Educators Making a Difference

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LT: Denise Baker; TM: Tracy Coll; TR: Dr. Maria E. Diaz PhD; BL: Dr. Tina Johnson PhD; BM: Cynthia McNulty; BR: Dr. Ted Yeshion PhD

By Marianne Reid Anderson

Here at Northern Connection magazine, we have the tremendous honor of working with many of our area schools, schools that are populated with incredible educators, administrators, and counselors that go above and beyond on a daily basis, devoting countless hours and boundless energy to their students, their schools and their own professional development. Beginning with this issue and continuing in future issues, we proudly highlight a few of our region’s Educators Making a Difference:

Dr. Ted Yeshion

Dr. Ted Yeshion

Dr. Ted Yeshion PhD, Professor of Forensic Science of Edinboro University

Dr. Ted Yeshion
Professor of Forensic Science
Edinboro University
Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

Dr. Yeshion earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Medical Biology from York College of the City University of New York, a Master of Science degree in Forensic Science from George Washington University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Immediately after graduation from George Washington University, he began his career with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation as a Special Agent/Forensic Serologist, and he retired from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in 1999.  Upon retirement, he became a private forensic science consultant.

Dr. Yeshion has a combined total of 40 years’ experience as a forensic scientist, crime laboratory director, special agent, and forensic consultant.  He has testified in hundreds of criminal and civil litigation cases as an expert witness in the areas of Forensic Serology, DNA Analysis, and Crime Scene Reconstruction.  One specialty area that has earned Dr. Yeshion an international reputation as a leading forensics expert is the application and interpretation of Luminol, a presumptive blood test.  He has appeared on local and national news and radio stations including Court TV, Fox News and Investigation Discovery.  His work was cited during “the trial of the century,” People v. O.J. Simpson.

Dr. Yeshion is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a member of numerous other professional associations. In 2007, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission on Wrongful Convictions and has served since as the Chairperson of the Science Subcommittee.  Dr. Yeshion is a noted author and has lectured internationally.  He currently serves on the advisory board for Forensic Teacher magazine.  In May 2013, Dr. Yeshion was awarded Faculty of the Year honors at Edinboro University.

In addition, Dr. Yeshion is a Fellow of the Edinboro University Institute for Forensic Sciences. Created in the fall of 2014, the Institute brings together forensic activities and related academic programs in a broad range of disciplines for the purposes of integrating these areas of knowledge, promoting faculty research, and creating increased opportunities for student research and engagement in community forensic projects. The Institute also has among its goals increasing public and professional awareness of the various forensic activities, expertise and related academic programs at Edinboro University and serving as a resource in forensics for the region.

Dr. Yeshion has used his experience to develop numerous forensics courses at Edinboro and creates mock crime scenes for the university’s students, students from visiting schools, participants in the University’s forensics academy summer camp, and the Pennsylvania State Police camp cadet program.

Dr. Yeshion resides in Erie, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Stacy, and son, Jacob.

Denise Barker of Providence Heights Alpha School Denise Barker has been teaching Spanish at Providence Heights Alpha School to students in kindergarten through 8th grade for over 10 years. Denise was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil and attended law school in South America.  Denise aspired to become a teacher because she enjoys serving others and feels teaching is rewarding.  She takes pride in touching the lives of her students and feels as if she is making the world a better place one student at a time. In her classroom, Denise encourages her students to ask questions, work hard and be creative with their talents. She always makes sure that what the students are learning in class is relevant in order to prepare them for high school, work and life.  She allows her passion for teaching to show through in her lessons and strives to inspire her students.  Denise has always believed that educators exist to produce good people, not just good test results. Her biggest reward is when her former students visit and tell her, “Señora Barker, no one could have prepared us better for high school. We have all of the skills needed to succeed. Gracias, Gracias for teaching us!” To learn more, visit

Tracy Coll of St.Teresa of Avila School Mrs. Tracy Coll joyfully teaches preschool and pre-kindergarten at St.Teresa of Avila School. “St. Teresa’s is a family. It’s a school to believe in,” Mrs. Coll explains. Mrs. Coll has been teaching for 11 years, and 10 of those years have been at St. Teresa of Avila School. Mrs. Coll earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from La Roche College in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. With boundless energy, a warm smile, and a genuine love for teaching preschool and pre-kindergarten, Mrs. Coll is making a difference in the lives of her students: “I have the opportunity to teach the joy of learning.” With small class sizes, Mrs. Coll gets to know each student on a personal level and has a unique ability bring out the best in each student. Mrs. Coll makes learning fun and comfortable, and as a result, her students are confident and excited to learn. Even during the students’ “free play” time, Mrs. Coll can be found on the floor helping with a puzzle or helping students build a tower. Although much learning occurs through play, Mrs. Coll has a Smartboard in her classroom to enhance learning. Mrs. Coll loves teaching The Letter People curriculum and gives each student a chance to spend a weekend with a letter. Mrs. Coll has the students create a scrapbook page documenting their time with the letter for the class letterbook.  Mrs. Coll enjoys cooking with the students and some of her favorite recipes include “C” cookies, jello, and a blessings mix. Mrs. Coll keeps parents connected and informed on classroom happenings with a detailed newsletter. Mrs. Coll feels a special calling to teach these youngest students: “I want to make a positive difference in my students’ lives. I want my students to develop a life-long love of learning.” After a year with Mrs. Coll, the students are well on their way to doing just that. To learn more, visit

