STARS 2022 Virtual Conference Presenters Logo

Presented by Kesler Science

Meet the 2022 Presenters!

STARS Presenters Dr. Emmanuel Cherilien

Dr. Emmanuel Cherilien

Dr. Emmanuel Cherilien is an Education Specialist (Ed.D.) with over 20 years of experience in the field of education and leadership. Dr. Cherilien, also known as "Dr. Tank," currently serves on the Board of Directors for Catholic Partnership Schools in Camden County, NJ. He is a certified DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) coach from Cornell University, an assistant professor of sociology, an education consultant for multiple states, and the director of T.A.N.K Mentoring Program for all 21 counties in New Jersey (assisting ex-offenders and juveniles with re-entry success). His expertise includes servant leadership, social emotional learning, and social justice. Dr. Cherilien’s research on college access in undeserved communities inspired the formation of his company TANK EdDucates LLC.

STARS Presenters Covey Denton

Covey Denton

Covey Denton has been teaching science for the past 8 years as a K-8 STEM specialist and middle school science teacher. Covey is an Exploravision Ambassador, championing the authentic problem-based learning that comes from inventing prototypes to solve real-world problems. Covey also serves on the board of the National Mid-Level Science Teaching Association and the board of the Science SCOPE magazine, a publication from NSTA. Covey is a National Geographic Certified Educator and has her STEM certification through the NASA STEM Endeavor program. Covey’s background is in biomedical engineering, and she has a BS and MS from UNC-Chapel Hill. She received her MEd from Adams state university in 2019.

Dr. Lori Feaga

Dr. Lori Feaga received her Bachelor of Science degree with High Honors in Astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1997. She then continued her education at Johns Hopkins University, where she successfully defended her doctoral thesis and received her Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2005.

Currently an Associate Research Scientist at the University of Maryland, Dr. Feaga is a planetary scientist focusing on the molecular composition and distribution of ice and gas surrounding small bodies in the Solar System (e.g., comets, asteroids, and Kuiper Belt objects) and how they relate to the protoplanetary disk from which the Earth formed. Her observing techniques include ultraviolet to infrared spectroscopy, visible imaging, and time-domain surveys. Dr. Feaga has extensive NASA mission experience, having held instrument, science, and outreach roles on the Deep Impact, EPOXI, Comet Hopper, and Rosetta missions, and intends to lead her own small satellite mission in the future.

From an early age, Dr. Feaga received encouragement and support from her family to pursue a career in astronomy, yet often found herself immersed in male-dominated STEM classes and professional settings. It is because of these experiences, combined with her interest to share her own science, promote science literacy, and inspire others to enter the STEM fields, that she continually engages in education and outreach and enthusiastically presents her work to students of all ages.

STARS Presenters Kent Dwyer

Kent Dwyer

Kent has been teaching for 18 years, focusing primarily on language acquisition. He started his career teaching Spanish in Pennsylvania, serving as a demonstration teacher at Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School and as a master teacher at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. Kent took a break from teaching Spanish to work in international education as an English as an additional language (EAL) specialist. He became the Academic Support Team Coordinator at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, working with teachers, administrators, and families to create an inclusive and differentiated learning space. His work appears both on the Edutopia website and ELLevation Education’s podcast Highest Aspirations.

Nancy Foote

Nancy Foote, MEd, is currently a Conceptual Physics teacher in Gilbert, Arizona. She worked as an Industrial Chemist for the Sherwin Williams Company before obtaining her Master’s degree and teacher certification. Nancy has been in education for more than 30 years as a teacher, principal, staff development coordinator, teacher on special assignments, and curriculum coach. A National Board Certified Teacher, Nancy is also a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

STARS Presenters Gina Lappe

Gina Lappé

Gina is an experienced science and outdoor educator. She taught in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a Teacher Naturalist, then brought her love of student-centered learning into the middle school classroom at The Franklin School of Innovation in Asheville, North Carolina. She currently teaches middle school science at St. Johnsbury Academy, Jeju, an American International School in South Korea. You can find her work posted on Edutopia and ELLevation Education’s podcast Highest Aspirations.

STARS Presenters Scott Egan

Dr. Scott Egan

Dr. Scott P. Egan is an evolutionary biologist and associate professor in the Department of Biosciences at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Texas, his Master’s degree from Texas State University, and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining the faculty at Rice, he was a Faculty Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. The Egan lab at Rice University is broadly interested in addressing important questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology, where they use a multidisciplinary approach. In addition, Dr. Egan collaborates with other scientists from across the science spectrum to address these questions in new and creative ways.

Order Your One-Year Access to STARS Now!

