Meet the Gifted Academy Teachers

Ms. Karin Cook

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Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Arts & Master of Science in English Literature University of Florida

Ms. Karin Cook

English 1 Honors, AP English Language, AP English Literature

Ms. Karin Cook is a University of Florida alumna.  Go Gators! 

She majored in English Literature and minored in Education.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Science degree, National Board Certification, Gifted endorsement, ESOL endorsement, and Clinical Educator Certification.

With 23 years of experience, Ms. Cook has taught elementary, middle, and high school level students as a teacher within the private, the charter, and the public school systems.

Ms. Cook has been Teacher of the Year, is a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction, was a nominee for The Walt Disney Company’s American Teacher Awards, and was the SFLCW Super Teacher of the Week.

She teaches Advanced Placement Literature and Composition, Advanced Placement Language and Composition, and English I Honors Gifted courses.

Additionally, Ms. Karin Cook has served as an adjunct professor of English, teaching ENC 1101, ENC 1102, and Research and Report Writing


Ms. Yolanda Hankerson

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Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Arts in History Bethune-Cookman University

Ms. Yolanda Hankerson

World History Honors, U. S. History, AP Human Geography

Ms. Yolanda Hankerson is an experienced educator with a Bachelor's degree in History from Bethune-Cookman University. She has her professional certificate in Social Science 6-12 with a Gifted Endorsement. Ms. Hankerson has been nominated for Social Science Teacher of the Year at the school based level as well as at the District level in Broward County, where she was recognized as Runner-Up.  Ms. Hankerson has served as a Social Studies Department Chair at the Middle School level as well as the recipient of Broward Education Foundation Adaptor Grant Award.  In addition, Ms. Hankerson has served as a Civics EOC Professional Learning Community Facilitator making her a highly qualified educator in all of the subjects within the discipline of Social Sciences.


Ms. Alyssa Mulvihill

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Bachelor of Science in Biology University of Central Florida

Ms. Alyssa Mulvihill

Biology Honors, Chemistry Honors, AP Biology

Ms. Alyssa Mulvihill has been with Plantation High School for the last three years and is a product of Broward County schools graduating from Coral Glades High School. After high school, Ms. Mulvihill went straight into a Biology program at the University of Central Florida; graduating from UCF with a biology degree while working in a research lab through college.

After college, Ms. Mulvihill went into the field of Biological Research for many years conducting research and medical studies for various vitamin supplements. After switching to teaching, she says she will never go back and couldn't imagine doing anything else. This combines her two true passions and is grateful to be teaching a subject she loves. 


Mrs. Laura Keeler

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Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Science University of South Florida Master of Science Florida Atlantic University

Mrs. Laura Keeler

Algebra 1 Honors, Geometry Honors

Queen Laura Keeler has been teaching for 29 years – all in Broward County.   She has been at Plantation High School for the past 9 years and the other 20 years teaching at the middle school level.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Science degree, ESOL endorsement, Reading endorsement and Clinical Educator Certification. She's currently working on her gifted endorsement.

Queen Keeler attended Broward College on a softball scholarship, the University of South Florida and earned her Masters degree from Florida Atlantic University.  She has been Teacher of the Year at Plantation High School.  She has received the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics Future Leader Grant, the Broward Education Foundation Classroom Grant and the USA Lacrosse Team Start-Up Grant.

In addition to teaching Geometry and Algebra, Queen Keeler is the Assistant Athletic Director. Go Colonels!

 


Mr. Roman Strakhman

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Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Art in Political Science Boston University

Mr. Roman Strakhman

World History Honors, AP World History, IB History of the Americas

Roman Shtrakhman has been a teacher with the Broward County school system since 2003. He teaches International Baccalaureate Cold War History and Advanced Placement World History. He speaks fluent Russian and moderate French fluently.

He is National Board Certified and received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science from Boston University. He is currently working on his Masters Degree in American History and is Gifted Endorsed as well.

Having completed a Study Abroad program in both Paris and Brussels, Mr. Shtrakhman understands history must be taught within the most comprehensive context possible.  This is why all of the AP, Gifted and IB classes are infused with lessons on the political, economic, religious and cultural components of a particular country or time period.

In addition, relating the information to the modern world is of paramount importance. Mr. Shtrakhman believes we must stand on the shoulders of giants after all, for it is virtually impossible to understand the world today without studying and analyzing the various historical and geo-political characteristics that helped us get here. 

These classes have many wonderful topics, from the wonders of Latin America to the horrors of Vietnam.  From Hinduism and Buddhism to the sights and sounds of Africa and the Middle East. From the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Climate Change and population growth. Thus, Mr. Shtrakhman also tries to balance the needs and requirements of the various tests with all of the other awesome and brilliant spectacles of the world.


Mr. Kenneth Spohn

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Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Computer Science -Minor in Mathematics

Mr. Kenneth Spohn

Algebra 2 Honors, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Statistics, IB Math Higher Level, IB Math Standard Level

 

Mr. Kenneth Spohn has worked for Broward County Schools for 13 years—all at Plantation High School.  Before working for Broward County Schools, Mr. Spohn worked in the private sector for 13 years, applying his mathematics and data analytics knowledge to improve productivity for his region—surpassing other regions within the company by 300%.

Mr. Spohn is originally from Pennsylvania where he attended Penn State University.  Mr. Spohn graduated with a degree in Computer Science, a minor in mathematics, and an emphasis is Statistics.  After graduating from Penn State, Mr. Spohn moved to South Florida and has lived here ever since. 

Throughout his years at Plantation High School, Mr. Spohn has taught every mathematics course offered at the high school level.  Currently, Mr. Spohn teaches several courses, including IB Mathematics Higher Level, IB Mathematics Standard Level, AP Statistics, AP Computer Science Principles, Honors Programming, and Gifted Math.  His passion for math is evident in the classroom, and through discussions with his current and past students.

In the classroom, Mr. Spohn employs a ‘discovery based’ learning approach, where the students are taught to apply higher level thinking skills to work through an investigative task.  Using this approach allows students to take ownership of their learning, and helps them comprehend and retain the mathematical skills they learn.  Mr. Spohn thoroughly enjoys teaching and being able to pass his love for mathematics on to the young people he teaches, watching those young people learn and grow into successful adults.

In talking to Mr. Spohn’s past and current students, it is evident that the students thoroughly enjoy his classes.  Mr. Spohn was nominated for ‘Life Changer of the Year in 2017-18’ and was featured on the CW during the 2018-19 year as a ‘Super Teacher’.  In addition, Mr. Spohn has been nominated for ‘Teacher of the Year’ at the high school level the past 3 years, and at the county level during 2016-17.  Mr. Spohn is seen as a teacher-leader among his peers and administrators, and his colleagues will attest that Mr. Spohn is a team-player who values collegiality and puts student-learning and achievement above all else.