Professional Development Courses:
Meet our Instructors

Thom Stecher

Thom Stecher is a nationally-recognized motivational speaker and educational consultant.  He specializes in self-esteem, wellness, and student assistance programs.  Raised in a family of educators, Thom believes that education is a life-long process and that we all teach best what we most need to learn.  It is therefore imperative that we teach each other.

Thom has spent over 40 years educating and mentoring students, teachers, administrators and board members.  He is one of the original developers of the nationally-recognized and acclaimed Masonic Model Student Assistance Program and has expanded the model to developmentally appropriate programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  The program is in use in over 30 states, and in Canada.

Thom's current passion is providing school board and administrative retreats and professional learning opportunities for K-12 staff.  The primary focus of this work is the integration of social emotional learning with academic achievement and helping school districts transform into Whole Child centered environments.  Thom believes that budgets and test scores must be subordinate to people.  Caring for students and staff must be our highest priority.  Connection, compassion, and courage are the future of education.

Brian Aikens

Brian Aikens has been an educator since 2004 working with kids from grades K-12. He started Insight Minds in 2015 because the need he saw outside of his own classroom. He wanted to help families and communities live life more meaningfully.

He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Education and Clinical & Counseling Psychology respectively. He has been trained in mindfulness programs by leading mindfulness researchers and authors. He presents regionally and nationally on the topics of mindfulness, social-emotional learning, mental health and leadership. He works with adolescents, parents, school districts, and international organizations.

Dr. John Bearoff

Dr. John Bearoff, who has a PhD in Counseling Psychology, is both a Licensed Psychologist in private practice, and a Certified School Psychologist.  John was a Science teacher and a School Psychologist for the North Penn School District, where he spent 25 years.  He has been conducting workshops and seminars for many PA school districts, and also teaching Graduate Courses for both West Chester University and Neumann University.  Dr. Bearoff began co-teaching Graduate Courses with Thom Stecher on Wellness for Educators more than 15 years ago.  His school seminars, in-service programs and graduate courses have focused primarily on stress management for educators, wellness, grief and loss, substance abuse prevention, poverty issues in education, intervening with at-risk youth, and classroom management.  He has received Montgomery County's "Outstanding Service to Youth" Award.  John is also the Senior Lead Trainer and facilitates Masonic Student Assistance Team training in over 20 states around the country.

Joe Brancoccio

Joe Brancoccio is an educational consultant with Thom Stecher and Associates. He trains educators nationwide in comprehensive at risk programming.

Joe's extensive background brings a fresh perspective to academia.  His negotiation, communication, and conflict resolution skills help educators be more effective.

Schools and businesses enlist Joe to assist with group process.  He trains groups ranging in size from five to four thousand.  His work regarding anthropomorphic personality types, and neurolinguistic programming provide the skills needed to easily gain cooperation of students and parents.

 The professional development and graduate courses provided by Thom Stecher and Associates are the best available.  Joe is proud to be part of a program that proves invaluable to the educators and children it serves.

Aiden Brett

Born in Limerick, Ireland and raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Aidan Brett graduated from the University of Notre Dame where he earned his B.A. in English. He spent four years working for the University Writing Center and supporting its mission to create more effective communicators and thus more productive citizens. His subsequent experiences working with writers of all abilities ranging from high school students through those publishing doctoral dissertations cemented his desire to teach English. After graduating, Aidan taught English and English as a Second Language courses at Montgomery County Community College and completed Villanova University’s Master’s in Education with Teacher Certification program.

Currently, Aidan is in his sixth year of teaching 12th grade English and AP Literature and Composition at Springfield High School in Delaware County. He has benefitted from studying current literacy strategies through the University of Pennsylvania’s Literacy Network. His extensive literacy strategy training, experiences in co-teaching diverse learners, and work writing curriculum have made him well-versed in the current realities shaping education. He partners with Thom Stecher to teach a course titled “Fostering Resilience and Building Assets in our At-Risk Students.” It is Aidan’s belief that educators have the great privilege and responsibility of fostering resilience in their students.

Whether in writing or through discussion, Aidan teaches his students to become strong and effective communicators. He works to create a discussion atmosphere that is both serious and emotionally safe. It is his sincere hope that the energy he devotes to teaching students will result in positive progress in their ability to engage in thinking that is critical as well as empathetic. He views fostering resilient, effective, and truthful communicators as synonymous with creating students who are productive citizens in their communities. Hopefully, the evolving clarity in the thought, speech, and writing of his students will translate tangibly into decisiveness and empathy in their future actions. Aidan looks forward to exploring the teaching philosophies of current and future teachers as they navigate through the Master’s in Education with Emphasis on Social Emotional Learning program.

