Our Staff

Bill Cloyd, Founder

A mechanical engineer and former high school physics teacher, is founder and president of Newton’s Attic. From a young age, Bill was a natural engineer with a passion for designing and fabricating huge and complicated constructs that could be used to demonstrate both daredevil human feats and the principles of physics all in one. The 80 foot tower utilizing a circus net and tennis ball cannon to shoot falling human targets and the 40 foot trajectory human ‘lake launcher,’ still used by Lexington physics teachers, were early indications of Cloyd’s imagination and ambition. Frustrated by the confines of the classroom and exposed to the need of science and math teachers for resources to make their classes more appealing, Bill was inspired to create Newton’s Attic where he developed a highly engaging approach to educating students about the excitement, fun, and career opportunities available to them through physics and engineering. Using the concept of play as the ultimate learning tool, Newton’s Attic now has a library of programs that allow students to engage in hands-on design, fabrication and field-testing of their own mechanical devices in highly energized and competitive environments. Bill is a professional engineer with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is also owner of an engineering consulting company, Mark IV, Incorporated.

Dawn Cloyd, Director of Community Outreach

Dawn is a former high school and adult education teacher with an undergraduate in English and Spanish, Masters in Education from John Carroll University in Ohio, and TESOL Certification from U.C. Santa Cruz. After teaching for four years in the Cleveland area and San Jose, California, she returned to Lexington in 2000 and joined her family’s engineering-driven high end loudspeaker manufacturing company, THIEL Audio, where she remained for thirteen years as Director of International Sales. Upon the sale of THIEL in late 2012, she joined Newton’s Attic as Director of Community Outreach, just after Newton’s Attic acquired its current facility. She loves working with her husband Bill and the wonderful students, parents, instructors and volunteers at Newton’s Attic.

Keith Hollifield – Chief Toy Maker

Keith Hollifield has had a life-long passion for model building, electronics and aviation. He started building and flying model aircrafts at about 10 years old. He has built and flown over 200 model aircrafts through the years including jet powered models capable of 200mph. After earning a degree in Assets Protection / Risk Management from Eastern Kentucky University, he had a professional career in government contracting and commercial electrical construction. He put his passions to work when he opened and operated Speeders Hobby Center in Lexington for several years. In 2013, his oldest son took a class at Newton’s Attic, and after discussing his developing drone business, he offered to teach a drone building class. From there, he has moved to a full-time position with Newton’s Attic in program development. He now manages several special programs and all of the Newton’s Attic CNC and digital fabrication assets including the Kuka 6-axis robot, Fanuc 6-axis robot, CNC mill, CNC router, 3D printer lab, large format printer, vinyl cutter/plotter and more. His other interests include fishing, photography, recording music, gaming with his sons and kayaking.

Stevie Hightman – Calmer of Chaos and Boo Boos (Office Manager)

Stevie Hightman joined our team in early 2018. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Stevie and her family moved to Lexington, Kentucky from the Maryland Suburbs of Washington, D.C. in the Summer of 2016. Stevie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland, University College. She most recently taught Pre-school and was the proud Cub Master and Den Leader of Pack 1199 for 4 years. She lives in Lexington with her husband, two children, dog and 3 guinea pigs. Stevie will be helping Dawn and Emily in the office this Summer. She loves working in an office and with children. At Newton’s Attic, she gets the best of both worlds, and we are happy to have her here with us this Summer!


Joel Damron – Master Instructor

Joel Damron grew up in Elkhorn City, KY where he was active in 4H as a student and a camp counselor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Manufacturing Technology from Eastern Kentucky University and worked for over a decade in automotive engineering designing machines for factory automation.

He has been a soccer coach, a competitive sailor with the Cave Run Sailing Association, volunteer leader and sawyer with the Red River Gorge Trail Crew and member of the Woodford County Community Emergency Response Team & Medical Reserve Corps.

Joel is also an ISA Certified Arborist and enjoys camping, long distance hiking, woodworking, homebrewing and general tinkering. He believes that every day presents an opportunity to learn something and thrives on creating innovative solutions to unique problems.

Master Instructor, Summer 2016, Summer 2017, Summer 2018

Vanya Bistrekova – Master Instructor

Vanya graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Biosystems Engineering in 2016 and became a certified EIT in 2017. She has led undergraduate research teams, worked in a professional engineering setting, and presented at state, national, and international science and engineering conferences. In her free time, Vanya has worked on small solar panel projects and helped friends build their websites. She also enjoys taking apart old gadgets, whether for repurposing or simply learning how they work, and loves to learn by teaching others. In good weather, she can be found hiking in the Gorge or biking around Lexington, and she hopes to bring her love of the outdoors to her work at Newton’s Attic.

Vanya has alternately worked at and volunteered for Newton’s Attic since 2016, participating in everything from birthday parties to full-day events and even multiple-week programs. She has also been an invited speaker at science clubs and events for preschool, elementary, and middle school grade levels and has tutored Calculus up through the college level. She is very excited to be joining Newton’s Attic in the Summer of 2018 as an instructor for two introductory Python programming classes and to be a part of all the other events going on as Newton’s Attic continues to grow. Vanya also hopes to participate in many future Newton’s Attic programs and to use her skills, knowledge, and time as an instructor to make a positive contribution to the broader Lexington community.

