romp & the WONDER project TEAM
romp & the WONDER project // TEAM
This crazy-good team of teachers (aka Agents of Wonder) is a dream come true.
(Not to mention just solid people, heart, mind, and soul.)
Meet the crew...
Zach LeClair / Teacher
Zach, our health & nutrition nut and improv master...was born and raised in Shoreline, WA where he loved school at every level. As a wee young lad, he developed special passions for reading, soccer, and theater, passions he continues to pursue to this day. During his senior year of undergrad in Connecticut, he experienced the magic of teaching while volunteering in a local kindergarten classroom. He pivoted from a career in behavioral psychological research and enrolled in University Child Development School's resident teacher training program in Seattle. A year later, Zach found himself in India, where he was a founding teacher at a new international school in Mumbai. Since then, his teaching experiences have taken him to a Quaker Friends school, a public charter school in North Carolina, and even a summer teaching theater at a high school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He loves teaching because he believes that school, and especially the early years of schooling, is the most vital service that we provide as a society.
Zach wonders about how to take care of people around him, how to create a more just and compassionate world, and why soccer and cooking make him feel so good
What is your favorite smell? Freshly baked bread.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Love them! I dice them small and roast them separately alongside the florets.
What are you always looking for? I'm always looking for inspiration from the world, and ways to connect with people around me.
Madeline McCarthy / Teacher
Madeline has no qualms crossing the bridge to share her bright smile, infectious spirit, and ninja-like art skills. Born and raised in Seattle, Madeline graduated from Washington State University with a double-major in Psychology and Fine Art. She taught preschool and elementary art classes for a few years before earning her Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. More recently, Madeline taught middle school language arts and social studies. Madeline is also an artist, her medium is oil on canvas...and her passion is art and education. She loves working with children and has an endless amount of fun and positive energy.
Madeline wonders what her dog is thinking, how do you know when you run out of invisible ink, and why is the word "abbreviation" so long?
What is your favorite smell? Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? I don't usually eat the stems of broccoli. But my dog Izzy does! Broccoli stems are one of her favorite treats!
What are you always looking for? I am always looking for adventure, especially on sunny days!
Tracy Kelly, Teacher
Tracy, our animal rescuer and permanent fixture on the UW baseball cheering squad, was born in Southern California and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a major in Child Development and minor in Psychology. After graduation, she taught preschool and was in administrative positions, evening running her own family childcare while caring for her own two young children. A job offer for her husband as the Associate Head Coach for UW baseball meant a big move to the Pacific Northwest.
Most recently, Tracy served as the Early Childhood Director at Bellevue Discovery Center. Because of her link to baseball, most of her free time is spent at the field cheering on the Dawgs! As a family, they love going to the park and the movies, riding bikes & snuggles. Tracy loves to read, bake, and spending time with her family.
Tracy wonders what the world would be like if we all treated each other with kindness and respect.
What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is the first rain of the season, when the sidewalk is still a little warm.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Broccoli stems are my favorite part! I love to roast them with some olive oil and a dash of salt.
What are you always looking for? I am always looking for how to learn more each day, and become better than I was yesterday.
Andrew McAllister, Design & Tech Specialist
Andrew, our avid tinkerer, maker, creator and mechanical engineer, was born in Dublin, Ireland and grew up in a small town on the coast called Malahide. He spent most of his childhood exploring, playing sports, taking things apart to see how they work...and putting them back together. He graduated college in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and was even a semi-professional cyclist for a few years. Andrew then set up a sports rehabilitation clinic, and also later an electric bicycle company.
Andrew picked up stakes and moved to Seattle with his wife, and together they have an amazing daughter. His last few years as a stay-at-home dad has fueled his passion to teach again. Watching his daughter achieve something is priceless, and is what brings him to the 'work'. He is excited to share his passion and knowledge with children & adults, and to see them embrace it to build and pursue their own passion and dreams.
Andrew wonders what the future holds for the next generations coming along. Will they ever know what it is like to drive? Will transport for them be a matter of hopping in a pod and stating your destination? Will they experience space flight? Will the world know peace and elimination of poverty and hunger? But most of all he wonders if the moon is really made of cheese.
What is your favorite smell? The ocean. It reminds me of home.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Yes. It makes me big and strong.
What are you always looking for? My next big adventure or project.
Brittany Strachota, Design & Tech Specialist
Brittany, our resident rabbit caretaker and robotics guru, was born and raised in Wisconsin. She moved to a Boston suburb in pursuit of higher education, that led to a degree in Robotics Engineering (with a side of STEAM outreach in the community & beyond) from Olin College. She then flung herself to Seattle along with her spouse.
Brittany is committed to normalizing the word 'engineering' in learners young (and not so young), hence, the attraction to this 'work'. Engineering with drinking straws is just as valid as engineering with carbon fiber nanotubes. It's a way of thinking and creating.
Brittany wonders how to train rabbits to play football. Often.
What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is that of fresh-cut wood placed in a field of fresh-cut grass filled with corn soaked in chlorine.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Broccoli components in order of deliciousness...leaves, stems, flowers. So, yes! I eat broccoli stems, and lots of them. (They're an excellent source of protein!)
What are you always looking for? I am always looking for Seattle-based Packers fan, rabbit caretakers in need of hay, and (not infested) household items left curbside.
