The STEM Learning Lab Team
Dr. Gina Cherkowski
Founder and CEO
Dr. Cherkowski is an educational game changer on a mission to ensure all students have access to high quality STEM learning experiences so they are aptly prepared for our technology-driven, dynamic world.
Dr. Cherkowski holds a PhD in Mathematics Education as well as in Culture Studies in Education. She has extensive experience in teaching and learning as a remediation specialist, a classroom teacher, and as a university professor for both undergraduate and graduate courses in education both in Canada and internationally.
Gina believes that play, exploration and meaning are critical factors for learning for all students. Gina strongly advocates that all students require and deserve opportunities to participate in high-level, hands-on, engaging and meaningful learning experiences so they are able to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Gina and her team believe that STEM Education combined with Arts and Entrepreneurialism provide pivotal learning opportunities that equip children with the skills, tools and mindsets they need for the 21st Century.
Dr. Cherkowski understands that math is a gatekeeper for many students. As a social justice math educator and learning activist, Gina believes that all kids can and should be proficient in math as well as the other STEM fields and fights to make this a reality. Her current research explores teaching math conceptually using spatial temporal reasoning to facilitate a deep understanding of mathematics for diverse learners. Another area of interest is the development of visual spatial skills through interaction in highly engaging, hands-on STEM and STEAM projects like coding, robotics and Maker Education.
Gina brings her passion for learning, her belief that all students deserve success, and her expertise as a learning scientists and a STEM specialist to the STEM Learning Lab team. Gina is available for Mathematics and STEM related speaking engagements and professional development sessions.
Dr. Christi Harter derived her passion for STEM education through her years as a classroom teacher, building administrator, and program director within five States of the United States, Ghana, Panama, and Canada. Christi learned early on in her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Mathematics teacher, and Technology teacher that students of all cultures and communities have a keen interest in learning, however the mode in which they are taught best determines how well they are able to absorb and apply complex information. Throughout her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Educational Technology, Christi worked to ensure blended learning and classroom technologies were established to increase student learning opportunities and academic performance, as well as to have teachers develop clear, aligned, and student-centered instruction.
To support the development of more engaged classrooms, Christi has led a variety of professional and program development to evolve teaching that focuses on student-led environments, career and college readiness, and connections to business/industry. Her work has established STEM education programs related to computer science, engineering, and biomedical sciences within the pre-Kindergarten through university settings.
As of late Christi has been teaching pre-service teachers in Calgary and Washington state. Her work with our future teachers has involved STEM education, Design Thinking, Career and Technical Education, and Assessment For, As, and Of Learning. These research-based instructional strategies are focused on providing learning opportunities that intentionally engage all student, attend to social justice issues, and allow for students to apply their learning beyond the classroom.
Executive Advisor/Interim CFO
Tracy is a Chartered Professional Accountant and also holds an MBA from the University of Calgary.As a Partner with her husband, Alan, in Beairsto Business Analytics Inc., she brings management skills, financial analysis, due diligence, financial modelling and business planning, strategy, contract negotiation, corporate budgeting. Tracy has extensive experience in all areas of management, including human resources, marketing, project management and logistics, IT management and legal/contract management. Private equity deals and angel investing are also two areas of recent focus. Tracy also mentors and coaches executives, managers and students in for-profit and non-profit organizations.
Tracy has also completed the MRU Non-profit Management Certificate, as she has volunteered in many capacities over the last twenty years for many non-profits across Calgary. She has the privilege of serving as Treasurer of The Prosser Charitable Foundation with her great mentor, Eric Prosser; has served also on a Calgary Foundation granting committee, is an Advisor to the Immigrant Access Fund, worked with Social Venture Partners in granting, and continues to help out in many capacities with non-profits with a specific focus on children and youth, for which she shares a passion.
Speaking of passions, Tracy is a life-long learner in many fields, including golf, travel, physics, economics, technology, psychology, soul-work and her favorite, music! Click here to see Tracy’s video with Calgary’s Cool Choir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccjp4kfSy6I
Director of Youth Programs
Director of Professional Development
Specializing in Dramatic Arts and Creativity
Kendle is an education specialist in the area of Transformative Pedagogies and STEAM Education. Kendle earned a Masters Degree in Science in Secondary Education from the State University of New York at Albany and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and Plan II Honors from the University of Texas in Austin. Kendle also holds a Masters in Arts Degree in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. As a classroom teacher, Kendle’s teaching areas included social studies, writing, and theatre. As a educational leader, Kendle aims to empower teachers to unleash their creative potential while increasing their capacities with technologies and the Arts through the incorporation of Inquiry, Design Thinking and 21st Century Pedagogies.
Monique is a creative soul with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for art and design. When not working with us at STEM Learning Lab, she is a part of the creative team at RenewAll where she likes to hack old furniture and mash it up with fresh ideas and new technologies. Monique and her team’s uniquely creative work has been featured in Swerve Magazine. Click here to check out some of their creations. Monique brings her passion for Art, her talent as an event planner, and her passion to be think outside the box to our team.
