Brunner: A Historian at Heart

by Ben Lang, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Morgan Brunner is the 11th grade College, Career, and Civics teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She has been at Bio-Med since fall of 2019.

Before joining the Bio-Med community, Brunner led a diverse life. She attended a few colleges, lived across the country, and worked in multiple fields, on top of other experiences.

Brunner visited Biltmore, the largest privately owned house in the U.S., in Ashville, NC. Photo provided by Brunner.

Brunner attended The University of Akron for History and also has a minor in Archeology.  She later went to Bowling Green State University for a degree in Curriculum and Teaching.

After Brunner graduated in her 20s with her bachelor’s degree, she lived in Lexington, KY in 2009 and also lived in Baton Rouge, LA in 2010.

Prior to teaching, Brunner has pursued a broad range of occupations. She worked in hospitality management from 2003-2007.

When asked about her experiences, she said, “I pretty much worked every job in the restaurant.”

She also held a job as a museum educator at the Canton Museum of Art. While there, she mainly taught elementary school children. She said she worked with STEAM art, which is the integration of art into the traditional STEM format.

She was also a substitute teacher at GlenOak High School, where her main duties focused on teaching Honors Government as well as Anatomy and Physiology. She was at GlenOak for three years before joining Bio-Med.

Pictured above is Brunner at Morgan Hall on Harvard’s Campus. Photo provided by Brunner.

Brunner admitted, “As cheesy as it sounds, my favorite thing about Bio-Med is the people. My co-workers, the students, the parents… it’s a really wonderful culture to be a part of.”

Brunner says that joining the Bio-Med community has made her a more empathetic and understanding person.

She commented that, if she had the choice, she would also like to teach psychology and sociology. 

As someone who is no stranger to hobbies, Brunner said, “I really enjoy art, looking at it, creating it, the whole shabazz!”

She has other hobbies too, such as reading fantasy novels, watching action movies, traveling to weird historical places, and trying out international cuisine. She particularly enjoys Indian and German food.

“German food is my jam!” she said.

In the future, Brunner wants to go back to school and get her administrative license, so she can become an athletic director.


Jennings: Nursing Her Passion with Bio-Med

by Audrey Fusillo, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2022 — Amy Jennings made her way onto the Rootstown campus this school year as the newest Career Technical Education teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She’s the health pathway instructor working to prepare the freshmen for health science and technology in addition to preparing the sophomores for bioscience research development. Despite landing where she is now, she took a winding route to get to Bio-Med, being called to both nursing and teaching.

Jennings started her college career when she was 19 by becoming a veterinary technician (vet tech) on and off for about two years as she also was taking courses in education. This was her first foray to understand where she wanted to go with her career and eventually, she found that teaching was what really called to her, despite her aspirations to work as a veterinarian. 

Pictured above is Amy Jennings with her family at her daughter Zoe’s college graduation. Zoe earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Ohio University in just three years. From left to right: Jennings, Zoe (Daughter), Gabriel (Son), and Ethan (Son). Photo provided by Amy Jennings.

She taught horseback riding lessons for years as a teen and found that she really enjoyed the prospect of being able to help others learn. After this discovery, she attended The University of Akron — the same school she was training to be a vet tech at — to earn a Bachelor’s of Science and a Bachelor’s of Education and graduated in 1994. After graduation, she began teaching educating middle-schoolers from grades five-eight.

But things quickly changed when motherhood fell upon her.

Ultimately, Jennings found that being a mom and supporting her family was most important to her as her children grew up, causing her to give up vet school. Jennings still persevered as a teacher during this time. After staying home for 10 years, and teaching for eight, two of her five children started experiencing undiagnosed medical symptoms.

“I didn’t like not knowing exactly what was going on,” Jennings added.

She had always been the go-to medic in the family, due to a health scare with her grandmother. Because of this experience, Jennings was comfortable researching the conditions and sharing the facts with family. After her children began displaying unexplained symptoms, the need for Jennings to continue researching medical mysteries increased.

But eventually, she hit a research wall and couldn’t do anymore without a college degree in a medical field.

Jennings decided to go the full nine yards, reflecting on the decision as a positive and has continued to work as a nurse for 13 years to the present.

Taking UA courses, she first got her registered Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license. She claims this was based around wanting to understand the difference between what she classified as, “mom-fears,” and true emergencies.

