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 e-mail College for Kids or call 814-898-6871 for more information. All instructors are required to have Pennsylvania Criminal and Child Abuse Clearances.

College for Kids 2015 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: “It has become tradition and I like it!”

Ed Beck
Education: B.S. Elementary Education, Mansfield University; M.A., Special Education, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Experience: Over 25 years teaching Model Rocketry in several educational institutions
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy working with children in this age group and interest level.  I teach learning support math in the Erie School District”

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.”

Emily Cassano
Education: B.A. Theatre and Communications Arts, Gannon University, MA Education Theatre, NYU
Experience: Penn State University, The Behrend College Lecturer in Theatre July 2014 to Present, Erie Playhouse Youtheatre/Education Director May 2008 to July 2014, Wegmans West Erie Create-A-Cake Decorator October 2011 to September 2012, Mercyhurst University and Gannon University Adjunct Faculty August 2012 to December 2013, ShakeXperience: Gannon Project Manager Summer 2008, Shakespeare Summer Nights Director 2006, Camp Notre Dame Counselor/Office Manager Summers 2001-2006
Relevant Hobbies: I have been knitting for two years and sell some of my pieces.  I also decorate cakes and cookies for parties.  I have also directed and produced over 30 theatrical shows in my career working with people ages 5-25.  I was trained in stage makeup at Gannon and have been practicing for years.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I truly enjoy teaching young children and would love the help them find a “passion”.  Everyone deserves to have something they truly enjoy doing in their lives!”

Heather Cole
Education: MFA, Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College, Vermont; BFA, Applied Media Arts, Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA; K-12 Teaching Certification, Edinboro University, Edinbor, PA
Experience: Digital Arts Lecturer at Penn State Behrend.  During the school year, I teach Digital Art and Photography to college students.  I like making stuff and leveling up my art powers.  I also enjoy playing the guitar, although it probably can’t be called music yet.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love art and I also love sharing that with students of all age ranges.”

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.”

Jennifer Denney
Education: B.A. Psychology, Mercyhurst University; PA Council on the Arts Rostered teaching Artist, LUNA Dance Summer Institute 2014.
Experience: Hoop Dance Instructor at Dafmark Dance Theatre, the Neighborhood Art House and through the Erie School District GEARS program.  Twenty plus years of dance training, six years working in school service organizations.
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.”

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: Millcreek Township School District-Special Education Assistant, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unite #5-Autistic Support Aide, Erie Reader-Feature Writer & Columnist
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.”

Nicole Fuhrman
Education: M.Ed. in Middle and Secondary Instruction, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, B.A. in History with a minor in Environmental Education, Allegheny College, PA Instructional I Teaching Certificate (4-8 Science, 7-12 English, 7-12 Social Studies, 7-9 Math, K-12 Environmental Education) courses from Gannon University, Associates Degree in Business from Erie Business Center.
Experience: 5th/6th Grade Science Teacher at Our Lady’s Christian School (2 years), 8th Grade Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (1 year), Naturalist at Asbury Woods Nature Center (2 years), Group Supervisor at Millcreek Township School District’s Child Development Program (4 years), Intern for Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force (14 weeks), Volunteer English Instructor for Honduras Child Alliance (4 weeks)
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love teaching science and College for Kids is an opportunity to work with students who are eager to learn and excited to participate.  It is an opportunity to teach material I may not have time to cover in a regular classroom setting and delve deeper into topics of interest to myself and my students.”

Jim Gavio
Education: Penn State Behrend, Electrical Engineering Technology, Edinboro University, B.S. Secondary Education in Earth & Space Sciences with Geology minor
Experience: Over 20 years planetarium experience with the most recent being the Erie Planetarium and now the Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I would like to teach College for Kids because I think more of our young people should have exposure to Astronomy in the Erie area.  The planetarium is the perfect place for them to get started learning about Space since is not only educational but can be a fun environment to learn in.  Some of the concepts talked about in Astronomy make much more sense when shown in the planetarium setting.”

Kayla Hardner
Education: Early Childhood Education PreK-4/Special Education PreK-8, Gannon University
Experience: I have taught in a variety of settings including early childhood education for 3 years, a summer program with multiple ages for 4 summers, and high school marching band/indoor colorguard for 4 years.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love working with these age groups.  I love watching their faces light up as they learn information or skills.”

Joel Hunt
Education: PhD Music Theory, University of California at Santa Barbara [ABD], MA Music Composition, University of California at Santa Barbara, BM Music Composition and Saxophone Performance, State University of New York at Fredonia
Experience: I teach music technology courses at Penn State Erie.  My creative and research interests include developing software for algorithmic composition and improvisation, computer analysis of popular music and jazz, and music production (recording, editing, signal processing).  I am primarily a saxophone player specializing in contemporary music, performance with live electronics and improvisation.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Music technology is a fun and creative way for students to begin to engage with STEM concepts.  I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce computer programming to students with music applications.  I am looking forward to making music with you.”

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!"

