Nancy Hertzog is the Director of the Robinson Center. A Professor in the area of Educational Psychology at the University of Washington, Dr. Hertzog has an extensive background in gifted education and expertise on curriculum development. From 1995-2010 she held a faculty position in the Department of Special Education and directed University Primary School, an inclusive early childhood setting that serves children from preschool through first grade at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Hertzog has extensive experience training teachers in the project approach and has written web-based curricular guides that detail project investigations of preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students that have won national recognition from the National Association for Gifted Children.
Dr. Hertzog’s research focuses on teachers’ implementation of the Project Approach in classrooms with both high- and low-achieving children and with predominantly low income and African-American families. In addition to teaching courses in gifted education, Dr. Hertzog teaches methods courses in differentiating the curriculum for children with diverse needs and abilities, specifically geared toward general educators at the elementary level. Her primary area of interest relates to ways that teachers engage and challenge all students. Currently, Dr. Hertzog’s research engages teachers in collaborative inquiry groups that focus on how teachers differentiate their instruction to address the diverse needs of their students. She is the author of two books, and has published in the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, Roeper Review, Teaching Exceptional Children, Early Childhood Research and Practice, and Young Exceptional Children.
Kim Lee is the Robinson Center’s Administrator, and a UW alum. She has worked supporting large research centers with both the UW School of Nursing and School of Medicine for 12 years before transitioning over to academics. From the perspective of a new mom, has gained a wealth of knowledge from the Center’s activities and programs. Better than any parenting book, website or blog, she is receiving much welcomed guidance on her daughter’s upbringing. She enjoys spending time with her husband, and together, spoiling their toddler.
Chloe Mahar is a Fiscal Specialist with the Robinson Center. She holds a B.A. from the UW in Anthropology, with a focus in cultural studies. She came to the Robinson Center from the UW School of Nursing, where she was a Program Assistant for both undergraduate and graduate programs. In her spare time you can find her studying for her next adventure abroad, or exploring the many offerings of the PNW.
Kristen N. Lamb, Ph.D., is a research associate for the Robinson Center at the University of Washington. She studies equity issues in gifted education and talent development as well as the role of creativity in talent development of high ability students and classroom conditions conducive to developing creative thinking and advanced academic achievement. Her research on teacher perceptions of creativity has been published in Creativity Research Journal and Thinking Skills and Creativity.
Curtis Hisayasu is the Director of our EEP and UW Academy Programs, as well as the English instructor for the Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. He has a Ph.D. in 19th and 20th Century American Literature. While working towards this degree, he has also taught several classes for the English Department and has served as a liaison between the UW Extension “UW in the High Schools” Program and the Expository Writing Program, training teachers and coordinating college level composition curriculum in local area schools. Dr. Hisayasu’s current research interests include theories of citizenship and national belonging, American urbanism, and histories of race and industrialism.
Kathryn Grubbs, MA, LMHC is the Academy Adviser at the Robinson Center. Prior to her current position she worked as a middle school/high school counselor for 8 years, most recently at a residential high school for gifted students outside of Chicago, Illinois. Besides working in schools, she has experience in college counseling, inpatient and outpatient mental health centers, homeless shelters, and domestic violence programs. Kathryn has presented at NAGC, NCSSSMST, SENG, and WAETAG and provides professional development locally to parents, teachers, counselors and administrators.
Julie Loh is the Academic Counseling and Student Services Assistant. She is an alumna of the UW Academy program and holds a B.S. in Physiology and B.A. in Psychology. Julie has recently returned from Taiwan where she obtained a Master of Science in Molecular Medicine where she conducted research on skeletal muscle dystrophy diseases. She loves traveling, drawing, and sharing delicious food.
Alex Goodell is the Transition School Principal, Summer Program Director, and Outreach Coordinator. She earned her PhD in Learning Sciences from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on project-based learning in open-access Advanced Placement classes. She was also a middle school special education teacher, and has worked in K-12 classrooms in various capacities for over 10 years. She is a wife and mother of two amazing children who keep her busy reading children’s books, playing with toys, and model railroading.
Emily Jacobs-Palmer is the Biology instructor for the Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. She received her Ph.D. in mammalian evolutionary genetics in 2015, studying how populations of wild mice respond to environmental variation and change. Prior to her recent arrival in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Jacobs-Palmer taught high school in the Boston area. Presently, in addition to her work with the Robinson Center, she will be teaching college-level biology at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, and engaging in research to determine the effects of ocean acidification and its mitigation on the composition of Puget Sound biological communities.