Ling Chang

Ling Chang, Ph.D. is a licensed physical therapist with Pinnacle ENT Associates.  She has been in practice for 15 years.  Her areas of specialty include vestibular disorders, concussion, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. She champions personalized medical plans for her patients. 

Ling received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in physical therapy from Thomas Jefferson University. She holds additional degrees in sociology (BA) and in educational psychology (MSEd) from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her Ph.D. dissertation from Temple University focused on individualized treatment plans and quality of life for patients with Parkinson's disease.

Ling began her teaching career at the age of 11 when she became a certified Suzuki music teacher.  She has taught martial arts in the community for a decade and has been a practicum advisor for 13 years.  She began teaching for Thom Stecher and Associates in 2014.  When not teaching students or treating patients, Ling can be found in the gym.  She also enjoys music and baking.

Jim Duey

Singing. Bouncing on yoga balls. Building rapport. All of these things are present in Jim Duey's classroom. A sixth grade composition and grammar teacher at the Phoenixville Area Middle School, Jim strives to engage his students in a class that most find unappealing. "If I can get the kids to want to come to my class, then 80% of the battle is won," he often tells parents. He has rewritten many popular songs to reinforce concepts, received grants to purchase yoga balls (that replace chairs)to help the students' attentionality, and often jokes with the kids to make class an enjoyable experience. He brings these gifts to his graduate classes as well. A veteran of some 30 years, Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and structure to all of his teaching. Interests away from the classroom include relaxing with a book at the beach, enjoying a game of bridge, watching many sports, and playing around in the kitchen.

Mark Eisenhuth

Mark Eisenhuth believes strongly in educating the whole child and helping teachers to work collaboratively for the greater good of their students and their own well-being. Mark believes balance is the key to being successful in life. He strives to achieve balance between his personal and professional life on a daily basis.

Mark brings a variety of experiences including twelve years teaching in the primary grades and over twelve years as an Instructional Support Facilitator and Head Teacher at East Vincent Elementary School in the Owen J. Roberts School District. During his time teaching first and second grade students, he was fortunate to pilot multi-age and looping programs which allowed him to gain a firm understanding of differentiating in a classroom full of diverse learners.

Mark originally graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Business Administration. He went on to graduate with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Clarion University and a M.Ed. from Cabrini College. Mark has continued his education by working toward his Principal’s Certificate at Penn State-Great Valley and taking a multitude of classes through Immaculata University, St. Joseph’s University and Thom Stecher and Associates.

Kimberly Garns

Kimberly Garns is a graduate from West Chester University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Liberal Studies and Master's Degree in Education from Cabrini College. I have been a special education teacher for the past 10 years working with diverse groups of students with varying disabilities from ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger's Syndrome, learning disabilities, speech impairments, and noncompliant behavior. I have mastered differentiated instruction, use of assistive technology in the classroom, and multi-sensory lesson planning to meet the needs of every student.  My years of experience have taught me the value of patience and encouragement in the special education classroom. I have a true passion for reaching every student in my classroom and I am a true believer that fair is not always equal, fair is getting what you need. In addition, for the past 5 years I have been teaching graduate school to future special education teachers.  In my free time you can find me enjoying family time with my husband, Matt and two daughters, Olivia and Lillian.

Pam Gregg

If you were to ask Pamela Gregg what she would like more of in the classroom, she would say time—to provide her students with "everything they need to know" through engaging lessons, and to solidify the skills needed to be empowered as problem solvers and critical thinkers. Time to get to everything.

A secondary language arts teacher for the Rose Tree Media School District for the past 18 years and post-graduate course developer/instructor for the past eight, Pamela Gregg seems to "bend time" much like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter with her Time Turner in order to get everything done.

But Pamela Gregg doesn't have a Time Turner—she has a huge heart and an incredible sense of dedication to colleagues and students. She spends her time crafting her lessons to make them innovative and real-world based.  She teaches academics, but also what it means to be a positive influence in our world.  In the words of her colleagues from Springton Lake Middle School, she is an "extraordinary educator" and a "dynamic teacher."