Every registration includes 365-day access and Live Zoom PD from Steve Spangler:

STARS 2022 Releases June 22, 2022

Schools and Districts - Click Here to Request a Quote

Buy Your Early Bird Conference Ticket Now To Guarantee the Lowest Price

STARS Presenters Dr. Lori Feaga

Dr. Lori Feaga

Dr. Lori Feaga received her Bachelor of Science degree in Astronomy from the University of Maryland in 1997. She then received her Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2005. Currently an Associate Research Scientist at the University of Maryland, Dr. Feaga is a planetary scientist focusing on the molecular composition and distribution of ice and gas surrounding small bodies in the Solar System. Dr. Feaga has extensive NASA mission experience, having held instrument, science, and outreach roles on the Deep Impact, EPOXI, Comet Hopper, and Rosetta missions. She continually engages in education and outreach and enthusiastically presents her work to students of all ages.

STARS Presenters Nancy Foote

Nancy Foote

Nancy Foote, MEd, NBCT, is currently the Math Interventions and Science Specialist at Sossaman Middle School in Queen Creek, AZ. Nancy is a well-loved and internationally known presenter of science and math workshops. Attendees of her workshops are well-informed and highly entertained. A former chemist-turned-teacher, Nancy has spent the last 35+ years in education wearing various hats. She is happiest with kids in the classroom. Nancy's latest book, Coca Cola Hot Pants, Cancer, & Other Stories of Good Fortune: How Your Attitude Determines Your Destiny, published in the summer of 2020, was a #1 Bestseller. 

Dr. Jen Nekrease

Dr. Neakrase currently teaches 8th-grade science in the Science Magnet program at Sierra Middle School in Las Cruces, NM. Previously she taught mathematics (and one year of music) at a private elementary school for gifted and talented children.

After earning her Bachelor's in Astronomy and Astrophysics and her Masters in Physics, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Science Education. She was particularly interested in how students were learning astronomy and physics, which led her into curriculum development.

Her research focuses on the pedagogical content knowledge, practices, and nature of science beliefs of in- and out-of-field teaching for physics and elementary teachers.

Emily Olsen

As a twenty-year educator, Emily has spent the bulk of those years in high-needs, low socioeconomic schools.  Her experiences have focused not only on the academic needs of her students, but more often on their emotional, behavioral, and social needs.  Though she started out teaching elementary school students, she quickly found her “home” in middle school (and she will tell you it is not for the faint of heart, but she loves it.)  “I grew up in a neighborhood similar to the ones my students live in.  I have seen and experienced much of what they are going through and use that to connect with them.  I encourage my students to set their goals high and try to give them the tools they will need to fulfill them.”  

Macie Rains

Macie is a science teacher from College Station, Texas. She has seven years of experience teaching math, science, and robotics classes to 4th-8th grade students. Currently, she teaches 7th-grade science in the Odyssey STEM Academy housed within Bryan ISD. In 2018 she completed coursework to earn her national STEM certification through The National Institute for STEM Education, and in 2020 she earned her master's degree in education administration from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Jen Nekrease

Dr. Neakrase currently teaches 8th-grade science in the Science Magnet program at Sierra Middle School in Las Cruces, NM. Previously she taught mathematics (and one year of music) at a private elementary school for gifted and talented children.

After earning her Bachelor's in Astronomy and Astrophysics and her Masters in Physics, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Science Education. She was particularly interested in how students were learning astronomy and physics, which led her into curriculum development.

Her research focuses on the pedagogical content knowledge, practices, and nature of science beliefs of in- and out-of-field teaching for physics and elementary teachers.

STARS Presenters Laurel Frank

Laurel Frank

With more than three decades in science education, Laurel has been a middle school science teacher, a science specialist, and a K-12 science director. She has a passion for finding ways to make science engaging and personal to both students and teachers and measures success when kids can explain science in their own words. Laurel has published science curriculum, written a blog for science administrators, and presented at numerous conferences while serving in districts large and small.

Emily Olsen

As a twenty-year educator, Emily has spent the bulk of those years in high-needs, low socioeconomic schools.  Her experiences have focused not only on the academic needs of her students, but more often on their emotional, behavioral, and social needs.  Though she started out teaching elementary school students, she quickly found her “home” in middle school (and she will tell you it is not for the faint of heart, but she loves it.)  “I grew up in a neighborhood similar to the ones my students live in.  I have seen and experienced much of what they are going through and use that to connect with them.  I encourage my students to set their goals high and try to give them the tools they will need to fulfill them.”  

Macie Rains

Macie is a science teacher from College Station, Texas. She has seven years of experience teaching math, science, and robotics classes to 4th-8th grade students. Currently, she teaches 7th-grade science in the Odyssey STEM Academy housed within Bryan ISD. In 2018 she completed coursework to earn her national STEM certification through The National Institute for STEM Education, and in 2020 she earned her master's degree in education administration from Texas A&M University.