Reese Johnston is the Mathematics instructor for the Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. Reese is a Transition School graduate himself, having graduated from the Transition School in 2007 and from the University of Washington in 2012. He received a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Washington. He went on to receive a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in 2017, studying computability theory in the context of uncountable sets. During that time, Reese taught in the Robinson Center’s Summer Stretch and Saturday Enrichment programs, while also working privately with a variety of students. In addition to teaching at the Robinson Center this year, Reese has also been teaching calculus and precalculus at colleges in the greater Seattle area.
Michael Reagan is the history instructor for the Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. Michael is a historian trained at UC Berkeley where he graduated with highest honors and the University of Washington where he earned his PhD in 2017. He researches the history of capitalism in the United States, and his dissertation focused on the material and cultural constructions of the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis. His forthcoming book Of Ourselves: Class in the 21st Century surveys theories of social class from an intersectional perspective. He teaches history and labor studies at Puget Sound area universities and colleges and lives is south Seattle with his partner Angela and their dog Arthur.
A.J. Balatico is a Ph.D. student in the Learning Sciences at the University of Washington. For the last six years, A.J. has been a high school physics and chemistry teacher in southeast Louisiana who mentored FIRST robotics teams and taught engineering skills at summer programs for 7-14-year-old students. He believes that K-12 STEAM programs not only promote building robots, but building character. The opportunities for leadership, creativity, fun, outreach, and learning foster the development of a goals-oriented, growth mindset. A.J. has made it his life’s mission to spread the wildfire of hands-on, minds-on learning in order to create a better future together.
Graham Gordon is a Mathematics Ph.D. student at the University of Washington. He is currently finishing his third year in the program and is studying algebraic combinatorics. He likes to play music, read fiction and poetry, make pancakes, bike, and play with his cat, Henna. Graham is a South Carolina native but has taken quite a liking to the Pacific Northwest. Lately, he has been volunteering with FEPPS to teach math with his classmate Lucas to inmates at WCCW in Gig Harbor. He studied Math and Physics as an undergrad at Auburn University, where he also volunteered for the AMP’d Mathematical Puzzle Challenge for middle schoolers.
Becky Howsmon has a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in Infectious Diseases and Immunity, and a Bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Washington. She has worked in a variety of research areas at the Friday Harbor Marine Labs, Fred Hutch, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and has led elementary, middle, and high school students in explorations of science and STEM careers for over 10 years.
Chiara Marazzi graduated from the University of Pavia (Italy) with a Bachelor in Economics and a Master in International Economics. In 2011, Chiara moved to Toronto where she obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Economics and began her doctoral studies at York University. Chiara moved to Seattle in 2015, when her husband was offered a faculty position at UW. She continues working remotely towards the completion of her doctoral degree (currently on hold). She has been employed as a teaching assistant and a tutor over the past nine years at the University of Pavia and at York University, teaching classes ranging from Statistics to Monetary Economics at both the undergraduate and graduate level. When not working, she loves spending time with her 3-year-old daughter, writing her personal blog, reading and serving as volunteer for the Italian Cultural Center of Seattle “Il Punto.”
Pronita Mehrotra has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University and has worked in the technology industry for several years, most recently at Microsoft. For the last few years her focus has been in developing creative thinking skills in children–an increasingly important skill–and she has founded MindAntix. She has designed several programs around creative thinking, especially in the STEM area. She loves working with children and creating fun, enriching learning environments.
Drue Miller received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Washington. During which time, she was introduced to doing philosophy with pre-college students. Through the Pacific Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children and coaching for the National High School Ethics Bowl, she discovered the underestimated and uncultivated potential of young minds. She aims to continue her academic career in Education while making Philosophy more accessible to those outside of the college classroom. She is still working with the PNW Center at UW Seattle campus and is facilitating philosophy sessions throughout the Seattle school system. She firmly believes that comprehensive inquiry is vital to learning. Philosophy is an ideal foundation for all forms of education.
Corey Olds is an award-winning teacher with 28 years of experience. Besides being a graduate of Stanford University and a former university professor of history, Corey is the co-founder of Excelsus Foundation, a Seattle educational trust, and the author of six children’s books. He has taught Kid Scribes at independent schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jennifer L. Perevodchikov, M.A., J.D., is a local Seattle attorney and returning instructor here at the UW Robinson Center. She’s competed in Lincoln Douglas debate, Parliamentary debate, and other competitive alternative dispute resolution and trial advocacy events. Her early debate experience and speech practice is the foundation on which she’s built her law career today. In the fall of 2017, Jennifer was also an applicant for the interim seat 8 position on the Seattle City Council, where she enjoyed a week-long foray into local politics. Her passion for law is matched by her excitement to introduce students to speech, debate, and civic education.