Stacia Hang

Stacia Hang was born in Coatesville, PA and currently resides in the Upper Perkiomen Valley with her husband and two school-aged children.  Stacia is an elementary school counselor who holds a Master's Degree in Counseling from Arcadia University and a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from West Chester University.  Prior to making the switch to counseling, Stacia was a classroom teacher for 10 years in both elementary and middle schools.  Stacia is a nationally certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor as well as a Non-Violent Crisis Prevention Intervention instructor.  As a counselor, Stacia serves on various teams such as SAP, IST, and Community Connect. 

Stacia is passionate about supporting the social-emotional development and well-being of our youth.  Strengthening student resiliency and educating staff about risk factors is a strong focus for Stacia.  Additionally, Stacia takes pride in driving down the stigma associated with mental health concerns.   Working alongside students and staff to build a strong school community is a daily focus and point of pride for Stacia. 

Scott A. Heydt

Scott Heydt is the Founder and President of RefinED Character, an educational consulting company specializing in social emotional development for K-12, collegiate, and non-profit communities. Scott is an experienced educator with over 8 years in the classroom and 6 years as an educational consultant and graduate level collegiate instructor.

Trained in Responsive Classroom principles and committed to whole child education, Scott teaches graduate level courses through Neumann University, including courses in the Masters in Education with a Emphasis on Social Emotional Learning degree.

Scott is also a leader in the values based Greek movement. A former chapter consultant, he continues his volunteer service to Delta Tau Delta fraternity in his fifth term as International Director of Academic Affairs. He regularly serves as a facilitator at regional and national Greek conventions.

Scott earned a BA in Elementary Education and Psychology from Moravian College and an MA in Leadership & Liberal Studies from Duquesne University. He resides in Bucks County, PA with his wife, Monika.

Philip Hochman

Phillip Hochman is an educator employed in Central Bucks School District and has a M.A. in Education. Phil has also taught in the School District of Philadelphia at Olney High School. His passion for bringing movement and technology to the classroom drives his instruction.  He prides himself on creating a relationships first approach to teaching, and bringing fun and excitement to each course.  

Phil's background as a Health and Physical Education teacher, and having taught all grades K - Graduate School, help provide insights to teachers at all levels.  He personally enjoys bringing wellness life skills, 21st Century Technology Skills, and learning by doing activities to enhance each course.  

Phillip has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Cabrini College and Delaware Valley University.  

Krista Leh

Krista spent the first ten years of her career enthusiastically working with high school students in a social studies classroom. For the next five years, she served as a Curriculum and Instructional Technology Coach supporting K-12 teachers across the district in Rigorous Curriculum Design. While with the district, Krista co-developed a student leadership organization which inspired her to focus on the cognitive and affective benefits of Social Emotional Learning.

In 2012, she was selected as one of twenty-six members nation-wide for the ASCD Emerging Leader class. In 2014, she became an ASCD Professional Services Faculty Member and in 2015, she was invited to join the inaugural class of ASCD Influence Leaders to delve into the realm of disseminating information on education policy.

She currently works nation-wide with school leaders, staff, and students on Social Emotional Learning as well as diversity, equity, and access. In addition to consulting, she is an adjunct professor for multiple Masters courses.

Krista graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Secondary Social Studies Education and earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Kutztown University. She expects to earn a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in 2019.

Jessie McFarland

Jessie McFarland earned her undergraduate degree in Biology and her Master’s Degree in Science Education. She worked as a Middle School educator for 13 years, and witnessed firsthand the stress and pressure that today’s children place on themselves both academically and emotionally. After going back to school to increase her awareness and understanding of the whole child, she earned her certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, a RYT Licensed Yoga Instructor, and a Mindfulness Educator.

As an Educational Consultant, Jessie created Wholesome Sprout with a mission of working with the whole child to create balance, joy, resilience, connection and nourishment. She has followed her passion to help bring these practices to schools and learners through Professional Development and her work as an Adjunct Professor.

Victoria Morgan, MS, LPC

Vicki has 20 + years in education as a teacher, guidance counselor and crisis counselor. She is passionate about Trauma Informed Care and creating classrooms and schools that are safe for all students. She has extensive training in identifying at-risk behaviors according to developmental stages. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, she works with children, teens, young adults and families in addressing any barriers that are interfering with quality of life. Vicki has worked and been successful with children who present with depression, anxiety, self- injury, self-esteem, adjustment disorder, ADHD, specific learning disabilities, changing families, children of addicted parents, victims of bullying, social phobias, school avoidance, grief and loss, OCD and Asperger's Syndrome.

