AstroSchool Cohort Winter 2019


Good day :slight_smile: My name is Richard Galian and I am from Eastwood Academy High School located in Houston, Texas.
My educational background is in the physical sciences (Physics and Chemistry) and I teach 10-12 sciences [Anatomy & Physiology, all levels of Chemistry, and Geoscience with UT Austin]
I am passionate about lab work and providing that environment and ambiance in the classrooms for students to make sense of what science is all about.
Connect with me @hisdgalian


Welcome to AstroSchool, Richard!


Hi Everyone! My name is Jessie Holder, and I am from Daphne, AL, across the bay from Mobile. I am in my 5th year of teaching at Loxley Elementary, where I proudly teach 6th Grade. When not at school, I am supervised by my wife, Kristen, and four-year-old son Briggs. I love the outdoors, running and spend my other free time with Briggs in the shop.

While at school, I focus on building the greatest, most awesome space for students to learn. We try to get our hands into everything we can from literature to gardening and from geology to space travel.


I’m excited to get this show on the road!


Welcome to the cohort, Jessie! So happy to have you participating!


Hello all. My name is Russ Pressey and I live and work in sunny SoFlo. Specifically in Broward County at McArthur High.
I came from the tech industry into teaching as a later career. I was an R and D tech in the industry that found that I was teaching people to do what I was making, so switched to teaching.
Right now I teach AP Physics, Physics Honors, Marine Science Reg. and Honors. I’ve taught nearly every type of science on the Physical side because I don’t follow Bio very much. Teaching in Hollywood, FL is fun. I have students that are interested in getting an education, so motivation is usually high. My students are mostly hispanic, Caribbean islander, or black. Often they are mixed combinations of those, but they know that getting an education is key to success later in life.
I am an advocate of using the student’s curiosity to my advantage. I am naturally curious, so getting my students on board enhances our synergy. I like to learn and try to get them to think logically and make decisions that can be backed up with solid explanations. Finding ways to get my students to be intelligent citizens is my passion.
I have a Twitter account, @mrpressey1.
A LinkedIn account, I had an Instagram account but had to abandon it due to a spamming incident.
Not me, just my sense of humor:



Hi! I am Maria Marsicano and I teach at a residential facility for troubled youth In Fairmont, WV. I started my career as an engineer (with a chemistry and computer science degree) in a glass factory. When the plant closed, I became a math teacher in WV. I am teaching an interesting group of students because they are grouped by treatment, not by age. In one group, I could have 6th graders up to 12th graders (luckily, it has just been 9th-12th so far this year). I also teach two computer application classes (and a history class, but I don’t like to talk about it… I am really out of my depth there). I am trying to introduce my students to the exciting world of electronics. We kicked up our Halloween decorations with sound and lights this year and won the Christmas door with motion. I am passionate about reaching my students and getting them to be curious about anything. I want them to see that learning can be fun if they would get out of their own way and let it happen.
I am on social media, but only use facebook.
Facebook: maria.marsicano.56
Twitter: mom0sarah
Instagram: mom0sarah


Hello from Massachusetts! My name is Leslie Kneipfer and I am a sixth grade STEM teacher in Foxborough, MA. I have been teaching since the mid-90s with a break in the middle to be at home with my two daughters until they headed off for kindergarten. I am also an airborne photographer and aerospace educator for the Civil Air Patrol. I have an amazing group of high school aged cadets that I have been working with and can’t wait to see the ways that we can tie in these new sensors into our aerospace projects. I was chosen to participate in HESA’s Space Camp program in 2017 and am thrilled to see some other “campers” here, too! I love all things astronomy and am thrilled to be a part of the AstroSchool program.


Hi Russ! Love the Velociraptor!


Hi Leslie,
I’m from Massachusetts too and I went to HESA space camp this past June!
Glad to meet you!


Hi everyone!
My name is Patty McGaffigan. I teach grades 7 and 8 science in the town of Avon, MA, about 30 minutes southeast of Boston. I have a seventeen year old daughter and eighteen year old son, and a forty something year old husband.
I love learning new things for two reasons:

  1. to be a good role model as a lifelong learner.
  2. to be presenting relevant and engaging problems and lessons that I think will benefit my students.
    I really want to move away from what I refer to as an “arts & crafts” STEM approach. Many of my students are ready for more advanced challenges that use real life and real technology. I am excited to learn things and immediately turn around and use them in class or in our STEM club.
    Looking forward to learning with all of you!


