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Our team

Lisa Davis

Co-Founder

Lisa is an experienced senior executive and entrepreneur with a successful track record of delivering results across a variety of organizations. Lisa’s background in commercial real estate and venture capital saw her leading a number of start-ups and major expansions on a national, local, and regional basis. Lisa was previously elected on a platform of change as a trustee of the Calgary Board of Education, one of the largest school boards in Canada with 120,000 students and a $1.4 billion budget. Lisa also founded a highly successful early childhood and recreational program that doubled in size in its first 3 years. The unique community hub model she pioneered was recognized for its innovative programming.

Sarah Bieber

Co-Founder

Sarah began her career as a junior high and then high school teacher, where she ran the school's program for students with learning disabilities along with teaching Social Studies and a Career and Technology Studies (CTS) class. Sarah has given many presentations to parent groups over the years on the topic of supporting children with unique learning needs. As a mother of young children Sarah acted as a preschool coordinator and a preschool chairperson. More recently, Sarah completed a Masters of Counselling in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary and she now works as a counsellor, both for an agency and in private practice. Sarah currently serves as spokesperson for the educational advocacy group Kids Come First. She also works with young people as a basketball program coordinator and coach. As a mother of children in high school, junior high, and elementary school, Sarah is very aware of many of the unique learning needs of children and the benefits of programs focused on helping students reach their potential.

Joanne Higgins

Superintendent

Joanne brings a wealth of experience to her role as superintendent of STEM Innovation Academy. With over 30 years experience as an elementary, junior and senior high school educator and leader she continues to demonstrate her love of learning.

Joanne received a Bachelor of Education from University of Alberta where she majored in elementary education. She began her career with Willow Creek School Division teaching elementary. After moving to Calgary she initially taught high school Math before settling into junior high as a Math and Science teacher.

Joanne received a Master of Arts from Gonzaga University specializing in Curriculum and Administration. She held several leadership positions with Calgary Board of Education at both a school and system level. Her most recent leadership experience includes Principal with Foothills School Division where she implemented successful new programs including a STEM residency.

Joanne and her husband Stacy are proud parents to three children who have completed post secondary education. Family is everything. Joanne continues to lead an active lifestyle with her children and friends that includes skiing, golf, and fitness.

"I am very passionate about leadership and learning. I believe there is a leader in us all and our role as educators is to support students to see and promote the leader within themselves. It is an honor and a privilege to join the leadership team at STEM Innovation Academy. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our ever changing society. Our students are presented with an incredible opportunity to be technology innovators and leaders into their future".

Kerry Blum

Principal

Kerry Blum joins our team as the principal of STEM Innovation Academy with over 23 years’ experience as a junior and senior high educator and leader.  

Kerry received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta where she majored in Biological Sciences. She began her career with the Calgary Board of Education teaching junior high Math and Science. After 10 years teaching junior high, she moved into high school where she taught Biology, Chemistry, General Science, Mathematics and Physical Education. She continued her education at the University of Calgary where she received a Master of Education in Leadership and Child & Adolescent Mental Health.  

Kerry’s most recent senior leadership experience includes Assistant Principal at a large, public Calgary high school focused on excellence in academics, fine arts, and athletics.  
Kerry and her husband Michael have three daughters in university, high school, and junior high. When not coaching or watching her daughters play sports, she enjoys golf, fitness, and outdoor adventures in our beautiful province.  

“As an educational leader, all of my decisions lie behind my core belief that all students can find success daily. I am excited to work together with our team of teachers as we meet our future students and watch them grow and develop into curious, passionate, and innovative citizens.  I am honored to have this opportunity to lead STEM Innovation Academy into the future." 

Robert Ackerman

Assistant Principal

Robert Ackerman joins the STEM Innovation Academy as the Assistant Principal with over 16 years of experience in Calgary’s junior and senior high schools.

Robert received a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a major in Chemistry, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary. His career began as a junior high school teacher, teaching Science and coaching soccer. He then moved onto a large academic high school where he taught General Science, Chemistry, and Biology at various grade levels in addition to teaching International Baccalaureate Biology to students new to the IB program. More recently Robert has been the Learning Leader of a large Science Department, during his time he has worked to unify teaching practices within science courses and implement rapid formative assessment strategies to increase student understanding. In 2017 Robert completed a Masters in Leadership and Administration from Gonzaga University, during his post secondary work he chose to focus on increasing student achievement through more effective and timely feedback. Robert enjoys working with young people through sports, before he became a teacher he worked with the Broncos Bantam Football organization as a coach for young people in North East Calgary. He continued to coach football while teaching and has experienced success within the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association. He and his wife Jo-Ann enjoy golfing with friends and travelling on new adventures.

