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Meet the Staff
Last Updated: 3/5/2020 1:07 PM
Mr. Jerome Gels
MA Instructional Leadership
Mr. Gels is an award-winning leader in education. He was named Administrator of the Year in 2017 by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. He was also awarded Legacy Top Educator Under 40 in 2010.
Outside of school, Mr. Gels is a father to three beautiful children and the founder of American Legacy Tours.
Dr. Julie Whitis
BS Biology & Education
MEd Secondary Science
MEd School Administration
EdD Education Leadership
Dr. Julie Whitis comes to the Ignite Institute after serving as Dean, Assistant Principal, and finally Principal of the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology. Before that, she taught science for 10 years at Simon Kenton High School where she also served as the science department chairperson and site-based council member.
Outside of school, Dr. Whitis is a mother, outdoor lover, and musician. She strives to be an innovative, student-centered educator who goes above and beyond for her scholars.
Mr. Brian Noll
BS Mathematics Education
MEd Teacher as a Leader
Brian Noll previously served as a teacher for the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering programs and as Dean of Academic Affairs at the Kenton County Academies. Mr. Noll is pursuing his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and is a Google Level 1 and 2 certified educator. He is also certified to teach AP Calculus and PLTW Biomedical Sciences.
Mr. Noll resides in Northern Kentucky with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys traveling with his family, playing soccer, and being active.
BS Business Management
BS Science Education
EdS Educational Leadership
Mr. Black started his career in business and marketing before deciding to work in education. He has experience as a classroom science teacher and Instructional Coach for various schools in the Boone County School District. Mr. Black has been happily married to his high school sweetheart for 29 years and has raised three very creative sons.
Mrs. Hemingway has been with Boone County Schools for 14 years, most recently at the Imagineering Academy. She currently resides in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their blended family of five.
Mrs. Hemingway enjoys family activities, advocating for abused children, and riding motorcycles in her spare time.
Mrs. Kentrup has been married for 29 years to her husband Gary. Together they have 2 awesome sons, 2 amazing daughters-in-law, and 2 beautiful granddaughters.
Away from work, Mrs. Kentrup likes to play board games, spend time with her family, and serves as a children's pastor at her church with her husband.
Mrs. Johnson has worked in education for more than a decade. She spent seven years in early childhood education as a Certified Administrator before transitioning to public education. Heather is passionate about empowering students to discover their destiny and equipping their parents to partner with them on that path. She has three children and a husband of 28 years. Smiling is her favorite.
MA Special Education
MA Instructional Leadership
Ms. Bardo graduated from Thomas More College and Xavier University while studying education and school counseling. She has served in education for over a decade with experience in the classroom and a children's home. She wants to empower every scholar to be a lifelong learner, achieve academic excellence, and advocate for their success.
Ms. Bardo enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and doing anything outside. She grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and is blessed with a son, and a Newfoundland, Dashi. She has been doing CrossFit for over six years and is very passionate about health and fitness.
BA English w/ Secondary Teaching Cert
Mrs. Dempsey has ten years of classroom experience at both the high school and college levels. She earned a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Georgetown College in 2009. While at Georgetown, she completed her teaching certification for middle and high school English. Mrs. Dempsey went on to earn an MA in English from Northern Kentucky University and is currently working on completing her Educational Leadership Doctoral program. She is a 2019 Golden Apple Award recipient. Mrs. Dempsey has been married for ten years to her husband Geoff. They have two sons and a rambunctious chocolate lab.
Academic Internship Coordinator
MBA Decision Sciences
Although he has been educating scholars in Career and Technical Education since the fall of 2012, Mr. Bryson also teaches decision science at Thomas More University where he was awarded Outstanding Teacher for 2013. He is currently in his 15th academic year of teaching at his collegiate alma mater. His work at the Academies earned him the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015.
In his spare time, you can find Mr. Bryson underwater, as he is a Certified Open Water SCUBA Diver. He is also an intense fan of Major League Baseball and a Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Camp alumnus.
Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator
BA Elementary Education
MA Educational Leadership
Rank I Principal Certification
Mrs. Greene is currently the Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator for Boone County Schools, where she has reigned over the NKY Makerspace for 3 years. Previous experience includes teaching in an inclusive Pre-K classroom, teaching in a 5th-grade classroom, Gifted/Talented, and Technology. She was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2014 and received the Innovative Teaching Award in 2016.
Mrs. Greene lives in Lexington with her family, where she enjoys baking, crocheting, and cheering on all things West Virginia!
