graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. Shawna shows enthusiasm in showing students how to make real world connections with their school experience. She looks forward to the STEM institute this summer and is excited to explore the connections made between music and STEM.

Nikki Long
Nikki Long

Nikki grew up in Fort Collins and attended McGraw Elementary, Webber Jr. High, and Rocky Mountain High School. Her interest in archaeology was developed at a young age. Growing up in the Southwest, she was exposed by her father and grandfather to the archaeology and history of indigenous people. She attended Boston University to study archaeology and anthropology and pursue this interest. After graduating, Nikki worked at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University for several years. She also has spent several summers in the field teaching at an archaeological site in Ireland called Blackfriary, a 13th century monastery. Now, Nikki enjoys life in Fort Collins, where she works in the Collections Management department at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

Sarah Long
Sarah Long

Sarah is originally from upstate New York and has lived in Colorado for three years. She obtained her first master’s degree in psychology while working in the Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience lab at the University of Buffalo. She then obtained her second master’s degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado. She created an applied neuroscience course using an interdisciplinary approach for college freshmen. Sarah has also been continuously involved in the theatre where she has created makeup and wig designs for various university and community based productions. Her ability to mix her love of science and makeup design has made her a true cosmetic surgeon.  She is currently working on her PhD in Educational Science. Since moving to Colorado, Sarah has ran 6 half marathons and is training to run the Ascent this summer.  We hope you “makeup” your mind and enroll in  ‘Identity Crisis’ at the STEM Institute this summer.

Ali Lutze
Ali Lutze

Ali Lutze grew up in Southern California but became a Colorado convert in 2009. She studied Biomedical Sciences at CSU before completing her Masters in Education. She has taken almost every type of science class out there, and she loves learning new things. Her hobbies include fishing, hiking, and hanging out with her dog. She just finished teaching a high school forensics class, so she can’t wait to help you become a top-notch investigator and solve some crimes!

Ryan Martine
Ryan Martine

Math is a part of so many things in our daily life and Ryan is dedicated to show his students how math applies to their everyday lives. He uses technology on a daily basis in his classroom and is an example to other teachers on how to use the advances in technology in all subjects. His dedications to his students help them strive to look deeper into math concepts. He is not only a math teacher at Preston; he is also the department chair.

Sue Martino
Sue Martino

Sue has been a mathematics teacher at Preston Middle School since 1998. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Mathematics with emphasis in secondary education.  She is passionate about building math confidence in students and taking risks to continually grow as learners.  She pushes herself daily to provide experiences for students that support and build on 21st century skills.  She incorporates inquiry, critical thinking, technology, collaboration, and curiosity in her classroom and daily life.  Her two STEM enthusiastic children continue to help her grow and explore many exciting STEM interests!

Sue Mateer
Sue Mateer

Sue Mateer has 30 years of experience in law enforcement with more than 10 years as a school resource officer working in PSD middle schools. She has been involved with Fort Collins police youth police academy both as a director and instructor. Sue’s teaching and training experience includes elementary and middle school classrooms, CSU students, school personnel, community groups, FCPS civilian police academy, statewide forums, and national conferences. She received her PhD in education from Colorado State University in 2010. Sue is the parent of 2 great young adults; her interest in travel and volunteering has taken her around the world.

Adam McBride
Adam McBride

The interface of science and technology allows for some really interesting experiences and learning opportunities.  Adam got his start in the science world by earning a B.S. in chemistry and worked briefly as a chemist before deciding to go to the classroom.  Adam taught high school chemistry and astronomy for six years while working toward his master’s degree in natural science education.  Adam was also fortunate enough to become the director of his school district’s  planetarium.  During that time he became particularly interested in the interface of computer science, education, and STEM.  It was during this time that Adam learned how to program and use Blender to produce 3D models and animations.  Adam loves using technology to facilitate an inquiry based learning model.  His favorite moments from teaching were watching his students succeed in the MESA program on engineering projects for state level competitions.  Adam now works for PSD’s Instructional Technology Department where he helps teachers integrate technology into their classrooms.