“I like being in the know. I like helping people,” she admitted.

She then transferred to nursing school at UA, craving more in-depth medical knowledge. After graduating from UA with her medical degree, she earned a position at the Akron Children’s hospital. Jennings specialized in hospice, pain management, and pediatrics. With pediatrics at Akron Children’s, she moved into the burn unit and intensive care unit until COVID-19 hit.

Jennings’ marmoset, Oliver, curls around her fingers. She’s always loved monkeys and she was finally able to make her dream of having one as a pet come true with this little primate. Photo provided by Amy Jennings.

With an increased demand for health safety post-pandemic, she used her nursing degree to work in school health (a branch of nursing that connects to school nurses or medical assistants) which allowed her to realize how she truly missed teaching like she did during her early motherhood.

“Nursing is all about educating your patients, so it matched the education background I was already into,” Jennings shared.

She found the Bio-Med position and combined her two passions. Even though each line of work holds complex standards, Jennings said that it was easier to come back into teaching having had a nursing career.

She elaborated, “One of the main jobs of a nurse is being an educator. The doctor will write the orders, and a nurse comes in and goes over things with you and your family, making sure you understand. We’re the ones that teach you how to do it.”

Everything that Jennings’ has  learned, she’s found meaning behind. Jennings encourages this same mindset in her personal teachings.

She explained, “I want to see value in it. I do feel that there is value in everything we learn here. Whether it’s for our brain, our heart, or our hands.”

Jennings finds her personal values within her family, hoping to influence their journey positively. With only one child, a freshman, at home, two in college, and one running an office for eye care, home life has slowed down.

Despite her love for family, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Jennings struggled to balance a family on top of trying to create opportunities for herself.

“I have certainly learned the differences between going to college with minimal responsibilities versus running your home and raising children while getting a degree,” she said.

With all of the seriousness needed in a professional environment, Jennings has also learned to be able to laugh at herself a lot and brush things off.

“I think first and foremost, it’s important to not take things personally. When someone is upset, when a parent is upset, it’s not about me…. Sometimes, we just need somebody to listen.”

Helping people had been one of her dreams, but Jennings also wanted to help animals, specifically horses. This passion also inspired her vet tech era. Growing up, Jennings found her core group of friends at Camp Y-Noah, the Akron YMCA’s overnight camp located in Green, Ohio.

Jennings (right) hangs out with friend and hero, Christy Engler (left). They’ve been close for 35 years. Engler teaches in Miami, Florida and has adopted seven children from the foster care system. Photo provided by Amy Jennings.

Starting at the age of 16, she spent eight years there, with her and her best friend acting as the equestrian directors of the camp.  

“Our backgrounds, where we grew up, [and] our parents were completely different,” she said of her fellow campers “If we were together in high school, we wouldn’t be friends, but we had a shared love for horses, and the job that we were doing was valued.”

After Jennings and friend, Christy Engler, left, the herd of horses the two cared for started aging to the point where they were overworked. This is when she officially started her horse rescue center on top of already working as a nurse. This was located on her property until an opportunity for larger land was introduced by a friend.

“We started buying [horses] and retiring them. We got 15+ horses and just retired them, hospiced them when they started to get ill, and gave them a good end of life,” she recalled.

Jennings also currently has three dogs, a cat, and, at one point in time, even had a monkey.

“Basically, with kids and animals, if they need a home, if they need a spot, they come to us. I’ll feed you and take care of you, try to get you set up for success,” Jennings explained.

Although taking a hectic path, Jennings showed no regret for how things ended up for her life.

“I would not change being a mom, nor would I change believing in love,” she confessed. “I would not change being loyal to the people that you call family — DNA related or not. I wouldn’t change the education I’ve had.”

Jennings gave a final bit of advice, saying, “If you have a passion, go for it. Set goals and don’t make any rash decisions. Find a team that is supportive and believes in you. And, especially, know your resources. You don’t have to know everything, you just need to know where to find the answers.”


Nothing Too Tricky For Bio-Med Teacher Miss Hickey

by Logan Cook, staff writer

MAY 2022 — Gregarious. Affable. Forbearing. These three words were used by Ms. Kaitlyn Long, Bio-Med Science Academy’s 10th grade history teacher, to describe her colleague, Miss Britany Hickey. Hickey is the 10th grade CTE Multimedia and Image Management teacher. She joined the sophomore team at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, along with Long and two other teachers.