Hello, I am Kathy and I teach at St. Mary’s Visitation Catholic School, 6-8 grade Science. This is my 13th year at SMV and my 13th year teaching Science! I came to teaching after a career as a dental hygienist, dental educator, health educator and curriculum designer for the Medical College of Wisconsin. Teaching is definitely the hardest !

I do a lot of professional development and I love to learn and challenge myself. I am a co-author of a regular column for Science Scope (NSTA journal) and the secretary of the National Middle Level Science Teacher Association.

My family consists of three sons and a husband. My older boys are out of the house but we spend lots of time with them, my youngest has severe special needs so he is home with us. We spend a lot of time at our cabin in northern Wisconsin on the lakes fishing. We also sail: the Great Lakes, the British Virgin Islands and lots of places in between.

My twitter is #ScientistMaker
and a website is:


Hi all!! My name is Mary Gregory and I am teaching science and math in Colorado! I have been teaching for over 30 years in various parts of the country in support of my military family. I believe all children can learn and am passionate about encouraging those students who may be hesitant to embrace science to get their nerd on and see how important science is to their daily lives. In addition to Chemistry, Earth Science and Advanced Astronomy I also have a small group of students in an Earth Science/Algebra class where the lines between science and math are most definitely blurred. Watching the students enjoy both fields with equal enthusiasm is why we do what we do. I look forward to working with you all during this class.


Greetings! I am Darin Orton and I teach 8th grade science at Mount Logan Middle School in Logan Utah. I have 10 years of secondary science experience and have been in Logan going on four years. I love all things science and technology and am particularly enthusiastic about space stuff. I had the amazing opportunity to attend Space Camp this last summer. I get excited about ways to bring technology and engineering into my classroom. I teach a general science class so from this AstroSchool experience I look forward to learning new ways to bring electronics and coding into what we do everyday in a relevant and meaningful way. I also look forward to getting to know and learn from other awesome educators as we all seek to improve our craft.
Facebook Darin Orton (my profile picture is godzilla)
Instagram Dar4ino (my profile picture is … also godzilla)


I’m sensing a trend with Space Camp here ! I went in 2010!!!


Hi, I am Julie Massey and am located in Biloxi, Ms.
I have been married to the same great guy for 29 years, and have two pretty amazing kids. Over the years, I have taught grades 5 - 12 in the following subjects: Band, Choir, Show Choir, Drama, Computer Discovery, Technology Foundations, PLTW, and now Cyber Foundations. I am certified in Social Studies and Administration, as well. This is my 29th year of teaching.
I teach 8th graders how to use computers, how to decide what they want to do in life, how to be great people. This is a low socioeconomic area, and we have lots of issues but love is stronger than all of the issues.
I am a lifelong learner, and love to figure things out. I love my students, and want them to succeed.
Just look me up - Julie Massey. I have a facebook, twitter, linkedin account.
I have much love for anything technologically connected, and love using the area FabLab to enhance my students’ learning. I am a little obsessed with Star Wars, and my classroom has more than 20 vehicles hanging from the ceiling ( millenium falcon, tie fighters, x-wing fighters, etc). I am a little “extra”, and always give everything I have to my students.
Here is a not very flattering photo of me during a silly classroom time. As you can see, I will do almost anything for my students.silly%20pic I hope you enjoy my moustache and goatee.


I love your velociraptor picture.
Just an FYI - there used to be julieraptors - so I love them!


Greetings colleagues! I am Ed Mondragon, a CTE Coordinator over IT/STEM in Granite School District (Salt Lake City), and I am a veteran educator of 29 years in my third year out of the classroom as a curriculum specialist. I am passionate about developing a physical computing educational program in K-12, and I continue to develop new knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) so I can be more effective as I develop these programs. I look forward to participating in AstroSchool to become proficient with the sensor kit which I plan on utilizing on drones for classroom and competition activities.

Twitter: @edmondragon
LinkedIn: [](http://Ed Mondragon)


Hi. My name is Michico Clark from Whittier, CA. I am originally a biologist from the island of Guam. I have been teaching science for 13 years in Los Angeles county. I’ve taught environmental science, physical science, biology, anatomy and physiology, and STEM. I currently teach at a charter school in the city of Huntington Park. I am passionate about helping students develop a growth mindset for science so they know that when they fail or make a mistake, it’s just part of the scientific process and there is a next step.


Welcome Russ–thrilled you are joining us!


Hi Maria–so glad to see you again in AstroSchool!