2017 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award Winners

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Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of Earth science content with their students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners. Individuals may submit an application themselves or nominate a colleague for the award.


Central Section - Jill Weaver

Jill Weaver has been teaching science at Valley View Junior High since 2009. She earned her bachelor's degree from Antioch McGregor in elementary education and her master's degree from Wright State University. Her philosophy of teaching reflects her responsibility to meet students where they are in their educational journey and take them as far as she can while in her classroom. She strongly believes in experiential learning and giving students experiences to tie to their instruction. She wants to expose her students to as many career opportunities as possible in as many fields as possible that apply to their instruction. Her students have spoken to and questioned hydrologists, paleomagnetists, chemists, sedimentologists, seismic engineers, volcanologists, cartographers and scientific illustrators, to name a few. She feels that if her students don't have exposure to career choices they will never be able to train for them.

The techniques that Jill employs during instruction involve giving students opportunities beyond textbook instruction. One of her content standards is topography. Last year she had her students research ways to enhance their studies of topography and topographic maps. One of her students showed her an augmented reality sand table. With Jill's guidance and support, her students put together a grant proposal for the materials to build an AR sand table. After the grant was awarded, they built it. Jill thinks that having this tool in the classroom has advanced student knowledge and given students an amazing experience to pin their knowledge to. Students in her class are able to study not only topographic maps but study landforms and hydrology. They have used this tool to create detailed local topographic maps and study their local water table, as well as hold a Socratic seminar to discuss the effects hydraulic fracturing might have on their landscape.

Jill feels that her innate creativity and love to design and build has enhanced learning experiences for her students. She engineered and built a shake table to test student-created earthquake proof structures that allowed students to see how design applications for stronger buildings and incorporating base isolation systems changed the testing results for survival following seismic activity. Students built a wave machine to look at and experience wave movement out of wooden skewers, gummy bears and duct tape. This year, at Christmas, her students made plate tectonic ornaments that they took home to share with their families. She created box models that hold plaster molds of ocean floor topography, allowing students to create bathymetric maps. Her students have Google Cardboard headsets to view virtual reality tours of glaciers from her travels to Mt. Rainier and other Cascade Range Volcanoes, the Grand Canyon, and Cape Town, South Africa's Table Mountain. She created these virtual experiences with a 360 camera that allowed her students to look at these images in 360 degrees.

Jill is involved in many extracurricular and volunteer activities in her community. She is the drama coach, the robotics and technology coach, she started a community family STEM night, and developed and started a UAV flight training program. She trains a high school green team that mentors inner city students. She is on her building leadership team, and is a four year Lead STEM fellow with the Dayton Regional STEM center where she writes and vets new STEM curriculum to share with the larger STEM community.

Eastern Section - Kathleen Tait

1981 BS in Sociology from Saint Joseph University, Philadelphia
1984 MA in Early Childhood Education from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia 
2008 MS in Integrated Sciences from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 

Certified in Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Middle School English and Middle School Science 

1992-1993 Who's Who in American Education 
2015-2016 President of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA) 
2016 PAESTA Earth Science Teacher of the Month 
2015 School District of Philadelphia Teacher of the Month (May) 

Extracurricular Activities: Carver Science Fair, Del Val Science Fair 

Kathleen Tait has been a teacher for 30 years for the School District of Philadelphia, teaching science for the past 8 years. To increase her confidence and understanding in the new content area she was to teach, Kathleen enrolled in the Master of Science program at the University of Pennsylvania where her love of science was cultivated, pruned, watered and grew to become one of her passions. She now sees science in everything she does and encounters. She wishes to impart on her students the following: science is a process, it is everywhere and we have the power to uncover the mysteries, discover the beauty of it and to not fear that we can't do it. From her constructivist view, when a teacher can lead a student to uncover the wonder of science, to investigate the curiosities, to solve the problems, to utilize reliable sources, and to test, test, test their questions, they have succeeded in giving the student a love of science. Science isn't simply imparting knowledge through books and lecture, but by doing and exploring. Kathleen encourages all of her students to look, explore and do science. She is actively helping to develop future scientifically literate citizens.

