Meet Our STEM-X Team!

Program Directors

Carey Christensen
Carey ChristensenPoudre Director

Carey grew up in the great state of Wisconsin.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a degree in Education and Sports Medicine. She moved out to Colorado upon graduating and loves and has embraced all that Colorado has to offer. She began working at Poudre High School in 1999 both as a teacher and Certified Athletic Trainer.  In the summer of 2015 she finished her Masters of Education and Human Resource Studies at CSU and started as part time Assistant Principal in the fall of 2015. She is passionate about providing opportunities for all students and helping them realize their potential! She is excited about the upcoming STEM institute and all of the incredible opportunities that are awaiting our students.

John Howe
John HowePreston Director

John graduated from the University of South Dakota and received his masters in administration from the University of Wyoming. He was awarded the Secondary School Assistant Principal of the year award in Wyoming. As the assistant principal at Preston Middle High he inspires students on a daily basis to achieve more than they think possible. One of his great loves is flying. He is a pilot and an officer in the Civil Air Patrol. He has taught Flight Simulator for over 20 years and has motivated countless students to continue on with aviation in their adult lives.

Program Coordinator

Sārah Youssef
Sārah YoussefProgram Coordinator

Sārah grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated with a B.A. from Lehigh University. She went on to earn an M.Ed. in Educational Organization and Leadership from the University Illinois. She then worked at CSU in distance education and undergraduate advising from 2012-2019 and is excited for this opportunity to work in PSD with K-12 faculty and students. Sārah has children at Rocky, Webber, and Johnson, who have participated in (and loved!) STEM-X. She truly enjoys working with the STEM-X team and appreciates the opportunity to contribute towards providing enriching and engaging learning opportunities for our students.

Instructional Team

Katie Brose
Katie Brose

Miss Brose teaches music and reading at Lopez Elementary during the school year. With a veterinarian father and a teacher mother, she’s been around agriculture and education her whole life. During her time at the University of Wyoming, she took extra classes in outdoor ed and forestry management and worked for the Wyoming Conservation Corps. She loves teaching all subjects and is excited to be teaching at STEM-X this year!

Lindsey Cascarina
Lindsey Cascarina
Sue Charron
Sue Charron

Sue is a STEM enthusiast and will be joining STEM-X for her 5th year. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at CSU in 1997 and began her 23-year journey teaching mathematics at Preston Middle School. In 2012, she earned her Master’s degree in Mathematics at University of Northern Colorado. In her free time she loves to be with her family playing card/board games, camping, and skiing. Her STEM passions involve all things air and space and is excited to be guiding STEM-X students through model rocketry and drones activities this summer. 

Stacey Cornmesser
Stacey Cornmesser

Stacey Cornmesser grew up in Chicago and graduated with a Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana. She worked as a process engineer for many years before staying at home with her three children.  First, she worked for FMC in West Virginia making various Phosphorus specialty chemicals.  Then, she moved to Texas to work for Haldor Topsoe, a Danish catalyst manufacturing company.  She often travelled to Denmark, working with their Research and Development Groups, as well as coordinating the startup of their processing plant.  She has lived in Fort Collins since 2012 and loves all Colorado has to offer, including skiing, hiking, and running.  Currently, she substitutes with the Poudre School District. Stacey is looking forward to teaching with the STEM Institute this summer, hoping to inspire young women to pursue careers in the chemical sciences.

Valerie Cox
Valerie Cox

My name is Valerie Cox. I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. After high school I attended the University of Wyoming and graduated with my Elementary Education degree. I met my husband Cevin and we got married and had 3 children Dylan (24) Tayler (21), Sophia (11).

Once our older children went to school I began my teaching career. I was a reading specialist for 1 year in Cheyenne. Then I taught Kindergarten in Longmont for 6 years. We then moved to Windsor and I started teaching in PSD schools. I am currently the Elementary Interventionist, Elementary MTSS coordinator at PSD Global.  I also teach Culinary classes at PSD Options. I truly love working with my students and parents.

My hobbies include any type of dance, hiking, camping, biking, and playing tennis. Most importantly I enjoy spending time with my family.

I am so excited to be joining STEM X this summer and I look forward to meeting my students and parents.

Mackenzie Crooks
Mackenzie Crooks

I moved to Colorado last summer from Indiana.  I grew up on a small hobby farm, and worked as a vet technician all through high school and for a few years after college.  While in college I majored in Animal Sciences, so it is safe to say that animals are my passion!  I am currently the Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Poudre High School and can’t wait to share my passion of agriculture with you!

Shane Edler
Shane Edler

Shane Edler graduated from University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Secondary Technology Education and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at CSU. Shane has taught Technology Education at Preston Middle School since 2001, including classes such as Robotics, Aviation, 3D Design (Solidworks), and Media Technology with a live broadcast every morning. He has been teaching at the STEM Institute since its inception, including Video Production, Robotics, Advanced Robotics and 3D Design. He enjoys demonstrating cutting edge technology, where the students are able to build and program their own robot. Shane Edler also enjoys coaching Football in the fall semester and Track in the spring semester. In his spare time he enjoys hiking and biking in the outdoors with his wife and two young daughters here in Fort Collins.