She is currently serving on the Chester County ACES Coalition, a collective impact initiative to bring awareness, knowledge, prevention, and initiatives throughout the county on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), trauma, and toxic-stress.

Vicki believes that all educators can foster caring and trusting relationships, build resiliency and foster hope in their students. It is from this foundation that educators can offset the cycle of trauma, enhance student’s learning, encourage healthy, positive choices and ultimately change student’s lives.

Danielle Nuhfer

As a classroom teacher for almost fifteen years at Cocalico School District, Danielle Nuhfer has witnessed her own wellness fluctuate when feeling trapped under the stresses of daily classroom teaching and demands. Her own journey toward wellness taught her a lot about how to help students but the most important lesson she learned is that if she’s not healthy, balanced and well…she is not being the most effective teacher she can be. Through learning how to positively manage stress; find work-life balance; and collectively meet the needs of our students, families and ourselves, she believes we will lessen teacher burnout and increase classroom job satisfaction.

This journey has inspired her to continue learning so that she can help others on their path to wellness. Danielle has earned both a Bachelors and Masters in Education from Millersville University. In addition she holds a graduate degree in Mindfulness for Educators from Antioch University New England and a Positive Psychology degree from University of Missouri. She is also a yoga instructor and a Certified Mindfulness Instructor for Mindful Schools.

Lenore O’Donnell

Lenore O'Donnell has over 20 years' experience as an elementary school teacher in the Centennial School District. She graduated from West Chester University, majoring in Elementary Ed., voice and piano. She received a M.Ed. from Arcadia University, and continued her education at St. Joseph's University. As a proud alumnus of Thom Stecher and Associates, her teaching philosophy is grounded in educating the "whole child." She approaches differentiation instruction with "respectful" tasks in her classroom; learning experiences matched to the diverse needs of today's students.

Lenore is a curriculum resource teacher, and has been a frontrunner on professional development in her school district and the Bucks County Intermediate Unit. Her passion is to help novice and veteran teachers better understand differentiation in reading and mathematics, and the many exciting possibilities for breakthrough instruction. Lenore prides herself on providing high quality programs based on sound research, with an emphasis on practical strategies. Lenore's expertise, organization, and enthusiasm keep her seminars fast moving and filled with ideas you can implement in your classroom. From charts to posters, individual work folders and centers, her claim to fame is to "make and take," materials of your choice. You will leave her courses with effective and efficient instructional techniques and countless materials to utilize in your classroom immediately.

Lenore grew up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Bucks County with her husband Michael, and two children.

Dr. Arlene O'Hara

Dr. Arlene O'Hara holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing as well as psychology. Arlene specializes in counseling children and adolescents. Her primary office is in New Britain, Bucks County, PA (near Doylestown). She has worked in the public health field for over 25 years, and has earned experience through her work in hospice care, home health care, and psychiatric nursing. She is experienced in play therapy and in the special needs of adolescents. Arlene recognizes that the family is most important in a child's life. She often does family counseling to benefit the client.

After years of working as a nurse and nursing supervisor, Arlene completed an additional Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, and received a Doctorate Degree in Counseling Psychology from Southern Cal University. She is a member of the Energy Psychology Association and the National Counselors Association. Arlene often includes these modalities into her practice to assist clients to gain inner strength to reach their full potential. She believes that only when we are truly heard and seen can we reach our goals.

Christopher Palochak

Christopher Palochak has taught in the Owen J. Roberts School District for 23 years.  During this time he has served as the Head Teacher at East Vincent Elementary for seven years, the drama director for 19 years, and the district's Odyssey of the Mind coordinator for 23 years.

Mr. Palochak earned his undergraduate degree at Slippery Rock University.  Christopher completed his Master's Degree and earned a Reading Specialist Certificate at West Chester University.  Additional graduate studies were completed at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, and at Neumann College via Thom Stecher with a focus on Social and Emotional Learning.

In addition to his studies and teaching experience, Chris has worked extensively with students helping them develop their creative personas.  Chris has trained students to perform on stage and in academic/creativity competitions at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  As an Odyssey of the Mind coach, Mr. Palochak's teams have been some of the most successful in Pennsylvania and have earned multiple state and world championships. 