Far Western Section - Dieuwertje Kast

Dieuwertje Kast is the STEM Programs Manager for the USC Joint Educational Project, which encompasses the Wonderkids and Young Scientists Program. She has been teaching for over seven years in the Los Angeles area. She is a current doctoral student in Education, focusing on Teacher Education in Multicultural Societies at the University of Southern California (USC). She received her master's in education and biology teaching credential from the USC Rossier School of Education. She received her undergraduate and graduate education at USC through the progressive masters program obtaining her BS in Biology and MS in Marine Environmental Biology in 2011. She has been the recipient of the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 in Science in 2016 and the 30 under 30 in environmental education from the North American Association for Environmental Education. Ms. Kast is involved in multiple community organizations that work with underrepresented minority (URM) students. In her work at USC Joint Educational Project (JEP), she coordinates supplemental science lessons for 2000 K-5 students in a plethora of classrooms. She also teaches college prep science to high school students through USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI). Yearly, she impacts 3000 students in STEM fields and in Earth science concepts. She has a passion for hands-on and inquiry-based science education. This interactive element allows students of all abilities to be involved in the learning process. She is a strong proponent of using technology in the classroom to supplement standard lesson plans. For example, she created an augmented reality sandbox in partnership with Deezmaker to teach erosion, weathering, and deposition. She is actively involved with the USC Joint Educational Project (JEP), USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, USC Seagrant, USC QuikSCience, USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, NOAA Teacher at Sea, Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA Climate Stewards Education Program, National Marine Education Association and PolarTREC.

New England Section - Laura Preston

Laura Preston teaches science at Salem High School in Salem, New Hampshire. She has a Bachelor's of Science degree in geology from the University of Texas - Arlington, and a Master's of Science degree in geoscience from Mississippi State University. Laura taught middle and high school for about twenty years in two different states. Teaching is her second career, as she was once a geologist. Prior to becoming a teacher, Laura saw the value of collaboration between different entities such as businesses, colleges, and high schools. She always imagined that if provided the chance to teach, she would want to have a cooperating relationship with a local university so that the higher level institution would know what was being taught at the secondary level, and vice versa. She has found the association to be more fulfilling than she imagined as it has come to fruition over the years. Joining Salem High meant Laura would be part of a cutting edge science teaching staff that was already collaborating with the University of New Hampshire. She chose to dive in, and believes what followed has been the ultimate experience for students, as well as for herself. In partnering with UNH, Laura was afforded a graduate student twice a week for a year to help create inquiry lessons such as "Making Paint with Minerals," "A Debate of the Origin of the Universe," and "Using a UV-visible Spectrophotometer to Analyze Sunscreens." Through participation in this program, she went on a geologic research cruise at sea, and partnered with a civil engineering professor to learn how to make her one million dollar laboratory into a one thousand dollar lab for Laura's classroom; students learned how asphalt is made and tested for porosity and strength. Laura was charged to develop a wetlands study for her community, as well as study near earth ozone using a bio-indicator garden and ozone monitor. Laura enjoys bringing real life science to her classes and has a goal to convey the joy of learning to her students through applied science lessons.

Pacific Northwest Section - Robert Doherty

After a 15-year career in the National Weather Service, Robert went back to school to obtain his master's and entered teaching full time in 2000. His first full-time position was as a science teacher in Monument, Oregon in grades 6 through 12, where he was also an assistant basketball coach for the Monument-Dayville varsity team. In 2004, he moved to Hermiston, Oregon to begin his science teacher position at Armand Larive Middle School where he continues today, teaching integrated science to 7th and 8th graders. He also teaches a video production class that produces daily morning announcements and weather updates, a monthly news show, and live broadcasts of sports and community events.