Hickey poses with her two dogs, left to right, Gus and Grady. Gus is a labrador retriever and Grady is a golden doodle. Hickey’s favorite way to spend time with her dogs is to take them on walks. Photo provided by Britany Hickey.

Hickey attended the Trumbull Career and Technical Center (TCTC) for her final two years of high school. According to its website, TCTC allows students to gain experience and credentials in a field via Career Technical Education (CTE) classes. Hickey was a student in TCTC’s Interactive Multimedia program. Hickey was drawn to the hands-on nature of TCTC.

“I always thought I wanted to do sports broadcasting; that was my dream job growing up,” Hickey said. “In high school, I got to take a tour of TCTC, and going into the classrooms and seeing the state-of-the-art brand new broadcast studio there, where students could actually use it, that was a big draw.”

After graduating from TCTC, Hickey joined Baker Bednar Snyder & Associates Inc., an architecture firm in Howland, Ohio, as its marketing representative.

Through TCTC’s Interactive Multimedia program, Hickey was able to gain her Adobe certification and create a 20-page portfolio of her work, which she said was essential in getting the job at Baker Bednar Snyder.

“Leaving high school, I was able to show, for example, Baker Bednar Snyder, when I was applying that I don’t have a college degree, but I am qualified. Here’s my 20-page portfolio and my Adobe certification,” she said.

While working at Baker Bednar Snyder, Hickey attended Youngstown State University (YSU), and worked on the staff of The Jambar. The Jambar is the independent student newspaper of YSU.

“When I started at The Jambar, I would take videos for the paper. When I started at Baker Bednar Snyder, I changed to designer of [The Jambar],” Hickey recalled. “So I designed what you saw when it was sent to the printer. I took all of the stories and did the layout of the paper and sent it to the printer, got all that stuff ready to go.”

Hickey graduated from YSU with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies and a minor in journalism in December 2020.

“I really like working with people, like being hands on. It allowed me to take what I love to do in terms of the content, and gave me that experience that wasn’t necessarily working in the nine to five office, and just make a difference.”

Miss Britany Hickey

Soon after graduating, Hickey applied for the CTE Multimedia and Image Management teaching position at Bio-Med.  

“I never thought about being a teacher. It was never something that I wanted to go to school for anything like that. I saw the position open up and I thought about it for a week or two,” Hickey said. “I was like, ‘I’m not really qualified to be a teacher, because I didn’t go to school for that.’ Then I learned about the CTE license in Ohio that allows me to use my work experience to get me in the door.”

Teachers in Ohio can teach under an Alternative Teaching License (AEL) if they have prior field experience. A teacher with an AEL is required to take certification courses, typically through a local college. Hickey’s field experience allowed her to teach her CTE Multimedia and Image Management course under the license.

Hickey was drawn to Bio-Med’s hands-on nature, alternative teaching style, and being able to make a difference in a student’s life.

“I realized that it was a really good fit for me. I really like working with people, like being hands on. It allowed me to take what I love to do in terms of the content, and gave me that experience that wasn’t necessarily working in the nine to five office, and just make a difference,” she said. “This was a different kind of making a difference. I get to change someone’s life, hopefully, or inspire someone to be creative or try new things.”

Hickey’s CTE Multimedia and Image Management class is a part of Bio-Med’s CTE program, which is integrated into every student’s curriculum. Having been a CTE student, Hickey said the transition from student to teacher was smooth.  

“It gave me that experience to base it off of, as opposed to if I came in here and was like, ‘Okay, now you’re teaching this new thing.’ I have been a student in the CTE field, and now I teach it. So, it helps me make you guys understand why you’re taking it. I can truthfully explain to you how [it] can be beneficial,” Hickey said.

“Bio-Med helped make the transition smooth. Bio-Med and CTE mesh really well together…. If you look at CTE learning, it’s very hands-on and project based, the same as Bio-Med,” Hickey said. “But you still have to find that balance of teaching, CTE versus Bio-med, and integrating the whole well-rounded experience. I just really think they fit well together.”

Despite the easy transition, Hickey’s position didn’t come without its challenges.

