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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

2013 MAVEN Educator Ambassadors

Meet the 2013 MAVEN Educator Ambassadors

Carlos ApodacaCarlos Apodaca
I have an Engineering degree in Electronics and in Computer Science.

I’ve always been interested in science, and especially astronomy and space exploration. As a teacher you can reach a lot of people, but I wanted to reach even more younger kids, parents, and home-school students. This last group of students really needs attention because—from what I’ve seen—they feel overwhelmed with science topics.

I always like to be learning, that way your knowledge is fresh when you transmit it. Science and space exploration is always changing and it is nearly impossible to get every single change. So I focused on space education programs aimed at young students, that way we can work as a teaching community and improve the programs based on what works in our own environment. By doing that we bring a better understanding of science to all. I translate educational materials for Spanish-speaking members of my community.

The more we know, the better we can teach.

Ken BrandtKen Brandt
Ken Brandt is an ardent fan of space exploration.  He has been involved in volunteer NASA outreach programs for 11 years.  He is the director of the Robeson Planetarium and Science Center in Lumberton, NC.  Most recently, he was elected to the post of President-elect of the South Eastern Planetarium Association, which is a group of more than 100 planetaria throughout the Southeast USA.  Ken’s hobbies include space exploration, rock and mineral collecting, and hunting for fossils.  Ken is happily married and has 3 wonderful daughters.

Sherre BoothmanSherre Boothman
Sherre Boothman was born and raised in south Texas. She attended college at Texas State University and Austin College in Sherman, TX. After teaching in public schools for 3 years near Houston, Sherre relocated to Washington, DC and attended Wesley Theological Seminary. She then moved to Los Angeles to serve as Dean and then President of a small private college. Sherre was then hired to pastor a church in North Hollywood, CA for about 5 years. Honeywell DMC then hired Sherre in New Jersey to work training staff to conduct a residential energy conservation program. Sherre then moved back to Austin, TX where she has lived for many years and she has been teaching science in area high schools for 7 years.

Cris DeWolfeCris DeWolf
I have taught Earth & Space Science, Astronomy I & II, Oceanography I and II and Biology at Chippewa Hills High School, in Remus, MI,  for the past 20 years. In the summer I travel with my family to Science Camp Watonka, in Pennsylvania, where I teach astronomy and archery, among other things. My wife runs the waterfront and my kids have worked for the camp as well. My youngest son stays on camp as a camper, with other boys from all over the country—and from overseas as well.

I am active in my profession, always seeking out opportunities like the MAVEN Ambassadors program. Past programs I have been involved in include NOAO’s TLRBSE, NITARP, THEMIS, HEA, and the Pulsar Search Collaboratory.

Each year I get a few of my students involved in doing science research. A few of these have done well. One year we had a group attend the Intel ISEF to present their research on star formation in Lynds dark nebulae.

I also currently serve as the president-elect of the Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association.

Eliza GatzElisa Gatz
Elisa is a teacher at Sterling High School and adjunct faculty at Sauk Valley Community College.  She is a Physics Education junkie, having attended a summer program at CERN and a Physics Education Delegation to Vietnam, and she leads workshops through Fermilab’s Quarknet program.  She is married with two children and two dogs.

Cara GermanCara Germann
Cara Germann grew up in Northwest Indiana near the beautiful Indiana Dunes and the National Lakeshore.  Her passion for the environment lead her to attend the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science.  Returning to Indiana, she acquired a naturalist position at the Indiana Dunes Learning Center, which allowed her to pair her love of the outdoors with education. The naturalists were responsible for developing and implementing the curriculum for their visiting students. Cara was able to have the Indiana Dunes be her classroom, while sharing the wonders and secrets of the dunes with the students and their teachers. 

While enjoying her position at the learning center, Cara earned her teaching certification at Calumet College of St. Joseph. After two years at the learning center as a naturalist then a lead naturalist, Cara accepted a teaching position as an Earth Space science teacher at Highland High School in Highland, Indiana. During the summers and on weekends, Cara was a Park Ranger for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. She created educational programs for the park, represented the park at community fairs and events, and developed community service opportunities for groups within the park.  Cara will have completed her Masters in Education as of July 2013. Space has always fascinated Cara and the opportunity to work with NASA and to share their vision of the future of space is a dream come true.