Southeastern Section - Annette Bartlett

Annette Bartlett began her teaching career six years ago as a 7th and 8th grade science teacher. Four years ago, she joined the staff of Harris Road Middle as an 8th grade science teacher. She soon proved that she was willing to take on any challenge. In 2015, Cabarrus County Schools decided to make high school Earth and Environmental Science available to 8th grade students. The administrators at Harris Road believed that Annette's proven record of engaging her students with the curriculum and superior test scores made her the best choice to teach Earth and Environmental Science. Annette spent the first summer before the class started developing the pace and blending 8th grade science, Earth and Environmental, and technology into a course. Annette believes it is important that students experience Earth science through actively engaging in Problem Based Learning (PBL). She wants her students to understand that the Earth might be divided by borders, but Earth science is local as well as global. In order to provide this experience for her students, Annette utilizes her summer vacations to expand her knowledge about Earth science to provide engaging and real world lessons for her students. Last year, she was chosen to attend the National Sustainability Teachers Academy at Arizona State University. In the fall, she incorporated lessons and activities she had learned at the academy. Annette has spent 3 years on Cabarrus County curriculum writing team for 8th grade science and 8th grade Earth and Environmental. Cabarrus County consistently looks to Annette for input on possible curriculum changes in middle school science. She is the lead science teacher at Harris Road Middle School, a member of the School Improvement Team, and Aligned Instructional Leadership Team. She was nominated and selected as Harris Road Teacher of the Year for 2017.

Southwest Section - Ben Graves

Ben Graves has been teaching high school in Delta County, in Western Colorado for just over five years. Before that, he was active in environmental education in the SF Bay Area. His undergraduate (BS) and graduate (MS) studies were in the Earth Systems Science Program at Stanford University where he felt drawn to teaching after volunteering for a number of years as a docent and ranger at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Ben currently teaches AP Environmental Science, 9th Grade Earth and Environmental Science, College Biology and a Solar Energy class. His teaching philosophy centers around engaging students with meaningful hands-on learning experiences that explore and build a connection to their diverse local environment. At Delta High School, this includes starting a district-wide outdoor careers pathway program called the Youth Outdoor Network where students engage in science practices in the field with resource management agency partners, developing a multiyear citizen science partnership with CU Boulder around air quality monitoring and initiating a Solar Energy Training program where students can earn a vocational certificate in Solar PV installation. His current focus of professional development is helping students develop skills in scientific argumentation and facilitating productive debate around controversial issues. He is in the 5th year of a Knowles Fellowship (kstf.org), a national teacher leadership program for early career science teachers.


Alabama - Virginia Hall

Mrs. Virginia Hall received a B.S. in Chemistry from Lincoln Memorial University and is currently teaching Earth Space Science at Mary G. Montgomery High School and Physical Science online through the ACCESS program. Virginia has been in public education for over twenty years. During this time, she has been awarded the 2010-2011 American Chemical Society (ACS): Mobile Section Chemistry Teacher of the Year, the 1997-1998 DCCTM Mathematics Teacher of the Year for Private Schools and the 1997-1998 Allison Academy Mathematics Teacher of the Year. She is a strong advocate for hands-on, inquiry-based learning. She involves her students in critical thinking and problem solving through projects, questioning, and hands-on activities. Moreover, she readily uses sources such as NASA and NOAA and incorporates that information into her lessons while encouraging students to engage in argument based on evidence, as well as construct explanations and design solutions. Her professional interests focus on incorporating technology into the classroom, growing within her field and sharing the skills she has learned with other professionals. Her current projects include developing rich lessons for her classroom, the district and ALEX. In addition, she serves as a BYOD teacher/trainer and NASA teacher leader for the Mobile County Public School System.

Arizona - Allison McIntosh

Allison McIntosh has been teaching science at Rhodes Junior High School in Mesa, Arizona for nine years. She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in geography, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction, and a second master's degree in gifted education. Early in her career, she became a teacher consultant for the Arizona Geographic Alliance. In addition to testing products to determine their classroom value, she writes curriculum bridging STEM content and geography. These lessons engage students with real-world problems and challenge students to discover science principles through exploration. Furthermore, these lessons allow her to cultivate the understanding that young scientists must think globally and act locally if they want to enact change. One lesson in particular, an investigation of the world food crisis, named her the co-recipient of the 2013 "Great Moments in Social Studies Teaching Award" and the 2014 "Herff Jones Nystrom/NCGE Award." When she's not teaching, Allison is hiking her way through all 59 National Parks; so far she has left no trace in nine parks and plans to add one more this summer.