Hickey poses at a Cleveland Browns game versus the Indianapolis Colts. Cleveland won with a score of 32-23. Hickey is a lifelong fan of Cleveland sports, and enjoys collecting memorabilia of Cleveland’s sports teams. Photo provided by Britany Hickey.

“It is different being at Bio-Med teaching CTE because a lot of times, if you’re teaching CTE, it’s at a career center where students are coming there and picking a program. Now, I have to figure out an approach of ‘how I can teach students who couldn’t care less about Multimedia.’ They’re here for the engineering, or the STEM. How can I teach them and make them be passionate about this work?” Hickey asked. “So, now I’m teaching self skills, of how to market yourself as a small business owner to take pictures for social media to edit your photos. That’s the approach I’ve learned throughout the year, trying to teach something that everyone can apply.”

Hickey is looking forward to her second year of teaching and using the experience she gained to improve her teaching style. “I’m really excited to build upon the feedback that [students have] given me… [and] the feedback that I’ve given myself on these projects. Going forward next year, [I’ll be] just kind of changing, changing some things, making it more of an authentic learning experience.”

Outside of school, Hickey enjoys attending Cleveland Browns games, skiing, traveling, eating pizza, and spending time with friends and family, including her twin, Jasmine.

“I’m one minute older than [Jasmine]; she doesn’t let me hold that against her much though,” said Hickey.

Hickey enjoys collecting memorabilia of Cleveland sports teams, mainly the Browns and Guardians.

“I have a box of everything I’ve ever collected from brands, games and Guardians games, like all my memorabilia. I have a chair from Municipal Stadium that my dad gave me. I have a Pete Rose bat. My most prized possession is an Indians [now the Guardians] hat that I got passed down from my grandpa,” Hickey said. “I’m excited for the upcoming Browns season, and it starts right around the time Bio-Med starts too.”

Hickey plans to stay both a Browns fan and a Bio-Med teacher for years to come. “I love teaching, I am so passionate about what I’m doing. It makes everyday exciting. The kids just add to that, I love every single day here,” she said.

Bio-Med Spotlight

Abigail Stiller Spotlight: A Day in the Life of a Nursing Intern

by Elise Miller, staff writer

Pictured in white is Abigail Stiller’s internship supervisor, Connie Becht. She works as the nursing administrator for obstetricians at Summa Health in Akron, Ohio. She’s also the director of the labor and delivery unit. Photo provided by Abigail Stiller.

MAY 2022 — Abigail Stiller, a nursing intern at Summa Health in Akron, is also a high school senior at Bio-Med Science Academy. Like many seniors, Stiller has an internship project that occupies half of her school day. During their junior year, students at Bio-Med are required to pursue either an internship, research project, or independent study by the end of the year. With her desire to work in the field of nursing and women’s health, Stiller secured her internship in January of her junior year. It all began with her connection to a family friend.

When considering internship opportunities, she decided to reach out to her former Sunday school teacher, Connie Becht. Since Becht was an obstetrician, a field Stiller was interested in, she contacted her without hesitation.

Becht didn’t have much hesitation either when accepting her as her intern. ​”I was excited,” said Becht, “I love precepting and my masters is in nursing education so I love teaching.”

As her former Sunday school teacher, Becht was also excited to see Stiller grow in a new way. She explained, “I got the ​privilege to watch her grow as a child and now it’s fun to see her mature into her adulthood and into her profession.”

Stiller is Becht’s first official intern, but as a floor nurse teaching nurse education Becht had many students who were college level in age. Though Stiller was the youngest, Becht recalled how “I often forgot that she was still in high school.”

Obstetricians specialize in caring for women and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. Stiller sometimes works on the obstetrician floors at her internship.

“I have days where I’m going to be on the floor and days when I’m not,” she explained. Depending on this, her days can vary greatly in activities.

Most days not on the floor for Stiller begin once her classes at Bio-Med end during her open cores. “I get out [of Bio-Med] around 11:30 a.m., so I’m there around 11:45 a.m.”

Stiller explained that her tasks on these days range from data collection and analysis to working on spreadsheets. However, Stiller’s afternoons primarily consist of meetings.

Her days on the floor, on the other hand, can sometimes start as early as 4:30 a.m. In the delivery room, Stiller explained that “I’m what we call a helping hand.”