Dr. Maria E. Diaz PhD of Quigley Catholic High School – Dr. Diaz earned her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. She earned her doctorate in engineering from the University of Toledo via a special program combining environmental engineering with chemical engineer. Dr. Diaz also earned a Masters in Secondary Science Education from Duquesne University. At Quigley Catholic High School, Dr. Diaz teaches Sophomore Chemistry and Honors Chemistry, Senior Physics and Honors Physics and to Juniors, she teaches both High School and College-Level Chemistry through the University of Pittsburgh, preparing students to meet the professors’ requirements to earn college credits in Chemistry. Dr. Diaz loves the welcoming, family atmosphere at Quigley Catholic High School where she was immediately impressed with both the intellect and the incredible work-ethic of the students. The staff has also welcomed Dr. Diaz with open arms and has involved Dr. Diaz in many school activities and programs including assistant coach to the Cheerleading team, foreign language studies and in a special Spanish service held for Our Lady of Guadalupe. To learn more, visit

Dr. Tina Johnson PhD, Director of Chinese Studies at Saint Vincent College and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Confucius Classroom at Saint Vincent College – Dr. Johnson earned her BA in Economics from Oklahoma State, went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she worked in public health and earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree.  She then earned a PhD in History with certificates in Asian Studies and Women’s Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.  Her research has been on the history of public health in China, including a book titled _Childbirth in Republican China: Delivering Modernity_ (Lexington, 2011), a co-authored book chapter on reproduction in 20th century China, and several articles.  In December 2014, she will complete a Master of Public Health degree from University of Pittsburgh, where she is working with the Asian Studies Center on two public health projects in rural NW China: one on infant nutrition and the other on village doctor training.  Other research interests include biographies of two key women who shaped reproductive health policy in 20th-century China (Lin Qiaozhi and Yang Chongrui), as well as, contemporary Chinese medical diplomacy. As both director of Chinese Studies and director of the University of Pittsburgh Confucius Classroom at Saint Vincent College, Dr. Johnson helped to create the minor in Chinese language and culture, international studies minor in Chinese, and secondary education certification in Chinese language and culture. Through her scholarship, teaching, and travels, Dr. Tina Johnson is a highly-regarded and caring mentor for students has introduced Saint Vincent College students to the richness of Chinese civilization. A number of Saint Vincent students have moved to China to work after graduation, have pursued careers in Asian studies and have gone on to graduate school in related fields (Asian Studies, International Relations). Dr. Johnson also works to encourage the study of Chinese in numerous local elementary and secondary schools, and with this foundation these students will be able to continue their study of this language, history, and culture in college. To learn more, visit

Cynthia McNulty of Oakland Catholic – Ms. McNulty began her teaching career at Sacred Heart High School in 1976 after earning her Master’s degree in Education from Duquesne University and joined Oakland Catholic in 1989 after the schools merged. Ms. McNulty specializes in Social and International studies and stays up-to-date by maintaining a strong professional development ethic through courses at Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as, being involved in the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia and through the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. McNulty has traveled extensively around the world including Shanghai, Singapore, Malasia, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa and throughout Europe. These experiences has led her to develop the Global Competency Initiative at Oakland Catholic High School. This academic endeavor will furnish the students of Oakland Catholic High School with an educational experience that prepares them for higher learning, the 21st century, and global citizenship. The goal of the initiative is to prepare the students for living and working in a multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural world and support a global world view. A four year program that involves extra assignments, lectures, projects, and foreign travel, over 70 freshmen and sophomores (who will take on additional work to finish the four years before they graduate) have already signed-up to be part of this exciting initiative. Ms. McNulty is also key to the development of the Social Studies curriculum, as well as, being instrumental in a World History program offering AP World History along with AP US History, and AP Government and adapting the Social Studies curriculum to work in tandem with the English and Literature curriculum. To learn more, visit


Northern Connection magazine will be highlighting a few incredible educators in each of our upcoming issues in our monthly feature, “Educators Making a Difference”.  These educators may include, teachers, teaching assistants, instructors, counselors and administrators. If you know of an educator making a difference, contact us by emailing or by calling 724-940-2444.