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Meet the Staff
 Melissa Ashton Melissa Ashton:

My name is Melissa and I am thrilled to be one of the teachers on Millie, Puyallup School District's Mobile Innovation Lab! I've always LOVED learning about the natural world around me - at age 10 I knew I wanted to be a scientist. Through participation in an outdoor-adventure-based science exploration program in junior high, I realized Wildlife Biology was the science discipline for me. After tromping through mucky ponds collecting data on amphibians, running trap lines to catch and study small mammals, riding a crane high into the tree canopy to learn about the different forest layers, radio tracking newly introduced wolves in Yellowstone, and much more, I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Biology and Biostatistical Analysis. After working for both the Forest Service and the University of Washington, I developed a passion for helping others get excited about the world we live in! I earned a Master's in Teaching from City University and spent 16 years teaching junior high science and two years as an Instructional Coach in Educational Technology. As a teacher on Millie, I have an amazing opportunity to not only help students get excited about STEAM careers but also take the first steps on their college and career pathway! I can't wait to see you on Millie! 

Tyler Benning Tyler Benning:

Hello all, my name is Tyler and I'm going to be the lab technician working aboard the Mobile Innovation Lab! Ever since I was a little kid I have had a passion for learning, I tried to learn everything that I could about as many topics as possible! After high school I went to the University of Washington where that curiosity continued as I studied everything from Greek and Roman mythology to electromagnetism; while eventually getting a Bachelor's of Science in Biology and Microbiology. During my time at UW I tutored my peers in biology and chemistry and helped TA Comparative Anatomy, and I learned that helping others learn is just as amazing as learning yourself. I'm excited to be able to work on Millie to help others discover the wonders of STEAM and help them learn about all of the places it can take you. 

 Katie Ventura Katie Ventura:

My name is Katie and I am super excited about working on Millie! I have always enjoyed learning new things, and getting to teach others about topics they may not know about. In junior high school I took a science exploration class that was probably one of my favorite courses! I always enjoyed science, but excelled in math. I attended Central Washington University after graduation high school and earned my Bachelor's degree in Secondary Mathematics Education. I started my teaching career in Fallon, Nevada in 2006, where I taught 7th and 8th grade mathematics. While in Nevada I completed my Masters of Education in Adolescent Literacy and Technology. After 5 years there, I moved back to the Puget Sound and started working for the Puyallup School district teaching Mathematics and Business classes at Walker High School from 2011 until 2020. I completed my National Board Certification in Adolescent/Young Adult Mathematics in 2018, and added a Career and Technical Education Endorsement to my certificate in 2019. I am stoked to get to work on Millie and help guide you through the different activities we have in store for you to learn about different STEAM programs and careers!