As a helping hand, she was taught how to take vitals of newborn babies, read contraction and fetal heart rate patterns, start IV bags, and many other procedures.

These days have also proven to be very long for Stiller. She explained that “There are some days I’ve pulled 16-hour days — some I’ve pulled 12 hours.” This is made possible when Bio-Med has “orange days,” which is when Stiller has no classes.

Stiller documented her night shifts as they went on. “I have pictures every hour [of my night shift] and you can slowly start to see the decline in my mental state,” said Stiller. Photo provided by Abigail Stiller.

On these days, Stiller acknowledged that “I have worked a night shift.” Since she is 17, this shift could possibly conflict with child labor laws in any other context. These shifts are not typical for most Bio-Med internships. However, the longer shifts were made possible by the volunteer service program she got her internship through.

The program leaves how many hours a student works up to them and requires them to sign a form removing their liability. “I do this to myself partly,” said Stiller.

She recalled one day when she worked a night shift that made for an almost 48-hour long day. “Unlike the other nurses who can sleep beforehand, I had school the entire day beforehand,” Stiller said.

She also had to do a house cleaning side job. She recalled how she slept in the back of her car before driving home that day.

Despite the long shifts and intensities that come with the position, Stiller enjoys it nonetheless. “It’s a magical sight when a baby is born,” she explained.

Becht noted that Stiller “does anything that is asked and never complains. Always has a smile on her face.”

She also loves the staff and community at her internship, solidifying her desire to pursue nursing as a career. “My plan is to do an undergrad in nursing, [and] get my bachelors in [registered nursing]. Then, I can go into medical school if I desire to become an [obstetrician],” she explained.

Working in this field has already left her with a multitude of stories, some of which she cannot share due to HIPAA laws.

“We had a case a couple months ago with a patient who had third-degree burns all over her body,” she began. The mother was 23 weeks pregnant, and without a burn unit, Stiller and others had to coordinate with a hospital that had one.

After having to go back and forth talking to doctors one-on-one, Stiller realized that “there’s a lot of problem solving I did not think would come with this job.”

Some features of the programmable baby include simulated seizures, grunting, and full movement of the head and body. Nurses are able to take the baby’s temperature and administer IVs as well. Photo provided by Stiller.

A more peculiar thing Stiller learned at her internship was that there are robot babies that cost $50,000, and her internship has one.

“We just got a new baby that’s a robot that is programmable,” said Stiller. At her internship, simulations are run with the baby to further nurse education on skills days.

Other simulations run on skills days include fire in the OR, where nurses run through a simulation of what it’s like if a fire were to break out in the operating room. These simulations help better prepare nurses for the real thing.

Aside from the educational lessons Stiller has learned in her field of study, she gathered that “you learn how to interpret people on a different level,” teaching her lessons in perception as well.

After Stiller’s time at her internship, she also gathered that she has thoroughly enjoyed her time there, as Becht expressed that “she is a joy to have.”

Bio-Med Spotlight

Tubbs: From Lacrosse To Teaching And Back

by Aiden Hills, staff writer

MAY 2022 —Mckenna Tubbs has gone through a long journey to get where she is now, starting from her career playing lacrosse, to her career teaching math, and picking up various lessons and hobbies along the way. She is currently the eighth-grade math teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. She has a lot of hobbies and is very active outside of school, but still manages to create fun, interactive projects for her students. Tubbs is in her third year of teaching, having started her teaching career at Bio-Med in 2019 as the seventh-grade math teacher.  

Pictured is Tubbs holding the award she got at the Ohio Athletic Conference with the Mount Union Women’s Lacrosse team in May 2019. Her team won all four years she was there. Photo provided by Tubbs.

Tubbs first discovered that she wanted to be a teacher in her middle school years. She started her journey to become a teacher at the University of Mount Union (M.U.) in 2016. Tubbs decided to attend M.U. because she wanted to build a relationship with her professors, and she thought that would be harder in a larger setting compared to a smaller scale university. She also found Mount Union appealing because of its programs for teaching, and she could also play lacrosse.

Tubbs has played lacrosse since she was in the seventh grade and quickly discovered that it was something that she enjoyed doing, saying that she “instantly loved the sport.” Tubbs played the sport throughout high school, but as her senior year started coming to an end, she decided that she wanted to keep playing. That is when she found out that Mount Union was the best fit for her.