“I believe education is the foundation upon which society builds toward a prosperous future. Education is currently in need of innovative, abstract thinkers who can manage an uncertain future. I believe the STEM Innovation Academy is well positioned to create future leaders who have not only the academic background to be successful but also the resilience to conquer whatever challenges we may face.”

Dan McWilliam

Learning Leader: Social, English, Grade 9 community, Innovation and Community Relations

Resourceful, innovative, and collaborative teaching professional with 19 years of experience working in innovative constructivist environments as a teacher, instructional leader, Learning Design Specialist, collaborative outreach coordinator, and professional development facilitator.

Recently Dan worked as a divisional Learning Design Specialist where he leveraged design thinking to facilitate innovation in Rocky View Schools collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and community partners to produce engaging and authentic learning opportunities.

Prior to this, Dan worked at Connect Charter School as a teacher, humanities team leader and finally as the professional development and collaboration coordinator utilizing the exemplary teaching and learning frameworks.

“I believe in learning as a reflection on experiences. As a teacher my job is to create the conditions for students to develop and share creative solutions to unique problems that uncover the Alberta curriculum in engaging and authentic ways. I enjoy working with students to ask questions that matter and investigate the answers at the elbow with experts in their field. “

Chris Wasmann

Learning Leader: Math, Science, Physical Education, Grade 8 community

Chris has taught in the public system for the past 17 years including teaching grades 5-12. He has taught in both high school and middle school settings. Chris has taught a variety of subjects, but the majority of his career has been focused on Mathematics, Science and Physical Education.

Chris has been a Math/Science Learning Leader at 4 different schools in the Calgary Board of Education working to develop their Math programs to better meet students’ needs, including opening a new school in South East Calgary. Chris spent a year working for the Alberta Government as a Math Coach placed at two CBE schools coaching teachers on best practices in math instruction.

Chris received his Masters of Education in Educational Technology from the University of Calgary. He has coached all school sports and has won championships in volleyball, basketball and track and field. One of the highlights of his career was coaching his Sr. Boy’s volleyball team to a league championship – the only championship for that school in 50 years.

Sarah Davies

Learning Leader: Resource, Grade 7 community, SPARK

“Great teachers empathize with kids, respect them, and believe that each one has something special that can be built upon.” Ann Lieberman

Teaching, advising, and online course design, are multiple roles Sarah has carried over the last thirteen years in education.

Sarah's teaching style is rooted in building relationships with students first before she can teach. As a deeply empathetic teacher, who makes great effort to understand the needs of her students, her primary focus is on developing positive relationships with students as the key to successful learning. Whatever the role, Sarah approaches the work with professionalism, creativity, and expertise.

Sarah completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Calgary and went on to teach in the public system in a multi-grade blended classroom model. With a wide variety of teaching environments, both virtually and in-person, a deeper understanding of education ensued. Her experiences taught her that grade level teaching is not a one-size-fits-all approach for students. It was this recognition that fueled her decision to continue her own learning journey by moving to Sweden where she completed her Masters of Science in International and Comparative Education at the University of Stockholm.

Sarah’s teaching expertise areas are Language Arts, Social Studies and Academic Advising. Sarah’s technical background is extensive, as she currently teaches in an online environment. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, travelling, walking her dog, and running. In the summer, you will find her in B.C. on a beach, as this is where Sarah's family resides.

Denzil Mackrory

Learning Leader: STEM complementary course development and delivery

Denzil Mackrory joins STEM Innovation Academy as the STEM Learning Leader. He has received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, Masters of Science from the Open University in England and a certificate in STEM Leadership from Columbia University.

Denzil has spent his career teaching in the International school circuit. Most recently he taught at the International School of Kenya where he developed and implemented the STEM curriculum. In developing curriculum, he aims to integrate the STEM disciplines by engaging students in authentic, real world learning activities that address issues of global significance.

Whilst it is imperative to produce global minded citizens, it is equally important for students to be connected to their local communities. He believes that the school is the starting point for learning and that it must be taken beyond the walls of the school by forging learning partnerships with the local community.

He strongly believes that learning must not only be fun but also rigorous. The real joy of learning comes from the feeling of success and accomplishment when overcoming a challenge. Denzil prides himself in developing a differentiated curriculum that allows students of varying abilities to be appropriately challenged to experience success in learning.

Denzil is also deeply connected to nature. Being new to Alberta he spends his free time exploring, travelling and camping in his rooftop tent. He is a wildlife photographer, mountain biker and keen fisherman who loves spending time outdoors with his friends and family. Life is about balance, knowing when to pick up the phone and when to turn it off.