Meet the Instructors

College for Kids Instructors

Penn State Behrend College for Kids is proud of its roster of instructors which include Penn State Behrend faculty and staff, experienced community teachers, and local business professionals. Instructors offer a diverse class selection in a safe learning environment, which is sure to enhance a child’s education by challenging their imagination, creativity, and desire to learn.

Instructors are generally available at the drop-off location prior to class. If you would like to meet your child's instructor, please notify one of the College for Kids staff members to arrange this.

Join Our Team

If you are an educator or have extensive experience in a particular field and would like to be considered, or would like to recommend someone with these qualifications, please email Community and Workforce Programs and provide complete contact information along with area of interest. All instructors are required to have Pennsylvania Criminal and Child Abuse Clearances.

College for Kids 2014 Instructors

Tom Atkins
Education: B.S., Broadcast Journalism, Iowa State University
Experience: Evening Meteorologist-JET-TV & FOX 66; Instructor in Meteorology Penn State Behrend
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love meteorology, love teaching people about this fascinating science, and love working for Penn State Behrend.”

Ed Beck
Education: Mansfield University; M.A., Special Education, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Experience: Over 25 years instructing model rocketry
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy working with children in this age group, after teaching high school students during the school year.”

Ruth Benner
Education: B.S. Horticulture, Penn State University; M.S. Entomology, University of Florida; Certificate in Essentials of Healthy Homes.
Experience: IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension, member of Entomological Society of Pennsylvania.
Why I teach for College for Kids: “Kids have a natural curiosity about the plants and animals in our world, and I enjoy helping them explore the diversity of life in our environment.”

David Boughton
Education: ; M.S. College of Notre Dame; B.S., Recreation & Park Management; Environmental Education, Penn State University
Experience: Maritime Education Specialist; over 15 years federal experience U.S. Navy and U.S. Park Service; over six years public school experience; three years coordinating Environmental Rediscoveries Program with PA Sea Grant.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Presque Isle State Park has so many unique wonders, and the staff value the opportunity to work for an extended period with a select group of students, sharing and learning together. This is a program designed to prove that learning can be fun!”

Ms. Sandee Caccavo
Education: BS in Elementary Education, Edinboro University, Masters equivalency in Education courses from Gannon University, Associates Degree in Business from Erie Business Center.
Experience: 12 years teaching at the Erie School District, coached cross country for six years and skilled seamstress and quilt maker.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I have always enjoyed the outdoors. I would like to share my knowledge and experience with the children. My children all went to Penn State and we found all of their programs to be of the highest quality. I would like to be involved with Penn State’s College for Kids.”

Terri Chulick
Experience: B.A. Environmental Studies, Mercyhurst College; Teacher Certification in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Edinboro University.
Experience: 17 years teaching at various grade levels. I taught/teach math, science and social studies. Teacher at Iroquois Elementary School.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I like to teach at College for Kids because I enjoy working with children and enjoy teaching new and exciting things.”

Lindsey S. Dahl
Education: M. Education Middle and Secondary Instruction; Edinboro University; B.S. Biology and Medical Technology; Clarion University
Experience: I have been a middle school science teacher for 6 years. Currently I am pursuing a second master’s degree in  Science Education and have become very passionate about conservation.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I look forward to teaching over the summer as it provides a unique opportunity to combine science, fun and conservation.”

Jennifer Denney
Education: B.A. Psychology, Mercyhurst University; AFAA Group Fitness Certified, PA Council on the Arts Rostered Teaching Artist.
Experience: Hoop Dance Instructor at Dafmark Dance Theatre, Erie Dance Conservatory, the Neighborhood Art House and through the Erie School District GEARS program. Twenty plus years of dance training, six years working in the school service area.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “College for Kids provides children unique ways to continue the learning process, and I would love to bring the new creative movement art form of hoop dance to enrich the student’s summer experience.”