Ehren Knapp
Education: BFA Edinboro University, Art History Minor, Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certification for Art Instruction K-12
Experience: Professional Artist/Muralist 2001-Present, Elementary Art Instructor, Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School, August 2012-May 2014, Drawing Instructor, Erie Art Museum, January 2011-Present, Painting Instructor, Michael’s Arts & Crafts, August 2010-Present, Art Instructor, Neighborhood Art House January 2010-September 2012. Graphic Design/Layout Artist, 2008-Present, Assistant Artist-in-Residence, Fairview Middle School, April 2009-May 2009
Why I teach at College for Kids: “To inspire students to do whatever it is they love.  To share my knowledge and experiences as a professional muralist.  To have students experience the satisfaction creating a large work of art from start to finish.”

Ali Lenze
Education: Master in Reading, Edinboro University, Elementary Education K-6 Certifcate, Mercyhurst College, BA: Communication, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA
Experience: I have been a teacher for 8 years and enjoy teaching reading and writing classes to my students.  I also love cooking, outdoor activities, and seeing the completed version of a new DIY project.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “College for Kids provides me the opportunity to enhance the skills and academics of my students, which allows them to become more well-rounded and exceptional individuals.  It is quite an experience to teach a roomful of students that want nothing more than to learn”

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.”

Ashley Meeder
Education: B.A. International Politics, Asian Studies; B.S. International Studies, The Pennsylvania State University; IES Language Intensive Program, Beijing, China.
Experience: Studied abroad, Teach for America, Memphis TN; Department of Defense School Age Services Program Assistant; Post-Graduate Instructor, Nanchang, China.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Kids are my favorite people to work with. I believe it is very important for young learners to explore what they are most interested in through a fun and exciting environment. I am so excited to meet College for Kids newest scholars and together we can open our minds and our hearts to all kinds of new knowledge.”

Ashley Migdal
Education: Elementary Education, Penn State University; M.Ed. Early Childhood Education, Edinboro University; Montessori Teaching Certificate Ages 6-9, center for Montessori Education, NY
Experience: I have worked with children in a multi-age classroom ages 6-9 (first, second, and third grade) for the last 6 years in Erie, PA. I love working with children and learning new things with them! In my spare time, I like to read, walk my puppy, Norman, and dive into fun and exciting projects and crafts!
Why I teach for College for Kids: I would like to teach for College for Kids because it sounds like a unique experience where children are provided the opportunity to have a hands-on, minds-on learning experience during their summer vacation. The children will also have the chance to explore a college campus and have the doors of education opened up to them in a new environment to help promote their future success in their schooling adventure. I would like to help the children make new discoveries in their learning this summer!

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”.

Lisa Pearson
Education: B.S. Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Edinboro University; Masters Equivalency 42; continuing graduate education at Gannon University.
Experience: 17+ 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.”

Dan Quiggle
Education: BA History Penn State Behrend, Social Studies Certification
Experience:I have been teaching 7th and 8th grade at the Harborcreek Junior High for 10 years now!
Why I teach at College for Kids: “Because it is so much fun and I can continue to be a kid at heart!”

Ann Quinn
Education: B.S. Biology (Allegheny College and Gannon University).  Masters Ed in Natural Sciences, Gannon University
Experience: Director, Greener Behrend.  Have worked on and received grants pertaining to Best Management Practices for storm water management.  I enjoy hiking at Wintergreen Gorge.  I am interested in the health of our watershed.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy outreach programs.  I think that working with younger students is enjoyable. I like the action packed one week structure of the class.”

Jeremy Reed
Education: B.S. Computer Engineering, Penn State Behrend, M.Ed. Middle/Secondary Instruction, Edinboro University, Secondary Mathematics Education Certificate, Edinboro University
Experience:Secondary mathematics instructor at General McLane High School
Why I teach at College for Kids: “College for Kids is a great way for students to learn in a nontraditional setting.  Kids love playing games and teaching them how to create their own video games gives them a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a video game designer.”

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.”

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!”

Gina Schilajew
Education: Gannon University-Chemistry 2014, Secondary Education Certificate Chemistry and Physics 2005, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction 2013
Experience:High School Chemistry Teacher-Seneca H.S. 2005-2008, Harborcreek H.S. 2008 to Present, Science Instructor GECAC Upward Bound 2008-2010, Chemistry Adjunct Professor Penn State Behrend 2011 to Present
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I love seeing children interested in science at a young age!”

Scott Strasser
Education: B.A., Geography and Teaching Certification, Edinboro University, PhD Program in Cryptozoological Sciences, American Institute of Metaphysics
Experience: I currently teach Language Arts and Social Studies at Villa Maria Elementary School.  I enjoy writing, hiking, kayaking, archery, practicing woodlore, and continuing cryptozoological work.
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy College for Kids because it allows instructors and students to focus in depth on topics of interest in a way that the regular school year does not, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to share many of my interests with others.

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: 10 years at the experience Children’s Museum
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy seeing the students learn through experience.  I love watching the students get so excited to learn over subjects they love.”

Kristin Tregaskis
Education: Masters in Special and Elementary Education, Slippery Rock University
Experience: I have been a substitute teacher for the Erie School District for the last year.  I also have worked at Chick-Fil-A for five years
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I have been a student coordinator for the past two summers and always have a great time.  I have so many great ideas for activities so this year I wanted to try teaching.”

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.”

Mrs. Vicki Zellefrow
Education: Master’s Equivalency Elementary & Special Education, Mercyhurst University.
Experience: Teacher with the Erie School District 20+ years; tutor, former Scout Leader                           
Why I teach at College for Kids: “I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere while providing a fun opportunity for children to practice skills and learn new/interesting information!”