Building Assessment & Robotics Coordinator
Beth Koch is a Golden Apple Award recipient with a passion for Robotics and STEAM education. She has taught in Ohio and Kentucky. She has led students from all grade levels in Robotics programs for ten years, through NKU and Boone County Schools.
She loves project-based, hands-on learning experiences and her many roles as teacher, coach, mentor, data cruncher, assessment coordinator, networking specialist, robot chauffeur, and motivator. Her dream is to someday work for Disney, but for now, she'll just enjoy vacationing there.
Mr. Mulla has served as an Intervention Specialist with Boone County Schools for many years. He enjoys being outdoors in his free time.
COLLEGE OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES AND PRE-NURSING
BS Biology Focus Microbiology
MS Secondary Education
Ed.S Education Specialist
Ms. Anderson began working at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology in 2013. She is excited to be a part of the Ignite Institute staff. Ms. Anderson teaches Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences. She is licensed to teach Biology and Chemistry. She created the History of Diseases course.
Ms. Anderson grew up in Indianapolis and moved to Northern Kentucky in 2008. She will forever be a Hoosiers fan!
BA English with Secondary Teaching Certification
MA English with Certificate in Rhetoric and Composition
Mrs. Knapp-Lindsay holds her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education and a Master’s degree in English. She is currently taking coursework toward her Rank I. She is an AP Literature certified teacher who has been teaching English with the Boone County Schools for eight years.
Volunteerism is a passion of hers and a mainstay in her classroom; she has led students in over 30,000 hours of community service aimed at improving their connections to the community and compassion for others.
She lives in Florence with her husband and two sons. Mrs. Knapp-Lindsay enjoys gardening, entertaining, and reading.
MA Integrated Studies
Mr. Kerner started his career with Boone County Schools in 2005. He has taught everything from Algebra I through Calculus III. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Transylvania University, as well as a Master's in Integrated Studies from Northern Kentucky University. He also earned a Master's degree in Mathematics from Western Kentucky University.
Mr. Kerner is excited about what the Ignite Institute is capable of being, and he looks forward to working with what will no doubt be the best students in the area. When he is not teaching. Mr. Kerner likes to spend his time training for and completing triathlons. He says he "might not be the fastest person out there, but there is nothing like swimming, biking, and running back to back to back."
BS Biology and Secondary Education
MA Reading and Writing
Nichole Mathews is pursuing a doctorate of education degree. Before teaching Biomedical Sciences at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, Mrs. Mathews had a 14-year tenure as an eighth grade Science teacher. She has been a part of various Science leadership networks in the state of Kentucky and has served as KTIP teacher leader and coach.
Mrs. Mathews is blissfully married and has four children. She loves to lift weights and train with her husband. She is also an active member of 7 Hills Church. Mrs. Mathews enjoys boating, spending time at the beach, riding motorcycles, making home improvements, and crafting.
MS Physical Polymer Chemistry
Mrs. Reinhard has 24 years of experience teaching chemistry at both the high school and college levels. She was a college professor and academic dean in Virginia before moving to Ohio in 2006. For the last 13 years, she had the pleasure of being a chemistry teacher, science club sponsor, and proud Pioneer at Simon Kenton High School. Each day in her classroom, Mrs. Reinhard strives to inform and inspire her scholars using the scientific phenomena occurring in the world around them.
Outside of school, Mrs. Reinhard spends time with her husband of 22 years, two daughters, and two Rottweilers. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and watching college sports. She is a Virginia Tech Hokie alumnus and fan!
BS Middle and Secondary Education
Mr. Cogswell grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Turkey Foot Middle School then Dixie High School. He attended the University of Louisville where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Middle/Secondary Education with a focus on social studies and a minor in History. Mr. Cogswell worked at Turkey Foot for two years teaching 7th-grade social studies. Fun fact is that he's a big Cincinnati sports fan.
National Board Certified Spanish
Mr. Abston has been teaching with Kenton County Schools at Simon Kenton for 4 years. Previously, he worked at Holmes for the International Baccalaureate Program.
While attending Morehead State, Mr. Abston participated in GSP. After graduating, he taught in Mexico at the University of Guanajuato for 2 years. He also led summer Spanish language programs in Mexico, Spain, and Chile. In his free time, Mr. Abston enjoys planning for his next trip abroad.
Mr. Norris is in his fifth year of teaching high school English. He began his teaching career at Boone County High School where he was also the Boys Soccer Head Coach. In his pre-teaching career, he worked in Finance, Product Management, and finally in Advanced Manufacturing where he specialized in process improvements. He earned his BA in Anthropology with a minor in English Literature from Northern Kentucky University back in the 1900s. He now has an MA in Teaching from NKU and is working on his MA in English from Thomas More University.