Brian Devore
Education: B.S., Penn State Behrend; M.S. Special Education, Mercyhurst University.
Experience: Technology Education Teacher and LEGO Robotics Coach at J.S. Wilson Middle School.
Why I teach for College for Kids: “I like the focus of a hands-on learning experience.”

Maggie Dicks
Education: M.S. Secondary Education-Biology, Mercyhurst University 2014
Experience: Asbury Woods Nature Center 2010-2013 and Camp Mountain Run 2005.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love being outside and sharing my passion for nature with others. I really enjoy the flexibility I would have as an instructor with CFK.”

Charles Dill
Education: Career Artists/Builder Apprenticed Erie, PA and New York City area
Experience: Thirty plus years Visual Arts.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Visual Arts allows students the opportunity to explore and experience the world around them via hands on creation. I feel compelled to pass on to the students that which I have learned… the power to create.”

Lauren Falco & Peter Olszewski
Education: Lauren - B.S., Rhodes College, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University. Peter – Fairfield University, BS & MS, State of Connecticut Teaching Certification, grades 7-12.
Experience: Lauren - Introductory Physics and Acoustics. Peter – One year of high school and six years of teaching experience.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Programs such as these inspire students to learn about science and mathematics they may not have the chance to learn in middle school or high school. This is a great way to do outreach and motivate further learning perhaps not seen in a regular physics class.”

Kaye C. Fleming
Education: BS in Elementary Education, Edinboro University
Experience: Former Preschool Teacher/Group Supervisor at Penn State Behrend, Early Learning Center. Stay-at-Home Mom and In-Home Childcare Provider (18 years!). Eastside YMCA Caregiver, Therapeutic Support Staff at Children’s Behavioral Health. Saint James School Afterschool Care Program Aide. Face-Painter for local festivals including St. James Festival and Dan Rice Days. Girl Scout Troop Leader and Volunteer and drop-off service to CFK for friends and other parents who’ve had kids enrolled in my Childcare Program .
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I think it’s a very worthwhile program and I am happy to see it has continued to grow over the years. I will finally have some extra time this summer and would love to spend it teaching! Sharing my skills and experience with children doing fun and educational activities sounds rewarding.”

Matthew Flowers
Education: Communication Arts & Science, Penn State University; Handled with Care certified.
Experience: Substitute teacher, substitute aide, contributing writer for the Erie Reader, Direct Care worker. Hobbies include writing, playing music, practicing with the band and camping.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I often find myself wondering why creativity and imagination are not embraced in today’s education system. Worksheets, lectures, flashcards – just simple, mental, regurgitation. There is no perspective in those forms of practice. Hands on activities give kids a deeper understanding of the world. When I was young I had a slew of not-so-good teachers, but it was the good ones that kept me on the right track. There is an extraordinary world out there that is worth exploring, and College for Kids is the perfect platform for exploration.”


LuAnn Gatti

Education: BA Psychology, Mercyhurst College; M.Ed Educational Psychology CAGS School Psychology, Edinboro University   

Experience: School Psychologist with the Erie City School District, K9 Handler with Northwest Pennsylvania K9 Search and Rescue

Why I teach at College for Kids:  I would like to teach for College for Kids because I enjoy working with children.  I also believe that our course will teach children specific functional skills that they can use in their everyday life.


Tami Hritzay
Education: B.S. Art Education, Edinboro University.
Experience: Chautauqua Institute teacher in Young Artists and Special Studies programs, Erie Art Museum, Edinboro University (Kids camp program, high school art program, and adult-noncredit classes), Allegheny College (high school art program), returning teacher at CFK, and artist demonstrating and showing at Campbell’s Pottery, author of “The Hole in the Wall” series.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I never get tired of inspiring young artist! The gift of creativity can be used in so many ways to make this world a brighter place. So, I encourage my students and they in turn give me new ideas! Carpe Diem!"

Junior Achievement
Mission: To ensure that every child has an understanding of the free enterprise system.
Purpose: To educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business, and economics to improve the quality of their lives.

