About Our Staff

YSCP follows all teacher-certification guidelines for charter schools as mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, we have specialty teachers for music, art, physical education/health, character education, technology, Spanish, and Chinese. Middle school students (6th grade through 8th grade) have core-subject teachers for math, science, social studies, and language arts, as well as teachers for electives and the other specialty areas mentioned above. We also employ an ESL teacher, special education teacher, part-time guidance counselor, and a part-time school nurse. If needed, health professionals in OT, PT and Speech Therapy are available.

Kindergarten-2nd Grade Cluster

Crystal Confer
Kindergarten Teacher
This is Crystal's ninth year as a teacher at Young Scholars. Before teaching kindergarten, she was an assistant in fifth grade and kindergarten. This is her seventh year as a kindergarten lead teacher. She graduated from Lock Haven University with a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Reading. Crystal was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania. She has two sons and loves to spend time with them and her husband watching and playing sports. They love going to Pittsburgh to cheer on their favorite sports teams. She also loves to laugh and she makes sure to carry that love of laughter over into her classroom.
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Kathryn Wincek
Kindergarten Teacher
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Danielle Struble
Kindergarten Teacher
Danielle Struble is a Kindergarten Teacher at Young Scholars. She is originally from New Jersey and left home to explore her passion for teaching at the Pennsylvania State University. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education and also a minor in Special Education and Psychology. This is her third year teaching Kindergarten at Young Scholars and she is thrilled to consider YSCP her home away from home. When Danielle is not teaching, she loves being silly and spending time with her husband and puppy. She is also extremely excited for her new adventures as her and her husband are expecting a baby girl in the Spring.
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Kelly Houtz
1st Grade Teacher
Kelly Houtz grew up in the Central PA area. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Lock Haven University. She received her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State University. Miss Houtz has been teaching at YSCP since the school's first year in 2005. She loves teaching first grade and witnessing the amazing growth and new discoveries that are made by the children each school year.
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Nancy Love
1st Grade Teacher
Ms. Love earned her degree and certification in elementary education from Penn State University. She has worked in the extended day program at young scholars for the last four years and also served during the summer program as a science teacher. She spent three years as a teaching assistant through the America Reads program at Penn State. Over the last five years she has developed her skills working along side wonderful mentors at Radio Park, Park Forest, Discovery, and Kindercare Learning Center. Her passion for teaching was developed at a young age when she served through the summers as a peer tutor. Ms. Bennett is excited about continuing her education through Penn State and plans to pursue a masters and Phd in the future. Ms. Bennett loves teaching first grade and cannot imagine a better way to start any day than with the smiling faces of her students at Young Scholars.
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Stacie Woodle
1st Grade Teacher
Stacie Woodle, a longtime resident of State College, has been a part of YSCP for the past four years. She has spent most of her time working with first grade students. She attended Robert Morris University, graduating in 2010 with an Elementary Education degree. Currently Stacie is working on achieving her masters in Early Childhood Literacy. The program focuses on reading and writing activities and assessments for young learners.
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Dana N. Swisher
2nd Teacher
Mrs. Galinsky graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. During college, she taught in a Kindergarten and second grade classroom, in the Dubois Area School District. During this teaching experience, she worked with two experienced mentors who guided her in best practices in education. This is Ms. Galinsky’s first year at Young Scholars and along with teaching second grade, she also tutors students in mathematics.
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Rachel Paulhamus
2nd Grade Teacher
Rachel Paulhamus is in her third year teaching second grade at Young Scholars. She graduated from Lock Haven University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. During her college experiences at LHU, she student taught in a kindergarten classroom, as well as a fourth grade inclusion classroom. Prior to joining the staff at YSCP, she taught prekindergarten at a preschool in Williamsport, PA. Rachel also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh and has many years of experience as a ballet teacher and choreographer. Along with teaching, she most enjoys spending time with her family.
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Ashley Wagner
2nd Teacher
Ashley Wagner has been working with YSCP for the past three years. She has worked here as a second grade teacher, a tutor for grades K-4, and a classroom assistant in second grade. This experience, along with working with the other two second grade teachers closely, has given her a head start in understanding the best way to teach all students. Ashley graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2012, and completed her student teaching in Penns Valley in a kindergarten classroom with a highly experienced mentor. She has loved teaching since the moment she first stepped into a classroom. Besides teaching, Ashley loves reading, reading and, reading some more!! She also enjoys writing, spending time with her very large family, and doing anything outdoors.
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3rd-5th Grade Cluster