She looks back fondly on her college years, saying, “College was truly the best four years of my life, and I made some lifelong friendships while I was there.”

As she loved her college years, she also is appreciating her more recent years teaching within Bio-Med, saying that the non-traditional environment allowed her to have more creative control of her teaching.

“My favorite thing is the freedom to do what I want with my curriculum, and the support I get from admin,” she explained.

Tubbs enjoys doing fun projects that help her students grasp new ideas they are learning in class. In addition, she does projects that are meant to challenge students in ways that they aren’t usually challenged, like using math as a way to create art.

Tubbs has a four-year-old corgi named Millie. Here, Millie rests on top of a log during a hike on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail. Photo provided by Tubbs.

She said, “My favorite project that we have done is the Tessellation Installation that is now hanging up outside the bathrooms in the seventh and eighth grade wing.” This project was an integration with Miss Putman and combined geometry and art.”

Outside of school and teaching, Tubbs enjoys working out, hiking, running, and coaching the lacrosse team at Stow-Munroe Falls High School. She enjoys hiking around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Tubbs does a lot inside and outside of the school, but ultimately in the future she wants to continue teaching middle school math. Sometime within the next two years, she plans to pursue her master’s degree.

She is excited for her teaching future, saying, “I look forward to growing as a teacher and finding new ways that teach students problem-solving and mathematical mindset in the classroom.”

Bio-Med Spotlight

Behind the Board: A Look into Bio-Med’s Governing Authority Members

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

JANUARY 2022 – The Governing Authority at Bio-Med Science Academy is responsible for the direction and vision of the school. It is made up of seven directors who come from a variety of backgrounds and fields and who serve varying term lengths. The Authority is led by President Dr. Lisa Testa, and Authority Vice President Aaron Kurchev. The Authority meets monthly to discuss school issues and “provide guidance on policy and planning for the academy,” according to Bio-Med’s website. Some of the longest-serving members are Testa and Dr. Annette Kratcoski.

From left to right: Kratcoski’s two children, Dr Annette Kratcoski, and Kratcoski’s husband. Pictured is Kratcoski and her family on a recent trip to New River Gorge National Park. As of last month her and her family visited their 44th national park. Kratcoski enjoys getting to see “a lot of our country, and it’s been really beautiful.” Kratcoski enjoys all opportunities she can spend with her family and her three boys. Image provided by Dr. Annette Kratcoski

Kratcoski is an Authority member and works at Kent State University as the Director of their Research Center for Educational Technology. Kratcoski has a doctoral degree from Kent State in speech-language pathology and curriculum, which led her to become interested in “technology as a way to support various learners and their needs.” This interest is what led her to her job at Kent State’s research center.

Through her work there in 2008, she met biology teacher, Stephanie Lammlein, now Chief Administrative Officer of Bio-Med Science Academy. Lammlein approached Kratcoski a couple of years later about the idea of starting a STEM high school, and Kratcoski became one of the colleagues Lammlein invited to the initial school advisory board that helped create the school. Kratcoski continued to serve on the advisory board when it transitioned to the Authority. She eventually left her position until she was reinvited to reapply in 2018, where she’s stayed at her position on the Governing Authority since.

Lisa Testa is the Bio-Med Governing Authority President, serving alongside Kratcoski. Testa is also a faculty member at Kent State University and is an associate professor in its School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies. Specifically, she works in the Adolescent and Young Adult Education Program, helping to prepare education students for becoming middle and high school teachers. Before working at the university, Testa was a high school English teacher, and a conference and meeting planner for a nonprofit Christian organization.

Testa is from the Akron area and has four children, two of which, Sophia and Annalise, have graduated from Bio-Med. Being a mom of two high-school-aged children drew Testa’s interest towards Bio-Med. Another part of what drew Testa to the school was “project-based problem-based, inquiry-based learning.

“I think there’s a lot of autonomy that is built for students as they have a chance to identify problems, and then begin that investigation on their own,”

“I’m very drawn to being a part of,  supporting [inquiry-based learning],” Testa said. This style of learning was what led her to enroll her children at Bio-Med. Testa had first-hand experience of what it meant to be a parent of students who go to schools with a different style of learning.