Inkyu Kang
Education: PhD, Communications Arts, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Experience: Assistant Professor of Digital Journalism (2010-Present).
Why I teach for College for Kids: “I think it is very important to develop storytelling skills and multimedia literacy at a young age.”

Roger Kuntz
Education: B.S.EE Penn State University, P.E.
Experience: Behrend School of Engineering, G.E. C.O. Speed Yariator, Electric Trains, Anchient Technology.
Why I teach for College for Kids: “Outreach for Penn State University.”

Tim Lucas
Education: Over thirty years martial arts experience.
Experience: Over thirty years teaching martial arts and wilderness survival skills.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love helping children learn new self-discipline techniques they can use throughout their lives.”

Heather Lum
Education: Ph.D. Applied Experimental & Human Factors Psychology
Experience: Psychology professor at Penn State Behrend with experience in outreach and community projects for local elementary and middle schools
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I am incredibly excited to teach material in a way that is fun, exciting, and relevant to kids. Kids are able to see the world with fresh eyes and I love to see that process unfold.”

Glenn McKnight
Education: B.S. Psychology, Tufts University; M.S. Teacher Education, Bank Street College of Education.
Experience: Life Science teacher and LEGO Robotics coach at J.S. Wilson.
Why I teach for College for Kids: “I want to help motivate students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields.”

Nate Millet
Education: Parks and Resource Management, Slippery Rock University
Experience: I am the Environmental Education Manager for the organization Environment Erie. I run the Earth Action program which is geared to educate students and give them the ability to make environment changes in their school.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy teaching and giving students the knowledge they can use to make a difference in their community. I also enjoy making, learning fun and hands on as much as possible.”

Barb Nodes-Nakoski
Education: M.S. Special Education, Mercyhurst College
Experience: Music educator, Erie School District, over 20 years
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love teaching. Teaching students art and music is both rewarding and exciting.”

Steven O’Donnell
Education: B.A. History, Penn State Behrend; Teaching Certificate from Edinboro University.
Experience: Staged managed and directed last 5 years at Seneca High School, Advisor for the drama group at Seneca.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I want to teach the art of performance to the next generation”.

Julie O’Donnell
Education: B.S. Mathematics, Penn State Behrend; Teaching Certificate from Mercyhurst University.
Experience: Past College for Kids Instructor, Secondary Math Teacher at Seneca High School, 19 years dance instruction, Choreographed 13 musical productions.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I want to teach the art of performance to the next generation”.

Lisa Pearson
Education: B.S. Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Edinboro University; Masters Equivalency 33+; continuing graduate education at Gannon University.
Experience: 16+ years as a classroom teacher; currently teaching sixth grade in the Harbor Creek School District; formerly taught first and second grade for 12 years.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy the opportunity to teach children who are eager to expand their knowledge in the relaxed fun-filled setting of summer.”

Cynthia Pomorski
Education: B.S. Medical Technology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; PA certification, Mercyhurst College; Certifications in 7-12 Biology, 7-12 General Science, and Mid-Level Math.
Experience: Medical Technologist for 12 years, Middle school teacher for five years (participate in PJAS). Hobbies include bicycling, skiing, and hiking.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I would enjoy engaging students in science in a less-structured environment.”

Dan Quiggle
Education: B.A., History, Penn State Behrend, Secondary Social Studies; teaching certificate Edinboro University.
Experience: Social studies teacher, Harbor Creek School District
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Because I honestly can’t get enough teaching throughout the school year, so teaching in the summer is a great thing.”

Patti Rial
Education: B.S. Education, Edinboro University; M.Ed., Edinboro University; certified Elementary and Reading specialist.
Experience: Thirty three years teaching experience K-7, currently teaching seventh grade reading. Hobbies include camping, crafts, travel, and history.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I want to share my experiences and my love of history with young people. I hope in this sharing that they will acquire a curiosity and appreciation for our heritage.”