Samantha Morris
Samantha Morris

Samantha is a new resident of Fort Collins, Colorado after moving from Athens, Georgia in August of 2016. She is a graduate of The University of Georgia, where she received an undergraduate degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and her masters in Workforce Education. She currently teaches Nutrition and Wellness, Culinary, and Relationships classes at Loveland High School. Her passions include anything outdoors, teaching life skills, and inspiring students to live healthier lifestyles. She is very excited to join the Stem Institutes this summer and explore the connections between science, math, and the kitchen!

Lisa Musante
Lisa Musante
Jason Nurton
Jason Nurton

Jason Nurton has fished the Big Thompson Watershed for 20 years. He has guided for The Great Western Fly Fishing Company and The Estes Angler. His clients enjoy his passion for fly fishing, his laid back style, and his desire to “teach a man to fish.” Jason has taught reading, language arts, and outdoor living classes at Webber Middle School for the past 10 years. He looks forward to bringing his knowledge built through years of study on and off the water to the Stem Summer Institute at PSD.

Erin Panozzo
Erin Panozzo

Erin Panozzo has lived in the Fort Collins area for most of her life.  She attended Poudre Schools, and earned her Bachelors in Biology at CSU. She received her Masters in Interdisciplinary Ed at UNC.  Her Hobbies are traveling, mountain biking, and riding horses.  She has been a Science teacher at Preston for 18 years and has loved every minute of it!

Joel Peterson
Joel Peterson

Aviation and Space Exploration are two of Joel’s enduring passions.  He has spent 21 years in PSD teaching 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade science, technology education, and aerospace science classes.  Joel has a professional pilot degree from Metropolitan State College of Denver, is a pilot with over 1400 flight hours, was a flight instructor, classroom teacher and simulator instructor at Aims Community College and is a United Airlines trained B727 flight engineer.   He was the sponsor of an aerospace education program at Webber Junior High/Middle School and conducted 42 simulated space shuttle missions over 18 years.  Joel enjoys working with STEM Institute students and is looking forward to his 4th year with The Institute!

Mary-Anne Richards
Mary-Anne Richards

Mary-Anne Richards (Richy)

I hold a Colorado Secondary Science teacher license and have masters in applied genetics and teaching gifted and talented with minors in science curriculum and instruction design. During the school year I design applied situations to allow the learners to show that they understand and can use the information. Being a scientist I see things from different angles and can help my students see the topics from other angles. I love science and want others to enjoy the world around us as they can if they know what is happening.

I have taught at the Summer Enrichment Program at UNC in Greeley since 1997. I have taught a range of science including anatomy/physiology, basic dissection, building space stations, Introduction to Archaeology, paleontology, forensics, quantum physics, overview of what has happened in science this last year, invent reinvent and many other interesting classes.

Nathan Savig
Nathan Savig

Nathan is a Maker.  With a Mechanical Engineering degree and a bit of YouTube he is confident he can build anything and help you do the same!  He has made:

Furniture

Clothing

3D Scanned Models

Skateboards

Robots

Eight houses

Board games

Model Dinosaurs

Lamps

Messenger bags

Temperature controlled stoves

Bikes

Jewlry

3D printed Rubic’s Cubes

And lots of other stuff he has forgotten!

Ron Shaffer
Ron Shaffer

Ron has been in education for over 20 years now.  He is a 1995 graduate of Huntington University in Elementary Education.  Upon graduation, Ron started his teaching career at North Miami Elementary school.  After teaching there six years, he accepted a position at Maconaquah Elementary school.  There he transferred to the Middle School teaching Pre-Algebra to 8th grade students.  While at the middle school, he received training on 3D design and printing from Makerbot in Brooklyn, New York.  He has since created a 3D design class for girls and an enrichment 3D printing class for students during homeroom.  Ron has been involved in 3D printing for nearly 5 years.  In 2014, Ron was a part of the LearnZillion Dream Team creating curriculum for their common core initiative.  Recently, Ron completed his Masters in Educational Leadership and received his administrative license in the state of Indiana.  In the summer of 2016, Ron was appointed to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations Teacher Advisory Council.  He has also been appointed the Indiana Gear Up coordinator for Maconaquah Middle School by Purdue University.