David Phelps is a Ph.D. candidate in the Learning Sciences at the University of Washington where he designs game-based inquiry activities for elementary students and studies how they take up and sustain their inquiries over time. David brings a holistic view of how young children learn and develop from his past experiences working in a Reggio-Emilia preschool in Vermont, a community school in Peru, a care farm in the Netherlands, a philosophy for children program along the Ohio River, and various game-based after-school clubs in Seattle. These experiences have taught him that young children are incredibly capable and competent, and a joy to learn alongside with.
Jordan Sherry-Wagner is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education and director of a local early learning center. Broadly, his research aims at generating axiological change in terms of how we think about childhood development and education toward increased recognition of, and resources for, the field. Jordan believes there are few things as important and fulfilling as working with young learners to develop critical thinking skills, humanistic values, and philosophical dispositions.
Summer Challenge Instructors:
Jeff Armentrout (Physics of Roller Coasters) teaches 8th-grade Earth Science at Canyon Park Junior High School in the Northshore School District. He has 11 years of experience teaching Earth Science, Physical Science, and Math. Jeff has a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Washington.
Burton Barrager (Physics of Roller Coasters) is a co-instructor in the Physics of Roller Coasters class with Jeff Armentrout. He teaches 7th grade Life Science and 8th grade Earth Science for the Northshore School District at Leota Junior High in Woodinville, WA. Burton has a B.S. degree in Oceanography and a Master’s in Teaching degree from the University of Washington. He also earned National Board Certification for Professional Teaching Standards in 2006.
Kristie Bennett (To the Moon and Beyond!) is a co-instructor in the To the Moon and Beyond! class with H.B. Telling. She has degrees in physics, mathematics, and education from Grand Valley State University. She teaches IB Physics, Astronomy and Physics at Skyline High School in Sammamish, WA. She is also a National Boards Teaching Candidate. In her free time, Kristie enjoys developing games with her husband and photography. Kristie enjoys making physics and astronomy accessible to learners of all ages!
Nicky Bloom (Next City) is completing a Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington this June and hopes to design schoolyards, public spaces, shoreline parks, and immersive educational spaces. She has also worked in environmental education in Northern California, outdoor classroom design and construction at public schools all over San Francisco, teen adventure bike trips around Lake Michigan, and home rebuilding in New Orleans. She majored in French and Spanish at Carleton College in Minnesota. Nicky is passionate about woodworking, drawing, playing violin and guitar with friends outdoors, mountain biking, team sports, teaching, and learning. She has taught 4-year-olds through graduate students and is very excited to share her love of landscape architecture with young people this summer.
Jeff Burgard (Chemistry! Ecology! Drama! – Puget Sound in the Year 2050) is a National Board Certified Science Teacher and an international presenter. He has been involved in teaching science for over 20 years, with remarkable success in boosting student motivation and achievement in his science classes. He has taught elementary and high school students, but has spent most of his career in middle schools. From 1991- 2002, he taught in California where he applied Quality Management Principles in public and charter school classrooms in all subject areas. In 1999 he wrote Continuous Improvement in the Science Classroom and from 2002-2008 he traveled extensively within and outside the country to work with other teachers. He has conducted workshops and seminars in 27 states and five countries and helped public, private, charter and home school environments align standards based assessment, increase student learning and enthusiasm as well as improve organizational practices. In 2008, he went back into the classroom full time. He now teaches 8th grade science near Seattle, Washington as well as conducts workshops in the summers and during breaks.
Bill Carty (Word! A) is originally from Maine and was educated at Dartmouth College (B.A.) and UNC Wilmington (M.F.A.). He is the author of Huge Cloudy (forthcoming from Octopus Books, 2018) and the chapbook Refugium. He has received poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Artist Trust, the Richard Hugo House, the Sorting Room, and Jack Straw, as well as the 2017 Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Peter Donaldson (Chemistry! Ecology! Drama! – Puget Sound in the Year 2050) is the Director for Sustainability Ambassadors, coaching student leaders, teacher leaders, and community leaders to drive collective impact at the intersection between educating for sustainability in the core curriculum and empowering students to design, implement and report measurable improvements in sustainable community conditions. Classroom rigor meets community impact. Peter is a strategic storyteller with over 30 years of experience in theater, public speaking, curriculum design, community facilitation, and classroom instruction from grade school to college. Once, with a full beard, he toured the nation in character as Leonardo da Vinci asking the question, “Are we in a new Renaissance?”