Kendia HerringtonKendia Herrington
Life long learning through STEM is how Kendia has lived her whole life. She graduated from CSU, Monterey Bay with a degree in Earth Systems Science and Policy. CSUMB taught her that learning means you must experience a real example of the concept. Classes were spent with a month in a classroom to learn the basics followed by months of using the techniques in projects, building structures, and looking for the patterns in real projects. She then attended CSU, Fresno to receive her Chemistry teaching credential. Kendia is a science teacher that choses to teach middle school and been enjoying it for the last decade.

CSUMB set the foundation of teaching beyond the classroom with the use of projects and hands-on learning. This foundation has made Kendia the instructor she is today. To continue learning, Kendia has gone to workshops with Mineral Education, Monterey Bay Aquarium, JPL/Arizona State, and Central Valley Computer Using Educators. Her involvement has lead to encouraging her students to reach beyond the classroom and become involved with Science Olympiad and Science Fair.

Learning how to teach the concepts of inquiry and discovery have taken Kendia to working as an instructor with Pre-Service Teacher Institutes of Fresno State and NASA Ames Research Center during the summer. During the school year she presents at local and state level conferences/workshops for Science, and for STEM. Lifelong learning and lifelong sharing go hand in hand for Kendia.

Frances HessFrances Scelsi Hess
Dr. Frances Scelsi Hess is a National Board Certified Teacher honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and Distinguished Alumni Award from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and selected as an Einstein Distinguished Teacher Fellow finalist. She received her doctorate in science education from Columbia University.

Aside from a long and successful teaching career within the classroom specializing in Earth, space, and environmental sciences, Dr. Hess has mentored students and colleagues through workshop presentations, practice teacher supervision, and teaching both undergraduate and graduate level courses as an adjunct professor.  As a textbook author and through her work at the New York State Education Department in the areas of curriculum, assessment and standards development and correlation she has influenced the education of students and teachers both state and nationwide.

Dr. Hess is currently President-elect of the Science Teachers Association of New York State, and The National Science Teacher Association District IV Director.  She received Phi Delta Kappa Read Educational Travel scholarships to Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. Her students have won local, state, and national level competitions.

Dr. Hess models excellence in action and deed both within the educational setting and in life in general.  As a strong advocate for the promotion of scientific literacy, especially in the areas of the Earth and space sciences, she was asked and presented her views on science education to the Education Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Kenneth HuffKenneth Huff
Kenneth L. Huff is a National Board Certified Teacher in early adolescence science and is currently a grade 6 teacher at Mill Middle School in Williamsville, NY.  He founded and continues to lead a Young Astronaut Council for the schools grades 5-8 students. Kenneth serves his district as a member of its Staff Development Council.  Mr. Huff also taught at Cleveland Hill Schools in Cheektowaga, NY from 1993-1996.  He served as team leader during both appointments-totaling sixteen years of service.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Mr. Huff enjoys involvement in various synergistic activities including serving as president of The Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching, a member of the writing team for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and is a member of The National Academies Teacher Advisory Council. Kenneth is a NASA Solar System Education Program and Heliophysics Educator and serves the Science Teachers Association of New York State as a subject area representative. He was a member of the Committee on Middle Level Science Teaching for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and served as chair of the NSTA Aerospace Programs Advisory Board where he initiated and led the effort to develop a national position statement on aerospace education. He continues to serve his colleagues through presentations at state and national conferences.  Mr. Huff earned his Master of Science in Education and Bachelor of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Candice KissingerCandice Kissinger
Teaching is my encore career.  I began as a bench scientist at the Upjohn pharmaceutical company and ended thirty-five years later as the research director of a public company serving the pharmaceutical industry.  My CV includes multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and sixteen USA patents.  I’ve traveled around the world multiple times, so instead of following the stereotypical pattern for retirement, I decided to devote my time to public service.  Education looms large as a problem in this country and it seemed like a good fit for my skills, so I explored paths to licensure enabling me to teach science in a public school.

The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship is an accelerated program bringing people with STEM backgrounds into the classroom.  It enabled me to earn secondary school licensure and an M.S. in education within two years. My accreditations include chemistry, biology, earth science, and health.

Lafayette School Corporation serves a rapidly changing demographic that is highly diverse, urban, and predominantly low income.  They offer innovative programs, such as “Excel” for the academically-gifted which enables middle school students to earn high school credits.  This is one of the classes that I currently teach.  The remainder of my students are low ability 8th grade students following a curriculum of science skills, chemistry, weather/climate, and biology.  Although I have only been teaching for a short time, I have been successful in writing grants which are bringing additional resources into my classroom and enhancing the science experience for my students.