Chief Robotics Instructor
Robert Graham-Hu is creative and curious technology enthusiast who is currently studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. During high school, Robert was Team Lead for the FIRST Robotics Team 5630 where he found his passion for engineering, teamwork, and teaching. Using his skills of leadership and teaching from FIRST Robotics, Robert hopes to inspire others as he shares his passion for the wonderful world of STEM. In his free time, Robert enjoys playing and composing music as well as playing competitive video games.
Josh is an innovative Biomechanist with an interesting educational background rooted in both Kinesiology and Mechanical Engineering. Josh has a unique research background in human kinetics through the internationally recognized Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary. Currently, Josh is working toward becoming a high school teacher focusing on Physics and Physical Education, with aspirations of being a high performance football coach. In addition to instructing at STEM Learning Lab, Joshua also works as a strength and conditioning coach at the Winter Sport Institute aiding in the development of elite youth athletics. In his spare time, Joshua is an amateur Olympic Weightlifter who enjoys building aquariums and terrariums for his tropical pets!
Rita has an eclectic background which includes neuroscience, business, arts and education. Throughout Rita’s life, she received amazing opportunities to empower others, grow businesses and create opportunities for under-serviced group. As a result, she has received many awards and recognitions including Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year (Western Regional Finalist), Global Television/YWCA Woman of Vision, the Western Legacy Award for Innovation, the UCalgary WRC Distinguished Alumna Award, and one of the University of Calgary’s highest honours, the Order of the University of Calgary. She is a founding Director of the Quickdraw Animation Society, the Chickwagon! Foundation for Women, Wellspring Calgary, Legacy of Tao (US-based) and the STEAM360 Foundation.
Currently, Rita is a sessional instructor for the Werklund School of Education (University of Calgary) and Royal Roads University (Victoria, BC). She teaches creativity & innovation, entrepreneurship and assessment. She is completing her Doctorate (Leadership). Her thesis work is investigating the use of business models and frameworks to innovate pedagogy and curriculum. She also serves on various Boards, Advisory Groups and committees in both the for-profit (education, small business, entrepreneurship, investment, international business) and not-for-profit sectors (arts, education, health care, community development, women’s issues, fund-raising).
Soft-Skills and Science Education
Sava’s work in education began when she was 14 years old and began tutoring math students. She was always drawn to STEM fields and noticed that many others considered themselves ‘not math people’ or ‘not science people’. As an early educator she understood that a student’s attitude about learning made a drastic effect on their academic achievement.
Sava’s curiosity about educational methods led her to work in supplemental education (additional math, reading and writing programming for K-12 students), eLearning, educational design, professional development facilitation, educational video production, teaching junior high math and science, as well as the development and management of educational programs. Her curiosity about evidence-based teaching, also led her to study pedagogy, and attend as many professional development opportunities as she could find. Sava’s goal is to create experiences that are memorable, help students understand the true essence of STEM subjects and their constituent parts, and help all students find the parts of STEM that bring them feelings of curiosity and excitement.
STEM Learning Lab’s Board of Advisors:
Successful Serial Tech Entrepreneur
Angel Investor and Venture Capitalist
Evan is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded and was co-CEO of the ERP technology consulting firm OmniLogic which grew to over 500 staff in five offices across Canada before being acquired in 1998 by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He was one the original founders of Canada’s largest independent music label MapleCore, the charity UEnd, and Ideaca, a management and technology consulting firm until it was acquired by Hitachi Solutions in 2013. Evan is a certified executive coach working with entrepreneurs, executives and senior managers of start-up and high growth enterprises. He is an active tech investor both as investment angel and venture capital limited partner.
MA EdTech, President, MindShare Learning Technology,
Co-founder & President, C21 Canada
Robert has over 25 years of expertise in the learning and technology space as an administrator at York University and Country Manager at TLC Canada School Division. His board appointments include: Past Chair, Canadian eLearning Enterprise Alliance and board member York U IRLT. Robert was recently appointed to the ICTC CTIC Task Force on Driving Change Education and Skills DigitalTalent2020 in 2016. Under his leadership MindShare learning, with the support of C21 Canada, he was also awarded the Chair’s Global Partnership Award for outstanding work nationally and internationally for taking a leadership role in connecting industry and education.
Ryan isn’t only an advisor to STEM Learning Lab, he is a successful entrepreneur, lawyer, speaker and consultant. Ryan delivers high-performance consulting services and empowering training content for a variety of businesses and organizations. He conducts workshops and delivers presentations on networking, entrepreneurialism, marketing, sales training, program development, customer service, performance mindset and motivation. He also speaks widely on career fulfilment, transition and planning, and has delivered a TEDx talk on this subject.
Ryan is the author of the book Unsuited: How We Can Reject Conventional Career Advice And Find Empowerment, and is also a freelance writer and blogger on the topics of performance, entrepreneurialism, motivation, productivity, marketing, and career planning for many online publications. He is also a partner in a highly successful global direct marketing business where he trains and provides leadership to many thousands of sales consultants worldwide. In his spare time, he volunteers his time as a an entrepreneurial coach, mentor and strategic advisor.