Claire Skelly
Claire Skelly

Although born in New Mexico, Claire has had a passion for the ocean from a young age. She has been lucky enough to study and work in the field of marine biology in Washington state, Baja California del Sur, and the Florida Keys. The pursuit of a M.Ed. degree brought her to the great state of Colorado where she has worked and student taught in the Poudre School District for the past year. When she’s not teaching science, Claire can be found biking, hiking, and running all around Fort Collins.

Leslie Smyser
Leslie Smyser

Helping students understand and ultimately appreciate the natural world in which we all live is my passion. I have degrees in Biology, Zoology and Education and a love of learning and learners that continues to grow. I have spent the last 10 years in the Midwest teaching high school science but I am very eager to return to the West were my roots are deep and I had previously taught middle school outdoor education. I have two small children, an old dog and a husband who is just as excited about science as I am.

Dusti Waite
Dusti Waite

Dusti Waite has been involved in theatre since she was three years old. From being involved in several theatre companies to continuing her passion throughout her schooling, performing arts have always been a huge part of her life. In 2014, Dusti received a full-time 7th grade position at Preston Middle School where she taught and still continues to teach English and Drama. She also puts on the Spring Play and organizes events such as Dancing with the Teachers and the talent show. She is so excited to be a part of STEM Institutes and leading the Identity Crisis: Facial Illusion class. She aims to create a fun, engaging, creative environment where student feel safe to explore and take risks.

Ellen Wallis
Ellen Wallis

Ellen Wallis grew up on the sunny beaches of California, and the mountains of Colorado Springs.  She completed her M.A in Education from the University of Northern Colorado.   Professionally licensed to teach, with classroom experience, Ellen also earned a Teaching English Second Language endorsement from the University of California in Los Angeles.  With UCLA, Ellen has visited the countries of Switzerland and the Netherlands, learning about their cultures and their schools. Currently, Ellen is serving as a literacy tutor for international students and is a substitute teacher with the Poudre School District.  Alongside her husband, Ellen loves all that Colorado has to offer including walking dogs on the trails, biking, reading, and being continually amazed at the wildlife and beauty of this place.  Ellen is excited to teach at the Summer STEM Institute and sharing her love of animals with students.

Sarah Weeks
Sarah Weeks

Sarah Weeks teaches technology specials to grades K-5 three days per week at Lopez Elementary, and serves as the Media Manager and Building Technology Coordinator the remaining two days. Prior to teaching in Poudre Schools, Sarah was a professional kids’ ski instructor at Winter Park, and ran summer camp programs in Rye, CO. When she first moved to Colorado in 2005, she taught 4th grade for two years in the Denver area. Before moving to Colorado, she lived in Bloomington, Indiana and attended Indiana University. She graduated with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and Business Process Management. After a couple short stints with Chicago based tech companies, she went back to school to pursue her true passion of teaching kids. She earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education shortly before moving to Colorado. It feels amazing when you get to do what you love every day! She feels blessed to combine the best of her skills to lead students as empowered learners and creators of technology, not just consumers. Sarah Weeks was awarded ISTE’s “Making IT Happen” award at InnEdCO in 2015, and will speak at ISTE in Denver, June 2016. She is really excited to have more fun with kids using MinecraftEDU and Robotics programming at the STEM summer institutes.

Tracey Winey
Tracey Winey

As the Media Specialist at Preston, Tracy has been instrumental in making sure the school and the staff has all the tools needed to teach in this technological age. She has a love of books as well as technological and brings the world to the school through video conferencing. Her passion for teaching is evident in all her contacts with the students.