RFOLC Instructors

Alhoff, Barbara Champion

Barbara Champion Althoff is the author and creator of the book series Hand Talk, published by Royal Fireworks Press. She has a degree in sign language interpreting and more than seventeen years of experience working with the deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) communities. She has worked as a certified interpreter and has been involved hands-on with D/HH and special-needs students. She has also taught in community education and homeschooling classes.

Audrain, Lennon

Lennon Audrain earned a degree in elementary education from Rio Salado College five months before he graduated from Brophy College Preparatory School, a private Jesuit Catholic high school in Phoenix, Arizona. At both Brophy and Rio Salado, he studied Latin. He attends Arizona State University, majoring in classics (Latin and ancient Greek, Greco-Roman history and culture) and secondary education. This is Lennon's second year teaching Latin; he enjoys helping students understand this historically rich language.

Black, Robert

Robert Black, author of the Mathematical Nights books, has degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics from Vanderbilt University. The son of two math teachers, he has a twenty-five-year career as an engineer and quality assurance manager.

Brewer-LaPorta, Margaret

Dr. Brewer-LaPorta has a long tenure in science education at a number of different levels. She started teaching college science courses while a graduate student and continued teaching face-to-face and online science classes at Purchase College of the State University of New York and at Pace University. In addition to her college experience, Dr. Brewer-LaPorta is dually certified by New York State to teach Inclusive Adolescent Science, which requires highly qualified science teachers to be able to instruct gifted, general, and special education students. In addition to teaching geology and astronomy at Pace University, Dr. Brewer-LaPorta is currently teaching earth science and integrated chemistry/physics in the New York State public school system.

Kaye, Sharon

Dr. Sharon Kaye is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, she was a Killam postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She runs a Philosophy for Kids internship program in which undergraduate students teach philosophy to middle school honors students. She has published numerous articles and books, which have been translated into Japanese, Greek, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, and Slovak. She and her husband have two young children.

Klass, Ingrid

Ingrid Klass holds a Master's in History of Religion from the University of Chicago, with a focus in South Asian philosophy and languages (Sanskrit and Pali). Her B.A. is in religion from Carleton College, with a concentration in South Asian studies. She has studied Sanskrit at Harvard, and while a student, she lived in Sri Lanka for one semester, studying Buddhism. She has taught courses in Asian philosophy, world religions, Buddhism, Fundamentalism, and Asian humanities at the college level.

LaPorta, Philip C.

Dr. Philip LaPorta has a long history in science education. Throughout his research career, he has taught the geological sciences to undergraduates at Queens, Queensborough, Hunter, and Lehman colleges of the City University of New York system, as well as at Rutgers-Newark, Montclair State University, Purchase College of the SUNY system, and Pace University. His teaching style and ready command of the content material were the primary reasons for increasing recruitment of geology majors in the CUNY system; enrollment increased from six to more than fifty students over the course of four years. His geology program at CUNY went on to produce doctoral degrees in the geological sciences at schools such as Columbia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. Philip’s expertise expanded to adolescent education with the mentoring of high school students in scientific research projects sponsored through his own New York State education charter, The Center for the Investigation of Native and Ancient Quarries. His research collections, library, and knowledge have been used through the charter to support student research in the STEM fields and continue to prompt students to follow careers in the sciences.

Lively, Aubrey

Aubrey Lively does not like to write about herself in the third person, but when she does, she likes to imagine herself in a story, opening secret doors and having tea with dragons. Then she gets distracted by the smoky smell of the dragon’s lair and finding a key or a clue, but if you follow her down the rabbit hole, don’t worry—she’s credentialed in the real world, too, with a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Dallas and a Master of Education in teaching from the University of Texas at Arlington. Aubrey has taught everything from preschool (Montessori) to post-graduate courses in business English, as well as high school English, college math, and Spanish. She homeschools her six children, who are between the ages of three and fifteen.

Mack, Daniel

Daniel Mack is one of America’s leading experts on rustic furniture and building, subjects about which he has authored seven books. His Making Rustic Furniture has sold more than 100,000 copies. He is also an artist who has been teaching for many years in both formal and non-traditional settings—such as a hurricane-devastated jungle in the Yucatan. He organizes yearly "Woodlander Gatherings" where nature-loving people come and learn, share, and visit. This spring, he is meeting a group of people on the shores of the Hudson River for a day of building with driftwood. He has a long history of work in the field of visual communications.

Minchak, Scott

Scott Minchak is a New York-based archaeologist with experience in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. His interest in archaeology began as a young child reading books, watching movies, and finding artifacts buried in his backyard. In keeping with that interest, he studied archaeology and focused on stone tools. He welcomes students into the exciting world of archaeology.

Thompson, Michael Clay

During a period of thirty years, Michael Clay Thompson was a classroom teacher, middle school head, and academic. Now Michael is a full-time author and consultant. An acclaimed speaker and workshop presenter, he has inspired thousands of students and educators through his teaching, books, and presentations with a new love of language and literature. Michael received his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University, studied for gifted education accreditation at Mars Hill College, and obtained his M.A. from Western Carolina University. During his teaching career he taught in schools in Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Michael has written more than 100 books, all with Royal Fireworks Press.

Thompson, Myriam Borges

A native Spanish-speaker from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dr. Myriam Borges Thompson received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Spanish literature from the University of Puerto Rico. She has taught Spanish in elementary through high school and college, is a co-author of the Caesar’s English texts, and is the translator/author of With the Eyes of a Woman and Ideal Love. She also contributed articles to Our Gifted Children magazine, including “Identification of Gifted Hispanic Students” and “One Gifted Child, Three Environments.” She is co-author of the chapter “Reflections on Foreign Language Study for Highly Able Learners” in Developing Verbal Talent, published by the College of William and Mary (1996). Fascinated by the Spanish classics of the Golden Age, she likes to reread Cervantes’s Don Quixote every few years. She has spent the last decade researching the work of nineteenth-century Latin American women writers.