Colorado - Annette Calabretta

Colorado is the perfect place to teach Earth science! The geology is right outside the door! Annette has been teaching for 21 years after earning her bachelor's degree in Natural Science from the University of Puget Sound and her master's in education from Regent University. Annette has taught at The Classical Academy (TCA) since 2003 and teaches Earth science, AP environmental science, and astronomy. Some of the previous awards Annette has received include Honorable Mention Earth Science Teacher (2009), American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Earth Science Teacher of Excellence (2008) - Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and TCA Junior High Teacher of the Year (2006).

Inquiry-based teaching makes the topics relevant to the students' lives and interests. Leading students on field trips to explore the local geology is an added bonus. Each class has field trips to locations such as a gold mine, a local creek for water quality testing, and an astronomy observation night. This, combined with her enthusiasm for the incredible geology that surrounds us, can and does instill the same passion and curiosity in the minds of students.

Annette has high expectations of students and helps them to attain them. An example is the Local Geology Field Trip project, where students pick a location, visit the geologic site, take photographs, identify the rock types in the location, and put together a PowerPoint to present to class. This is a culminating project, broken into small pieces. Annette and their peers make suggestions for improvement, so that the final presentation is of exceptional quality.

Delaware - Lindsay Lancaster

Lindsay Lancaster's personal mission is to inspire students to be global citizens who appreciate a diversity of ecosystems and are dedicated to improving the Earth through environmental stewardship. She is currently the Program Manager at Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids, working with multiple schools and grade levels to bring science based seed-to-table vegetable gardening programs to Delaware schools. Lindsay is especially passionate about connecting students in urban areas who have limited access to green spaces with plants, nature, and healthy food. Whether it's soil studies, composting, or plant lifecycles, her K-8 science lessons incorporate outdoor education and encourage students to make new discoveries through experiential learning and active participation. Lindsay views real-world environmental problems as a catalyst for student-driven learning. For example, a leak at a water spigot turned into a project on water conservation and the discovery of voles in a garden resulted in a habitat modification project. Lindsay serves on the Board of Directors for the Delaware Association for Environmental Education and is a member of the Delaware Children in Nature Coalition and the Delaware Urban Farm and Food Coalition.

Florida - Leigh Arnold

Leigh Arnold has been teaching for a total of seven years at all Title 1 Elementary schools. After completing her bachelors at the University of North Florida, she then started her teaching career at St. Lucie Public schools, and now is teaching in Palm Beach County. During her time teaching third grade, she has also completed her master's in educational leadership.

Mrs. Arnold is currently teaching Science to students in second through fifth grade at her school. Leigh uses their age appropriate standards to create innovative hands-on lessons for them to complete during Science Lab. All lessons are inquiry-based and reinforce what their teachers are teaching them inside the classroom. The students enjoy coming to her class, as they know that it will be engaging, they will be able to collaborate, and they understand that there is no wrong answer. After being thrown into this position, Leigh feels that science has become a passion of hers. Students throughout campus might not know her name, but they know of her fun class and will scream out "Hello Science Teacher." Being at a school with over seventy percent population of ELLs, Science Lab is a place where all levels of learners can enjoy and improve their oral language skills.

Georgia - Catherine Warren

Even with thirty years of teaching experience, Catherine Warren still considers herself a lifelong learner. As a sixth grade Earth science teacher at Richmond Hill Middle School in Richmond Hill, she employs a divergent approach to education that is flexible and promotes student-centered instruction that is applicable and authentic for all students. Students are engaged in NOAA/NASA data collection, model creations, challenging labs, soil analysis, and problem-solving tasks from their on-site weather station. Capitalizing on students' inquisitiveness and experiences while collaborating with colleagues to expand science to other classes and outdoors cultivates learning in her classroom.

Living in coastal Georgia provides unique learning experiences for her students. With support from the DNR, students participate in coastline restoration efforts through Seeds to Shoreline, Adopt-A-Stream water quality monitoring on the Ogeechee River, and when opportunities develop, pond shocking with the Fish and Wildlife Department at Fort Stewart and fish spawning at the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery. She believes that students develop lifelong environmental stewardship through active engagement in real-world science.

She earned education degrees from the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina with recently adding gifted endorsement. She has served in various leadership roles and has been recognized as Teacher of the Year at JL Newbern Middle School, Richmond Hill Middle School, and Bryan County Schools.