Sarah Faulkner (Word! B) is a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate and Instructor in the UW English department. She also works as Liaison to the UW in the High School program for the UW Expository Writing Program, focusing on improving English curriculum and classroom experience throughout the state. Her research focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth-century British women’s historical and national novels, but her interests encompass every facet of the written word! She is a huge Jane Austen fan, loves to hike, camp, and do yoga, and is currently teaching an Intermediate Composition class at the UW entitled “Harry Potter: The Magic of Writing.” She did her Master’s in English at the University of Edinburgh, and her B.A. in English at Chapman University. Sarah has also worked as a Theatre Artist for children’s summer camps in the Portland area.
Heidi Finley (Introduction to Robotics) teaches highly capable 5th grade students at Stevens Creek Elementary in Lake Stevens. She has been teaching for 16 years, eight of those specifically with highly capable students. Heidi has co-coached a Vex IQ Robotics team. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Eastern University in elementary education with a major in Natural Science. She completed her master’s degree in Integrating the Arts into Curriculum from Lesley University. Heidi strives to teach students skills they will need for life. She wants students to learn that they can gain more from learning from their mistakes, and seeks to help students work through difficult and trying times to learn to persevere.
Graham Gordon (Math Topics) is a Mathematics PhD student at the University of Washington. He is currently finishing his third year in the program and is studying algebraic combinatorics. He likes to play music, read fiction and poetry, make pancakes, bike, and play with his cat, Henna. Graham is a South Carolina native but has taken quite a liking to the Pacific Northwest. Lately, he has been volunteering with FEPPS to teach math with his classmate Lucas to inmates at WCCW in Gig Harbor. He studied Math and Physics as an undergrad at Auburn University, where he also volunteered for the AMP’d Mathematical Puzzle Challenge for middle schoolers. He is excited to work at the Robinson Center this summer!
Jake Hertzog (Saying with Sound) is a critically-acclaimed guitarist, composer and educator whose music transcends genres ranging from jazz and jazz/rock to contemporary classical. Jake is a professor of guitar and jazz studies at the University of Arkansas and has performed and taught all over the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia with his various groups. His research includes the intersections of jazz and rock and the music of the 1960s on which he is a frequent guest clinician. He has released nine solo albums, is the author of over 30 articles on jazz guitar and a book on guitar techniques for Hal Leonard.
Natalie Janson (I Think So!) is a graduate student perusing her Masters of Education in Social and Cultural Foundations at UW. Natalie is working with the UW Center for Philosophy for Children as a 2017-2018 Fellow. She is a Washington State certified teacher and taught third grade prior to graduate school. In her free time, Natalie likes rock climbing, sewing and arts and crafts.
Kate LaPlante (To the Moon and Beyond!) earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Science Pre-Professional Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She worked as a Project Coordinator before becoming fascinated by how people learn and getting her Master in Teaching degree from Seattle University. She taught Chemistry for seven years at Skyline High School. She now teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Science as well as Art and Cooking at Seattle Nativity School. When she isn’t teaching, she loves running, traveling, and cooking for friends.
John Luth (Physics of Roller Coasters) is co-teaching with Jenny Shibayama. He taught for 33 years in the Northshore School District at Leota Jr. High and Bothell High in mathematics, earth science, physical science, and physics. John graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology and mathematics.
Polly Membrino (Next City) is a Master’s in Urban Planning candidate at the University of Washington, currently writing a thesis on equitable financing models for rooftop solar. Polly’s other research and academic interests include planning for climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental and social justice, sustainable community development, and promoting walkable cities. Prior to attending UW, Polly worked at several local non-profits and as an Americorps volunteer in White Center, working with elementary and middle school students. Originally from the DC area, Polly has called Washington State home for ten years and enjoys exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest, reading, cooking, going to concerts, and playing trumpet.
Jinda Rosmann (Introduction to Robotics) teaches Science and Math at Inglewood Middle School in Sammamish, co-coached a championship FLL Robotics team for several years, taught in the QUEST (gifted) program and has led a “getting ready” life skills program for transitioning students, as well as many science-oriented programs for students from 5 to 15. After discovering her love of teaching, Jinda earned her MAT at Seattle Pacific University and is now pursuing her National Board Certification in Middle Level Science. Jinda is fascinated by the various ways our minds work and learn. She enjoys assisting students in exploring their own multiple intelligences while developing the skills that leverage their strengths and build a foundation for success.
Aaron Rumack (Everyday Calculus), M.Ed., NBCT, is a K–12 math coach for the White River School District, and he serves on the NCTM editorial panel for Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. Aaron has created and taught numerous courses for Northwestern University’s Center For Talent Development and the University of Washington’s Robinson Center For Young Scholars. In 2008, Aaron was the featured middle school trainer at an International Mathematics Institute in Medellin, Colombia. He has facilitated curriculum adoptions and led professional development sessions on Literacy Strategies for Mathematical Problem Solving, Dynamic Lesson Design, and Unit Planning for Professional Learning Communities. In his free time, Aaron can be found attending theatre, listening to big band music, and rooting for his hometown World Series Champion Chicago Cubs!