Testa went on to say, “So I was very familiar with the school before I sent my daughter there. ” Testa was “really delighted to be a part of [the Authority], because I really do think that this is a better way to educate students.” She agreed to become an Authority member in 2017.

Pictured is Dr. Lisa Testa hiking at Capitol Reef National Park August 2021, an activity she enjoys doing with her husband. Testa enjoys spending time with people saying she likes, “kind of mentoring people or caring for them or teaching.” This is a passion she has taken into her work with her faith community where she is very active and connected to her church. Image provided by Dr. Lisa Testa

Since joining the Governing Authority, Testa became the Authority President within the past year. Dr. Bradley Goodner, the previous president, had planned to step down from his role, and according to Testa, the selection of the new president was “nose goes honestly, there wasn’t a lot to it. [It] made sense for me to step into this role because of my availability.”

As president of Bio-Med Science Academy’s Governing Authority, Testa has many responsibilities that she is required to perform. Testa highlighted that all members are asked to come to monthly meetings. At those meetings, members deliberate and provide feedback and recommendations for the Bio-Med district as a whole. Some of the Authority’s duties, Testa said, include “discussing matters that are important for the ongoing success, financially or employment-wise, of the school.” Ultimately, the position of the Governing Authority is to provide feedback and offer the experience of the Authority members to Bio-Med leadership.

For Kratcoski, as a general director of the Authority, her duties are similar to those of Testa. However, one of the personal responsibilities Kratcoski has given herself as an Authority member has been, “to advise and to support.” She likes to be an “active partner to support the teachers,” and find opportunities where she can share insight and expertise with teachers and staff at Bio-Med.  

One of Kratcoski’s other personal duties is to help teachers make connections. Given her role at the university, she has the ability to meet a lot of different administrators and teachers from other districts, and she likes to connect people through common interests, goals, and needs.  Kratcoski does this because she believes “[people in the education field] can all work purposefully towards improving teaching and learning for kids everywhere.”

For Testa, her personal goals for Bio-Med have come from a new assignment within the Governing Authority that resulted from a shift in the way work was divided up. Within the past year, the Governing Authority, changed the way it operates by introducing subcommittees to “address the major goals and mission and vision for Bio-Med,” said Kratcoski. The newly created subcommittees comprised of parents of Bio-Med students, teachers, school administrators, and Authority members. They are designed to utilize these members and their expertise to provide insight for the Authority.

The different subcommittees include Strategic Plan and Development, Finances and Audit, and Outreach and Engagement that both Kratcoski and Testa serve on. The two work with schools and nonprofit organizations as part of their jobs at Kent State University. “We both have some connections to the area that we can help leverage in that discussion about outreach,” Testa said. “We’re tapped, just depending on what the need is that arises,” she continued, which was a sentiment shared by Kratcoski.

Kratcoski enjoys the implementation of subcommittees, saying, “I’m really, really pleased and honored to be serving on that committee.” She has particularly enjoyed the shift towards subcommittees because she hasn’t had the ability to work firsthand with parents before, which has given insight into the work the Authority is doing.

As a part of the Authority’s subcommittee for Engagement and Outreach, Kratcoski and Testa have been able to help develop plans and create events for not only Bio-Med’s community, but also the surrounding community. The committee planned to host summer camps, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as one of its ways to show the community “some really innovative things going on at Bio-Med, with teachers in their classrooms in terms of what they’re doing with coding, programming, design thinking, inquiry, robotics, and hands on kind of learning,” Kratcoski stated.

The camps would be run by Bio-Med and offer opportunities for students and children not enrolled in the academy to participate in different kinds of learning Bio-Med specializes in. Kratcoski hoped these summer camps would start in the summer of 2022, but the situation is dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another important aspect of the camps would be partnering with teachers from other districts to create “a very meaningful way to collaborate and engage with some of our other districts,” explainedKratcoski. Testa was also excited about the potential for partnerships that could help the academy achieve more endorsements and support in general and for its summer programs.