Lisa Duffin
3rd Grade Teacher
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Suzanne Hanes
3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Hanes graduated from Loras College in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Reading Endorsement. Mrs. Hanes has taught 5th Grade in Hawaii, Kindergarten in Tennessee, 1st Grade in Georgia, and 3rd-4th Grade in Washington State. Mrs. Hanes' husband is in the Army so they move every couple of years. Mrs. Hanes has a son who is 3 years old. She enjoys being a mom and shopping.
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Andrew Johnson
3rd Grade Teacher
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Seth Darling
4th Grade Teacher
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Christine Zalaquett
4th Grade Teacher
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Sara Herr
4th Grade Teacher
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Paula Rachael
5th Grade Teacher
Mrs. Rachael has been a 5th grade teacher at Young Scholars for four years. She has worked with children from preschool through middle school age. Mrs. Rachael earned her elementary teaching degree from Penn State in 2000 and is currently pursuing her master degree in differentiated education from Graceland University. Mrs. Rachael has three children of her own. Her two girls are in high school at Delta/State High and her son is in 5th grade at Young Scholars. Mrs. Rachael has several pets including a turtle, dogs, cats, and horses. She enjoys horseback riding, kayaking and craft projects with her family and friends in her spare time.
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Leslie Wiest
5th Grade Teacher
This is Leslie's sixth year at YSCP. In the past, she has worked as an assistant and after school tutor. She has also subbed in almost every class here, including ESL. She graduated from Lebanon Valley College in 2008 with a major of Elementary Education and certificate in ESL. She received her Masters in Education from the University of Phoenix. She is currently working on a Masters in being a Reading Specialist. Her hobbies include tennis, snowboarding and scuba diving. In the spring and fall she teaches tennis in the community. This summer she was busy getting ready for her first classroom. Now that it is set up, she looks forward to getting back to these activities Miss Stuart recently relocated to State College after working as a Lead School Age teacher at KinderCare in Erie, PA. As a native of Central PA, she enjoys outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, and canoeing.
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Middle School Cluster

Katelyn Cline
Mathematics Teacher
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Seth Kilmer
Mathematics Teacher
Seth Kilmer previously he worked as the physical education teacher and fourth grade teacher at Stone Valley Community Charter School (not too far from Young Scholars). Seth earned his degree in Elementary Education at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the spring of 2011. He is also certified in Middle School Mathematics and has a minor in Special Education. Outside of school, Seth enjoys spending time with family and friends. He spends a good bit of time in the outdoors as well. He loves to hike and mountain bike! You may also know Seth's wife, Mrs. Kilmer, the art teacher at Young Scholars! They have a dog named Sal who keeps them pretty busy! When they do have some free time, however, they enjoy traveling to Gettysburg to tour the battlefields.
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Laura Essinger-Hileman
Mathematics Teacher
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Jennifer Kauffman
English Language Arts Teacher
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Turan Balik
Character Ed. & Design Teacher
Mr. Balik has been teaching at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania since its inception in August of 2005. Mr. Balik graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with a major in Middle Eastern Studies and Minor in History. Mr. B has certification in Elementary Education (K-6), Turkish (K-12) and Social Studies (7-12) and English as a Second Language (K-12) through Pennsylvania Department of Education. Mr. B has educated students in a variety of capacities at YSCP including 4th & 5th grade classroom teacher, Physical Education, Turkish and Character Education classes. He is one of the advisory teachers for 7th/8th grade students and is currently teaching Character Education (K-8) as well as ESL to kindergartners.
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Kerrin O'Kane
Social Studies Teacher
Kerrin O’Kane has been a teacher at YSCP since 2008, and can’t imagine working anywhere else! YSCP has become her family, especially since her family is scattered across the country. Born near New York City, she completed her undergraduate in Staten Island, NY, and her masters in Albany, NY. She is certified in Elementary Education, as well as in Social Studies 6-9th. She has worked at various living history museums where she has immersed herself into the culture and time periods.
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Alyssa Greco
Science Teacher
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World Languages Cluster

Kathy Kuangchi Lee
Chinese Teacher
Ms. Lee, a native speaker of Mandarin, was born, raised, and educated in Taiwan through the Bachelor’s degree. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Technology and worked for the Altoona Area School District for three years as an instructional designer and programmer prior to joining Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School (YSCP), where she has been teaching Mandarin for the past 8 years. She is a frequent conference presenter at ACTFL, NCLC, and PSMLA. Mrs. Miller has lived in State College with her husband and 2 kids since 1995. She enjoys travelling, dancing, playing piano and hiking.
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Yao Xiong
Chinese Teacher
Yao Xiong has been teaching Chinese language at YSCP since August 2014. She is a native Chinese speaker from China. In 2010, she graduated from Hunan Normal University in China with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language. In 2014, she earned a degree of Master of Education with a major in Foreign Language Education from University of Pittsburgh. Miss. Xiong has experience in teaching Chinese as a second and foreign language in diverse settings. Currently, she teaches Chinese to all grade levels at YSCP.
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Yan Chen
Chinese Teacher
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Clarisa Capone-Huizenga
Spanish Teacher
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Phyllis Hopp
Spanish Teacher
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Angela Sanchez Gago
Spanish Teacher
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Specials & Support