Monica Lewis
Monica Lewis
“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” -Clay P. Bedford

Louise McMinnLouise McMinn
Louise McMinn has taught middle school science in the Stamford Public school system for over 20 years. She is currently a Middle School Instructional Science Coach. She is passionate about science education. As a life-long learner, she actively participates in teacher research opportunities and incorporates her experiences into classroom learning activities.
 She has studied with geoscientists in South Central Alaska and Churchill, Manitoba.  She has examined sediment cores from under the ocean and flown on a Zero Gravity flight. She completed the course work for a STEM Education certificate in 2010 as a NASA Endeavor fellow and trained as a Heliophysics Educator Ambassador. All of these experiences have enriched her classroom and have encouraged her students to pursue science awards and future careers.

Celena MillerCelena Miller
Celena Miller is a Science/Technology Lab Instructor with five years of experience. She takes pride in continual development of both her teaching and education by attending professional developmental courses regularly, to include various summer institutes. Her love for Science was fostered at an early age and continued into college when she began pursuing a double-major in Chemistry and Biology geared toward a career in the medical field. However, as often happens, marriage, children, and life-in-general caused her to re-assess her goals and she decided to take a different path.

She attended the University of Texas – Pan American where she completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Services as well as her certification as a Teacher in the State of Texas. Her credentials include: Generalist (Early childhood through 4th Grade), Science (4th through 8th), and a NASA Endeavor Teaching Certificate from NASA/Colombia University.

Since then, she has grown passionate about learning and education. She attends the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching every year, received her NASA Endeavor Teaching Certificate, and attended the NASA LiftOff Summer Institute twice (2009 and 2010). She has also been nominated twice for the TMA Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching and four times for the HEB Excellence in Teaching Award.
She has also applied and been awarded many grants to enhance both her teaching and school in general. These include: the Tri-City Business/Education Coalition Grant, NASA Summer of Innovation Grant, ROME Challenge Grant, and the Student Space Flight Experiment Program Grant.

Randy MonroeJames Randy Monroe
My name is (James R.) Randy Monroe and I am passionate and enthusiastic about science. Currently employed by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, I teach 6th grade Earth Science. The school at which I teach is the Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek, California. Foothill Middle School is ranked as a California Distinguished school and has won a National Blue Ribbon Award.

I have Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Liberal Studies, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with a Science Authorization, and a Single Subject Credential in Earth and Planetary Sciences, as well as a Master’s of Science (MS) in Education: Technology Leadership.

Over the years, I have coordinated and directed dozens of standards-based field study trips for middle school Earth, life and physical science classes including my 3 day/2 night trip to the Lassen Volcanic National Park area; Camp Monroe, the Lassen Experience.   I continue to research and seek to develop cutting-edge, science-based curricula upon the aforementioned areas, and I endeavor to spend my days learning, teaching, and exploring.

Terri MountjoyTerri Mountjoy
My name is Terri Mountjoy. I am from Xenia, Ohio, a small rural community where I am surrounded by cows and cornfields. Xenia is located just 10 minutes from the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. I am an Intervention Specialist, highly qualified to teach Science to students with mild disabilities.  I teach at The Greene County Career Center, which is a Vocational School for 11th and 12th graders. We serve seven school districts in Greene County. I am also a graduate of the Greene County Career Center myself. I have 2 children, Joseph and Hannah. I also have two Shetland Ponies, 2 dogs, and two Guinea Pigs. I love summer, being outdoors, and anything that involves my children.

Patrice NarayananPatrice Narayanan
I currently teach middle school Earth Science at Bronx Lighthouse College Prep Academy.  My past teaching experience includes teaching chemistry and physics.  I took a short break from teaching between 1998 and 2003, to work as a member of the International Space Station team at Kennedy Space Center.  I definitely would consider myself a Space Nerd.

Marteen NolanMarteen Nolan
After a 30 year career in the Chemical Manufacturing industry, I entered the teaching profession.  My final position in the Chemical industry was as Plant Manager of a specialty chemical facility outside Chicago.  As the person in charge of personnel acquisition, I saw first-hand how difficult it was to find truly qualified applicants, especially with adequate math and science skills.  I find that bringing my real-life experiences to my science classroom truly allows my students to appreciate how science knowledge impacts their lives. Being able to successfully transition careers this late in life also models the importance of life-long learning.