“My goal is to teach scholars how to become more situationally aware while strengthening their skills to become better global citizens. Literature can be a tool to help connect all scholars so they have a shared experience to build on. “ He has been coaching soccer in Greater Cincinnati for 29 years with stints at several high schools. He even coached another Ignite Instructor. He helped start TC Soccer Club which is now grown into Kings Hammer and is still currently coaching a youth team. Mr. Norris lives in Crescent Springs with his very successful and amazing wife, Sarah, his three children and his canine running partner, Lucy Sparkles.
BFA Theatre Performance
BS Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
MEd STEAM Education (in progress)
Ms. Luhn is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she graduated from Mother of Mercy High School. She has recently relocated back to the Tri-State area from Oʻahu where she was working in environmental and cultural education. Ms. Luhn holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Northern Illinois University and a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University. While in Hawaiʻi she received her teaching training and certificate, and she is currently working toward her masters in STEAM-based education through Clemson University.
Ms. Luhn loves teaching and learning about interesting and dynamic stories from the past. She is thrilled to be back in her history-rich hometown as a Social Studies teacher at Ignite. She enjoys hiking, birding, gardening, scuba diving, yoga, photography, theatre, and dance.
COLLEGE OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
BA Development of Children in Education
MA Instructional Technology
EdS Instructional Leadership
Mrs. Brown has been in education for over fifteen years, serving in North Carolina and Kentucky. She is most passionate about computer science and preparing scholars to be future leaders. Mrs. Brown is a Google Level 1 and 2 certified educator and is AP certified in Computer Science Principles and Computer Science A. Mrs. Brown is also certified to teach all four PLTW Computer Science courses.
Mrs. Brown enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. She is active with her church and serves as a Stephen's Minister. Her free time is spent managing her family farms or enjoying activities along the coast of North Carolina.
MA Teaching Secondary Education in Chemistry
Mr. Cann has been teaching science for 11 years. He began in Jefferson County, then Grant County, and finally Boone County. Mr. Cann grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Simon Kenton Schools. He attended the University of Louisville and received both a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's of teaching in secondary education of chemistry.
He enjoys being outdoors, sports, traveling and spending time with his family. He and his wife Emily have a son named Nate, who keeps them very active! One interesting and proud moment is that Mr. Cann qualified and competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in 2018 with over 350 other competitors.
MA Instructional Leadership
Mr. Kentrup comes to Ignite Institute with 20-plus years of experience teaching Mathematics in Northern Kentucky schools; most of which occurred at Simon Kenton High School where his two sons played soccer. He earned his BS in Mathematics from Northern Kentucky University and later earned a Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership from NKU as well.
He and his wife, Jenni (our office manager), are children’s pastors at their church. They have two wonderful sons, two awesome daughters-in-law and two adorable grandchildren; Emma and Cecie.
When not in front of a group of young people you might find Mr. Kentrup playing a game of Settlers of Catan with family and friends or tormenting one or both of those amazing grandchildren.
COLLEGE OF DESIGN
Art Education Certification
MS Information Systems (E-Commerce)
MS Information Science
Mr. Richards has experience in Art Technology, Design, and Industry. He has experience as a professional Graphic Designer, Freelance Web Designer, and is co-owner of a photography and video production company. Mr. Richards has worked with public and private sector clients. He is an Adobe Certified Associate and has over 21 years of experience in art and design.
Mr. Richards enjoys traveling, painting, woodworking, welding, and home improvement. He's from Cincinnati and currently resides in Fort Thomas with his wife and two children.
BA Visual Arts Education
MFA Digital Design
EdS Educational Leadership
Mrs. Isaacs has 14 years of experience as a Visual Arts Specialist at the middle and high school levels. She is an AP Certified instructor and an Adobe Certified Associate. She was awarded Teacher of the Year by the Florence Rotary Club and named Kentucky Colonel in 2017.
Mrs. Isaacs earned her Bachelor's Degree at Mount Saint Joseph University and a Master's Degree from Warnborough College Ireland. She also earned her Ed.S at the University of the Cumberlands.
Mrs. Isaacs and her husband Greg are the parents of two beautiful daughters.
BS Secondary English Education
MA Secondary English Education
EdS Educational Leadership
Mrs. Wolfe began teaching at the Kenton County Academies after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2015. She is working towards her Doctorate in English. She is AP certified and a Google Level 1 and 2 certified instructor. She was a member of the Kenton County Play Team and has served as the Chair of the Academies' Ambassador Program committee for two years.
