The University School

On the first visit there, our daughter recognized The University School as an environment for success. The small class sizes, excellent teachers and dedicated counselors have proven to be a winning combination. Free of the chaos she experienced previously, she’s been able to shine. Yes, she’s faced (and presented) challenges but, everybody—from the front desk to the back office—has offered support and guidance with unwavering patience, all while adhering to the highest standards of education and ethics.

Faculty and Staff

The University School instructors have advanced academic degrees and are certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Our faculty works closely with the students and families to ensure that learning is an enjoyable and rewarding experience and that success is achieved. Get to know our 2022-2023 team below:

Mrs. Nicole Lockerman

Head of School

Mrs. Lockerman is the Head of School. Mrs. Lockerman completed her Masters in the Art of Teaching at Chatham University and holds a Pennsylvania Department of Education certification in Secondary Language Arts. Mrs. Lockerman completed her Bachelor of Arts in English and Literature with a concentration in Creative and Professional Writing at Mercyhurst University. Mrs. Lockerman has worked with adolescents and young adults pursuing higher education for the past 23 years. She served as the Director of AHEADD (Achieving in Higher Education), as well as the Director of Transition and Higher Education Services for AERI Behavioral Health in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Lockerman co-developed one of the first college acclimation programs in the United States and London, England; she is also the co-founder of the ed-tech company, SocialWise VR. Mrs. Lockerman resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family. Contact Mrs. Lockerman at



Mrs. Francine Liscotti

Director of Administration and Admissions

Ms. Francine Liscotti is the Director of Administration and Admissions for The University School. Ms. Liscotti has worked at The University School for 19 years. She holds an Associate degree in Administration from The University of Pittsburgh. She has one son, two granddaughters, and two shih tzu puppies and enjoys gardening, riding her scooter, and enjoying life with her husband. Contact Mrs. Liscotti at


Mary Hoglund

Science Instructor

Ms. Mary A. Hoglund is thrilled to join the University School as a science teacher.  She has been a state-certified mathematics and science teacher for thirty years with experience in middle and high school classrooms in northern California and Pennsylvania.  Her background includes private, charter and public school settings in urban, suburban and rural districts.  In addition, she has coached and tutored college students and adults in corporate and educational settings.  Her engineering career has encompassed electronics, medical devices, web-based services and more.  With a focus on helping students to achieve short- and long-term college and career goals, Mary encourages a positive and real-world approach to challenging STEM courses.  She spends her free time gardening, reading, enjoying the Pittsburgh music and theater scene and traveling with her family, half of whom will be starting college this fall! You can reach Ms. Hoghlund at



Ms. Melissa Vaughan

English Instructor

Ms. Melissa Vaughan teaches English I, English II, and Creative Writing at The University School. She received her B.S. in Education from Penn State University and her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gannon University. Prior to joining TUS in 2019, Ms. Vaughan taught middle school English. She loves working with students of all ages, but greatly appreciates the insights and creativity of her high school students. Ms. Vaughan strives to build her students’ confidence in writing, and she creates projects that utilize their unique interests and skills. Besides her apparent love of reading and writing, Ms. Vaughan enjoys interior design, fashion, yoga, baking, and football. Ms. Vaughan is excited for a great year ahead at TUS! You can reach Ms. Vaughan at

Cameron Bakaj

Science Instructor

Mrs. Bakaj teaches science at The University School. She graduated from Robert Morris University with her B.S. in Biology in December 2020, her Secondary Biology teaching certification in the Spring of 2023, and will complete her M.S. in Instructional Leadership this Spring. Mrs. Bakaj decided that she wanted to become a teacher when she worked in the summer camp program at the Carnegie Science Center in 2020. She has experience working with students from ages 3 to 18, working at the Science Center, as a paraprofessional at Mars High School, then as a preschool/pre-k educator at a local children’s center. Mrs. Bakaj loves spending time with her husband and cats in her free time, watching sports, drawing and painting, and bowling. You can reach Mrs. Bakaj at

Cindy Hayko

Spanish Instructor

Señora Hayko: I spent 20 years, more or less, in Special Ed. This included six years teaching on an in-patient unit at WPIC for dually diagnosed adolescents and six years as an administrator in a community housing organization for developmentally delayed adults. When it was time to change careers, it was an easy decision: go back to teaching, and pursue a second certification in Teaching a Foreign Language. The Spanish language and culture isn’t just my job; it’s my passion. I studied in two immersion programs in Mexico and traveled to many Spanish-speaking countries. I’ve taught every age and ability level, from preschoolers to retirees in the Osher Program at CMU. I still teach adult students privately. I taught at The University School for about ten years, leaving approximately ten years ago. I came back last year and am very happy to be back. We had a great year last year and I’m looking forward to working with all our new students this year!