David Shapiro (Inquiring Minds) is Education Director of the UW Center for Philosophy for Children at the University of Washington and a founding faculty member in Philosophy at Cascadia College in Bothell, WA. He has been doing philosophy with young people in pre-school through college classrooms since he was a graduate student way back in the 20th century. Dave is the author of a number of articles and books on the theory and practice of Philosophy for Children, including, most recently, Plato Was Wrong! Footnotes on Doing Philosophy with Young People (Rowman and LIttlefield, 2012).
Jenny Shibayama (Physics of Roller Coasters) is a co-instructor for the Physics of Roller Coasters class. She teaches 7th grade Life Science and 8th grade Earth Science at Canyon Park Junior High in the Northshore School District. Jenny recently earned her National Boards Certificate in Science and earned her B.S. in Zoology and Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington. Jenny enjoys hiking, camping and biking in the mountains and at the beach.
H.B. Telling (To the Moon and Beyond!) was born and raised in Alaska, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Alaska and a very large beard. He soon escaped, and after working for a few years at a large local software company, earned his Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Washington. He currently teaches IB Mathematical Studies, Calculus I, Calculus 2, and Electrical Engineering at Skyline High School. He has two children, and in his spare time enjoys building guitar pedals, making things out of Lego, and getting out of the city to look at the stars.
Sumyat Thu (Young Writers for Social Media) is a Ph.D. student and writing instructor at the UW English department. She also works as an assistant director of the UW Expository Writing Program. As for research interests, she studies the relationships among language, literacy, identity, and language and race (raciolinguistics). She is also pursuing a Public Scholarship certificate program at the Simpson Center for the Humanities and interested to do community engaged research that builds campus–community equitable relationships.
Lisé Whitfield (To the Moon and Beyond!) earned her B.S. degree in Physics and her M.S. degree in Earth & Planetary Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has been a middle and high school science teacher and a professional science curriculum designer for nearly 15 years. She previously worked as a research scientist and lead science curriculum designer on a UW project that designed and tested project-based learning courses to support deep learning for increasingly diverse students in the College Board’s Advanced Placement program. She spends summers in Seattle and the academic year teaching at New York University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. In addition to science, she also teaches multiple styles and levels of dance to kids and adults. She enjoys international travel off-the-beaten-path, hiking, and spending time with her 5-year-old son.
Summer Stretch Instructors:
Thomas Ames (Geometry) graduated from Montana State University – Billings with a B.A. in Mathematics-Teaching Option in 2008, and completed his Master of Accountancy from Golden Gate University in 2012. He has taught grades 6-9, and is currently teaching Mathematics to 7th and 8th graders at Tolt Middle School in the Riverview School District.
Truman Buffett (Geometry) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Oberlin College in Ohio, and a Master’s degree in Pure Mathematics from the University of Washington. Since before his Summer Stretch students were born, he’s been teaching math in every corner of Seattle, from his first high school job up at Lakeside School, to down at Rainier Beach High School, where he’s been for the last few years. While teaching at the Northwest School, Truman was the recipient of the Mathematical Association of America’s 2006 Pedagogy award for the state of Washington. In his spare time he runs triathlons and juggles fire.
Zoe Burstyn (Fundamentals of Speech and Debate) earned her B.A. from the University of Washington in Comparative Literature and Comparative History of Ideas, where she was exposed to the Pacific Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children. She has been actively involved in all levels of the Speech and Debate community for over 15 years, and has coached students to numerous state and national titles in many forms of debate, including Student Congress, Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum, and Ethics Bowl. Zoe’s main goal in the classroom is to foster the development of critical thinking skills in her students. To borrow from the CHID handbook, the questions are the content.
Chris Damitio (Mock Trial) graduated from the University of Washington this March with a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology. Next fall he will be attending University of California Los Angeles Law School, where he hopes to study biomedical intellectual property law. He has been a mock trial coach for three years, and last year as captain of the University of Washington Mock Trial program, he led the team to the opening round of the national championship! In his free time, he loves to hike, mountain bike, and play baseball. This is his first year with the Robinson Center and he is looking forward to getting started!
Matthew Dirks (Algebra 1) is a proud alumnus of the Summer Challenge and Summer Stretch programs. He majored in mathematics at the University of Chicago and earned a master’s degree in math teaching from Boston University, as well as an endorsement in teaching Latin from the University of Washington. He has taught math courses at several levels in Boston and Bellevue, including Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Precalculus, and Business Calculus. In his spare time, he enjoys solving math problems with friends, learning languages, cooking, hiking, and playing piano.
