Marcia McChesney has been involved with creative problem solving since her introduction to Odyssey of the Mind in 1988 and has also enjoyed being part of Destination Imagination. She has served as a Sheridan County SD #1 OM/DI coordinator, team manager, board member, affiliate training director, and is currently the Affiliate Director for Wyoming Destination Imagination.
She is currently retired after teaching for 31 years in both Montana and Wyoming. Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination has been a big part of her life for the last 25 years. She continues to be impressed by the creative problem solving and teamwork of the students who take on the DI challenges and take this attitude into life’s challenges. DI creates an amazing mindset of never giving up and finding solutions that helps students in their work and in their personal lives!
After several years volunteering as a team appraiser, Kathryn officially joined the WACY Board of Directors in the spring of 2012, but her involvement in Destination Imagination started long before that. Kathryn is originally from Big Horn, WY where she participated in Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination from 3rd through 12th grades at Big Horn Schools. Kathryn graduated from Big Horn High School in 2001 and the University of Wyoming in 2005 with a BA in Anthropology. After a two-year stint in the big city (Denver, CO), she returned to her home state and earned her MBA from the University of Wyoming. She currently lives in Lander with her husband and their twin sons, and works for Central Wyoming College – Lander.
Kathryn’s years in OM/DI allowed her to use her creative thinking skills and imagination in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the teams in which she participated, Kathryn was fortunate enough to travel to global finals throughout her middle and high school years. Through these opportunities, she met students from across the country, watched incredible solutions to team challenges explored many different parts of the United States. Her time in OM/DI was invaluable; it undoubtedly shaped the person she is today. She is thrilled to be a part of WACY and DI in the state of Wyoming, so she can give back to the program that gave her so much in her formative years.
Tammy Needham has been an award winning classroom educator for over 28 years both in Wyoming and Texas. She has been involved in creative problem solving for over 27 years in both the Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination programs. She is her district’s DI coordinator, manages three to four teams a year, serves as both the NE Regional Director, and as the secretary for the state of Wyoming’s Destination Imagination (DI) program. She has presented at both math conferences and creative problem solving trainings.
Over her many years of involvement in this program, Tammy has witnessed the positive impact that Destination Imagination program has had on each of her over 300 participants. All of her prior team members have completed high school and most have gone onto college. Many of them credit the skills they acquired DI with their successful careers. Perhaps the greatest testament to the program is her many alumni that now give back to the program as team managers, appraisers, challenge masters, Master of Ceremonies, creativity camp counselors, and fellow board members.
Megan Schnorenberg Candelaria
Megan S. Candelaria, a life-long Wyoming resident, grew up in Sundance, Wyo., the small town that gave Henry Longbaugh the moniker “The Sundance Kid.” Although she began her university career as a pre-law major, reading her first law brief quickly dissuaded her of that idea and she eventually fell into a physics/mathematics major. Candelaria received a BS in mathematics and physics (2006), a Masters in mathematics (2009), and is currently pursuing a PhD in Mathematics Education at the University of Wyoming. Megan loves STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outreach and recently took a job with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium coordinating STEM outreach efforts in the state of Wyoming. Candelaria also works as an undergraduate lecturer for the UW’s Mathematics Department where she teachers a variety of mathematics courses. Additionally Candelaria has been a member of the University of Wyoming’s Science Posse – an NSF GK-12 grant-funded program – since 2008, when she began using basketballs as a metaphor to explain inverse graph problems to students across the state of Wyoming. With her (sometimes over-the-top) enthusiasm, she attempts to pull students away from their “I-hate-math” attitudes with a fun example, a hands-on activity, or even a bad math joke.
Megan first became a part of the Destination Imagination program in 1993, as a third grader when she joined six of her classmates as Sundance, Wyoming’s very first DI team. She competed for the rest of her elementary, middle, and high school careers – even working with a long-distance high school team comprised of students from across the state of Wyoming. Megan also began working as an assistant team manager in high school and eventually became an IC appraiser and then Instant Challenge Master in college. She now serves as the affiliate training director and half of the social media duo for the state of Wyoming. Through DI, as both a team member and a coach, Megan has filled many different roles: actress, set builder, script writer, costume designer, budget manager, disciplinarian, nurse, and even replacement mom for third graders away from home on their first trip to state. She feels that DI, perhaps more than any other activity she has participated in, has shaped her into the adult she is today. In the twenty plus years she has been a part of it, DI has taught her many things; things she knows the program teaches to all its participants. Participants learn the true meaning and value of teamwork; that there really is no “I” in team, and in order for a team to work, all the members must work cooperatively and listen to one another. They learn that hard work and persistence really do pay off in the end, and the rewards are not only found in the gold of a 1st place medal. DI teaches persistence, how to deal with disappointment, how to be self-sufficient, and most of all DI teaches us what we are capable of. Once DI alumni move beyond the program, whether it be to college, or the working world, the experiences learned in DI put alums miles ahead of our fellows. Megan is proud to be a part of an organization that helps kids realize their creative potential. After all, what is life without the spice of creativity?