Mollie Royer / Teacher
Mollie, contributor to our curriculum / program development and more often cyclist, was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating from Scripps College with her BA in Liberal Studies, and Masters of Arts Degree in Education from UC Santa Cruz, Mollie landed in Oakland teaching second and third grades. She then jumped at an amazing opportunity to teach at an international school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She returned to Seattle after many new experiences, wonderful sights, smells, tastes and two years of teaching to pursue a Masters Degree in Social Work at UW. She LOVES being around small humans as they learn how to be in the world and is excited to wonder alongside them each week.
Mollie wonders if cats dream.
What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is when you are walking through a wooded forest, and you come upon a sun spot. I think that smell is the sun smell.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? I do eat the broccoli stems!
What are you always looking for? I am always looking for a good costume piece.
Georgie Partridge, Teacher
Georgie, contributor to our curriculum / program development, and cosmopolitan gal...is new to the Seattle area. But Georgie originally came to the US from across the pond. Born in London, England and raised in the countryside until her family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when she was in third grade. She graduated from the University of San Diego with her Special Education credential and taught for two years in a full inclusion project-based school in Chula Vista, CA. Georgie is excited to continue working with kids, while going 'back to school' herself. Coming to romp just makes sense for her because she loves working in an environment that allows kids to learn in whatever way works for them, while feeling loved, supported, and connected to their community.
Georgie wonders what the population of the world (at any given time) is flying in the air.
What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is chocolate, because it means chocolate is close.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Yes, I love broccoli! Give me all of the broccoli.
What are you always looking for? I am always looking for a fresh bouquet of flowers to put on any surface in my home!
Ellie Cross, Art Specialist
Ellie Cross, Art Specialist
Ellie, contributor to our curriculum / program development and well-traveled mural artist, returned to Seattle in 2016 after three years as the Arts Specialist at Ascend International School in Mumbai, India. She graduated from Scripps College with a BA in Studio Art, and is interested in using art as a problem-solving tool to create a more just world. Originally from Seattle, she has painted murals in collaboration with local communities in Malaysia, Thailand, Guatemala, panama, and the US. Ellie has done research around art activism and education in Ghana and Tibetan exile communities in Nepal, India, and Tibet. She has shared her love of art in educational settings with children around the world. Her passion for art and love of children brings her to the 'work'.
Ellie wonders about the magic of mixing primary colors to make secondary colors, and how we can use our creativity to make positive changes in our world.
What is your favorite smell? Anything citrus!
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Always!
What are you always looking for? Rainbows!
Nimisha Joshi, Math Specialist
Nimisha, contributor to our curriculum / program development, math specialist, and enthusiastic dancer, was born and raised in the busy city of Mumbai (Bombay). After her first Master of Arts in English, she continued her passion for languages by learning Japanese language and culture. She took on odd jobs teaching Japanese to children, taking up assignments for technical translation and interpretation. While serving as an educator in international schools, she earned her second Master of Arts in Educational Leadership for International Schools, and is currently completing her Principal License from the University of Northern Iowa.
Nimisha loves to be active! ...Indian classical dance, Jazz, funk, and modern contemporary dance. If not dancing, you can find her hitting the pavement with her running shoes on. She is a lifelong learner, with an infectious excitement to learn and create new things.
Nimisha wonders how trees feel being soaked in the rain. Do trees have feelings?
What is your favorite smell? After a hot, sunny day...when the rain (especially monsoon rain) hits the warm ground and creates the wonderful smell of wet soil.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? No!
What are you always looking for? Opportunities to wiggle, dance, and run!
Kim Kotovic, Admin & Development
Kim, contributor to our curriculum / program development, keeper of all Post-It notes, organizer, documentarian and true blue Pacific Northwest girl. Born and raised in the Seattle area, Kim went to UW where she fell in love with Microbiology and her husband Ben. She continued her education in Dresden, Germany at the Max-Plank Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics where she received her PhD for work on RNA splicing.
Edinburgh, Scotland was their next home where she continued studying RNA processing and began dabbling in science outreach for the Edinburgh Science Festival. With Seattle calling, they moved back and Kim began research on using algae as a biofuels source at Matrix Genetics. She continued her passion in science outreach and noticed she enjoyed working with students more than working algae. So she made a jump to education, working at Highline Public Schools as their STEM Pathways Manager.
Kim designed a STEM digital badging platform for grades 4 & 5, connected students to real-world STEM professionals and opportunities, and educated herself on the intersection of STEM in the class and at the bench. She wants to bring hands-on learning to students in an authentic way, using the wonders of STEAM to trigger interest & drive the seeking of knowledge (in other content areas) and create a space where learners do the questioning.
When she's not contemplating whether she can remember how to do a mini-prep, she's chasing after her very energetic kids or her very energetic husband. She's got no time to go to the gym, but she carves out time to make yummy food, plan their next trip, entertain friends or build awesome LEGO rockets!
Kim wonders how we can keep learning fun. She wonders why everyone is in such a hurry, why kids can't be kids longer. And she wonders if splicing is really co-transcriptional, how does the RNA not get all tangled up on those really long introns?
What is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is marine air in the morning, coffee and baking bread- three way tie.
Do you eat the stems of broccoli? I eat ALL the broccoli.
What are you always looking for? I’m always looking for amazing new toys…for my kids of course!