Paul Gafni (Algebra 2 Online Hybrid/Number Theory) teaches Mathematics at Transition School. Paul excelled in his undergraduate math program, receiving departmental recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics both as a sophomore and as a senior. After receiving his B.A. in Mathematics in 2011, Paul has (so far) opted out of pursuing further academic degrees in favor of a career teaching mathematics to highly capable youth. Aside from his work at Transition School, Paul works privately with a few students and works with Math for Love, running a handful of Math Circles around the greater Seattle area. He has been teaching since 2008, and his primary mathematical interests are Combinatorial Game Theory, Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Graph Theory, and Combinatorics. Find out more.
Sofia Huerter (What Should I Do?) is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Washington, where their research focuses on feminist ethics and moral epistemology, specifically pertaining to the treatment of nonhuman animals in contemporary society. They graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in philosophy and later completed an M.A. in philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder. While at Boulder, Sofia taught for the Philosophy Outreach Program of Colorado, which works through collaboration with teachers to bring philosophy into K12 classrooms. For the last several years, Sofia has been working for the philosophy department at UW, both as a teaching assistant and as the supervisor of their undergraduate writing center. Recently, they have also served as a primary instructor for the Robinson Center’s Saturday program.
Reese Johnston is the Mathematics instructor for the Summer and the Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. Reese is a Transition School graduate himself, having graduated from the Transition School in 2007 and from the University of Washington in 2012. He received a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Washington. He went on to receive a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in 2017, studying computability theory in the context of uncountable sets. During that time, Reese taught in the Robinson Center’s Summer Stretch and Saturday Enrichment programs, while also working privately with a variety of students. In addition to teaching at the Robinson Center this year, Reese has also been teaching calculus and precalculus at colleges in the greater Seattle area.
Maddie Kappel (Essay Writing) received her Master’s degree in English from Georgetown University. Her research and coursework focused on rhetoric and technology, 20th century literature, and teaching writing. While at at Georgetown, she fell in love with helping writers of all ages. Since graduating, she has worked as a professional editor for EBSCO, taught English Language Arts at an International Baccalaureate school in Atlanta, and headed up her school’s English department. A recent Seattle transplant, Maddie taught Essay Writing with the Robinson Center’s Summer Stretch Program and will continue to work with a diverse range of middle and high school students around the city, helping them to read for deeper meanings, find their stories to tell, and write like they have something to say.
Nejat Kedir (People, Place, and Space) is an MA student at UW Bothell in the Cultural Studies Program. He will be starting his Ph.D. coursework in the fall at the University of California Berkeley in the African American Studies program. He loves teaching, facilitating, and other modes of learning and knowledge exchanges. He grew up in Seattle and loves the outdoors, hiking and running, and loves reading science-fiction, history, theory, and philosophy.
Samantha (Sam) Kolovson (User Experience Design) is a Ph.D. student in Human-Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington, studying the integration of tracking technologies in college athletics. She was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). While at UMass, Sam earned a B.S. in Computer Science and competed on the rowing team. In her spare time, Sam enjoys rowing, exploring Seattle, re-reading Harry Potter, and working out with November Project Seattle. This summer, Sam looks forward to teaching UX Design!
Jean Lutgen (Precalculus), a Seattle native, attended Seattle Public Schools and earned both her B.A. in Mathematics, and Teaching Credential from Seattle Pacific University. She is currently working on her Master’s in Education at SPU. Jean resides with her family a short distance from Roosevelt High School, where she has taught math for many years. This year, she was pleasantly surprised to receive a “Hero in the Classroom” award from the Seattle Seahawks and Symmetra Financial. She is very much looking forward to her another Summer Stretch!
Chiara Marazzi (Economics) graduated from the University of Pavia (Italy) with a Bachelor in Economics and a Master in International Economics. In 2011, Chiara moved to Toronto where she obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Economics and began her doctoral studies at York University. Chiara moved to Seattle in 2015, when her husband was offered a faculty position at UW. She continues working remotely towards the completion of her doctoral degree (currently on hold). She has been employed as a teaching assistant and a tutor over the past nine years at the University of Pavia and at York University, teaching classes ranging from Statistics to Monetary Economics at both undergraduate and graduate level. When not working, she loves spending time with her 3-year old daughter, writing her personal blog, reading and serving as volunteer for the Italian Cultural Centre of Seattle “Il Punto”.
