AstroSchool Cohort 2018


Welcome Rhonda! I am so excited to have your librarian expertise represented in our cohort!


Hi Jennie! Does AcaDec stand for Academic Decathlon? We were working to put together a team before I left teaching and joined Because Learning! I’m excited to draw from your expertise!


Welcome Gianluca! We are so excited to have you as part of the AstroSchool cohort. I am excited to draw from your expertise and experience!


Hi there! I’m Darbie Valenti, a 5th grade math and science teacher in Missouri. This is my 16th year of teaching. I’ve taught from 3rd-6th grade, as well as adult learners as I serve as an adjunct professor for my alma mater-Northwest Missouri State University. I’m passionate about my students, being a lifelong learner and shopping! I love challenging myself and learning new things so I’m excited to be a part of this cohort!
My Twitter handle is @Miss_D_Valenti and here is a picture of me from Space Camp last summer


Hi Darbie, welcome to AstroSchool! Space Camp–what an amazing experience! I am excited to learn from your expertise!


Hello everyone!
My name is Michael Katz. I am a K-5 STEM teacher at P.S. 254 in Brooklyn, NY. This is my 13th year teaching in the NYCDOE. I have taught 2nd, 3rd and 5th grades as well as technology, science and STEM.

Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in broadcast video as an editor, animator and graphics designer. I have always loved technology and all of the creative things you can do with it. After about 10 years doing this kind of work, I decided I needed something more and set out on a new career path to become a teacher. It is by far the most difficult yet rewarding work I’ve ever done. I truly love doing what I do.

I am passionate about many things including music, science, engineering and learning new things. My biggest passion in life is being a dad to my 6 year old son Max who keeps me on my toes and reminds me daily of my limitless capacity to love.

I live in Brooklyn with my wife, son and cat (yep another cat lover here!). In my free time, I make music, work on random projects with my son and try to learn something new each day.

I am very excited to be a part of this program. I look forward to connecting with all of you and growing as an educator.

I am not a huge fan of social media. I do have a LinkedIn account and a twitter account Michael42366813 but I rarely do much with either. The best way to get in touch with me is at


Hi all, my name is Jennifer Jones. I am new to teaching and loving it. I come from a background of business where I was a software designer and independent contractor for 8 years. I teach computer science at Quest Academy Charter School in West Haven, UT. We are a small school, but we have big plans and a technology emphasis. I love teaching computer science to kids. I live with my husband and son, both of whom I adore, in Roy, UT. I also collect orchids and other house plants and have 2 cats.


YAY for cat lovers! Welcome Michael–I am excited to be working with you in AstroSchool!


Hi Jennifer! I’m so glad you are a part of our Cohort–I have a lot of family in Roy and connections to the software dev world through my wife! Welcome and I’m thrilled to be working with you!


Hello! I am Kenna Miller and I am the library media specialist at a K-5 building in Missouri. I’ve previously taught second and third grade. I love reading, teaching and spending time with my family. My Twitter handle is @kennamiller7.


Hi Kenna, welcome to AstroSchool! I am excited to draw from your expertise as a Library Media Specialist!


Hi. My name is Michico Clark. I live in Whittier, CA but I am originally from the beautiful island of Guam. I married my best friend and high school sweetheart and have two sons, Nikolai and Jonas. We currently share our home with our dogs, Mr. Brown and Mortimer, and occasionally we will see our adopted lizard, Leonard, who has made his/her home in our garden.

I teach at Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School in the city of Huntington Park. Over 90% of my scholars are of Hispanic or Latino decent. I have taught Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Environment Science, and STEM.

Social media accounts:
FB: Michico Moreno Clark
IG: michicoclark


Welcome to AstroSchool Michico! I am excited to have you as a part of our cohort and I can’t wait to learn from your experience!


Hi My name is Itza Sierra, and I am a teacher at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. I have been teaching for 9 year, and I am currently teach biology (mostly 10th graders). I will be a part of a new STEM course starting in our school next year, which I am very excited about. I have thought several subjects from Earth Space Science, AP Environmental Science, and AP Biology. I was born and raise in Puerto Rico, and received a scholarship to play volleyball at Nova Southeastern University. There I completed my degree in Biology and my Masters in Science Education. I have to wonderful children a boy who just turned 3 and a daughter who is 5, which keep me extremely busy. :slight_smile:


Wecome Itza! We are so excited to have FL represented by your teaching expertise!


Hello to all of my fellow STEM loving teachers. I am so excited to be a part of this 2018 Cohort.
My name is Tina Gilligan and I live in Volusia County in Central Florida in a small town called Edgewater. It is on the south side of New Smyrna Beach, the Shark Bite Capital of the World, of, if you have not heard of NSB, I am about 20 miles south of Daytona Beach. I have two boys and one girl. The oldest boy is career Navy and is married with a girl and boy of his own. The younger boy also did time in the Navy and is now working on his Doctorates in Physics. His twin sister is working on an Accounting degree and has a daughter that loves STEM and will probably want to help me with my experiments. I have an awesome and supportive boyfriend, Gary.
I always knew I wanted to teach. And I always knew I wanted to teach math. But my dream did not come easy for a lot of reasons. I worked in banking while getting a Bachelors in Business, then in Human Resources while I continued to try to find a way to reach my goal. I finally was able to get my certification to teach Middle Grades Math and ESE and was able to get hired as an ESE co-teacher at a Middle School. I began working on my Masters in Math Education on line and was eventually hired to teach at my present school.
My favorite subject to teach is Geometry as I taught that for three years. I was asked to teach Liberal Arts Math 1 this year because there was a great need there, but I am hoping to be back in Geometry next year. I teach at the high school level at Deltona High School.
I am actually passionate about teaching. I love it and I am always trying to find ways to get my students interested and excited about math and learning in general. I think STEM is very important in the education of our students and needs to and can be incorporated in every subject. I am part of the STEM Cadre in Volusia County and we are working on a certification program for students, teachers, and schools. One of our elementary schools has National STEM Certification from Advanc-ED Institute and our goal is to work up to all of our schools being able to get this. But by starting our own program it helps ease everyone into the idea gradually. After all, not all teachers are as ready for change as I am.
I have a:
Twitter - @TMG_loves_Math
Facebook -
Linkedin -
Here is a picture of Gary, my STEM loving granddaughter Riley, and me.


Hi Tina! I am so excited to have a fellow mathematician in AstroSchool! I’m looking forward to collaborating!


Hi guys! Becky Fritchie here from Prairieville, Louisiana! I teach 5th grade Science and Math and I ADORE all things STEM, inquiry-based, hands-on, that provides an authentic learning experience! I’m a HESA Space Camp Alumni which has sparked a fire in me for Space Exploration Education to add to our repertoire! I have two handsome boys, 15 and 4, and my INCREDIBLY supportive husband of 16 years in my corner pushing me to always strive for my best.

My Twitter handle: @mrsfritchie


Hi Becky! We are thrilled to have your energy here in AstroSchool!


Hello. My name is Kim Van Eaton and I am located in Pasco, Washington.

I have taught in the Pasco School district for 22 years and spent most of that time as a 6th grade science teacher.

I teach 6th grade at Marie Curie STEM elementary where I have been the last 3 years. Next year, I will move to a new position as our district’s 21st Century Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) working with our science and STEM programs.

I am passionate about science teaching, 21st century learning / skills and encouraging students to be active, lifelong learners.

I can be found on Facebook (Kim Van Eaton) Twitter (@kimvaneaton) Instagram (kimvaneaton) and LinkedIn (Kim Van Eaton)