STARS Presenters Hope Kennedy

V. Hope Kennedy

Hope Kennedy holds a degree in biology from Stetson University and teaching certifications in Biology and Earth/Space science for secondary education. As a Master Digital Educator, Hope trained hundreds of Florida teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms. For the past 24 years, Hope has taught science at the middle school level.  Her love of outdoor education inspired her to develop a large hydroponics garden on campus. Students maintain it and donate harvested food to the school cafeteria. Her students have benefited from grants for kayaking and water quality data monitoring programs and opportunities to compete in the past three Lexus EcoChallenge STEM Competitions.

Dr. Jen Nekrease

Dr. Neakrase currently teaches 8th-grade science in the Science Magnet program at Sierra Middle School in Las Cruces, NM. Previously she taught mathematics (and one year of music) at a private elementary school for gifted and talented children.

After earning her Bachelor's in Astronomy and Astrophysics and her Masters in Physics, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Science Education. She was particularly interested in how students were learning astronomy and physics, which led her into curriculum development.

Her research focuses on the pedagogical content knowledge, practices, and nature of science beliefs of in- and out-of-field teaching for physics and elementary teachers.

STARS Presenters Jay McTighe

Jay McTighe

Jay McTighe is a veteran of education, having served as a teacher, resource specialist, program coordinator, director of a state program for gifted students, and administrator for innovative programs at the Maryland Department of Education. He is an accomplished author, having co-authored 18 books, including the award-winning and best-selling Understanding by Design series with Grant Wiggins. His books have been translated into fourteen languages. Jay has also written more than 50 book chapters, articles, and blogs. He has been published in leading journals, including Educational Leadership (ASCD), Edutopia, and Education Week. Jay has an extensive background in professional development and has made presentations in 47 states within the United States, in 7 Canadian provinces, and internationally in 38 countries on six continents.

Emily Olsen

As a twenty-year educator, Emily has spent the bulk of those years in high-needs, low socioeconomic schools.  Her experiences have focused not only on the academic needs of her students, but more often on their emotional, behavioral, and social needs.  Though she started out teaching elementary school students, she quickly found her “home” in middle school (and she will tell you it is not for the faint of heart, but she loves it.)  “I grew up in a neighborhood similar to the ones my students live in.  I have seen and experienced much of what they are going through and use that to connect with them.  I encourage my students to set their goals high and try to give them the tools they will need to fulfill them.”  

Special Guest Presenter Steve Spangler

Steve Spangler is a best-selling author, educator, and Emmy award-winning science communicator who finds the most creative ways to make science fun. His videos featured on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and now TikTok have over 1 billion views, but he may be best known for teaching millions of people how to turn an ordinary bottle of Diet Coke and a roll of Mentos into an erupting geyser of fun.

STARS Presenters Steve Spangler

Steve is a popular keynote speaker at education conferences around the globe. His professional development workshops focus on best practices and instructional strategies to increase student engagement through phenomenon-based learning.

Steve’s nationally syndicated series called DIY Sci appears on FOX / CW affiliates as well as Amazon Prime. He’s also a frequent guest on the Ellen Show where he never fails to surprise and entertain both Ellen DeGeneres and the Burbank fire department. Ellen calls him… "the science teacher you always wanted to have in school… because the fire department shows up twice a year."

STARS Presenters Julie Neidhardt

Julie Neidhardt

Julie Neidhardt is a National Board Certified Teacher who has been an educator for 24 years in the Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama. She is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching for her work in elementary science and was recently named a finalist for the 2022 Alabama State Teacher of the Year. Neidhardt was selected as a STEM Ambassador for the National Science Teaching Association and has traveled to the United Arab Emirates to teach STEM. She also co-hosts a podcast on Anchor, entitled NextInEd, exploring trends in education. In her new role as Science Curriculum Specialist, Mrs. Neidhardt serves the schools in her district through instructional support, mentoring, and providing professional development in science.

STARS Presenters Ysabel Ortiz

Ysabel Ortiz

Ysabel Ortiz has 11 years of experience in K-12 education. She worked in public, private, and international schools. Ysabel earned a Bachelor of Science in Education K-6 and a Master in Communications. She is currently a K-8 STEAM integrator at North Broward Preparatory School in Boca Raton, FL. Ortiz has the incredible opportunity to explore the latest STEAM #edtech tools. If you want to connect, follow her

P.J. Stewart

PJ received her BA in Cognitive Science from Wellesley College and her MA in Peace and Reconciliation Studies with a certification in Innovation Engineering from the University of Maine Orono.

PJ has volunteered extensively with the Restorative Justice Project (RJP) in Belfast, Maine. As a community facilitator, she led participants through the restorative circle process. PJ also mentored youth during their court-ordered alternative agreements, allowing them to avoid a court record. Currently, PJ works in special education in the Hampden, Maine, area public schools.

