This year we are welcoming three new staff members: Beth Cerrone - Cybersecurity, Michelle Kennedy - Bioscience and Computer Science, & Steve Kerchner - Pilot Ground. Scroll below to learn more about each of them.
After college, Ms. Cerrone worked in the financial industry for 7 years at Bay Bank in Boston. Although she enjoyed the challenge of the product management group she worked with, there was something missing. Ms. Cerrone's mother was a middle school ESL teacher. She saw the dedication and passion she had for her students and they had for her. She helped her mother set up her classroom, grade papers, and help students when she could. Ms. Cerrone saw first hand the challenges that teachers and students go through. Instead of being part of the problem in complaining about a broken system, she decided to become part of a solution.
Ms. Cerrone started this wonderful journey in education almost 25 years ago and never looked back. She started teaching in Boston at Oliver Ames High School, developing one of the first school websites with all teachers having their own websites as well (teaching teachers HTML 20 years ago was not easy). Moving to Colorado, she was one of the initial teachers in the IB Math program and created one of the first Computer Science and Web Design courses in this district 15 years ago. Ms. Cerrone was part of the inaugural group at Mead High School, building all of the technology curricula for Mead High. She also helped create the Engineering Program at Erie High School. Prior to joining the Innovation Center, she spent several years as a Computer Science Instructor at Silver Creek. She is excited to be building a new Cybersecurity Pathway at the Innovation Center and joining our amazing team. We are excited to have you Beth!
Another recent addition to the Innovation Center is Michelle Kennedy, Bioscience Instructor.
Michelle joins us from New York, where she graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI. She received her master’s degree in Chemistry Education from Hunter College, also in NY. She is a certified highschool teacher and has her CTE in STEM. After teaching chemistry in NY for 3 years and working for the New York City department of education training computer science teachers, she was ready for a change of scenery and landed on the beautiful state of Colorado, where we quickly snatched her up. Currently, Michelle teaches courses, runs after school programs for students at the IC, and supports the district with their Computer Science work. From teaching biotech and computer science to helping students “build the hospital room of the future”, she keeps herself quite busy, but that didn’t stop her from adding “Intro to Game Design” to her list of courses this year. She’s always been interested in video games and has a passion to learn how they work. With this class, Michelle is excited to have the opportunity to move her students from passive consumers to active producers. It’s a great way for her to “play” while she works!
When she’s not at the IC, she is enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors, backpacking, hiking, camping, and all that nature has to offer. We’re excited to have you on board Michelle!
Steve Kerchner is one of our newest staff additions as an FAA Advanced Ground Instructor.
As a 35 year veteran teacher, Steve’s vast experience in math and science, combined with his love of flying, brings a wealth of knowledge to the students in our Aeronautics program at the IC. As a teacher, Steve integrated his experience with flight into his physics and chemistry courses as creative ways to inspire his students. As he began contemplating retirement, he realized he had more to offer. He wanted to create or support an aviation program for high school students. As luck would have it, he stumbled upon the Innovation Center and did not want to leave. When he saw what was happening with the flight simulators and unmanned aircraft systems at the IC, he was hooked. He started as a mentor, hosting a Pilot 1 and 2 level course. What started with 8 students now has 11 rounds of classes this year. When Steve was asked about his learning philosophy, he had a design mindset. “We learn through our mistakes. In a flight simulator, you fly, make errors, get immediate feedback, and then you learn why”. This bias toward action is what keeps him moving forward. In conjunction with other staff and students at the IC, the latest and greatest idea to emerge is Virtual Reality Flight. This brings the two dimensional experience of the flight simulator one step further with the immersive and exhilarating experience of 3D flying! Next steps include broadening the VR Flight Program and working toward having students build their own working plane.
If you can’t find Steve at the Innovation Center, check the Colorado River, where you’ll find him flying in a different way, as he rafts his way through the white water rapids! Welcome aboard Steve!