Jon Sedelmyer
Education: B.S. Secondary Education, Mercyhurst College; M.S. Guidance Counseling, Gannon University.
Experience: North East High School Boys Golf Coach.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love teaching the game of golf to young people.”

Paul Semrau
Education: B.A., Humanities; M.S. Special Education; certified to teach Elementary and Special Education and High School English.
Experience: Son, husband, father and grandfather; 17 years as a Technical Training Instructor at Verizon/GTE; 3 years as the Emotional Support Teacher at Seneca High School.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “What a fun way to spend the summer!  CFK is a blast!”

Scott Strasser
Education: B.A., Geography/Environmental Planning, Edinboro University
Experience: Educator, teaching for more than ten years; Currently teaches social studies and language arts; writes, researches, spends time outdoors, and is a member of Vital Ground and the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club
Why I teach at College for Kids: "The enthusiasm of the children attending these classes is a natural draw for any teacher."

Todd Talbot
Education: B.S. Secondary Education, Edinboro University; M.S. 21st Century Teaching and Learning, Wilkes University.
Experience: 20 year operating Naval Nuclear Power Plants, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Seneca High School.
Why I teach at College for Kids: "College for Kids students have a desire to learn that should not be interrupted by summer vacation."

Theresa Tonelli
Education: B.S. Elementary Education, minor in History, Mercyhurst College; Masters in Special Education, Mercyhurst College.
Experience: Elementary/special education teacher in the Erie School District and educator at expERIEnce Children’s Museum for ten years.
Why I teach at College for Kids: "College for Kids was so much fun to teach last year that I can’t wait to do it again. The expression on the students’ faces as they are learning is amazing!"

Julie Vavreck
Education: B.S. Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Experience: Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Penn State Cooperative Extension Family Living Summer Assistant, hobbies include cooking, baking, sewing, outdoor recreation, and aerobics
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I would like to provide an atmosphere where kids can learn lifelong skills while having fun.”

Melissa Weismiller
Experience: Teacher's Aide; 15 years experience working with children in school/church setting. Education: Director of Lawrence Park United Methodist Church. Personally owned and operated a Craft business.
Why I teach at College for Kids: "I would like to provide an atmosphere where kids can learn lifelong skills, while having fun."

Amber Wildfire
Education: B.S. Computer Engineering, Penn State Behrend
Experience: Computer Instructor – St. James Elementary School
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love seeing how kids’ minds work. If I can convince at least one student to try engineering, I’ve done a good job.”

Dr. Matthew White
Education: B.A. English/History, Cape Breton University; B.Ed. Secondary Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland; M.Ed. Instructional Technology/Game Studies, University of New Brunswick; Ph.D. Game Studies/Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Experience: Professional game designer (Snow Day Games, PEI) during 2007-2008, presently a Game Development professor at Penn State Behrend.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I was previously a K-12 teacher, and am currently employed in a teaching role at PSU Behrend. I think I’ll be a great fit for K-12 aged students. The gaming subject matter will be especially exciting and engaging.”

Marla Whitney
Education: BA in Political Science, Penn State Behrend. Teaching Social Studies, Pittsburgh University.
Experience: I am a Social Studies teacher for grades 6-12 at Crossroads School in Greensburg PA.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “For the past two years, I have been a coordinator for College for Kids and I have had a blast. The kids are great and the program offers really captivating and fun classes!”

Vicki Zellefrow
Education: Master’s Equivalency Elementary & Special Education, Mercyhurst University.
Experience: 20+ years as a Special Education or Elementary teacher, Tutor and Early Intervention teacher.

Why I teach at College for Kids: “Offering children an opportunity to learn and have fun during a summer program is very exciting!”

Mark Zielinski
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Penn State & M.Ed. Special Education, Edinboro University.
Experience: I have taught elementary school for the past 8 years and enjoy teaching. I spend much of my free time outdoors working on many different outdoor skills.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “A variety of classes can be taught at College for Kids that allow for a meaningful and enriching experience for students”.