We are excited to honor our RLD Teacher Champions for the phenomenal work they are doing in the classroom and in the community. Learn why these teachers are investing their time in “remaking learning” to better prepare our youth for the future. Champions were nominated by the superintendent of participating school districts and listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Amy Besterman, Avonworth Teacher Champion

Why is Remake Learning important:  Remake Learning is motivating teachers to change how we teach students.  We need to prepare students to innovate, create and be able to solve problems throughout their entire lives and Remake Learning is providing us with the resources needed to do this in and out of the classroom.  

Recommended RLD Event: I am so excited about Avonworth Elementary Outdoor Adventures on May 23!  Our school is filled with amazing teachers, who will engage every participant in a variety of hands-on activities. ​​

Bio: I have been teaching at Avonworth since 1994.  Throughout my many wonderful years, I have grown as teacher in a variety of roles.  Mostly in fifth grade, but I have also taught 3rd, Gifted Support and was the Elementary Math Coach.  Currently, I am teaching fifth grade using a co-teaching model.  I live in Sewickley with my husband Paul and my two daughters Amelia and Sophia.  I enjoy exercising, reading and of course spending time with my family.

Scott Donnelly, Carlynton Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important:  Traditional methods of student learning and teacher’s teaching are outdated and not always effective. When today’s elementary students are working the real world, chances are they will be doing so in a collaborative environment with teammates of diverse culture and backgrounds. So why not introduce that to students at an early age? Also, the acronym “F.A.I.L.” is the centerpiece of my classroom. First Attempt In Learning. Teaching kids it’s okay to fail and learn from it is essential to success as they progress through school and into the real world.

Recommended RLD Event: I am supportive of any activity that involves creative, collaborative, problem-solving where failing is welcomed.

Bio: Scott Donnelly has been a STEM/Social Studies teacher for 9 years at Carnegie Elementary in Carnegie, PA. Prior to teaching, he was a small business owner in the food industry until his twin daughters were born. Along with his children, he resides in Mars, PA, with his wife of 17 years.  Scott earned his MAT in Elementary Educaiton from University o f Pittsburgh. He keeps the teaching spark ignited through exciting professional development opportunities such as: MEMTA (Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teachers Academy); Honeywell Educators Space Academy (Space Camp for Teachers) in Huntsville, AL; Engineering is Elementary (EiE) at the Museum of Science in Boston. His interest is in facilitating real-world, student-centered projects for my students that have led to collaboration with peer students nationally and internationally.  This summer, Scott will travel to Vietnam this summer to co-teach at a STEM School as a result of one of the international student engineering collaborative projects.

Julie Erdelyi, Penn Hills Co-Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important:  Remake Learning is important for our students and families, because hands-on and engaging learning is an absolute must in education today and for the future, which is what Remake Learning Days are all about.

Recommended RLD Event: 

During Remake Learning Days, I am excited to explore Storytime STEM-Packs, because it uses popular children’s literature with easy to use activities that are engaging for students. In addition, Creative Learning with Osmo looks very exciting to explore. Students work collaboratively together while exploring and making a connection to technology. Both events would be beneficial for educators, students and families to visit.

Bio: As a 1999 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, I began working for the Penn Hills School District. In 2002 I was hired full-time and immediately knew that this is where I was meant to be. Nothing brings me greater joy than teaching in the school district that I grew up in. I taught first grade for three years and have been teaching second grade for the past 13 years.

As an educator I am constantly looking for ways to make learning exciting and engaging for my students, as well as creating a more inclusive classroom environment. This means looking outside of the norm and researching innovative strategies to use within the classroom. This year I implemented flexible seating in my second grade classroom and it has had a positive impact on improving student work and desire for learning. Flexible seating allows my students to take ownership of the learning space within our classroom. They get to choose their type of seating at the start of the school day and can even change their seating throughout the day based on their needs. My students appreciate being given a choice.By being able to release their energy without leaving the classroom, my students remain more focused and are more productive. Flexible Seating is student-centered and research-based. It truly is all about giving the students a space where they can reach their highest potential!

Eric Farmer, Pine-Richland Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important: Remake Learning pushes the education community to use cutting-edge methods and technology to help students better understand and apply long-standing concepts.

Recommended RLD Event: The “Explore Your World in Virtual Reality” at Norwin High School deserves a second look!  Not only is this cutting-edge, but it brings a completely new idea to engagement in the classroom.  You will be able to take students to parts of the world so they can see it for themselves.  This event will open many eyes, and I am excited to see the students at work.

Bio: My name is Eric Farmer, and I teach 6th grade science within the Pine-Richland School District.  For the last three years, I have focused on Earth Science.  Each day is an opportunity to see the new technology & methods that are available that will help present information in a new way.  I am always looking for the next step to engage and challenge my students.

My name is Eric Farmer, and I teach 6th grade science within the Pine-Richland School District.  For the last three years, I have focused on Earth Science.  Each day is an opportunity to see the new technology & methods that are available that will help present information in a new way.  I am always looking for the next step to engage and challenge my students.


Adam Gebhardt, West Jefferson Hills Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important: “Because learning is a process of constant improvement and progress which is continually affected by the culture, technology, and resources around us, we must always be willing to adapt educational practices to meet the changing needs of students so that they are prepared to be creative innovators of the future.”

Recommended RLD Event: I am excited to see the Lego Olympics at Butler Intermediate High School because I personally use Legos a lot in my classroom and think that they have a tremendous opportunity to combine design, creativity, engineering, architecture, physics, and more!