Idaho - Heather Swanson

Heather Swanson is in her 17th year of teaching. She began teaching in the Lakeland Joint School District in North Idaho. Starting as a kindergarten teacher, Heather has since taught every grade through 8th grade. She is not a teacher that makes files for the next year, as she likes to change things up depending on the students present at any given time. Heather truly enjoys teaching science and loves to challenge students with individual projects and group work that stretches their creativity and thought processes.

Kentucky - Thomas Reed

Lexington, KY may be the horse capital of the world, but Thomas Reed's students live in an urban environment, so they seldom interact with nature. They enter his classroom without an understanding of the environmental problems the world faces today. Thomas loves the opportunity to bring to light a new world for his students.

Each of his students strives for excellence. All students are capable of learning, and Thomas sees his role to be that of a facilitator for the learning process and to enable each student to reach his or her highest potential. While his lessons are challenging, Thomas creates an environment based upon the concept of a growth mindset. If a student doesn't know the right answer this time, it's okay; he or she will learn from this moment and understand the concept when approached with the same question again. Thomas' classroom is a community which fosters opportunities for learning, both socially and academically, enabling students to not only enjoy classroom activities, but to develop a life-long love of the learning process.

Thomas has been in teaching/administration for 17 years with degrees/certifications from University of Kentucky and Georgetown College and was recently featured in KY Teacher Magazine.

Louisiana - Ann Robichaux

Mrs. Robichaux earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Nicholls State University. She taught math and science classes for thirteen years at the elementary level before moving on to Vandebilt Catholic High School where she has taught Earth science for four years. As an innovative classroom teacher and a lifelong learner, she has participated in numerous continuing education activities sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, 4-H, JASON, NASA, NOAA, Audubon Institute, Nicholls State University (SMART and MSP), Pittcon, SDE, BTNEP, and FDA. She has also attended LSTA, NSTA, and NSELA conferences. She uses the content knowledge and strategies delivered to enrich her lessons for her students and support inquiry-based learning in her classroom. Mrs. Robichaux has been an Earth science workshop presenter at LSTA conferences.

Mrs. Robichaux has been recognized for her excellence in teaching as a 2016 recipient of the American Petroleum Institute's Delta Chapter's Distinguished Teacher Award and is a 2017 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. In addition to her teaching responsiblities at Vandebilt Catholic High School, she is the moderator of the Be the Change Team and the AquaBots, the school's underwater robotics club. She supports science education in her region as a member of the Teacher's Advisory Council for the Audubon Institute.

Michigan - Sherry Claflin

Graduating from Central Michigan University with degrees in Earth Science and Journalism, Sherry Claflin found Earth science to be her passion! Last year, Sherry received the Michigan Earth Science Teacher Association's 2016 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher award. She also won the Keep America Beautiful Recycling Contest in 2013. As science instructor for Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University, and adjunct professor teaching Geology 101 for Muskegon Community College, Sherry totally immerses K-16 students in a variety of activities to enhance their science education. Sherry is also the Education Coordinator for the Kropscott Farm Environmental Center and S. F. Wessling Observatory in Fremont. She knew her students were hooked on astronomy when they begged her to open the Observatory every clear evening that semester. They logged 17 visits on school nights!

Receiving the Legacy award from Hesperia graduating seniors in 2015 as their most inspirational middle school teacher was incredibly special to Sherry. The class of 2010 bought her a star to honor her commitment and dedication. She has left her students with a lasting impression of their caring Earth science teacher, with an unending enthusiasm for teaching and an incredible passion for the stewardship of Earth!

Minnesota - Denine Voegeli

Denine Voegeli is an Earth science teacher in the small, rural school district of Plainview-Elgin-Millville. She is in her 17th year in this district and currently teaches 7th and 8th grade at the Jr. High School in Elgin. Denine's teaching philosophy is that all students can learn Earth science, believing it is the one subject that is completely relevant to each and every one of her students. She approaches teaching of Earth science topics conceptually so that each unit fits within the framework of the topic that came before it. She starts with Earth's geosphere then moves on to Earth's hydrosphere until she finishes the year with Earth's place in space. Students come to realize that science is not at all scary and that they use the same method of solving problems every day. Science becomes not only relevant, but inviting and fun! Denine's main goal is to have students leave her at the end of their 8th grade year with a strong sense of stewardship that models the ideals of Dr. Seuss's beloved character, the Lorax.

