Global STEM Challenges Program

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Instructor Information


Ivan Chirinos

Ivan Chirinos (Coach C) has been the Technology and engineering teacher at Edison for the last 28 years. He is the only remaining member of the original Global STEM teacher cohort. Attended VA. Tech and has a B.S. in Technology and Engineering Education and recently completed his Masters in STEM Leadership. His goal is to make students problem solvers by bridging the gap between what they know and what they can do with what they know.


Kelly Dresen

Kelly Dresen teaches math with the 10th grade cohort of the Global Stem Challenges program.   This is Mrs. Dresen’s third year teaching with the program and her fifth year as a teacher at Edison.  Mrs. Dresen transitioned to the teaching field after a career working with foreign languages.  She holds a B.S. in Economics from George Mason University and she will complete her M.Ed. degree at Mason this spring.   


Desanka Elwell 

Desanka (Desa) Elwell teaches Integrated Engineering I & III with the 9th and 11th grade cohorts of the Global STEM Challenges Program. Mrs. Elwell holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Marquette University. Mrs. Elwell has transitioned to teaching after spending 20 years in the banking industry and 10 years raising her three children and volunteering at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  She enjoys traveling with her family.


Alex Jarma

Alex Jarama teaches math with the 9th grade cohort of the Global STEM Challenges Program. Mr. Jarama grew up in central New Jersey and attended the University of Virginia. He holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. degree in German Studies. As an undergraduate, he spent a semester studying at the Technical University of Munich in Germany. Mr. Jarama stayed at UVA to pursue his M.S. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is an avid UVA basketball fan, and he enjoys attending sporting events and traveling. This is Mr. Jarama's first year teaching, and he is extremely excited to work with his students to help them connect complex math concepts to real world challenges. 


Chris Kniesly

Chris A Kniesly is an Indianapolis, IN native who graduated with a degree Social Sciences Education from Purdue University a Masters of Science in Agricultural Education from the University of Illinois and is currently working on a Doctorate in Diversity and Equity from the University of Illinois. Mr. Kniesly is the 2019 recipient of the USDA's Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award, a 2022 recipient of the Presidential Award for Innovation in Environmental Education and a collaborator with TED-Ed on several agriculture lessons. Mr. Kniesly is a life-long learner who loves working on innovations with gardening, poultry, and sustainability. 

Image of Peter Roden

Peter Roden

Peter Roden teaches Physics with the 11th grade cohort of the Global STEM Challenges program. He is an Alexandria native, and has been teaching Physics and Engineering in the county for several years. The 2023-24 school year is his first time with the STEM kids, and Mr. Roden is excited to help kids apply science principles to real-world problems. He enjoys singing in choirs and complex board games, as well as heckling science fiction.



Cathryn Schoeppner

Cathryn Schoeppner teaches 10th grade science in the Global Stem Challenges program.  Cathryn is new to Edison and Northern Virginia, having recently graduated from The Ohio State University with a B. S. in Chemistry and a Masters in STEM Education. She enjoys connecting chemistry to real world applications and is especially interested in environmental chemistry.