Bio:  Adam Gebhardt is an artist and educator who is motivated to reinvent art education in the public school setting by combining traditional art practices with 21st century technology and learning opportunities.  Adam currently teaches at Jefferson Elementary School in the West Jefferson Hills School District.  During his tenure there, Adam has transformed the art curriculum through the addition of a wide variety of new resources procured through an assortment of grants.

Students at Jefferson Elementary now complete creative projects that incorporate modern technology.  They design buildings using CAD software which are printed using a 3D printer.  His students create digital Lego comic books and Lego stop-motion animations using the Lego town in his classroom.  The curriculum also includes the use of LED light boards, cameras, and digital drawing boards.  Adam has also initiated a video production initiative that takes place through a program titled SpotEd Media.  

As a result of his efforts, Adam was recently recognized as a 2018 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Finalist.  He continues to seek out new and creative ways to improve and reinvent the art curriculum and instruction at his school.  Adam believes that his students should always keep improving and make constant progress.  In the same way, he seeks to constantly advance his own abilities and practices in the classroom.

Lisa Gray, Allegheny Valley Teacher Champion

Why I am excited about Remake Learning Days:   Looking forward to getting new ideas and activities from ReMake Learning Days.  I am interested in learning more about Paper Keyboards by Carnegie Library’s STEM All Hand on Tech.

Follow Lisa’s latest news on Twitter: @mrsgraysteam

Bio: Lisa Gray is the STEAM Specialist at Colfax Upper Elementary. She attended Edinboro University for Special Education, Elementary Education, and Early Childhood Education  and has taught with Pressley Ridge Day School (98-99), Sto-Rox School District (99-01), and Allegheny Valley School District 2001- Present.

Michael Hladio, Mt. Lebanon Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important: The Remake Learning Network recognizes that learning happens in ways that can’t be confined to traditional models and classroom practices. As a teacher in a traditional public school, I greatly value how Remake Learning Days challenge us to meet learners’ needs in creative, engaging ways.

Recommended RLD Event: In addition to being intrigued by all of the events focused on Youth Voice, I encourage families to visit Matt’s Maker Space events in Mt. Lebanon during Remake Learning Days.

Bio: Mike Hladio has been teaching 8th grade Language Arts at Jefferson Middle School in the Mt. Lebanon School District for 17 years. In 2015, he was recognized as a Keystone Technology Innovator by the Pennsylvania Association for Education Communications and Technology, and a Champion of Change by the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit. Mr. Hladio believes in leveraging technology to amplify student voice, enhance collaboration, remove boundaries to learning, and provide students with choices and independent learning paths. He can be found on Twitter @MrHladio.

Renee McNally, South Fayette Township Teacher Champion

Why is Remake Learning important: Remake Learning is particularly important to the educational development of today’s youth because of the rapidly changing nature of our technologically-driven society as well as the growing impact of technology in the field of education itself.  Students need creative outlets that allow them to explore information in an engaging way while creating a safe environment for them to express their own voices.  Remake Learning provides this safe space in which educators, students, and their families can collaborate and navigate the ever-changing landscape of learning in the 21st century.


Laura Proano, Highlands Teacher Champion

Why is Remake Learning important: Remake learning is important to my students because it engages them in learning that is relevant and motivating while enabling them to critically and creatively think through real-world challenges and solutions that build their global competence.

Bio: Laura Fleischer Proaño began teaching Spanish at Highlands High School in 2017 after teaching at Deer Lakes High School for three years. Prior to teaching Spanish, Proaño worked in the field of international development for 10 years where her focus was education, health, microfinance and technology. Proaño has worked, lived, studied and/or traveled to more than 30 countries around the world including Ecuador where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years. Proaño has an M.A. in International Affairs from Ohio University and an M.A. in Teaching and B.A. in Business and International Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Megan Smith, Elizabeth Forward Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important: By investing in the Remake Learning initiative we are giving the students the brainpower to answer life’s most important question – Why?

Recommended RLD Event: There are many professional development opportunities for k-12 teachers.  I will be serving on the all female Meet the Maker panel for Remake Learning Days.

Bio: I am a 2003 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania.  I have a degree in Technology Education, certified in Art Education, and have been in the classroom for fifteen years. I went on to earn a master’s certificate in Multimedia Technology also at California University.  Currently, I am embracing the Maker Movement that is sweeping across the world and have the privilege of working with three groups of all female makers.  In addition to my tradition role as an educator, I founded a student run business, the iSH Company, to give students a more tangible way to connect their making with the community while learning entrepreneurshipskills along the way. It’s very exciting that people are seeing the value in teaching children to be independent thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers through making.

Jodi VanderSchaaff, Deer Lakes Teacher Champion

Why Remake Learning is important: I believe Remake Learning is important to our families because the events provide such vast and exciting activities for families to attend and in the process make great memories while learning together. 

Recommended RLD Event: Deer Lakes Family Science Night

Bio: My name is Mrs. Jodi VanderSchaaff and I am a teacher within the Deer Lakes School District.  I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree and dual certifications in Elementary and Special Education from Slippery Rock University and began teaching 4th Grade Language Arts at Deer Lakes in 2003.  In 2011, I made the move to the Special Education realm and began using that degree to assist students and families with learning disabilities in the area of Reading.  I earned my Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership through California University of Pennsylvania along with the Principal Certification.  I act as Lead Teacher for our intermediate building, a liaison for our Lancer Parent Educator Partnership Group, and have organized our Family Science Night within the district for the last few years with the help of Remake Learning Days.