Jeff OfstedahlJeff Ofstedahl
Jeff Ofstedahl is a US Navy veteran and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from the University of New York and a Master’s of Arts degree from the University of Arizona in Teaching and Teacher Education. He has worked as a research fellow for the National Institute of Science and the Arizona Science Institute conducting biological and geological studies with Freeport McMoRan, Inc. at Arizona copper mining facilities. A county teacher of the Year, Mr. Oh!, as his students like to call him, teaches a variety of physical sciences classes and is the Science Director for the Center for Academic Success in Siera Vista, Arizona.

Martin ParkMartin Park
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and serving in the U.S. Air Force as a Jet Navigator, Martin returned to civilian life and joined his fiance in Fort Collins, CO. Martin then explored the careers of sales, management, and starting his own business. Martin decided on a career change and completed a Masters of Education program with the University of Phoenix. Martin is now teaching chemistry, physics, astronomy, and pre-calc at New Vista H.S. in Boulder, CO.

Linda PetersonLinda Peterson
I have been teaching sixth grade science and social studies for the past 14 years.  I have an M.A. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Supervision with a K-12 teaching certificate.  I am also an R.N. and taught nursing for ten years prior to my middle school teaching career. I teach in a suburban school, K-6, with 850 students. About 34% of are students are minorities with 23% special education students. I have been actively involved in with the Museum of Flight for many years and have always been fascinated by space exploration.

Beverly PiersonBeverly Pierson
Beverly Pierson is an Earth Sciences teacher at Memorial High School in Eau Claire WI.  She received a B.S. and a M.S in Geology from the University of Delaware. She has taught at The University of Delaware, The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Additionally she worked as a Trainer and Senior Business Manager for United Health Group. Since 2003, she has been teaching Earth Science, Honors Earth Science, Oceanography-Meteorology, and Astronomy-Geology at Memorial High School. She also served as the advisor to the Memorial High School Key Club for 7 years and is currently the Science Department Chair.

Heidi RagsdaleHeidi Ragsdale
Coming from a history of retired teachers within my family, I have always been taught to be a steward to a cause in education where I feel most fulfilled. STEM Education is this cause to which I am most drawn. In addition to being a full-time teacher at West Middle School, I am also the co-advisor of an after school STEM-based program for minority students, called MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement). This culturally diverse grouping of students are so excited to learn about science and engineering principles in action, that it is infectious.

Professionally and personally, I am what my family would consider a life learner! During the school year you can find me leading labs with students, but in the summer, I am taking notes, staying in dorms, studying and traveling to learn as much as I can about the field of STEM Education and the future of education in general.

My career highlights so far include making it possible for ALL students to learn science, and sponsoring a student team in a competition (sponsored by High Noon Solar of Grand Junction) where they were awarded a solar panel array that is currently mounted on the roof of the Children’s Garden at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. By teaching about up-to-the minute energy education and resources within our world, I have found that it is a great way in which I am able to connect with my students.

Robert SherriffRobert Sherriff
Middle School Science teacher since 1991.  Variety of science professional development programs including staff developer for the California Science Project-I.N.C.  Co-Hub Coordinator for the SS&C program with a focus on middle school. Northern CA presenter for SCAMPI (Sothern California Area Math and Physics Institute).  Consultant for K-12 – Alliance/ WestEd, which specializes in improving science education throughout the State of California.  Presently teaching Middle School International Baccalaureate Science at Churchill M.S. where I am part of the Leadership Team. Presently participating on the committees for the new California Science Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Dave SchlichtingDave Schlichting
After retiring from a career working for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, I completed an M.Ed. and started teaching high school science. I spent several years teaching biology, chemistry, Earth, and physical science. I also served as department coordinator for four years. I have spent the past ten years pursuing my personal interest in astronomy by developing and teaching, exclusively, a course in Astronomy and Space Science. I have developed a hands-on curriculum utilizing my experience as a member of two astronomical societies.