Drue Miller (Are We There Yet?) received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Washington. During which time, she was introduced to doing philosophy with pre-college students. Through the Pacific Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children and coaching for the National High School Ethics Bowl, she discovered the underestimated and uncultivated potential of young minds. She aims to continue her academic career in Education whilst making Philosophy more accessible to those awaiting outside of the college classroom. She is still working with the PNW Center at UW Seattle campus and is facilitating Philosophy sessions throughout the Seattle school system. She firmly believes that comprehensive Inquiry is vital to learning. Philosophy is an ideal foundation for all forms of education.
Joey Miller (Believing in Things We Cannot See) received a B.A. in philosophy (with an emphasis on applied ethics) and a B.A.Sc. in psychology in 2009 from the University of Minnesota Duluth. In 2012 he received his M.A. in philosophy from Virginia Tech, and in 2016 he received another M.A. in philosophy from the University of Washington, Seattle. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department at the University of Washington, Seattle, but he teaches introductory philosophy courses at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. His academic and research interests include ethics and scientific studies of morality. When not doing research or teaching, his interests include watching sports, being outdoors, and listening to music (especially pop music). This is his third summer teaching philosophy of science as a Summer Stretch instructor for the Robinson Center.
Mark Morrow (Chemistry) has a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University and a Master’s degree in Secondary Science Education from Long Island University. He has been teaching Chemistry & Advanced Placement Chemistry for more than 32 years, and is currently on the faculty at Bellevue High School.
LizAnne Ngo (Microbiology) is currently a Master’s student in the UW College of Education’s Measurement and Statistics program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and Statistics from the University of Washington. Outside of the Robinson Center, LizAnne also works at the UW Office of Educational Assessment and has also been a lab technician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for several years. Research interests she would like to pursue in graduate school are self-efficacy and academic performance of first-generation college students using hierarchical linear modeling. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, gardening (can’t wait for cherry tomato season!), cuddling up with a good book, and going on hikes.
Jennifer L. Perevodchikov (Mock Trial), M.A., J.D., is a local Seattle attorney and returning instructor here at the UW Robinson Center. She’s competed in Lincoln Douglas debate, Parliamentary debate, and other competitive alternative dispute resolution and trial advocacy events. Her early debate experience and speech practice is the foundation on which she’s built her law career today. Fall of 2017 Jennifer was also an applicant for the interim seat 8 position on the Seattle City Council, where she enjoyed a week long foray into local politics. Her passion for law is matched by her excitement to introduce students to speech, debate, and civic education.
Dijana Raco (Algebra 1) comes from the Las Vegas Valley where she teaches high school mathematics. Originally from the Seattle area, Dijana earned her B.A. at the University of Washington and went on to complete a two-year commitment with Teach for America in Las Vegas. She completed her Masters in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a focus on Secondary Mathematics Education and enjoys finding creative ways to teach her students. Dijana coaches the tennis and basketball teams where she attempts to combine the teams’ talents with math applications. In her spare time, Dijana loves to try new recipes to satisfy her sweet tooth.
Michael Reagan (Planning Cities, Past and Future) is the history instructor for the Robinson Center’s Early Entrance Program’s Transition School. Michael is a historian trained at UC Berkeley where he graduated with highest honors and the University of Washington where he earned his PhD in 2017. He researches the history of capitalism in the United States, and his dissertation focused on the material and cultural constructions of the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis. His forthcoming book Of Ourselves: Class in the 21st Century surveys theories of social class from an intersectional perspective. He teaches history and labor studies at Puget Sound area universities and colleges and lives in south Seattle with his partner Angela and their dog Arthur.
Kathleen Reeves (Essay Writing) is a Ph.D. student in the English Department at the University of Washington, where she teaches Rhetoric and Composition and studies 20th- and 21st-century American literature and culture. She is particularly interested in the relationship between artistic labor and reproductive labor in fiction and poetry written after 1965. Before coming to the UW, Kathleen taught high school English in Austin, Texas. She is also a fiction writer and poet, and she is an assistant editor of Process Journal of Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Scholarship. She received a B.A. in English from Yale University and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University.
Fritzie Reisner (Algebra 2) holds a doctorate from Berkeley and teaching credential in secondary mathematics from the University of Washington. She is a specialist in teaching mathematics to gifted adolescents. She has taught mathematics and quantitative methods with great enthusiasm for Summer Challenge, for the Seattle Public Schools, for the University of California, Berkeley, for the Evans School at the University of Washington, and for Seattle Central College. Fritzie was formerly the Math Curriculum Specialist for Advanced Learners in the Seattle Public Schools, has coached grade school and middle school math teams and math teachers, and was the coordinator for the Seattle/Shoreline Chapter of the Mathcounts Competition.