LaDonna received a BS in Elementary Education and Library Science (1980) and a Masters in Early Child Education (1987). Her focus with her masters program at the University of South Dakota was to encourage young children to articulate better through questioning techniques and play experiences. She continues to encourage learning with kinesthetic play learning experiences and teamwork activities through her 35 years as an educator with pre-school through high school level of students, post secondary students and adults in both formal and informal settings. Leibrich has been involved in Destination Imagination for 25+ years as a team manager, employed as SCSD#2 DI Coordinator and volunteers on the Wyoming Association of Creative Youth board as the Affiliate Growth Director. She was Wyoming representative to the national DI training in 2013 and 2014. She attained the National Board Certified Teacher status in 2008 and is currently employed as the Sheridan High School librarian.
I am a DI alumni and I participated in the program for 8 years while in elementary, middle and high school. I was an appraiser and team manager before becoming a board member and Alumni Ambassador Council Member. Destination Imagination is a program I continue to stay involved in because the skills I learned as a participant have continued to help me after graduation and in my professional life. I am continually blown away by the things DIers are able to accomplish and I love being able to see their creative solutions and the growth that occurs among team members. I enjoy being able to help give other kids the same opportunity I had to participate in a program that continues to challenge me and change me into the master problem solver life requires me to be!
My name is Caleb Gates. I have been involved in DI for nearly twenty years now. During that time I have been a participant, an appraiser, a team manager, and a board member, and in all those different capacities I have been able to experience all of the great things DI has to offer. It made me more confident and gave me an outlet to be myself and utilize my knowledge and share my passions. I currently live in Seaview, Washington where I teach middle school math. I am joined there with my wife Meredith and my two sons Elias (2) and Judah (7 months). Unlike in Wyoming, I am now a short walk from the ocean and so far I love it. I get to enjoy the wildlife and beaches with my sons and my two dogs, copper (corgi) and Katara (Australian shepherd). I am excited for the point when I have figured out teaching enough to bring DI to the school I teach at now. But one thing I know is that without DI, I may never have had the ability or confidence to make the decisions I needed to make to end up where I am.
Witnessing the passion, creativity and hard work of Destination Imagination participants led Whitney to volunteer and appraise at state tournaments, support creativity camps, serve as a Team Manager and take teams to Globals. She remains sincerely bummed that she never had the chance to be a team member, but is trying to get over it. Whitney currently teaches 6th, 7th and 8th graders in a Gifted and Talented program. As a new WACY board member, she can’t wait to expand her involvement in DI.
I have been involved as a parent, coach, and coordinator for over 15 years with the DI program. I have had the pleasure introducing and going through the DI process with many teams and enjoy seeing students become ‘lifers’ to DI. It amazes me the solutions that teams/individuals think of as they advance through their challenges. I have parents and teachers come to me and tell me how life changing this program is to their children, giving them confidence, courage and experience in challenging activities. I look forward to being on the board to continue my journey with the Destination Imagination program.
Desiree is a middle school teacher in Casper, Wy. She is passionate about her family, and her students. She loves to camp, travel and build things. She is a dedicated proponent of the maker movement and believes that we are all makers in our own ways. Desiree became involved in Destination Imagination when she was offered her dream job in 2009 at CY Middle School. This dream job involves managing up to fifteen Destination Imagination teams full time by teaching it as a year long elective course offered to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. CY Middle School saw Destination Imagination as a valuable opportunity to implement 21st century skills and offer a unique opportunity for students to practice and grow in creative and critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving. Desiree is continually in awe of the her students’ amazing challenge solutions and growth in areas that are critical to tomorrow’s job market and a fast-paced, forward thinking environment. Desiree joined the W.A.C.Y. Board in 2018 because she witnesses the value and incredible impact of DI on a daily basis and wants to do everything she can to support and promote this amazing program in Wyoming.
Kari Pavey collects PVC pipe, hats and new experiences. That is why DI has been a perfect fit for her for many years as each year provides new props, new costumes, new challenges and new solutions. She first got involved with creative problem solving as an Odyssey of the Minds team member as a 6th grader in 1986. After obtaining her teaching degree from UW in 1997 she began managing teams in Sundance and served as an appraiser as well. She has lived, taught 4th graders and managed DI teams in Kaycee since 2007 and is very blessed to now watch her own sons fall in love with thinking and building as team members. Over the years, Kari has seen countless children and parents discover what they can do and who they can become because of Wyoming DI. It is thrilling to see many of her past team members now managing teams and staying connected to the positive program that helped them develop perseverance, confidence, a sense of belonging and unexpected friendships.
Rita Pekuri is a middle school teacher in Casper. Her involvement in Destination Imagination began as a parent in 2012, and since then she has been as a team manager and appraiser for local and state competitions. She is passionate about DI and enjoys seeing students create, discover, and grow.