Virtual Camp Staff for CC 2021
Ildikó Stennis, Owner, Camp Director, and Teacher
During the school year, I teach 7th grade science full time at Peterson Middle School in Santa Clara Unified School District, while I am actively involved in Camp Captivate each summer break and prepare for camp during the other school holidays. I have a BS in Geology and a Secondary Clear Credential in Physical Science and a supplemental teaching credential in Mathematics. I was surprised and honored to be chosen as one of 12 teachers for an award for STEAM education. Leading up to the Pac-12’s sixth-consecutive football championship game at Levi’s® Stadium on December 6, 2019, the Conference and mascots from all 12 universities surprised 12 teachers throughout the San Jose area with awards — and I was one of them. Read Pac-12 and CFP Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers award over $36,000 to 12 teachers across San Jose area.
In my long teaching career, I have taught children (from preschool through high school), and I have 3 kids of my own. Needless to say, I get kids! In response to COVID-19, I have worked with my staff to develop safe choices for parents in 2021 — virtual camps or in-person camps — Our pivot (in a short time crunch) to virtual camp in 2020 was incredibly successful, and we learned what worked best and what could be improved for 2021. Science Smart Kids and Camp Captivate grew organically from a backyard play group I founded in 2008; at the time, I was staying home full time with my 3 small children, who then ranged in age from 6 months to 4 ½ years. I applied my training and experience as a former middle school and high school science and math teacher to meet the needs of my own younger children and their friends and neighbors. Younger kids have boundless energy and need quick transitions between activities, and the program was custom- designed to meet their needs. My core teaching philosophy is hands-on, multi-faced STEAM programming, and I think students learn best when they are engaged in meaningful activities and work in cooperative groups. Science Smart Kids is the premier provider of STEAM camps, and we are a proud sponsor of the 2021 Santa Clara Unified STEAM EXPO.
I think Camp Captivate stands out among other camps programs in the Bay Area because we hire exceptional teachers and we offer incredible custom science and art kits — for you to keep! In addition, we nurture the whole child, by including team-building, physical activity, and just plain FUN! We appeal to children who thrive at a smaller, more intimate camp environment. My own children thrived at Camp Captivate over the years and I believe your child will thrive too.
JC Martin, Science Teacher (virtual)
My name is Jeanne but most people call me JC. I currently teach 5th grade Science and Mathematics at Stratford School. I have a BS in Biology for Science Education from Humboldt State University and have nearly completed my Secondary Science Credential. I have worked at summer camps run by the Girl Scouts of Northern California for four summers before coming to work at Camp Captivate. I appreciate the opportunities for learning and character growth that summer camps provide and am overjoyed to be on the Camp Captivate team. I have been told that my special gift is LOVING working with middle schoolers. I was the Science Teacher last summer for Camp Captivate and I am returning this summer as Science Teacher for the virtual camps. I have worked for Camp Captivate for 4 years. I look forward to the summer ahead!
Elizabeth Unpingco, Art Teacher (virtual)
I have an M.Ed. ITA (integrated teaching through the Arts) and is a certified Integrated Learning Specialist through Alameda County “Art is Education” Program and is nearly finished with her Secondary Teaching Credential in Fine Arts. She is an exhibiting fine artist and is currently finishing up her credential in secondary education from San Jose State University. Particularly interested in social/emotional arts learning, Elizabeth strives to create equitable, developmentally appropriate, and engaging learning environments and activities. This is her third season working with Camp Captivate. “I am gratified to be a member of such a dedicated and innovative team that understands and promotes the critical integration of the arts in STEAM education for our kids.”
Andres Wemiz, Art Teacher (in person)
I am passionate about teaching art. I have a BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in Drawing & Painting, and a Credential in Art from San Jose State University. I have taught art for five years for Hidden Talent Art Studio, where we brought fine art programs to various elementary schools throughout the region. I worked for Camp Captivate last summer for a corporate “take your kid to work day” event, and it went amazing. This year, I am thrilled to be the full time art teacher for the in-person programs. My motivation to teach art stems from a lifelong passion for drawing, painting and sculpting while not having an adequate level of exposure as a child myself. I aspire to help children actively engage in the creative process and express how they think and feel without any inhibitions to their own sense of identity and expression. As a teacher, I believe that art can be an outlet to escape the fast-paced, hyper-connected society in which we live in, and teach many lifelong skills such as problem-solving and self-regulation through visual communication. I can’t wait to create beautiful art with your children.
Nichole Calabio, Explorers Teacher (Virtual)
I am currently working as a vice principal and 2nd grade teacher at St. Victor’s School in San Jose. The students are so creative and inquisitive! It’s a blast watching the students so engaged in Science and perform experiments. This is my 3rd year with Camp Captivate, and I am looking forward to being the virtual “Explorers” teacher. I have a B.S. in Biology from UC Riverside, a Credential in Biology and a Masters in Education from Notre Dame de Namur University, and a credential in Special Education. When I am not teaching, I love spending time outdoors and painting. Can’t wait to see you at camp! I am excited to be the Explorers Teacher for Camp Captivate 2021.
Rachel has been an educator for over 20 years. She has taught both science and math over the course of those years. She holds a BS in Biology from Santa Clara University and a teaching credential in Biology & General Science. During the school year, she teaches 6th grade science at Peterson Middle School in Santa Clara Unified District. She has been a part of the Camp Captivate staff on and off for many years. Her two boys have enjoyed participating in Camp Captivate when they were younger. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, music/dance, reading and the outdoors.
Michelle Martinez, Explorers Teacher (In Person)
I currently am a prekindergarten teacher at St. Justin’s School, which has a special place in my heart as an alumni. I recently received my Master’s Degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and received my Bachelor’s in Human Development with a minor in Social Change from there as well. While I am excited to start my first year at Camp Captivate as part of the in-person Explorers program, I have worked in the past at the St. Justin’s Summer Camp as the art teacher. When I am not working with children I can usually be found in the outdoors. I can’t wait to see you this summer!
Mildred Garcia, Explorers Teacher (Virtual)
Mildred is an experienced and dedicated teacher who has taught preschool or kindergarten since 2006, and she obtained a Child Development Program Director Certificate. Her passion is working with young learners and facilitating their joy and wonder of exploration. For the past 10 years of her career, Mildred taught at St. Justin’s School in Santa Clara, CA, and she is excited about bringing her years of teaching experience to offer enrichment classes with Camp Captivate!
Stay tuned for updates as we hire more staff!