UPDATE: Phipps is now open for your visit. All tickets must be purchased in advance, and new safety protocols are required. Learn more about how you can join us!

UPDATE: The deadline for applications for Phipps Educational Advisory Committee for Charter and Homeschools (PEACCH) has been extended to Wed., July 1. To submit an application, please follow the link provided below.

PEACCH Application

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is committed to working with homeschools and charter schools to assist them in integrating museum experiences into their curriculum as well as continuously improving programming offered at Phipps. The Phipps Educational Advisory Committee for Charter and Homeschools (PEACCH) is a select group of educators who meet regularly during the school year to foster collaboration and learning across schools and museums. The committee is made of home and charter school educators and museum educators in the Pittsburgh area. 


Jessica Hollis
Jessica Hollis is a homeschooling mom, blogger and freelance digital marketer in the Pittsburgh area. She was also homeschooled K – 12. She’s the creator of the Pittsburgh Area Homeschoolers Facebook group. The group offers community support, resources and events to local homeschooling families.

Rachelle Oblack
Rachelle Oblack is an award-winning K – 12 STEM specialist, curriculum designer and homeschool educator. As a professional, Rachelle began her career as a high school teacher. Later, she moved on to work as a curriculum development expert for NASA, Penn State University, the Discovery Channel, Holt McDougal and more. She has been active in promoting and delivering STEM content to students of all ages, including teachers and trainers in professional development settings. Now, she educates her children at home using an eclectic approach that blends the best practices of both the professional and home-based sides of education focusing on literature, science and community-based learning experiences.

Jennifer Gibbons
Jennifer is a homeschooling mother of four kids ages 9, 7, 5 and 2. Before having children, she taught high school social studies and founded a speech and debate team at a school in central Ohio, as well as teaching at a summer program for gifted students. She has a bachelor's degree in integrated social studies for secondary education and a master's degree in middle school education. Jennifer loves reading, history, traveling and going on new adventures with my family.

Kelly Minner
Kelly Minner resides in Wexford with her husband and two kids. Living and working throughout the United States and in South America, her family has enjoyed the many varied experiences along the way. Homeschool has proven to be a wonderful adventure. In addition to homeschooling, Kelly's background is in architecture and is currently pursuing her master of sustainability at Chatham University.

Melissa Wenger
Melissa is a homeschooling mom of four, with her oldest two being in kindergarten and second grade.She has experience teaching in preschool and elementary school, piloting a problem-based learning lab, tutoring and serving as a therapeutic staff support. She has always loved and appreciated utilizing local resources, especially those that can be enjoyed from the classroom or at home!


  • Review updated lesson plans and program ideas developed by the museum educators
  • Participate in informal discussions and brainstorming sessions to reflect and share best practices in museum education and ways to integrate material into the public/private school curriculum
  • Assist in evaluation and feedback for resources and programs produced by Phipps educators
  • Discuss strategies for aligning the museum’s K – 12 school-based educational programs and resources to city, state and national standards in a variety of curricular areas
  • Pilot new programs and/or materials and evaluate them
  • Work as a liaison between museum and schools, promote and increase awareness of educational materials and programs offered through the museum
  • Participate in one field trip or program a year

Organizers and Hosts

Phipps Science Education
Heather Shannon and Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas

Heather Shannon
hshannon@phipps.conservatory.org or 412/622-6915, ext. 3223
Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas
mwheeler-dubas@phipps.conservatory.org or 412/622-6915, ext. 3220

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman