Skip to main content


NOVEMBER 9, 2021

Virtual Event


Award-winning Leaders in STEM Education

John Lash, 2021 Early Career STEM Educator Award recipient
Tonkia Bridges, 2021 Mid-Career STEM Educator Award recipient
Hallie Booth, 2021 Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (20-30 years experience) recipient
Dr. Rajeev Swami, 2021 Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (30+ years experience) recipient


The STEM Conference is a collaboration between NKU’s CINSAM and the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Together, we aim to supply educators with high-quality, applicable tools to improve STEM education in our region.

Each year, hundreds of regional K-12 teachers & school administrators converge to explore STEM education instruction, technology, and cutting edge techniques.

Conference Features:

  • Showcase of regional resources
  • STEM initiative models
  • Interactive workshop sessions
  • Poster sessions
  • Up to 4 professional development contact hours
  • Raffle of educational items
  • STEM Education Leadership Awards presentation


Thank you to all that contributed to and participated in the 2021 virtual STEM Conference!

Registrants can access recordings and materials from the event through Whova until May 2022 by signing into Whova with the event login credentials created to attend the event. Attendees may also utilize the Whova app to follow up with people from the conference through in-app messages, e-business card requests, and Bulletin Board posts.


2021 STEM Education Leadership Award Winners

 Congratulations to the winners of the STEM Education Leadership Awards!
Thank you for your service and dedication to STEM education.

John Lash, 2021 Early Career STEM Educator Award recipient

John Lash

Early Career STEM Educator Award

John Lash graduated from Manchester University in 2012 with a B.S. in Chemistry. John began teaching at Randolph Southern Jr/Sr High School in the Fall of 2013. With sights fully set on becoming a licensed public school teacher, John earned an ETS Recognition of Excellence on the Chemistry Praxis and entered the Transition to Teaching program at Indiana University - East.

During his tenure at Randolph Southern Jr/Sr High School, John worked to aggressively expand the science program. He added AP Chemistry to the course rotation by adding ACP (dual credit) Chemistry to the curriculum. John was also a recipient of a Vernier Classroom Grant, which allowed him to add several hands-on labs to the AP and dual credit curricula. He also taught AP Physics for a neighboring school corporation that was without a physics teacher, worked as adjunct faculty in the IU East Chemistry Department, and was a member of Indiana’s first cohort of Ford NGLU Project-Based Learning certified educators. Additionally, John was twice honored by his students as the Mideastern Conference STAR Educator.

Having earned a Master’s Degree in Education, John has transitioned into administration. In the Fall of 2021, John became the principal of Driver Middle School in Winchester, Indiana. As a building principal, John still teaches AP Physics at Winchester Community High School. He is currently a member of the Standards Review Process for the Indiana Academic Standards for Science and Computer Science.

Tonkia Bridges, 2021 Mid-Career STEM Educator Award recipient

Tonkia Bridges

Mid-Career STEM Educator Award

Tonkia Bridges (a.k.a. Coach Tee) is a passionate educator teaching with Cincinnati Public Schools and the University of Cincinnati, and founder of Nurturing Educational Readiness and Development from the Start (NERDS). With a professional background in research and education, Coach Tee began working extensively in education starting in 2009.

Her passion to nurture and develop students continued to grow, leading to the decision to develop an organization addressing the academic and social needs of students in her community. As a result, NERDS was launched in February 2018. Since the very beginning, Coach Tee’s vision for NERDS has been to inspire the inner nerd of young learners through fun and education with hands-on learning experiences that help students become life learners, future leaders, and compassionate caring members of their community. That vision is fulfilled in NERDS’ Nurturing Educational Readiness and Development through Learning Infused with Fun and Education (NERDLIFE) learning opportunities, providing students with various learning experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom.

A sports lover, avid reader, and a lover of learning and exploring new things, she is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with degrees in Chemical Engineering 03’, Chemical Technology 06’, and Educational Leadership 08’, and currently pursuing Ed.D in Leadership for Organizations at the University of Dayton.

Hallie Booth, 2021 Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (20-30 years experience) recipient

Hallie Booth

Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (20-30 years experience)

Hallie has just been named the 2022 Kentucky Middle School Teacher of the Year; the 2021 Greater Cincinnati Outstanding STEM teaching award and is currently teaching 8th grade science at Ballyshannon Middle School in Boone County. Hallie has spent 26 years in education in many roles, she has served as an Instructional Coach, Assistant Principal, Principal and worked for the Kentucky Department of Education as the Regional Science Lead. Hallie graduated with a B.A. of Arts in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement, B.A. in Elementary Education, Masters in Special Education, an Endorsement in K-9 Science Education and a Rank 1 from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio in Leadership. Hallie used LDC (Literacy Design Collaborative) in her classroom to create well-rounded, rigorous literacy based units. She has presented at the National Southern Regional Education Board conference in New Orleans, and North Carolina and Nashville, State LDC meetings, and at other districts in the state. She has written several articles on the integration of literacy within the science classroom and was a Panelist at the 2012 Education Nation discussing the implementation of the Common Core in the classroom. Hallie has been trained as a “Common Core Advocate” training educators on how to implement Common Core within the science classroom across the country and within her state. Hallie has worked with the Thurgood Marshall Foundation teacher institute as a trainer/mentor for teachers and pre-service teachers on classroom instruction, Common Core, literacy across the core classes and classroom management. Hallie has written an article for NSTA online planning science instruction for all students. Hallie has had many leadership roles throughout her career including Science Lead, Site Based member, Member of the District Leadership Team, Member of the Green and Healthy Schools Committee, and instrumental in the implementation of a solar panel project at her school.

Hallie resides in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky with her husband, Jim, Step-Son Trevor and enjoys being a grandmother to Ellie and Trinity who resides with her step-daughter, Hannah and husband, Jacob.

Dr. Rajeev Swami, 2021 Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (30+ years experience) recipient

Dr. Rajeev Swami

Outstanding STEM Educator Career Achievement Award (30+ years experience)

Rajeev Swami, Ed.D. is a Professor of Science Education at Central State University. After moving to U.S.A. in 1985, Dr. Swami received his B.S. Chemistry/Physics Education, M.Ed., Ed.D. all from the University of Cincinnati. From 1988 – 2000, Dr. Swami taught Chemistry and Physics in urban and suburban school districts in the Cincinnati area before moving to Northern Kentucky University in 2000 to prepare 21st century educators. At CSU, Dr. Swami has served as the Director of Field & Clinical Experiences, Director of Accreditation, and Chair of the Professional Education Department.

Dr. Swami has been serving STEM education at the state, regional, national, and international associations on issues from science teaching and standards to teacher quality. He is a past president of the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association and the Science Education Council of Ohio. Currently he serves as the panel chair of the Adolescent Young Adult Science program review for the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

He has been recognized for his work in education with the 2011 Ohio University Supervisor Award, the 2018 Faculty Excellent Award by the Southwestern Council of Higher Education, 2019 Ohio Mentor of the Year, and the 2019 Patricia E. Blosser Service to Science in Ohio by the Science Education Council of Ohio. Dr. Swami is serving as Interim Dean of the College of Education at Central State University.


For questions about the annual STEM Conferences, please contact Danielle Dores at (859) 572-1308 or

Subscribe to our listserv to receive updates about the annual STEM Conference.