STARS Presenters Nina Parrish

Nina Parrish

Nina Parrish has over 18 years of experience in the field of education. Nina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington. She completed her teaching certification in Special Education at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and earned a Master’s Degree in Education for School Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. Nina writes a blog called The Learning Zone and has contributed to Edutopia, We are Teachers, Huff Post, Listen to Your Mother, Teaching Tolerance, Norton K-12 Talk, and Education Week. Nina is the co-founder and chief academic officer of Parrish Learning Zone in Virginia.


STARS Presenters Christine Pinto and Jessica Twomey

Christine Pinto and Jessica Twomey

Christine Pinto and Jessica Twomey have been in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 20 years collectively. Their kindergarten classes have collaborated on a daily, yearlong basis from their locations in California and New Jersey for a number of years. Christine and Jessica have connected with educators in the #InnovatingPlay/#GAfE4Littles community. They are proud to be co-authors of Innovating Play: Reimagining Learning through Meaningful Tech Integration. Christine and Jessica present about Innovating Play and how they preserve, protect, and transform early childhood experiences in and beyond the classroom.


STARS Presenters Dr. John Spencer

Dr. John Spencer

"I have a crazy belief that all people are naturally creative. Too many people have believed the lie that there are certain “creative types” who are the exception to the rule. But we are all creative. Every one of us. And we can tap into this natural creativity when we embrace a maker mindset."  Dr. Spencer is a former middle school teacher and current college professor on a quest to transform schools into bastions of creativity and wonder. Learn more about Dr. Spencer at https://spencerauthor.com


Ali Stone

Ali is the Project Manager for Kesler Science.  Ali taught a variety of middle school subjects - including science, math, coding, and art - for six years before joining Chris as his first full-time employee. Prior to teaching in the classroom, Ali worked in the access control industry as a technical writer, corporate trainer, and curriculum developer. She earned her BA in Education from the University of Maryland College Park.

Shawn Sutton

Shawn has been a middle school science teacher in New Jersey for nearly a decade. He has written pieces for the educational website Edutopia discussing alternatives to traditional lab reports and adjusting instruction for distance learning. His published work featured in Science Scope magazine covers engagement strategies and phenomenon-based instruction aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Shawn has been interviewed for the National Science Teachers Association’s “Member Spotlight Series” and has offered his services as a consultant and professional development presenter.


STARS Presenters PJ Stewart

PJ Stewart

PJ received her BA in Cognitive Science from Wellesley College and her MA in Peace and Reconciliation Studies with a certification in Innovation Engineering from the University of Maine Orono.  PJ has volunteered extensively with the Restorative Justice Project (RJP) in Belfast, Maine. As a community facilitator, she led participants through the restorative circle process. PJ also mentored youth during their court-ordered alternative agreements, allowing them to avoid a court record. Currently, PJ works with Kesler Science as the Marketing Manager.

STARS Presenters Angela Watson

Angela Watson

Angela Watson is a productivity and mindset specialist, author, and motivational speaker for educators. She is National Board Certified and has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction, along with 11 years of classroom teaching experience and over a decade of experience as an instructional coach. Through her blog (which she started in 2003), podcast, five books, printables, online courses, and professional development services, Angela has supported countless teachers in choosing a new identity for themselves which is healthy and focused on what matters most.

STARS Presenters Dallis

Dallis Whitley

Dallis Whitley is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dallis the Science Diva, LLC. This platform was inspired by her time in the middle school science classroom. She is currently a science teacher-coach in the Orange, NJ Public School System. No matter the position, her goal is to always motivate everyone’s inner scientist to explore the natural phenomena in our world. Keeping live organisms in her classroom is a practice that excites her students and prepares them to learn about the natural world.

Order Your One-Year Access to STARS Now!

Every registration includes 365-day access and Live Zoom PD from Steve Spangler:

STARS 2022 Releases June 22, 2022

Schools and Districts - Click Here to Request a Quote

Buy Your Early Bird Conference Ticket Now To Guarantee the Lowest Price

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my school pay with a purchase order?

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Are there any live sessions?

To honor your time, we have decided to make the conference 100% on-demand and can be watched at your convenience. 

How long will the recordings be available?

All of the conference recordings will be available to watch for 365 days after purchase.

Will I receive a certificate for attending sessions?

The Kesler Science STARS Conference is now an official provider of Texas CPE hours. Sessions that meet the requirements for CPE hours are labeled.

What are the tech requirements to watch the sessions?

Video playback is supported by all modern browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge.  Videos can also be played on most modern day smart phones and tables.  

The videos are hosted on our server and are viewed within a browser.

Where can I learn more about the presentations? 

Click here to learn about the awesome STARS Conference sessions.

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