Leigh Hurtz
Music Teacher
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Leigha Kilmer
Art Teacher
Leigha Kilmer has been the K-8 art teacher at YSCP since 2010. She is from central Pennsylvania and a graduate of Penn State in art education with a minor in art history. Her favorite part of teaching art is introducing students to new techniques, artists, and materials. She loves engaging students with cross-curricular projects and exposing them to cultural art and artists.
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Vincent Fadale
PE-Health Teacher
Mr. Fadale is from Selinsgrove, PA, and attended the Lock Haven University where he majored in Health and Physical Education. At LHU, Mr. Fadale competed as a student athlete on the Cross Country and Track & Field teams. In his spare time he trains for triathlons and has goals of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Mr. Fadale's biggest goal in teaching is for his students to take what they learn to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
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Helena Khan
ESL/Extended Day Coordinator
Helena Khan has been working for YSCP since 2005 as an ESL teacher and Extended Day Coordinator. She is holding dual Master’s degrees in Political Science (Bangladesh) and in Curriculum/Instruction (Penn State University). She is an Elementary (K-6) and ESL (K-12) teacher certified through Penn State. Before she started her work at YSCP, Helena taught in schools at Bangladesh and DuBois, PA. Besides teaching, she loves spending time with her family. Her husband is a Chemistry Professor at Penn State. She has two wonderful daughters with loving sons-in-law. They all are in the medical field; three of them are in the residency program, and the younger daughter is a fourth year medical student. Helena loves traveling, cooking and gardening.
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Jessica Durian
Special Education Teacher
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Charity Lynn Wheeland
Reading Specialist
Mrs. Wheeland has been working in education since she graduated with a degree in elementary education from Clarion University in 2002. Since then, she has taught first, second, and third grade in multiple cities and states. During this time, Mrs. Wheeland also earned her Master's Degrees in both early childhood education and reading from Clarion University. She began teaching at Young Scholars in 2012 and has loved every minute at YSCP. This year, Mrs. Wheeland moved into the position of Reading Specialist, where she is enjoying helping students develop into fluent readers. When she is not working with students in the classroom or coaching the YSCP elementary reading team, Mrs. Wheeland enjoys spending time with her children (Matthew, a student at YSCP and Erin, a high school student), gardening, painting, sewing, and watching super hero movies.
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Christine Kurpiel-Wakamiya
Special Education Teacher
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Anna Jones
Music Teacher
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Katelyn Darling
Paraprofessional
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Grace Hakizimana
Teacher Aide
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Kimberly Holsopple
Teacher Aide
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Neharun Nesa
Teacher Aide
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Soma Datta
Teacher Aide
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Galen Goble
Teacher Aide
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Lori Riddle
Teacher Aide
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Sana Waqar
Teacher Aide
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Natalie Wortman
Teacher Aide
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Bethany Horner
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William Ewing
BIS Chair & ESL Instructor
Senor Ewing is certified by the PA Dept. of Education to teach English, Spanish, and ESL which grants him the title of a highly qualified teacher. Senor Ewing has been involved in the Education field for approximately 15 years and he has served as an education director at a correctional facility as well. Sr. Ewing possesses an instructional II certificate and he is pursuing a certification in teaching the Bible from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). He earned a BS in Secondary Education from Lock Haven University while majoring in English and Spanish. He earned his Master of Divinity from Liberty University and he is an ordained pastor. Senor Ewing's family has a lot of experience and has held various positions in the field of education including two retired superintendents, 1 retired elementary teacher, and several current correctional and secondary educators including his wife Sarah who is a Special Education teacher in the West Branch School District. Senor and Senora Ewing have three children; Olivia, Braden, and Rachel. Senor Ewing was a member and served as president of the Foreign Language Honor Society (Phi Beta Delta) and he is a current member of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). Senor Ewing has multiple people and influences that contributed to his interest in world languages including the time that he lived in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico. Senor Ewing believes hard work, perseverance, being active, responsible, and inquisitive are all keys to being a successful student. Senor Ewing is always looking for exciting and relevant ways to promote language acquisition.
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