Brittany Ruhland (Microbiology) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington. She received her B.S. in Biology and Biotechnology Engineering from Tufts University, where she first developed a love of bacterial pathogenesis and ecology. She realized her passion for teaching while TAing undergraduate microbiology labs at UW, and biology labs at Tufts. Currently she does research on the human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, and in her spare time she enjoys reading, wandering in nature, and volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium. This is her first year teaching in the Summer Stretch program.
Mary Ethel Schmidt (Henry V Workshop) received her MFA in playwriting from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Her plays have been professionally produced in New York City, Seattle, Kansas City, Scranton and New Brunswick. She received her acting training from Bill Esper and subsequently studied at the Classic Stage Company in NYC and the National Theatre in London. She was an acting teacher and director at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City for ten years and was also a visiting professor at several colleges in PA and NJ. Having recently relocated to Seattle, she has been very fortunate to perform with SOAP Fest, 14/48 and Freehold’s Engaged Theatre in Henry V.
Jeannine Sieler (Chemistry) has a B.S. and Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Puget Sound. She renewed her National Board Certification in November 2016, and has been teaching Chemistry & Advanced Placement Chemistry for 38 years. Jeannine is currently on the faculty at Bellevue High School.
Laura Silverman (Essay Writing) holds a B.A. in Social Inquiry from Eugene Lang College. She went on to earn her M.A. in politics and political philosophy from New School for Social Research. Her research focused on political rhetoric of theories of the contract and the history of capitalism. She currently teaches writing and history to middle and high school students around Seattle. For Laura, teaching is about empowering students to cultivate critical thinking skills that carry them confidently into and beyond the classroom. In her spare moments, she enjoys playing bass and organizing a poetry reading series.
Samantha Simon (American Literature) is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Washington where she is working on her dissertation which focuses on African American literature from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She earned her M.A. in English from Hunter College, and her B.A. in English from Emory University. She has been teaching at UW since she entered the Ph.D. program in 2011, teaching multiple courses for the Expository Writing and Interdisciplinary Writing Programs, as well as both literature and cultural studies courses for the UW’s English and American Ethnic Studies departments.
Cara Stoddard (Audiojournalism) is an English instructor at the Ocean Research College Academy where she teaches first-year composition, literature, and nature writing to 11th and 12th graders participating in Running Start through Everett Community College. She has her Bachelors in English from The College of Wooster and her M.F.A. from the University of Idaho. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review and Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment and her poetry has appeared in Dash, Ninth Letter, Knockout, Educe, and BLOOM.
Sharon Strodel (Algebra 2) graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Computer Science and was employed as a Systems Analyst for a number of years. She obtained her teaching certification through City University of Seattle. Sharon taught pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 at Cedarcrest High School in the Riverview School District, and is currently employed by the Issaquah School District teaching Geometry and Algebra 2.
Stephen Thornsberry (Fundamentals of Speech and Debate) holds a BA and MSA from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and has been coaching speech and debate in the Puget Sound region for ten years. National Board Certified, he currently teaches mathematics, primarily statistics, at Redmond High School where members of his team regularly qualify for the state tournament. Stephen enjoys coaching all forms of speech and debate, especially Lincoln-Douglas which applies philosophy to address social and political issues. It is Stephen’s hope that young scholars from the UW’s summer program become active members of the local speech and debate community. Stephen is also a ski instructor at the Summit, coaches tennis at Redmond, and enjoys performing folk music.
Stephanie Velasco (Planning Cities, Past and Future) holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Washington. She works for the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing, and in her free time volunteers with the Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF). Stephanie has taught city planning-themed summer camps at Washington Middle School and the Robinson Center (Summer Challenge) for the past three years, and she’s looking forward to co-teaching a brand new course for Summer Stretch this year!
David Zook (Physics of Rockets & Robotics) is a lifelong teacher and technology aficionado. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Washington, and is the Owner/Founder of both Big Brains Preparatory (a boutique High School for kids that want to do more with their High School career) and Big Brains Education Enrichment in Bellevue. He also coaches a highly successful competition robotics team, WASABI Robotics. David loves working with kids, and is looking forward to another summer with the Robinson Center, this year, for the first time, teaching alongside his oldest son, Zane.
Zane Zook (Physics of Rockets & Robotics) is a recent Stanford Mechanical Engineering graduate and longtime roboteer. During the last few years at Stanford, he has being doing research in the Stanford CHARM lab investigating haptics and rehabilitation robotics. Zane has been a Robinson Center student, TA and previous Co-Instructor. This year he is excited to be back at the Robinson Center (where he TA’d for his first class when he was 15) teaching Robots with his dad for the first time as equals!