Instructor, Summer 2018


Abram Gornik – Master Instructor

Abram Gornik hails from the Big Island of Hawaii, and from a very diverse educational background. Raised in a family that runs both a construction enterprise and a successful educational non-profit, he has participated in both endeavors from a young age first as student and apprentice, and then as instructor. Abram has a wealth of experience in service learning, community building, sports, carpentry, wilderness adventures, and youth programs of all kinds. His deep background in music and technology and his infectious love of learning allow him to share equally with students of all ages. A cancer survivor from the age of 9, Abram’s unique life journey has brought him a depth of understanding and openness which he brings to his work in carpentry, building, videography, musical composition, or anything requiring a computer interface. Abram has completed four summer sessions at Newton’s Attic.

Digital Art, Master Instructor, Music, Summer 2015, Summer 2016, Summer 2017, Summer 2018, Woodworking

Robert McGillivray – Master Instructor

Robert McGillivray is a Senior at the University of Kentucky studying computer science, Mathematics, and German language. Robert has been involved in many programs including FIRST Robotics, UK E-Day, UK ACM, and Boy Scouts of America as an Eagle Scout. He is a former Newton’s Attic student and volunteer and has participated in many Newton’s Attic projects, including the building of The Ballista, aka the “Pumpkin Chunker.” We first discovered Robert when Bill Cloyd mentored the Dunbar MSTC First Robotics team and then worked with Robert’s Engineering Problems class in the Dunbar MSTC program. Robert has been working at Newton’s Attic since the summer of 2013 when he taught Wrestling Robots. Since then, he has taught many classes during our after school and summer programs including Java Programming, Raspberry Pi Programming, Minecraft Mod, JavaScript, Robotic Gladiators and a special home school C++ Coding & build skills class. Robert has also spent a semester abroad in Germany and the summer of 2014 traveling Europe with his German host brother.

Coding, Electronics, Master Instructor, Robotics, Summer 2015, Summer 2016, Summer 2017, Summer 2018


Marlana Pressley-Wallace – Master Instructor

Marlana Pressley-Wallace got her start in the northeast growing up in New York City and living in Connecticut for 3 years before moving to Kentucky where she currently resides. Marlana has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry and also holds a Master of Science in Secondary science education. Marlana has been a middle school science teacher for 11 years and has a passion for STEAM education. She has led middle school students participating in a STEM afterschool program to win multiple awards in a statewide competition. In her spare time, she enjoys learning homesteading skills, hiking and spending time with her husband and three children.

Master Instructor, Summer 2018

Jonathan Moore – Instructor

Jonathan is a Lexington native who is currently a rising junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Computer Engineering. Besides school, he is also a part of the Air Force ROTC program at UK, which has given him many opportunities to lead and teach. He also has a variety of other experiences in leadership and teaching from being involved in Civil Air Patrol in high school and taking on leadership roles at his homeschool co-op and swim team. He has always had a passion for teaching kids and has tutored at the Lexington Public library, taught Vacation Bible School at his church, and been a camp counselor at a summer camp. On top of his passion for teaching kids, he has a passion for anything technological, but especially computers. Jonathan is very excited to combine his passions and past experiences by working at Newton’s Attic to teach kids about not only computers, but engineering principles in general.

Assistant, Summer 2018


Jacob Chen – Instructor

Bio Coming Soon!

Instructor, Summer 2018

Daniel Barracca – Instructor / Videographer

Daniel Barracca is a home-school high schooler who has grown up in Kentucky but is originally from El-Paso, TX. He has been homeschooled since day one, which has instilled in him a love for learning and teaching. At a young age, he discovered videography and filmmaking, and it has been his passion ever since. Daniel has worked with kids all his life, one of his fondest memories is being tutoring refugee children in St. Louis. He has been working at Chick-Fil-A for two years, which has taught him valuable people skills. He started at Newton’s Attic in 2017 and looks forward to another year of work with them!

Assistant, Summer 2018


Parker Owen – Master Instructor

Parker Owen is a 12-year veteran of the public school system, teaching science and math to middle and high school students. He has coached First Lego League competitions, taught summer robotics camps to middle and elementary school students at Georgia Tech, and has taught chemical and imaginative engineering camps at Newton’s Attic for five years. When he is not here at Newton’s Attic, he is probably out in the woods with his dog or finding a mud hole to jump into. (He likes long walks on the beach, but doesn’t like pina coladas or getting caught in the rain.)

Chemistry, Coding, Legos, Master Instructor, Robotics, Summer 2015, Summer 2016, Summer 2017, Summer 2018

Olivia Denny – Instructor

Bio Coming Soon!

Instructor, Summer 2018


Tyler Ferry – Instructor

Bio Coming Soon!

Assistant, Summer 2018

Blaise Davis – Assistant

Bio Coming Soon!

Assistant, Summer 2018


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