Denine's professional activities include two board of director positions at the state level: Minnesota Earth Science Teachers Association (MESTA) and Minnesota Science Teachers Association (MnSTA). She has served on MESTA's board for over 10 years and has served as a regional director on MnSTA's board for two years. Her most influential activity was attending a field program called TIMES (Teaching Inquiry-based Minnesota Earth Science) which changed the course of her teaching career!

Mississippi - Tammie Bright

Tammie Stricklin Bright has been a middle and high school science teacher for 28 years in Mississippi's public school system. She is currently teaching in Grenada County School District. Tammie has received numerous service awards and was selected as Yazoo County Middle School's 2010 Teacher of the Year, and was also named Star Teacher at Byram High School. In addition to her teaching, Tammie has served as the sponsor for a variety of clubs and has coached cheerleading, softball, and archery. She has fulfilled leadership positions serving as a mentor, science department chairperson, science fair coordinator, and presenting professional development at the local and state levels. Recently, she served as a member of the Final Review Committee in the writing of the new Mississippi Science Curriculum for College- and Career Readiness. Tammie's passion for teaching and the fact that she is a lifelong learner have led her to continuously find ways to prepare her students for the future. Through participating in various conferences, workshops, and teacher academies she has provided hands-on learning opportunities and incorporated technology into her instruction. Tammie utilizes a variety of methods and tools in the classroom: small and larger group discussions, role playing and debates, project teams and projects relevant to the real world, as well as traditional classroom components. Having students participate in science fairs and competitions is one way that Tammie promotes student interest and outreach to colleges and universities. 

Tammie is currently working on her Doctor of Education (Ed.S/Ed.D) Educational Leadership Degree with licensure at Belhaven University. She has a Master's of Education Degree with specialization in Curriculum and Instruction from Belhaven University. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences and teacher certification at Delta State University.

New Mexico - Turtle Haste

Turtle Haste has been teaching in both informal and formal settings for 25 years. After earning a Masters in Science Education from Oregon State University, she has continued her own learning by earning a National Board Teaching license in Early Adolescent Science and a NASA Endeavor STEM Certificate from Columbia University's Teacher College. In 2007, she was a NOAA Teacher at Sea and in 2015, she was recognized by Teacher at Sea for her continued work with her research cruise experience with an "Excellence in Science Education" award. In 2015, she was also selected as a U.S. Department of State Office of Cultural Affairs and Education Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, and she was also honored as one of the New Mexico Women of STEM for her contributions in motivating young women to pursue education and careers in STEM fields. Mrs. Haste is known for her connections with researchers around the world, showing her students how the topics they investigate are being explored by scientists. She uses her infectious curiosity and awe of the physical world around her to instill excitement in and motivate her students.

New York - Rebecca Remis

Rebecca Remis has been teaching Earth science at Schalmont High School in Schenectady for the past 23 years. She is the Science Department Coordinator for Schalmont HS, and has advised the New York State Science Honor Society, Riverwatch Club, and Science Olympiad. Becky is also an adjunct associate professor at Clarkson University's Capital Region Campus in the MAT program, and has helped teach courses in the History and Philosophy of Science, Astronomy, Geoscience, and STEM Methods for preservice science teachers and graduate teaching assistants. Right now Becky is the Director at Large for Earth Science for the Science Teacher Association of New York State (STANYS) and membership chair of the Eastern Section of STANYS. She is a STANYS Fellow, a National Board Certified Teacher, and the secretary for the NY Earth Science Teachers' Association. Becky graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Biology and from Union College with an MAT in Science Education. Her approach to teaching is inclusive of all students at all levels and focuses on students ownership of learning through a constructivist approach. Becky incorporates hands-on field experiences with local geologists and real-world applications in her teaching with the goal of helping her students become scientifically literate citizens.

