IDATA Project Teachers

Tier 1 Teachers

Kathy Arndt
Jacqueline Barge
Jacqueline Barge is a National Board Certified Teacher, having received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Chicago and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University. Jackie started with Chicago Public Schools at Reilly Elementary School. After ten years at Reilly, she left to become part of the original faculty group at Walter Payton College Prep High School in Chicago. Jackie has been part of many educational groups involving curriculum development such as the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, the Depaul Nasa Center and Hands-On Universe, UIC-Fermilab's Quarknet group, Beyond the Solar System project from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Chicago Public Schools/University of Chicago Internet Project. In 2016 Jackie was awarded the Thomas J Brennan Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for demonstrating excellence in the teaching of astronomy at the high school level in North America.
Neal Boys
Neal Boys graduated from the University Wisconsin-Madison with Bachelor of Science degrees in Earth and Space Science for secondary education, and Physical Science for sixth through ninth grade, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University. Neal is an Earth & Space and Physical Science Teacher and serves as the Science Department’s Instructional Manager at Parker High School in Janesville, WI. During the summertime, he enjoys nature with courses he developed for youths in fourth through twelfth grades, with a couple of courses becoming part of the Wisconsin Ice Age Alliance. Neal serves the community through a variety of ways, serving as church council representative for Outreach/Missions with his family, coaching his daughter’s Track & Field team, helping teach rocket building at a local college, and building exhibits for the future Children’s Museum of Rock County.
Tim Fahlberg
Tim Fahlberg grew up in Arizona and got his BA and MA in math/math education. He teaches math at the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Janesville, Wisconsin. He previously taught math and computer science in the State of Washington and Arizona. He is also a programmer and educational consultant. Tim, who is a longtime amateur astronomer, enjoys introducing students and adults to the wonders of the day and night sky.
Kristen Grender
Kristin is a skilled, dedicated teacher that is passionate about life and learning. She received her degree in Special Education, transition, and autism from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She also earned two master’s degrees from Western Michigan University, the first in Orientation, and the second in Teaching Children with Visual Impairments. In the Spring of 2017, the state of Wisconsin recognized Kristin with the Herb Kohl Fellowship for her contributions in the field of Education. Kristin is a published author that loves cooking meals using vegetables from her garden and being active with her family. Besides a liking for yoga, leading her to earn a yoga certification in 2017, Kristen enjoys reading, photography, skiing, biking, and 4-wheeling.
Matthew McCutcheon
Matthew McCutcheon is a 33-year veteran educator, who began his career in Wahington, D.C. teaching at an all-girls Catholic school, and then taught at Lake Forest Academy. His career then moved to Administrative roles as Director of Math, Science, and Technology at the Latin School of Chicago, and Chief Academic Officer at Cathedral School, and is currently at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a public boarding school in Aurora, Illinois. At all of these schools, Matthew’s focus has been mathematics, physics, and astronomy. His interest in astronomy began as a physics major and continued in graduate school, where he earned a degree in History and Philosophy of Science, with Johannes Kepler as an area of concentration. Subsequently, he was involved in developing astronomical curriculum and engaging students in research, including investigating ultra-blue objects in the Kepler Field (NITARP), and searching for pulsars (PSC) with radio observational data from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. He is excited to begin collaborative work in IDATA as well.
Tina Mekeel
Tina Mekeel holds a Master of Science in Special Education from the Northern University of Illinois. She is a Visually Impaired and Special Education teacher at the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where she hopes to celebrate her 10th anniversary of teaching in January of 2018. Tina is currently working on two certification programs, a Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist (CATIS) for people with Visual Impairments at Northern Illinois University, and a Mobility Certification at Western Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, her five children, and the family pet.

Tier 2 Teachers

Holly Bensel
Holly Bensel has spent the last 24 years teaching science at St. Mary’s School in Medford, Oregon. Despite her long tenure, she still surprises her students. During the last 9th-grade field trip to an amusement park in Vallejo, CA, Holly rode the front seat of a roller coaster with a 55mph top speed, impressing her students with her daredevil attitude. Holly’s love of geology and the outdoors started in her childhood. She loved visiting lava flows, crawling through lava tubes, visiting Pederson Rock Gardens, and wondering how the Cascade Mountains formed. She spent many summers sleeping on the patio, using her planisphere to identify constellations in the night sky. As an adult, she loves to travel around the United States in a travel trailer with her husband of 30 years, looking at rocks, mountains, and stars.
Chris Jansen
Chris Janssen is a talented Planetarium Director at the Wausau School District. Who earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Science, Physics, Micro-electronics, at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and a Master’s of Science in Education degree in Science Education (Planetarium), at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His many achievements include becoming an Earth Science/Astronomy classroom teacher, Science Department Chair, Fellow and Member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and from 2002 to 2008 served on the executive committee for the Great Lakes Planetarium Association. Chris also holds the distinction of becoming a Wiscon State Fellow Herb Kohl Education Association, a Fellowship program that recognizes and supports teaching excellence and innovation, and he is also a recipient of the Wausau School Board Commendation Award. Chris is devoted to sharing the universe with the surrounding community and creating “technical firsts” inside the dome to share with others.
David Lockett
David Lockett is a committed S.T.E.M. teacher with a distinguished and diverse background in the fields of Astronomy, Biotechnology, and Engineering, and is an advocate and practitioner of S.T.E.M. accessibility for all students. At present, he is responsible for implementing a project-based curriculum for all students as they rotate through the STEM lab at the Bok Academy, and is an Advisory Board Member of the Aerospace National Science Teachers Association.
Michael Prokosch
Mike first got interested in astronomy when he was very young, spending as much time as his mom would let him outside trying to find Halley’s Comet, years before it arrived. He is now the Education and Public Outreach Director of the SHSU Planetarium and Observatory and has worked for the Sam Houston State physics department for over 15 years. He traveled to Chile as a member of the 2015 cohort of ACEAP, the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program. He founded the Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society in 2004, a member of the Night Sky Network and has been an AAVSO member for five years and writes a column for a Huntsville, Texas newspaper. Currently, he is participating in the IDATA program. He enjoys observing variable stars, watching Jupiter, comets, and supernova. He also teaches fulltime: 2 years as a middle school science teacher and 15 years in special education.
John Quinn
John Quinn holds an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in computer science. He spent 15-years teaching middle and high school math in Milwaukee before accepting the Computer Science Instructor position at the Wausau West High School. His love for the field of computer science has led him to teach a wide range of course studies including introductory, intermediate and AP programming, web design, game design, and physical computing. Along with taking part in training, a distinguished course of studies supporting the implementation of computer science curriculum in the classroom, he also served on the state advisory panel whose work included developing the new Computer Science Academic Standards for Wisconsin. That he hopes leads to teaching other teachers in the state the new computer science curriculum. John’s newest endeavor is coordinating a Vex robotics team that brings together his students’ computing, and engineering talents. Apart from his work, John is an empty nester whose favorite activities include kayaking, hiking, wilderness backpacking trips, and working on projects in his peaceful serenity home on the Wisconsin River.
Elizabeth Ramseyer
Elizabeth Ramseyer is a High School Physics and Astronomy Teacher in Skokie, Illinois. She has spent 27 years teaching high school students, designing an astrophysics curriculum for high school senior enrollment, and designing a conceptual physics curriculum for math-challenged upperclassmen. She is the founding head coach of her high school’s very successful science olympiad team. A team with 23 state qualifications, two national qualifiers, an Illinois State Champion and ranked 8th in the Nation in 1999. Elizabeth has also been an instructor at the University of Chicago’s Graham school course on the Physics of Stars. Among her career highlights, is an experience tied to her membership in the ARCS community at the Yerkes Observatory. As part of a grant associated with that membership, Elizabeth received several telescopes. A community member noticed her high school students using them and donated an observatory for the students to explore the heavens. These same students participated in a research project with JPL/Spitzer (NITARP).
Rick Sanchez
Rick Sanchez is a teacher at Clear Creek Middle School in Buffalo, WY. He got his undergraduate degree in education from the University of Wyoming and his graduate degree from Colorado College. Rick taught elementary and middle school in the Denver area for three years before returning to his home state of Wyoming where he has taught middle school since 1996. Since 2015, he has extended his work to high school students, along with mentor astronomers, in conducting research and presenting at professional venues. His interest in education has evolved over the years to focus less on content and more on how to get students interested in the learning process and motivate them to learn how to learn. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in education from the University of Wyoming.
Barbara Stachelski
Barbara Stachelski earned her Bachelors of Science in Liberal Studies from California State University, Fullerton, and her master’s of Education from Concordia University, and became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2010. She has dedicated her career to teaching students with learning disabilities and language barriers, though her career started in a third-grade general education classroom. But in 2003, Barbara transitioned to teaching Kindergarten through 8th-grade students with special needs and is now a teacher at the Columbus Tustin Middles School in Tustin, California. There she works with 6th through 8th-grade students with a variety of special needs in math, language arts, and science. Plus a one-day a week general education 8th-grade science class, where students are part of the IDATA Project.