STEAM Learning Network

Program Administrators

Don Pemberton
Don Pemberton

Project Executive Director Donald Pemberton is the director of the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida, an institute dedicated to improving the quality of teaching and learning in Florida’s public schools. He joined the UF faculty in 2002 and through his work with educators, parents, students, researchers and community leaders; he is developing a series of interventions and partnerships to measurably improve healthy child development and student academic success. Dr. Pemberton founded Take Stock in Children, a statewide organization to ensure the academic success and college matriculation of children living in poverty, and served as president from 1995 to 2002. Prior to that, he served as president of the Pinellas County Education Foundation. He is a former teacher and counselor in the Pinellas County School District. Dr. Pemberton was raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then returned to the U.S. to continue his education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State and a Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of South Florida.


Jill Sonke
Jill Sonke

Project Research Director Jill Sonke-Henderson is Co-Founder and Director of the Center for the Arts in Healthcare Research and Education (CAHRE) at the University of Florida, is on the faculty of the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida and is Assistant Director and Artist in Residence for Shands Hospital. She has been an Artist-in-Residence in the Shands Arts in Medicine program at the University of Florida since 1994, where she founded the Dance for Life program. Ms. Sonke-Henderson is active in research, curriculum and program development at UF, and is a frequent presenter and guest artist at universities, conferences, hospitals, and festivals throughout the United States and abroad. Ms. Sonke-Henderson serves as Vice-President on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, is the recipient of a New Forms Florida Fellowship Award, an Individual Artist Fellowship Honorable Mention Award from the State of Florida, a 2001 Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), a UF Internationalizing the Curriculum Award, the Most Outstanding Service Learning Faculty Award in 2008 from UF, and over twenty five grant awards for her programs and research at Shands and the University of Florida.


James Oliverio
James Oliverio

Project Creative Director James Oliverio is internationally known as a creative artist, educator and producer, and is a frequent keynote speaker and consultant to digital media, industry and education programs. He has served as Director of the Digital Worlds Institute at the University of Florida since January 2001, with full professorships in Digital Media and in Music. Special recognition includes the Inaugural “Peoria Prize for Creativity” (2005) for producing the globally distributed performing arts collaboration entitled “Hands Across the Ocean” -with global partners including Doncaster College and the Korea advanced Institute of Science and Technology - and the “Most Courageous and Creative” Award in the High Bandwidth Challenge at the 2001 global SuperComputing Conference. Oliverio holds five Emmy Awards from the Atlanta chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, along with numerous national grants and commissions. His work in internationally-distributed performing and digital arts has been featured on CNN International and the BBC.

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