Mrs. Wolfe and her husband are both Kenton County graduates and met while attending Turkeyfoot Middle School. They have a daughter named Laken.
BS Computer Science
Mr. Mardis retired after 25 years with Toyota Quality Engineering. He spent 13 of those years at the facility that is now the Ignite Institute. Mr. Mardis grew up in Northern Kentucky and currently resides there with his wife and three children.
BS Chemistry and Environmental Science
MS Environmental Science
MA Teaching Secondary Education
Mrs. High graduated from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Environmental Science. She also holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from Thomas Moore College. Mrs. High taught Chemistry for ten years and other science courses including physics, environmental science, anatomy, and ACT Science Prep at Ludlow High School.
Mrs. High is happily married and has two young boys and a dog. She is actively involved with her church and enjoys the outdoors. Fun Fact: Mrs. High participated in rodeo events such as roping and barrel racing throughout grade school and her college years.
Mr. Smith earned his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from WKU in 2005, just as the internet was killing the newspapers. In 2013, he completed his Master's from NKU. His teaching career began in Adult Education at the Grant and Kenton County Jails. He has been teaching Social Studies for Boone County Alternative Programs, including the Imagineering Academy and Alternative Center for Education for four years.
Mr. Smith has the unique talent of being able to tell you, instantly, how many letters are in any word, which is completely useless in real life.
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
BA Secondary Education
Mrs. Raab-Kelley obtained a Bachelor's degree in English and Secondary Education from Northern Kentucky University. Mrs. Raab-Kelley began teaching in 2018 and has been involved in various classroom experiences for four years. She studied creative writing and Irish literature during her study abroad experience in Ireland. When Mrs. Raab-Kelley is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, and making candles.
BA History and Government
MA Secondary Education
Mr. Dalzell is a veteran educator with 22 years of experience at the middle and high school levels. He graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor's degree in History and Government. He received his Master's degree in Secondary Education from Northern Kentucky University. His favorite historical periods to teach would be the Antebellum South and World War II through the end of the Cold War.
He is married to Elizabeth Dalzell and has two children. Maddie attended Earlham College, while Ethan attended Union College. When not watching History Channel documentaries or Football games, Mr. Dalzell enjoys spending time on the farm with all of his barnyard animals, especially the chickens from Cluckingham Palace.
BS Secondary Business Education & Mathematics
MEd Instructional Leadership
Mrs. Leah Jefferson is a veteran teacher who resides in Brooksville, KY with her husband of 25 years Bobby Jefferson Jr. who is a retired volunteer fireman and an assistant foreman for the KY State Transportation Cabinet, Mason Co. division and the mother of two adult children, Karly Jefferson, who is a teacher at Sharp Middle School and Collin Jefferson, who is an Asbury University student-athlete playing basketball who is also studying to become a PE/Health teacher.
Mrs. Jefferson is a Bracken County High School graduate, home of the Polar Bears. Mrs. Jefferson has been a gymnast and former competitive gymnastics coach and enjoys watching many sports over the years. Currently, she is partial to the Asbury Eagles and the UK Wildcats. Her hobbies include spending time with friends and families, reading, playing cards/board games, watching Disney movies, cooking, enjoying the arts, and giving back to her community and her students.
AA Speech Communications
MA Secondary Education (emphasis Special Education)
Mrs. Himonidis has enjoyed teaching for the past 18 years at the high school level. She graduated from Thomas More College with Associate’s Degrees in Mathematics and Speech/Communications and Bachelor’s degrees in Education and Theater. She received her Master’s degree in Special Education from Northern Kentucky University. She appreciates being a creative and dramatic math teacher in the classroom to help students get excited about math.
Mrs. Himonidis is married to her wonderful husband and has three teenage children. She thrives on driving her children to their various events in her mini-van while singing along with toons from when she was young. She also enjoys putting together puzzles, reading books, photography, and watching college sports on television so she can make good conversation with colleagues.
MEd Secondary Education
Ms. Rademacher’s educational background consists of 14 years in Education with a wealth of degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a master’s degree in Education; a PK-12 license in teaching Spanish in Ohio as well one for teaching Spanish in Kentucky; a 5-12 educational administration Ohio license, which means that in Ohio, she is a licensed principal; and, a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on teachers educating students who have experienced trauma. While earning her doctoral degree, she also worked as a social worker, facilitating visits between parents and children who had been removed from their homes and were living in foster care.
