The STEM Connection Staff


Vera Vanderkooy

About Vera Vander Kooy

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.

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Stacie Hernandez

About Stacie Hernandez

Stacie Hernandez is the Summer Camp and STEM@NIght Program Director for The STEM Connection.  Stacie is an educator and occupational therapist with a passion for helping students of all abilities learn about and explore the world around them.  She received her Occupational Therapy degree from Indiana University and her Transition to Teaching degree from University of Phoenix. Stacie has over 20 years experience working with children, and currently works as a fourth grade teacher at St. Monica Catholic School and a STEM Educator for The STEM Connection.

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About Angela Fitzgerald

Angela Fitzgerald is a Program Director for The STEM Connection. She has been involved in middle school math and science education in the Indianapolis area since 2003. Angela grew up in Indianapolis and attended St. Matthew School and Bishop Chatard High School. She graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Middle Childhood Math and Science Education and then taught middle school math and science for twelve years Her hope is that all students have the opportunity to participate in quality STEM experiences that lead to greater interest and involvement in STEM classes and careers in the future.

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About Eileen Wodda

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.

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About Andrea Elstro

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.

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About Amy Altman

Amy Altman joined The STEM Connection in the Spring of 2018.  She is a Field Trip Facilitator. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Science.  Amy has previously worked at the Surveys Section for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and a 319 Grant Coordinator.

 

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About Ana Clay

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.

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About Sophie Ossip

Sophie Ossip is an intern at The STEM Connection. She is a senior at Brebeuf Jesuit High School and is planning on studying social justice and environmental science in college. She has been an intern for almost a year and works the summer camps, STEM@Nights and STEM Family nights.

 

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About Madeline Anderson

Madeline Anderson is a high school intern at The STEM Connection.  She has been a part of the STEM family since November 2016. She is a senior at Shortridge High School,  working on her International Baccalaureate Diploma. Some of the activities Madeline does include: regularly volunteering at Saint Monica Catholic School, a junior board member at The Joseph Maley Foundation, President of her school’s student government and helping coach a special needs baseball team.  After high school Madeline plans on becoming a lawyer and focusing on equal rights in education as well as working with children.

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About Peter Sperry

Peter Sperry is an intern at The STEM Connection. He is a junior at Cardinal Ritter High School. He runs cross-country and track there. He works the summer camps, STEM@Nights and STEM Family nights.

 

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About Melissa Lynch

Melissa Lynch is a facilitator at The STEM Connection. She is also a 3rd grade teacher at St. Monica Catholic School. Melissa grew up in Indianapolis, where she attended St. Monica and Cardinal Ritter High School. She then went on to attend Franklin College. Melissa graduated from Franklin with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in English as a New Language.

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About Kate

Kate is a facilitator and joined The STEM Connection in 2016 after her son became involved in STEM Challenge Club at St. Monica School in Indianapolis. She has been an Instructional Assistant at St. Monica since 2015. Kate graduated from IUPUI with a BS (High Distinction) in Elementary Education. She has worked in several schools and has taught all ages in different educational styles, including Montessori and developmental preschool.  Kate is a lover of the outdoors and really enjoys helping children grow and explore the natural world around them

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About Joy

Joy is one of the newest facilitators to The STEM Connection. Originally moving to Indianapolis from Texas, she is a graduate from Texas Women’s University. She majored in Education with a minor in Biology.  She also has two masters from Dallas Baptist University, Educational Leadership and Instruction and Curriculum. Joy has been living in Indianapolis for the past 4 years and will be teaching 5th grade at St. Monica this fall.

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About Caroline Sperry

Caroline Sperry recently joined the STEM Connection as a facilitator.  She 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.

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About Cathy Duda

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.

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About Drew Bradley

Drew Bradley is facilitator with The STEM Connection and a science educator at Lincoln Middle School in Pike Township. He highly incorporates STEM instruction into the classroom to provide meaningful connections to real life and individuals through hands-on activities and a “failure is okay” mantra. His love of science in general led him to pursue a biology degree from Ball State University, followed by a Master of Arts in Science Teaching from Western Governors University. Drew regularly incorporates his knowledge and love of wildlife, specifically insects, into his teaching. Drew hopes to increase awareness of STEM in the classroom and increase the interest that girls have in STEM and computer sciences.

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2018 Awards

-River-Friendly Farmer Award from the local Soil and Water Conservation District. This award recognizes farmers who, through good protection management practices, kelp keep Indiana’s rivers, lakes and streams clean.

 

2017 Awards

 

-Joe Wright Recognition of Excellence Award by the Environmental Educators Association of Indiana

-Hoosier Chapter Soil And Water Conservation Society’s Education and Communications award for 2017!

-SYPF grant recipient 2016, 2017

-Intern, Madeline Anderson – 2017 Excellence in Summer Service Education Award Recipient

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