Ohio - Karly Lyons

While in undergraduate school at Washington & Jefferson College PA, Karly Lyons double majored in psychology and sociology. After doing social work for a short time, Karly decided to go back to school to become a special education teacher and earned her Master's in Teaching degree in 2007 from Muskingum University. Teaching middle school science for 13 years now, Karly has discovered her strength and passion for Earth science education. Because of this, she is now pursuing another master's degree in Geosciences from Mississippi State University. A future goal of hers is to teach Earth science at the college level.

Karly Lyons' core teaching philosophy is to make genuine connections with kids and show them that learning can be fun. Developing rapport with her students allows Karly to design lessons that will ignite each student's potential.

Karly has been an Intervention Specialist for 13 years. She teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students with disabilities science in a small resource classroom in Byesville, Ohio at Meadowbrook Middle School. She employs a hands-on, fully interactive, technology inspired, multi-sensory approach to teaching. Some multi-sensory lessons that Karly has done include edible DNA, cells, and soil horizons. She has compared the Earth to a hard boiled egg, made "Starburst rocks" go through the rock cycle, made chocolate bars move like tectonic plates, and has made sugar karst environments. Her 7th graders painted canvas "biome shoes" this fall to represent their favorite biome and its corresponding flora and fauna.

Her students also learn kinesthetic hand motions, chants, and songs to remember difficult science vocabulary. Another inventive and effective learning strategy Karly utilizes are her "science trading cards". Students are given ten basic science facts or vocabulary words bi-weekly, to help build a better science knowledge foundation. Students use these new vocabulary words to create a colorful representation of those words on an index card. The trading cards are treasured by students and are collected and traded throughout their three years in middle school. 

In 2016, Karly earned the Outstanding Educator Award for Region 12 given by the State Support Team. And lastly, in May of 2016, she was invited to The White House to be honored with other great educators from all around the country for National Teacher Appreciation Week. She attended the event with the State Teachers of the Year and the National Teacher of the Year.

Karly is an active member of The Planetary Society, NAGT, The National Audubon Society, and The Sierra Club.

Oregon - Celia Hampton

Celia Hampton has an Elementary Degree and Integrated Science Endorsement from Eastern Oregon University. She received her Masters of Arts in teaching from Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, Arizona. Last year, she won the Outstanding Classroom Teaching Award given by the Oregon Science Teachers Association, for Eastern Oregon. Celia has been teaching for 27 years in Pendleton. She has taught 5th - 8th grades.

When the rovers landed on Mars, Celia's class worked with OMSI, on the Mars Exploration Project. The class worked with Intel, via satellite, to introduce Celia's students to engineering and design. They applied their knowledge and used STEM principles to design and build a colony, and presented their ideas on survival, for colonization, on Mars. The students' names are written on the Cassini Probe, that is traveling through space, right now.

Celia's classroom is full of rocks, minerals, crystals, and fossils! She teaches the Geology of the Pacific Northwest, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the theory of plate tectonics, the Cascade Range volcanoes, and so much more. 

All day, every day, students ask questions to explore the world around them and through hands-on science experiments and STEM activities, Celia hopes to continue to foster their love of science!

Pennsylvania - Kathleen Tait

1981 BS in Sociology from Saint Joseph University, Philadelphia
1984 MA in Early Childhood Education from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia 
2008 MS in Integrated Sciences from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 

Certified in Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Middle School English and Middle School Science 

1992-1993 Who's Who in American Education 
2015-2016 President of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA) 
2016 PAESTA Earth Science Teacher of the Month 
2015 School District of Philadelphia Teacher of the Month (May) 

Extracurricular Activities: Carver Science Fair, Del Val Science Fair 

Kathleen Tait has been a teacher for 30 years for the School District of Philadelphia, teaching science for the past 8 years. To increase her confidence and understanding in the new content area she was to teach, Kathleen enrolled in the Master of Science program at the University of Pennsylvania where her love of science was cultivated, pruned, watered and grew to become one of her passions. She now sees science in everything she does and encounters. She wishes to impart on her students the following: science is a process, it is everywhere and we have the power to uncover the mysteries, discover the beauty of it and to not fear that we can't do it. From her constructivist view, when a teacher can lead a student to uncover the wonder of science, to investigate the curiosities, to solve the problems, to utilize reliable sources, and to test, test, test their questions, they have succeeded in giving the student a love of science. Science isn't simply imparting knowledge through books and lecture, but by doing and exploring. Kathleen encourages all of her students to look, explore and do science. She is actively helping to develop future scientifically literate citizens.

