TEDxMCPSTeacher Presenters (in order of appearance):


Melanie Charlson photoMelanie Charlson  (Emcee)

Melanie has been with MCPS for 22 years and currently serves as the Missoula Education Association President. She has taught 6th grade and choir, and she spent three years as an instructional coach in the Title 1 schools. This past March, the MEA-MFT Representative Assembly elected her as the new National Education Association Director for Montana, and she will represent the state on the National NEA Board of Directors starting this September. Melanie is a proud mom of Ben, 15, and Annika, 13.

Craig Messerman photoCraig Messerman      View Youtube Video

Craig is a 9th and 10th grade physical science and biology teacher at Sentinel High School. He has been teaching science in Montana since 1988, after earning his teaching credentials and undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Montana. In 2000 he received an M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University. While at Sentinel High School, he has collaborated on freshmen teaching teams and smaller-learning communities, and he is currently working on a freshmen STEM Academy to be implemented in 2014.

Rachel Rhoades photoRachel Rhoades          (no video available)

Rachel is a senior at Hellgate High School and coordinated a high school film festival for her senior project. She has taken all of the media arts classes at Hellgate and also completed a video independent study in which she worked to make promotional videos for clients in the community. In 2010 she won first place in the Missoula Public Library Noir Short Film Contest. She plans on entering the film industry, especially as a Director of Photography or screenwriter.

Tracy Hardy photoTracy Hardy             View Youtube Video

Tracy runs the Structured Learning Program at Cold Springs Elementary, where she started teaching in 2006. Born and raised in Missoula, Tracy went on to pursue a music career with the intention of becoming a professional trumpet player. After exploring the professional music options around the country she realized that the life of the professional musician was not for her and returned to Montana to teach.  Tracy discovered her love for kids and excitement for teaching in Missoula County Public Schools, where she has taught general music, band, and special education.

Kasey Dirnberger photoKasey Dirnberger              View Youtube Video

Kasey teaches Computer Applications/Business at Meadow Hill Middle School and a beginner computer course at the Adult Education Learning Center.  She has a B.A. from the University of Montana in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Technology Education from Lesley University, and Business Information Technology Education endorsements from the University of Montana.  She has taught for twelve years in several school districts and at all ages, and she leads technology workshops for teachers.

Katie Didier photoKatherine Didier              View Youtube Video

Katie is a senior at Big Sky High School and plans to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. During her four years at Big Sky, she has been a member of the tennis team, varsity cheerleading squad, Respect Club and Key Club. In 2011 she was crowned Miss Teen Montana International. Katie has made it her mission to put an end to cyber bullying in the Missoula community by starting a media campaign called “Stop Cyberbullying  Missoula” to promote education and awareness of cyberbullying.

Michelle BeattyMichelle Beatty           View Youtube Video

Michelle has been at the Willard Alternative Program for ten years, where she currently teaches mathematics and a different elective each trimester, from early childhood education to weight training. She finished her Master’s degree at the University of Montana about a year ago and serves as a department chair at Willard. Michelle thoroughly enjoys working with alternative students and singing with them at Willard’s graduation celebration.

Kelly Chumrau photoKelly Chumrau             View Youtube Video

Kelly serves as the principal of Paxson Schools, and her twenty years in education have included teaching grades K-8.  Kelly and her family have lived and taught in the Philippines, Germany, and El Salvador, but Missoula is their home.  In her spare time she enjoys mountain biking, spending time at Flathead Lake and just wondering.


Scott Chook photoScott Chook            View Youtube Video

Scott currently teaches an exploratory Creative Communications class at C.S. Porter Middle School. In his 7th year of teaching, Scott’s current class is designed to engage students in the production of authentic products, while grounding them in the standards of Communication Arts. Although he was born in New York City and has lived throughout the country, Scott has called Montana his home for the last 20 years. He has a 16 year-old son and enjoys hiking, camping, reading, and playing guitar and mandolin.

Jessica Stamler photoJessica Stamler          View Youtube Video

Jessica is a graduate student at the University of Montana and is currently finishing her Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Secondary English.  She completed her practicum at Willard Alternative High School and is currently analyzing Missoula County’s “Indian Education for All” annual reports as her professional project.  She moved to Montana five years ago after earning a B.A. in American Studies from Northwestern University.  Next fall, she will be working in Cantabria, Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

Mack Gilcrest            View Youtube Video
Mack is a senior at Hellgate High School and performs in the advanced choir, wind ensemble and jazz band. His talk is titled “percussion Solo.”