Melissa D. Patschke

Melissa D. Patschke, Ed. D. (Missie) is a twenty-eight year veteran of public education. Missie has taught in a variety of special and regular education programs, worked at the middle and elementary levels, as well as served students from both urban and suburban areas.  Missie is the principal  of Upper Providence Elementary School in the Spring-Ford Area School District, Royersford, PA.  Missie is passionate about whole child philosophies, culturally responsive teaching, service learning projects, global educator connections, teacher leadership, principal mentoring, and collaborative school cultures.  In addition, Missie has hosted national webinars, trained national mentors, and published articles featuring best practices for schools.  Missie has shared her messages on the international platform through exchanges and collaborative projects. She presently serves her profession on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principal and for the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  Through these respected networks, Missie partners with leaders across the nation to advocate on behalf of what's right for children and schools.

Anne Schober

Born in Birmingham, Alabama and having moved around the south and Midwest for most of my elementary years, Anne moved to Lancaster, PA when she was thirteen years old. She graduated from Gannon University in 1983 with an Associate's degree in Medical Assisting and from Millersville University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English Education.

She has worked for fifteen years in both public education and private educational facilities and served as English Department Chairperson for eight years. In July of 2007, she was picked to work with Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers Foundation and is currently one of 400 educators worldwide certified as a Freedom Writer teacher. She has written two books, Teaching Hope and Heartprints. She is currently traveling and speaking to teachers, administrators and school boards about the importance of making connections and forming relationships through her business called Connections Count. She has been married to her husband, Mike, for 30 years and they have three children:  Michelle, 28; JoAnne, 26; and Stephen, 21. 

Christian Stecher

Christian's passion is bringing experiential education to life.  His natural ability to problem solve combined with his engineering background have enabled him to design and implement activities for all aged students.  He co-authored the book Real Genius at Play: Life Skills and Multiple Intelligences and designed many of the activities listed in the book. 

Christian has spent 10 years facilitating Adventures in Education programs for teachers and students including high and low ropes challenge courses.  He is also the designer of educational games utilized at the LifeSkills Conference, where he also mentors a group of Counselors in Training.

Christian designs and builds high and low ropes courses for schools and communities throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.  He also is a adjunct faculty member for Neumann University where he co-teaches Adventure Education and Experiential Education and Facilitation Skills.

Christian believes that all students are able to learn in their own way only if every educator is willing to take the time to figure out how.  

Pete Thompson

Pete has worked in the sport psychology and human development fields with Fortune 500 companies, collegiate athletes, as well as high school and middle school staff and students. He has co-developed Developmental Guidance curricula for two school districts, and taught both Graduate and Undergraduate courses for five colleges and universities. As a 30 year elite level swimming coach, Pete led his teams to a combined 23 league championships while developing numerous All-Americans and two future Olympians. He currently runs a private life coaching and sport psychology practice for adolescents ( while also serving as Director of Academic Excellence and Student Success at NYCC. Pete also presents for USA Swimming regarding positive psychology applications for student-athletes. He is completing his doctorate in Human Development at the University of Rochester.

Lisa Roth Walter

Lisa Roth Walter has accrued a wide variety of experiences in education. As a child in East Africa, she was home-schooled in Somalia and attended boarding school in Kenya. She experienced rural elementary school in Oregon, then urban junior high and private high school in Indiana. Through Goshen College, Lisa spent semesters teaching in Belize, Central America and England. After graduating with a BA in Elementary Education, she earned a Master's degree from Pennsylvania State University, specializing in Curriculum and Instruction. She has taught in Indiana, Washington DC area, and Pennsylvania. During her 25 plus years in education, she has taught 4th, 5th, 6th, and combined-grade classrooms. She has also spent five years as an instructional support teacher and intervention-based reading instructor.

Lisa is known for her strength in creating curriculum for a specified purpose and her presentation skills. Through an American Immigration Law Foundation grant, she has created literature-based curriculum for examining bias against Muslim Immigrants. Lisa has presented on a variety of education topics for Barnes and Nobel Company and Millersville University, as well as at the local, state and international level. At Penn Manor School District, she has lead or served on curriculum committees in all subjects. In addition, she has involved her students with volunteering for the Meals on Wheels Program.

Based on the Seven Habits of Successful People, Lisa is active in implementing the international Leader in Me Process. Through Franklin Covey she has received Seven Habits and Vision Training. In addition, she has focused on specialized leadership graduate studies.
An advocate for interactive education with all ages, Lisa believes active learning is just as important for adult learners as it is for young children. As a writing facilitator, she works with teachers to design lessons and help them find "what needs to be written" on a personal level. She sees writing as a powerful tool for healing.