Cris Fierro
Cris Fierro

Cris Fierro is a veteran of the fire service where he served as a Lieutenant in a suburban fire department just outside of Austin, TX for almost 10 years.  In the fire service, Cris instructed at a high school based fire academy where students took a two-year elective to graduate with their firefighting certificate.  Cris also taught hazardous materials classes to other firefighters as they worked to get their hazardous materials technician certificates.  After moving to Colorado with his family, Cris decided to begin another public service career as a 7th grade science teacher at a school in Greeley, CO.  Cris lives in Fort Collins, CO with his wife and two awesome children, and his hobbies include hiking, biking, fly-fishing, backpacking, and nature journaling. 

Stephanie Graff
Stephanie Graff
Dan Lowndes
Dan Lowndes

Dan has been fortunate enough to find work as a teacher and a coach, two things that he is passionate about. He has been working at Preston for 20 years and is excited to be a returning teacher for STEM-X. He lives with his wife and kids in Fort Collins, a town that his wife grew up in and that they all love. He spends as much time as possible doing outdoor activities with his friends and family.

Samantha Kressin
Samantha Kressin

Samantha is finishing her 5th year of teaching Family & Consumer Sciences at Loveland High School. She currently teaches Culinary Nutrition, Catering, Nutrition & Wellness, and Fashion. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2015 and moved to Fort Collins in 2016. She loves anything outdoors, her chocolate lab Gunner, teaching life skills, and inspiring students to live a healthy lifestyle.

Ryan Martine
Ryan Martine

Math is a part of so many things in our daily life and Ryan is dedicated to show his students how math applies to their everyday lives. He uses technology on a daily basis in his classroom and is an example to other teachers on how to use the advances in technology in all subjects. His dedications to his students help them strive to look deeper into math concepts. He is not only a math teacher at Preston; he is also the department chair.

Sue Mateer
Sue Mateer

Sue Mateer has 30 years of experience in law enforcement with more than 10 years as a school resource officer working in PSD middle schools. She has been involved with Fort Collins police youth police academy both as a director and instructor. Sue’s teaching and training experience includes elementary and middle school classrooms, CSU students, school personnel, community groups, FCPS civilian police academy, statewide forums, and national conferences. She received her PhD in education from Colorado State University in 2010. Sue is the parent of 2 great young adults; her interest in travel and volunteering has taken her around the world.

Julie Monks
Julie Monks

Hi! My name is Julie and I teach Technology at Shepardson STEM Elementary.  I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.  Prior to teaching Elementary school I worked for 20 years in the high tech industry.   I am excited to teach coding at STEM institute because it is so much fun and a powerful tool for students to learn.  When I am not teaching, I enjoy scrapbooking, reading, boating and spending time with my family.

Lisa Musante
Lisa Musante

My love for flying began in 5th grade when my dad surprised me with a glider ride for my birthday. Gliding gave me an appreciation for the four forces of flight. From that moment on, I was hooked. I started taking power plane lessons in Cessna 150s. As soon as I could drive, I began working as a doctor’s receptionist to pay for flying lessons. In high school, I soloed and earned my private pilot’s license. I also completed as many math and science classes as I could to prepare for a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics from San Jose State University. Throughout college I worked in many aviation jobs including AirCal in customer relations, NASA as a biological test pilot, and Battelle Aviation Safety Reporting System researching incidents and accidents. Upon graduation, I was licensed as a commercial pilot with an instrument rating and a private pilot ground instructor. I was hired by Lockheed to work as a Satellite Operations Engineer as a Planner Analyst. Over the years my job evolved into a Systems Engineering Integration and Test position using new command and control technology. Now as an elementary science and engineering lab teacher, my career in aerospace allows me to bring real-world math and science to life. My diverse skills in conjunction with my Master of Arts in Education permit me to integrate relevant, hands-on learning for my students. My career path allows me to increase students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Sharing and instilling the passion for learning in elementary children opens their eyes to vast career possibilities.

I also serve as a teacher of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Program (WASP) curriculum, a teacher envoy to the Wings Over the Rockies Teacher Flight Program, and a Teacher Flight Program Advisory Committee member.

Joel Peterson
Joel Peterson

Aviation and Space Exploration are two of Joel’s enduring passions.  He has spent 21 years in PSD teaching 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade science, technology education, and aerospace science classes.  Joel has a professional pilot degree from Metropolitan State College of Denver, is a pilot with over 1400 flight hours, was a flight instructor, classroom teacher and simulator instructor at Aims Community College and is a United Airlines trained B727 flight engineer.   He was the sponsor of an aerospace education program at Webber Junior High/Middle School and conducted 42 simulated space shuttle missions over 18 years.  Joel enjoys working with STEM Institute students and is looking forward to his 4th year with The Institute!