I also regularly attend continuing education programs offered by CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, NASA conferences, and the Space Foundation. I am currently serving as Eaglecrest’s HUNCH project coordinator which engages students in the creation of unique experiments performed in a micro-gravity environment. I have served as a presenter for the past 6 years at the Space Exploration Educators Conference, held annually at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I am passionate about engaging students in the wonders of space and encouraging them to consider careers in space science.

Nancy SillsNancy Sills
My name is Nancy Sills and I teach 6th grade Earth Science at Creekside Intermediate School in Cataula, Georgia. It is a rural community about an hour-and-a-half south of Atlanta. My husband of 31 years and I are now going through “empty nest” and loving it! Running has become a part of my life and I recently ran my first…and last, half marathon. We enjoy the outdoors and spend a good deal of time on our farm. I love to read, cook, and swim. We have three daughters, two sons-in-law and two amazing grandchildren! Having been an educator since 1977, I have watched too many teachers head towards retirement and do less and less. I don’t want to be one of those teachers. If I am not enthusiastic about my subject and teaching, how can I expect my students to be? Being a MAVEN Educator Ambassador will allow me to take the real-life world of Mars exploration and its atmosphere and how it compares to Earth and allow my students the fun of discovering what it means to them!

Melissa SleeperMelissa Sleeper
Melissa is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher currently teaching Science at Sebastian River Middle School in Sebastian, Florida. Melissa has taught in both private and public schools in Grenada, Barbados, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the United States. She has been a science coordinator in a primary years program school, an elementary science resource teacher, and a science curriculum and instructional resource teacher.

Melissa holds a B.S. in Agriculture Economics from the University of Maryland, an M.A.T from Johns Hopkins, and an M.Ed. in Science and Math Leadership from George Mason University. Melissa, an active member of the National Science Teachers Association, is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences. She has served as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board for Science and Children, served on the Preschool and Elementary Science Committee, and has just been appointed to the NSTA Special Needs Advisory Board. She is also on the Board of the Council of Elementary Science International (CESI). Prior to becoming a teacher, Melissa worked as an agriculture statistician, helping to set up crop reporting services and running rural household surveys in Morocco, Grenada, and Bolivia.

Barbara Sorenson
Barbara began teaching elementary education in Inkom, Idaho in 1989. She taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades at the elementary level between 1989-2006 and taught high school Art for two years from 1990-1992. Barbara taught advanced math and first year Language Arts in middle school from 2006-2007. She is currently teaching middle school general science at the 6th grade level

Sandra ThorntonSandra Thorton
Sandra Thornton has over fourteen years classroom experience and currently teaches Middle School sciences at Broadwater Academy and serves as Middle School Team Leader. As an adjunct at Eastern Shore Community College Thornton teaches Chemistry and Human Biology courses. Thornton holds an M.S. in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University. Sandra enjoys working with learners of all ages and is a strong proponent of community service, active in a range of organizations. Thornton’s interests include space science, ethnobotany, and epidemiology.

Diane VrobelDiane Vrobel
I became a science teacher directly out of graduate school, but my career path started in high school, when I had an excellent chemistry teacher.  Ms. Hoffmann made us work hard and acquire good laboratory techniques in qualitative analysis.

I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and my Master’s in Chemistry at Cleveland State University. In graduate school, I synthesized several transition metal complexes that were precursor molecules for cancer research. My research included analyzing the (Salen) metal complexes using UV-Vis, FT-IR, Mass and NMR spectroscopy.

After obtaining my Master’s degree in Chemistry, I was given a part-time instructor’s position teaching Organic Chemistry.  I continued to teach while obtaining a position at the Lubrizol Corporation as an analytical chemist. I performed analysis of lubricant additives using NMR, FT-IR and UV-Vis spectroscopy.

My career path changed when I decided to stay at home as a full-time mother to raise a family and the University no longer needed my services as a part-time instructor.  I knew that I would continue teaching when my children were older.

I went back to obtain my integrated science license during the evenings and weekends at Baldwin-Wallace College.  After receiving my license, I secured a position teaching Astronomy, Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Chemistry at Archbishop Hoban High School.  It is a pleasure to be a teacher at Archbishop Hoban because of the strong academic culture of the school and the mixed social-economic level of the students in my classroom.

Mary Young
I worked for 10 years as a Placer County employee (elections tech, jury clerk, sheriff’s dispatcher) before going to college and getting my degree and teaching credential.  I’ve taught grade levels from kindergarten to 12th grade since 1990 and have also been an ed tech specialist since 1997.