Spanish is Ms. Rademacher’s first language, and she is the first in her family born in the United States. She currently resides in Ohio, and she has a 10-year-old puppy named Tío Pepe; he’s named after a sherry-wine billboard from the Plaza del Sol in Madrid, Spain. In her free time, she likes to hang out with family and friends and loves listening to live music, especially heavy metal and hard-core rap. She is a huge FC Cincinnati fan and also loves the Bengals (Who Dey), even though she admits they don’t deserve it.
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
BS Industrial Science
MA Secondary Education for Teacher Leaders
Mr. Klaine earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Western Kentucky University. Before teaching, he worked for a custom furniture and cabinet company and served as an Architectural Production Specialist for Drees Homes. He taught Project Lead The Way courses and Construction at Simon Kenton High School for two years before joining the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology in its inaugural year.
Mr. Klaine has served as the co-coach of KCAIT's VEX Robotics teams, leading them to earn several accolades including qualification for the state tournament and an invitation to be ambassadors for the World VEX Tournament. Mr. Klaine was the Freshman boys' Soccer Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach at Simon Kenton High School for five years. He and his wife Abby have two daughters and enjoy doing DIY home remodeling projects together. Adam spends his free time in the woods, hunting, and fishing.
BS Industrial Technology Education
AAS Mechanical Engineering Technology
Army National Guard Combat Engineer
Manufacturing and Machine Design Engineer
Mr. Hartline has 22 years of experience as a Machine Design and Manufacturing Engineer and three more years of experience as a Fabrication Lab Project Developer. He spent six years in the Army National Guard, 15 years as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT and 3 years full time.
Mr. Hartline is the 1996 Champion of the Ohio State Fair Demolition Derby and competed twice on TLC's Junkyard Mega-Wars TV show as "Crusher".
BA English with Secondary Teaching Certification
MA Teacher as a Leader
Ms. Leimenstoll is a proud graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She has experience teaching in Kenton County's Engineering and Women's Engineering Academies. She's an AP Certified English teacher, working towards certification for dual-credit. She is also certified in Project Lead The Way's Computer Integrated Manufacturing Course.
Ms. Leimenstoll was the 2018 Excellence in Education Award Winner for the Kenton County Academies. She has published work in the Kentucky School Leader for her work with project and motivation-based instruction. Ms. Leimenstoll grew up in the Cincinnati suburbs but now resides in Cold Spring, Kentucky. She is an avid reader and sports enthusiast.
MA Curriculum and Instruction
Mr. Olano earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Louisville and his Master's Degree from the University of Cincinnati. He is working towards an Applied Mathematics Master's Degree with a focus on Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.
Mr. Olano served as a lead mathematics tutor and teaching assistant for the College of Engineering at the University of Louisville before he began his teaching career.
In his spare time, Mr. Olano spends quality time with his wife and two wonderful children. He is very involved in his church, and his favorite sport is soccer. Mr. Olano's favorite sports teams are the Liverpool FC, FC Cincinnati, and the Louisville Cardinals.
BA Political Science
Mr. Dees holds a Bachelor’s in History from the University of Kentucky, a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Northern Kentucky University, and studied Russian and Russian political history at Российский Университет Дружбы Народов (Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia). He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Springfield with a focus on political theory and philosophy; particularly theories of justice among fringe ideologies and their subsequent effects on social capital.
Before teaching, he spent 6 years in the US Army working as an Intelligence Analyst, Photojournalist, and instructor at the US Army Intelligence School. In his spare time, he enjoys sports, reading, writing, analyzing election results, and building things. He can be found every weekday afternoon in the fabrication lab assisting students with their projects or creating his own. On the weekends you can find him working on old German cars in his garage, on the baseball field, or hanging out with his wife and two beautiful dogs.
BA Spanish Education
MA Spanish Language and Cultures
Keith Maddox is in his 45th year teaching and has still maintained an extreme passion for teaching and helping students learn Spanish and serve as a mentor. He received his Bachelors's Degree from Marshall University and Masters Degree from Jaime Balmes University in Guadalajara, Mexico and 2010 he was awarded the Embassy of Spain scholarship to study at the prestigious University of Salamanca where he earned his second Masters Degree in Spanish Language and Cultures.
He also spent nearly 30 years coaching football and track in both Ohio and Kentucky. In 2014, he received the Outstanding Teacher Award of Cincinnati Public Schools. He enjoys competing in road races and traveling. In 2016, he led 60 students, teachers, and administration to Peru in an immersion program where participants also hiked Macchu Picchu and also white water rafted a tributary of the Amazon River. Also, he enjoys reading and writing and while in Spain completed research to write a mystery for teenagers in Spanish based on the life of Miguel.
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