STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Taken separately, each educational focus has value in learning. As an integrated, blended learning style, STEAM allows for learning and application of content knowledge as they are found in the real world. Maker education complements STEAM, as it incorporates much of the knowledge in STEAM, but also places an importance on the skills of STEAM and a mindset of design thinking or innovation. I believe true STEAM and maker education connects learning with the real world, and develops both the skills and content knowledge needed to succeed in society. 


Considering everything through the lens of sustainability allows for a lasting impact and deeper meaning.  Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, as defined by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. Sustainable practices support environmentaleconomic, and societal well-being. Ensuring well-being in three areas, rather than focusing on one, is much like the strength and balance of a tripod compared to a single balance point. The ESSTEAM Lab encourages consideration of all three sustainability areas in everything we do, from materials in making to running as a primarily debt-free business. Learn more about our sustainability practices and values here (link coming soon).

The ESSTEAM Lab also encourages developing the skills and knowledge for wise financial management. Many of our programs incorporate financial or entrepreneur education, such as considering the cost of materials or how to budget for an activity or program.  


Katie Monsma is an environmental and STEAM educator with over a decade of experience leading youth educational programs and STEAM education, with a focus on environmental education. Monsma is the founder and Director of ESSTEAM Lab. She holds a Masters in Environmental Education, with experience working in Olympic National Park and residential outdoor schools, and is a certified Maker Educator. Monsma most recently came from the Bay Area, where she ran an after school program and formed a STEAM Lab at a charter school.
Monsma is a military spouse, giving her the opportunity to gain a diversity of experience and is known for being adaptable and efficient. As a volunteer military spouse Ombudsman for the Pacific Strike Team, she was awarded the Coast Guard District 11 Ombusdman of the Year 2017. She is the proud mother of a just turned one-year old son, and is enjoying settling into Summerville and the Lowcountry.

You can read more about me below or find me on LinkedIn. You can also reach me by email: essteamlab@gmail.com

Katie and Kaliber, #NapMaster, #DestroyerSpecialist, and #ESSTEAMmascot
  • I enjoy being in nature with my family
  • Blue Belt in Jiu Jitsu
  • As of 2018, I’ve lived in 6 states in 8 years
  • My favorite color is blue
  • I’m hard of hearing (since childhood)
  • I’ve been on a journey to reduce my waste and live plastic free
  • Dark chocolate is a daily must have for me
  • I love to read
  • I grew up on a farm

Meet the Board Members!

Board Chair

Kathleen Kendall

Kathleen is a virtual board member, living in CA, and has an impressive background as an educator. She holds a MA in Special Education, Education Specialist Credential, and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She aims to support parents and families through the educational process, especially in understanding a child’s strengths and learning needs, and is passionate about developing meaningful inclusive educational programs for students with unique learning needs.


Barb Bradley

Barb is another virtual board member, living in MD, and recently retired from Becton Dickinson (a global medical technology company) after a 39-year career. She began as a research microbiologist and eventually transitioned to managing and analyzing data from clinical trials. She has one son and two grandsons, loves hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking (especially in Maine), plays the piano and sings in a chorus, is a puzzle geek, and loves being part of a large extended family.


Melanie Muske-Fleener

Melanie is the Secretary for ESSTEAM Lab. She’s a military spouse, mother, and maker extraordinaire (especially crocheting!). She has a background in forestry and outdoor education, and loves to go on adventures and share her love of the outdoors with others. She’s also our only local board member at the moment!

Board Members

Anisha Janssen

Anisha has worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC and the Maryland Park Service.  She is currently a stay-at-home mom and wife of a cattle rancher, developing a homeschool curriculum with an emphasis on science and technology (STEM), and designing a program centered on the scientific method and experimentation.  She has a background in Genetics, which she used as a cat breeder, as well as marketing, social media and website development experience.