Mr. Bryan Sherman

Social Sciences Instructor

Mr. Sherman received his Bachelor of Science in Education in Secondary Social Studies as well as a Liberal Arts degree in History from Duquesne University. After graduating in 2021, Mr. Sherman began his career as a long-term substitute for Pittsburgh Public Schools, teaching 7th and 8th-grade Gifted classes on U.S. History, World History, and Philosophy. His interests include games of all types, from card games to video games to Dungeons and Dragons, reading and writing, as well as listening to music and being in nature. Mr. Sherman can be reached at


Mr. Ian Heilman

Social Sciences

Mr. Heilman graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2015 with a Masters in Social Studies Education and Bachelors in History. He decided to start his teaching career in Virginia, teaching at AG Wright Middle School, Alexandria City Public Schools, and for four years in Essex County Public Schools. During his time at Essex, Mr. Heilman learned and coached soccer (he wasn’t good, but he gave his best effort). Mr. Heilman has taught almost all of the content in Social Studies at one point or another in his career. Outside of school, Mr. Heilman enjoys reading, podcasts, watching good movies, and spending time with his wife and cat. He hopes that soon he will be able to get back into a workout routine and/or a martial arts school. You can reach Mr. Heilman at

Ms. Jeanette Trok

Special Education Instructor

Ms. Jeanette Trok recieved her Bachelor of Sciences in Elementary and Special Education (K-12) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. After graduating in 2012, she worked as as a special education teacher at Propel Pitcarin. In 2015, Ms. Trok  joined the University School staff and supports students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Education Plan. Ms. Trok is The University School’s college counselor. She enjoys walking her dog, everything food-related and spending time with family and friends. She is looking forward to more years at The University School. Contact Ms. Trok at

Ms. Laura Mihalcin

English Instructor

Ms. Laura Mihalcin teaches English III and IV at The Univesity School. She graduated from Robert Morris University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a certification in secondary education. Ms. M has taught ninth, eleventh, and twelfth grade in previous experiences, and she’s just returned from teaching English in Spain for the last school year! Like all English teachers, Ms. M loves to read and spend time with her family and friends (and her cat, Winnie). This year, Ms. M looks forward to creating fun and engaging lessons to create a community of learners who are excited about reading and writing. You can contact Ms. M at

Mrs. Amber Smalley

Support Services

Amber Smalley joined the University School in the 2017/2018 school year. She earned a
Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology in 2005 and a Masters degree in Special education in
2006, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Amber has taught students with disabilities in
various educational settings over the past 12 years. Amber enjoys spending time with her 3
children, exercising and cooking. She is looking forward to another great year at The University
School. Amber can be reached at

Ms. Melissa Ofsa

Math Instructor

Mrs. Melissa Ofsa is a Math Instructor at The University School, teaching Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra III/Trig. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Concord University and her Masters of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education from Western Governors University. Melissa is relocating to Pittsburgh after spending the past 21 years in Southern West Virginia. She has spent the past 12 years teaching various grade levels, from 6th grade Mathematics through College Algebra. In her free time, she likes to play video games, spend time with her family, crochet, paint, and read.   Mrs. Ofsa can be reached at 


Mr. Jake Lord

Math Instructor

Mr. Jake Lord is a Math Instructor at The University School, teaching Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Statistics. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh. He comes from the Falk Laboratory School, where he focused on progressive, student-centered approaches to mathematics education. Mr. Lord enjoys going to movies and concerts and watching sports in his spare time. Contact Mr. Lord at

Ms. Lauren Amann

School Counselor

Lauren received her Master’s in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently supervised for her LPC with Aprilynn Artz, LPC/Owner of Connection Counseling & Consultation Inc. Lauren has taken her NCE exam and is now a National Certified Counselor. Lauren will be an LPC in two years. Lauren has three years of experience working with neurodiverse children and teenagers at Quest Therapeutic Camp (2019-2021). Lauren got started at Quest as a volunteer to get new experiences. From her work as a volunteer, she was asked to come back the following 2 years as first a Counselor and then as a Therapist (which was the highest position at Quest outside of being a Director). Lauren has worked as an embedded consultant via our practice as part of our collaboration with the Jewish Community Center (JCC). Lauren provides direct/onsite support to ECDC, Clubhouse, and J&R Summer Camp.

Lauren enjoys empowering her client’s in their strengths and helping them achieve their goals. She is passionate about making therapy fun and incorporating the interests of her clients. She has a special niche for young children and teens diagnosed with Autism and hopes to help them flourish continually. Lauren also has experience working with several other diagnoses such as ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, etc.