Jacqueline Petrino
Jacqueline Petrino

Jacqueline has worked for last 7 years at Poudre Global Academy as the 4th/5th Grade teacher and as the First Grade Teacher in the Options Enrichment Program.  She has two children, a son at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and a daughter who is a competitive swimmer and a student at PGA.  She also has two “fur babies” Bella and Eden, who she loves to spend a great deal of time with, walking and going to the park to play ball.  She loves to read and has a passion for providing a safe place for kids of all ages to be who they truly are in the pursuit of their hopes and dreams!

Alina Rozenbaum
Alina Rozenbaum

Alina has spent the better part of her life in the education field, whether working on her B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Tulsa, or her ME.d. in Education and Human Resource Studies from CSU, or more recently as a Secondary Math teacher at Mountain Range High School. Before becoming a teacher, she kept coming back to teaching in some form, whether it was at tech summer camps (much like STEM-X) or at tutoring centers. Therefore, she finally pursued her teaching license and gets to do what she loves all year round! There’s so much potential in pursuing the joy of doing something you love, and she’s excited to share that with your scholars this summer.

Dusti Sanger
Dusti Sanger

Dusti Waite has been involved in theatre since she was three years old. From being involved in several theatre companies to continuing her passion throughout her schooling, performing arts have always been a huge part of her life. In 2014, Dusti received a full-time 7th grade position at Preston Middle School where she taught and still continues to teach English and Drama. She also puts on the Spring Play and organizes events such as Dancing with the Teachers and the talent show. She is so excited to be a part of STEM Institutes and leading the Identity Crisis: Facial Illusion class. She aims to create a fun, engaging, creative environment where student feel safe to explore and take risks.

Michael Schaefer
Michael Schaefer

Michael Schaefer, is a Colorado native born and raised in Fort Collins, graduated from Poudre and earned both a BME and Master’s in Instruction from Colorado State University.  Over 37-years, three of his orchestras have appeared at the Colorado Music Educators Association conference in Colorado Springs and, in 2009 Michael received the American String Teachers Association Lifetime Achievement Award.  He was director/conductor of the Loveland Chamber Orchestra for 13 seasons and the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor for 13 years.  He has been on the staff of the Colorado ASTA Middle School Summer String Camp for 12 years.  Before retiring, Michael performed with the FCSO for 35 consecutive seasons, 8 years as assistant concertmaster.  In “retirement” he is a mentor, guest clinician and adjudicator in Colorado and Wyoming and is very excited to become part of the STEM summer program at Preston teaching the Balsa Wood Violin class.

Kathy Schroedl
Kathy Schroedl

Twenty years ago Kathy built a house in the mountains with her husband, creating a home for their two sons and numerous pets. That was the beginning of her dream to teach students how to build anything they choose. She has been teaching math, science, and STEM for the last 10 years. In the classroom, it is clear that students learn best when they are discovering. Building things takes both creativity and perseverance… skills needed for 21st century learners!

Claire Skelly
Claire Skelly

Although born in New Mexico, Claire has had a passion for the ocean from a young age. She has been lucky enough to study and work in the field of marine biology in Washington state, Baja California del Sur, and the Florida Keys. The pursuit of a M.Ed. degree brought her to the great state of Colorado where she currently teaches Biology and GeoSpace Science at Fort Collins High School. When she’s not teaching science, Claire can be found biking, hiking, and running all around Fort Collins.

Leslie Smyser
Leslie Smyser

Helping students understand and ultimately appreciate the natural world in which we all live is my passion. I have degrees in Biology, Zoology and Education and a love of learning and learners that continues to grow. I have spent the last 10 years in the Midwest teaching high school science but I am very eager to return to the West were my roots are deep and I had previously taught middle school outdoor education. I have two small children, an old dog and a husband who is just as excited about science as I am.

Alice Stech
Alice Stech

Alice Stech has had the distinct pleasure of serving students in a variety of roles for over 20 years in education. She began her career in Illinois teaching 3rd grade gifted learners. She has also had the honor and privilege of working in a variety of administrative roles, such as Assistant Principal and Principal at an Elementary School. Two years ago she moved to Colorado and began working with student teachers from Colorado State University. She also accepted a position in the classroom to continue in the field of education. Being with students and watching them grow as learners is something Alice has enjoyed in all of her roles. When not at work, she enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, reading, and finding new adventures.

Gabriella Torgerson
Gabriella Torgerson
My name is Gabriella and I teach Kindergarten at Shepardson. I moved to Fort Collins a few years ago and love living in Colorado! When I am not teaching, I can be found outdoors mountain biking, camping, hiking, backcountry skiing, or playing eagle eye in the woods. I am excited to be teaching a class about animals this summer!
Melissa Vigil
Melissa Vigil

Melissa Vigil is originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia. She moved to Fort Collins for a PhD program in organic chemistry at Colorado State University. It was there that she realized that she wanted to share her passion for science with others. She switched gears and became a certified teacher. Melissa teaches chemistry and earth systems science at Fossil Ridge High School. She also started the Science Olympiad program at FRHS and proudly serves as the co-coach for their teams. Melissa has taught at the STEM Institute since 2012 and spends a significant portion of the school year scheming how to make her classes even better than they were the previous years. She is beyond excited to share both her passion for science and her obsession for Harry Potter with students. Mischief Managed!