The STEM Connection Staff
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.
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 in Indianapolis. 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.
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.
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.
Andrea Elstro just 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.
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. He currently resides in Indianapolis with his wife and daughter.
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 in Franklin, IN. Melissa graduated from Franklin with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in English as a New Language.
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.
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 junior at Shortridge High School, working on receiving my 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, being Vice President of my schools 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 kids: which is her true passion.