Dave Oberbillig photoDave Oberbillig               View Youtube Video

Dave is currently serving his second term as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Department of Energy in the Office of Science in Washington D.C. His primary role there is in the program support for undergraduate internship programs at the Department of Energy National Laboratories. Dave began his teaching career in Missoula, where he has been a 15 year science educator, most interested in outdoor ecological education. Over the course of his career, he has partnered with University of Montana faculty on three grant-funded projects, all aimed at getting students out of classrooms and into nature. In the Fall of 2012, he will be back at Hellgate High School, teaching Biology and IB Biology.

Austin Graef photoAustin Graef             View Youtube Video

Austin is a sophomore at Hellgate High School. He has recently placed in national film, mathematics, and taekwondo competitions. This May he will share his great love for poetry in Washington D.C. for the National Poetry Recitation competition.



Michele Nokleby photoMichele Nokleby              View Youtube Video

Michele has been a school librarian for more than 20 years and currently promotes reading and literacy through her position at Hawthorne Elementary. She has embraced the changes that the information era has brought to her profession and integrates technology and social media into exciting learning opportunities for students and dynamic instructional opportunities for teachers. A proud Missoula native, Michele and her husband Conrad have raised two children of their own as well as assorted “strays” that have come into their lives.  In her leisure time she enjoys moonlighting as a free-lance costumer for theater productions.

Nick Shepherd photoNick Shepherd           View Youtube Video

Nick is a 7th grade math and English teacher at C.S. Porter Middle School, where he has been teaching for five years. Born and raised in Missoula by a family of educators, he tried to break that trend and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Business Administration.  After working in the insurance industry and living in Seattle and Boise, Nick returned to his education roots in Missoula. He joined AmeriCorps and worked for two years a tutor at Franklin Elementary and then earned his teaching degree at Boise State University.  Nick has a wife and three children, and his passions include camping, skiing and entertaining others through music.

Brad Chumrau photoBrad Chumrau             View Youtube Video

Brad currently teaches 4th grade at Rattlesnake Elementary, and he has taught around the world during his 13 years of teaching.  During his seven years of teaching in the Philippines, Germany, and El Salvador, he was exposed to an educational framework that transformed his vision of education – the International Baccalaureate primary years program. Currently Brad has returned to his hometown in order to try to shift the paradigm through which we educate. He holds a BA in Elementary Education and an MFA in Integrated Arts and Education.

Lisa Waller photoLisa Waller                 View Youtube Video

Lisa is a secondary English education teacher for grades 9-12 at Willard Alternative School. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, a B.A. in Secondary English Education, and a Master’s of Arts in Teaching (English). Lisa Waller, a veteran Missoula County Public Schools teacher, is seasoned in public education but not yet burned out. Lisa currently facilitates the school’s publication – Willard Wire. Additionally, her experiences with Montana Writing Project (MWP) at The University of Montana as co-assistant director continue to afford her opportunities to write professionally with a social justice focus. Lisa has much to share and discuss regarding the urgent need for public school reform. In her TEDx presentation she will discuss the monumental need to rethink the current, institutionalized, public educational system. Title of her talk: Intrinsic Motivation: Do What You Love

Wendy Lofthouse photoWendy Lofthouse                View Youtube Video

Wendy is currently teaching second grade at Paxson Eementary, and after seventeen years of teaching she marvels at the wonderment of childhood.  With a master’s degree in Technology Education, Wendy advocates for technology in schools by sharing best practices and implementing technology use in her classroom. Currently she serves on the iPad Leadership Team working to develop and implement a 1:1 iPad initiative for Paxson students.  Wendy takes pride in being the mother of three teen boys, and in her free time she loves to ski and travel.

Kenzie Lombardi photoKenzie Lambardi                View Youtube Video

A junior at Sentinel High School, Mackenzie is active in Speech and Debate, Theater, and community service. She recently qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament with an original piece on apathy in our schools. An inspiring student leader, Mackenzie is also a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Ambassador for Montana and a member of the National Honor Society.


Speaker Resources

Thank you to the MCPS educators who have been approved as official presenters at the TEDxMCPSTeacher event.  Presenters are asked to access the following:

TEDxMCPSTeachers Speaker Release – Speakers: Please print this form, sign and return.

TEDxMCPSTeachers student photo release – Speakers: Use this parent release to integrate photos/video of students in presentation.

Speaker Information Form  – this is an online google form that allows TEDxMCPSTeachers to gather basic biographical information from you.