Vera Vander KooyExecutive Director
Vera Vander Kooy is the founder and executive director of The STEM Connection. She is a highly regarded STEM educator and naturalist who has facilitated hands-on standards based STEM learning experiences in elementary and middle school settings for over 15 years. To complement her inherent love of the sciences, Vera studied science education at Calvin College and differentiated programming at Grand Valley State University. She has taught 5th grade, middle school science and served as a K-8 science lab facilitator. In 2017 she received the Joe Wright Recognition of Excellence Award by the Environmental Educators Association of Indiana and along with entire STEM Connection team the Hoosier Chapter Soil And Water Conservation Society’s Education and Communications award. Currently, Vera presents, consults and trains others empowering them to provide positive STEM learning experiences.
Angela FitzgeraldProgram Director
Andrea Elstro joined The STEM Connection in the fall of 2017. She is a facilitator for field trips and the homeschool club. She graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with a master’s degree in analytical chemistry. She has previously worked as an environmental chemist at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, a technical scientist at PTS Diagnostics, and an online instructor teaching environmental science for associate level degrees. She is enjoying teaching children about the field she is passionate about.
Ana Clay joined the STEM Connection in the Spring of 2018. She is a Field Trip Facilitator. Ana enjoys nature and loves exploring outdoors with her children. Ana has previous experience with Veterinary Technology. Ana is looking forward to passing on her love of nature and encouraging children to ask questions and being more open to new experiences.
Madeline Anderson is a college intern at The STEM Connection. She has been a part of the STEM family since November 2016. Madeline will attend Xavier University in the fall. Madeline plans on becoming a lawyer and focusing on equal rights in education as well as working with children.
I moved to Indianapolis from South Bend to attend college at IUPUI. As I pursue my Environmental Science degree, pollution and sustainable practices are my topics of discussion, and my most valued experiences. I have also implemented sustainable practices at The STEM Connection that bring awareness to uses of our “waste”. I plan on becoming a Marine Environmental Scientist, studying the effects of pollution in the ocean, and also starting my own STEM nonprofit organization for underrepresented children.
Stacie HernandezProgram Director
Eileen WoddaProgram Coordinator
EIleen Wodda is the Program Coordinator for The STEM Connection. She joined The STEM Connection as a STEM educator last year. She also manages communications, registrations, and newsletters. Eileen is a teacher at St. Monica Catholic School and has been in the classroom helping students explore and grow for the last 24 years. Eileen is originally from Chicago, but has been living in Indianapolis for the last 20 years. She graduated from St. Joseph College with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish.
Caroline Sperry teaches Chemistry, Ecology, and Integrated Chemistry and Physics at Cardinal Ritter High School. Caroline earned a B.S. in Chemistry at Illinois State University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in Organometallic Chemistry. She has two children, one of whom is serving as an Intern at the STEM Connection this summer. Caroline hopes to encourage children to become lifelong-learners and to always be curious and concerned stewards of the world.
Cathy Duda recently joined the STEM Connection as a facilitator. Cathy attended Purdue University, where she received an Associate degree in Computer Technology. Cathy participated in the Train a Facilitator program and has facilitated a STEM club after school for the past year. Cathy works at St. Monica School as an instructional assistant. Cathy started to teach Digital Literacy this past school year. Cathy loves being outdoors, especially if it is on the beach, spending time with my family and reading.
Peter Sperry is an intern at The STEM Connection. He is a senior at Cardinal Ritter High School. He runs cross-country and track there. He works the summer camps, STEM@Nights and STEM Family nights.