Another project the Engagement and Outreach Subcommittee has been working on was the idea of developing after-school programs. After-school programs created by the committee would provide “more opportunities to explore, like maybe robotics, or maybe something more with arts or music,” Kratcoski said. The program was going to be rolled out this spring, but due to staff shortages and the current pandemic, the after-school programs have been potentially delayed to late fall of 2022. She is excited about this delay because she wants to “be able to do it right,” she said. She believes this to be a “wonderful opportunity for the students enrolled in our academy, particularly giving them an opportunity to explore some of their interests and passions that maybe they don’t necessarily get to explore during the school day or they’ve explored a bit.”

Testa and other Authority members have ambitious plans for the academy, including expanding its size and impact. Trying to “replicate the school, that’s been something we’ve talked about at our Authority meetings over the years that we could create a brand that then is, you know, almost like franchised,” said Testa. Testa sounded excited to hopefully get Bio-Med into a franchisable model where the work being done at Bio-Med could be replicated in other schools. This is an opportunity Kratcoski is excited about to “explore some ways of approaching teaching and learning that we haven’t done here.”  Testa believes the education happening at Bio-Med with inquiry models and competency-based learning could be “powerful” for the world of education. Kratcoski sees Bio-Med as a testing ground for a new learning system that could be “scalable for other schools, whether they’re a tiny little private faith-based school, or a large school district.”

For Testa, one of the many ways she has been able to help Bio-Med outside of direct subcommittee assignments has been through the work she does at Kent State. Testa helps coordinate a program that prepares teachers in their Master of Arts Teaching program. “Often, a lot of my former students are [Bio-Med] teachers, you know, so it helps to have a bit of a connection to the university,” said Testa. Her connections to her former students have helped her to connect with staff members, having known them and their teaching style from when they were at Kent State.

Kratcoski and Testa both plan to remain committed members of Bio-Med’s Governing Authority. “I’ll always be connected in some way to Bio-Med,” Kratcoski said, which is a view and opinion that Testa holds as well, since she first fell in love with the work Bio-Med is doing. Both are passionate and excited about what the future holds for the academy.

Bio-Med Spotlight

Eric Salmen: the New Senior Math Teacher

by Elise Miller, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2021 – There’s a new math teacher this year at Bio-Med Science Academy named Mr. Eric Salmen. He teaches all of the senior math courses, including Statistics, College Math, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. This is his first year teaching at Bio-Med, but not his first teaching opportunity. He was also a professor at Stark State and Mount Union, a place where he still teaches today when he’s not teaching at Bio-Med. 

Salmen first visited Bio-Med as a graduate student in 2019. “We actually came here during an open period when students tried to recover their grade,” he explained. He had come to Bio-Med on a tutoring opportunity, and as he visited, he got an inside look at the school.

He noticed the project-based learning system in place, a method of learning content through hands-on projects. “A lot of that aligns with the core values that I already have,” he said, which is why it stood out to him most. 

Tutoring acted as his window into the field of teaching as it’s a passion he has always enjoyed. More specifically, he enjoys the one-on-one aspect of it, and “seeing that personal growth on an individual level.” 

Pictured above are Mr. Salmen’s two cats. On the left is Setsuna, and on the right is Luna. They are named after “Sailor Moon” characters. Photo provided by Eric Salmen.

Some may describe him as energetic, passionate, and particular about things in general. He described that “I feel like I’m just always a happy person and to me, that’s really important.” Aside from his traits, Salmen can also be defined by his passions. 

Though tutoring is his main passion, he also enjoys teaching as a whole. This may be partially because of a bigger goal he has beyond just teaching. He uses his power to teach as a way “to get people to stop saying phrases like ‘I hate math’ [and] to get them to see that it’s not all that bad.” Through this, he hopes to promote more of a growth mindset where students are more willing to learn, and “remove that negative mindset towards education as a whole.” 

Outside of the classroom, he also has an array of other passions, some being playing piano and guitar. These musical interests were explored more in college, where he was involved in a traveling acapella and improv group. He explained that “In the acapella group, we traveled the East Coast [and] in the improv group we just kind of went everywhere in the midwest.”

He also enjoys books and games of the fantasy genre, his favorite game being Elder Scrolls, and experimenting with his coffee maker. “I do like making lattes. At home, I have a massive setup,” mentioned Salmen. 

For his future, Salmen plans on buying a home, but overall, he expressed that “I feel like I’ve hit a lot of the major milestones that I have wanted.”

Bio-Med Spotlight