Teaching Across the Curriculum Using Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

In a standardized system of education, it may seem difficult to engage students in meaningful learning.  Problem-based learning (PBL) is one strategy that teachers can use to meet both the standards and the goals of an educator. All types of teachers can learn how to put PBL to use as an important teaching strategy. Institute participants spend a week immersed in hands-on activities learning how to solve real world problems using creativity and critical thinking.

Dates:   July 11 - 15, 2022           Term:   Summer 3          
Course NumberAENG 587.02 CRN3467
Title that appears during registration:   Special Topics: Prbm Based Lrn

In-person:  8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Osburn Hall / Room 200



Institute Directors

Scott Warner


Scott A. Warner, Ed.D., IDSA
Professor, AEST Graduate Program Coordinator
Millersville University of Pennsylvania


Scott Warner is a Professor in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology at Millersville University. His professional credentials include degrees from Millersville University (B.S.Ed., 1985), Ball State University (M.A.Ed., 1988), and West Virginia University (Ed.D., 2000). His professional resume includes teaching experiences at the middle school, high school, and university levels. He is an active member of several organizations that deal with education and design including the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). He has been the author or co-author of nearly 40 articles or book chapters in various professional publications and has given over 50 presentations to educators and design professionals at state, regional, and international conferences.


Molly Miller


Molly S. Miller, Ed.D.
Technology & Engineering Educator
Penn Manor High School


Molly earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Technology Education as well as her Master of Education in Technology and Innovation from Millersville University. She earned her doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh studying Instruction & Learning with a concentration in STEM education. She is a technology and engineering teacher at Penn Manor High School in Millersville, Pennsylvania and an adjunct in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology. At Penn Manor, she has helped to develop and grow both the engineering and computer science course pathways in the district. She also serves as the advisor for the district's Technology Student Association (TSA), Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Math, and Science (TEAMS), and robotics clubs. Her research interests focus on the role of productive struggle in STEM education. Outside of school, Molly stays active through mission work, cheering on Pittsburgh sports, and her most important work as mother to her two children, Landry and Scarlett.


Karen Rubenstein

Karen Rubenstein
Head of School, Montessori Academy of Lancaster
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Date:  Tuesday, July 12
Theme:  What Does Gold Standard PBL Look Like?

Karen Rubenstein has been in the field of Education for over 40 years!  She began her career as a Kindergarten Teacher in Prince George’s County Maryland in the Public Schools.  A move to Southern California allowed her to work in a Private Day School as a Developmental Kindergarten teacher.  Since moving back to the East Coast in 1994, she has been a Director of an Early Childhood Center and for the past 19 years has been Head of School at the Montessori Academy of Lancaster.

Karen has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Graduate work in Child Development from the University of Maryland.  She holds a Director’s Certificate from Penn State University and is certified in Montessori School Management from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in New Rochelle, N.Y.


Janelle Thomas

Janelle Thomas
Science Teacher, Hazel Jackson Middle School
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Date:  Wednesday, July 13
Theme:  Designing a PBL Experience

Janelle Thomas’ 20+ years of experience in education began in Pittsburgh where she worked in diverse settings ranging from an art studio mentorship program to urban high schools to adult literacy and English-language acquisition classes. When she moved back to her hometown of Lancaster and took a job at a private middle school, she helped to design and pilot a PBL initiative, which remains one of the most professionally stimulating, exhausting, and rewarding endeavors of her life! Currently, Janelle teaches eighth-grade science at Hazel Jackson Middle School in the School District of Lancaster. She enjoys hunting for mushrooms, movie-theater popcorn, early-morning jogs, and laughing with her daughters.


Abby Kirchner

Abby Kirchner
Co-Founder of the Stone Independent School
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Date:  Thursday, July 14
Theme:  Managing a PBL Experience

Abby Kirchner has been an educator for twenty years, working in both public and private educational arenas. She has worked in K-12 classrooms, higher ed, and educational wraparound services. In 2017, she co-founded The Stone Independent School in Lancaster, PA. The Stone Independent School serves students in grades 7-12 through a problem-based learning, skills-forward curriculum. The most important part of her job is working with students to change their relationship to their work, creating a space for agency, autonomy, and voice. A design thinker by accident, Abby lives her life in beta mode and encourages her colleagues and students to do the same.


Erik Orndorff

Dr. Erik Orndorff
Superintendent-Pequea Valley School District
Kinzer, Pennsylvania
Date:  Friday, July 15
Theme:  Leading a PBL Implementation Effort

Dr. Erik Orndorff is the Superintendent of Pequea Valley School District. His career in education began in 1993 as a Math and Language Arts teacher.  He would eventually serve as Assistant Principal and Principal of Pequea Valley Intermediate School. In 2009 he became Director of Curriculum and was named Superintendent in 2012. 

He earned his Doctorate in Education from Immaculata University as well as a Master’s in Education from Shippensburg University. Erik is the author and co-author of several books including Early Start Career Series, a participatory career/character exploration guide for teachers and students. Erik is a national and regional presenter on leadership, individualized learning, careers, and character education. 

  • Additional Information

    Credits: All participants will receive 3 graduate credits for the summer institute 

    Tuition/Fees: Institutes are unique 3 credit graduate courses that highlight renowned experts in the field. On campus institutes include breakfast and lunch each day, as well as handouts and materials. Books may be required for certain courses; please check with the university bookstore. Millersville University graduate tuition and fees can be found on the Office of Student Accounts page. In addition, a $100 institute fee is required.

    Note: If you have not taken a graduate-level course or workshop at Millersville University within the past 5 years, you must complete the online non-degree admission form; this information is necessary to admit you to the university.