South Carolina - Marc Alexander

Marc Alexander teaches eighth-grade science at E.L. Wright Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. He uses a variety of hands-on, inquiry-based learning strategies to motivate, challenge, and engage his students. One such lesson utilizes USGS software to map out and track earthquakes, leading to group projects constructing scale-model buildings and bridges out of various materials which are then tested on a 'shake table' to see which designs can survive the 'earthquake'. In preparation for the 'shake test', students are required to create blueprints for their design and work within a defined budget for materials and supplies, providing valuable cross-curricular connections in art and math. Students love having a class 'checkbook' from which they have to write checks to the teacher to receive certain amounts of building materials to execute their design.

Mr. Alexander works well with students of all ability levels. He structures his class groups to insure heterogeneity and assigns various roles to group members using cooperative learning strategies. He is a very high-energy teacher, yet always appears calm and in control. Mr. Alexander is a volunteer tutor for local Boys and Girls Clubs, serves as President of the PTO, and organizes the annual 8th grade science field trip.

Virginia - Rebecca Musso

Mrs. Musso has been teaching 6th grade science for the past 8 years. She earned her B.S. in Elementary Education, and M.Ed. in science and math from the College of Charleston, in Charleston, SC. Mrs. Musso earned her National Board Certification in Early Adolescence Science in 2016. She also received the Outstanding Middle School Teacher in 2015 from the Virginia Association of Science Teachers. Mrs. Musso was teacher of the year at her school in the 2015-2016 school year. Mrs. Musso received a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality for students cleaning up the local stream. Mrs. Musso has presented at the Virginia Association of Science Teachers conference for the past 4 years. Hands-on and field experiences are quintessential to Mrs. Musso's approach to teaching. Mrs. Musso creates opportunities for student lead discoveries and inquiry by providing students with meaningful experiences. Mrs. Musso routinely brings in active scientists from the community to meet with students to expose them to various careers in science. Mrs. Musso is dedicated to students' complete education by making connections across the curriculum by integrating math, history, and writing. Mrs. Musso is passionate about giving students experiences that will last forever.

West Virginia - Bryan Schuerman

Bryan is a half-time General Science teacher teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Lincoln Middle School in Shinnston, West Virginia. Bryan is in his first year of teaching full time but has been a long-term substitute teacher in science and other disciplines for three years prior to this school year. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in Science and Technology and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Advanced Studies in Secondary Education and Teacher Leadership from California University of Pennsylvania. Bryan has a unique view of education also holding a job in "the real world" as the Chief Meteorologist for WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and brings his experience in Earth science education and meteorology into the classroom whenever possible. Through his teaching, Bryan also worked for Lincoln Middle School to become the first National Weather Service StormReady School in the State of West Virginia. This program involved school preparation and student/teacher weather education and preparedness activities including bringing back the Statewide Tornado Drill in West Virginia. Through hands-on activities, as well as unique lectures and activities, Bryan creates an active and engaging learning environment for his students.

Wisconsin - Robert Shannon

Robert Shannon has been teaching for 38 years, all at Edgewood High School. He presently teaches Earth science, astronomy, AP environmental science, and human anatomy and physiology. Robert received his Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Masters in Education from Viterbo University. He is a past recipient of the Bassett Foundation Teaching Award, Herb Kohl Excellence in Teaching Fellowship, and the Edgewood Alumni Appreciation Award. Robert is a member of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers, Wisconsin Association of Environmental Educators, and National Science Teachers Association and has had the opportunity and pleasure to present at local and regional conferences.

With a diversity of learning styles in any classroom, Robert likes to vary delivery of content and concepts. He believes that the concepts are more meaningful than pure content. The use of modeling plays an important role in his classes. Whether it is done through computer simulations, on paper, or building a physical model, establishing a visual connection to natural phenomena is vital to learning. Robert tells his students 'You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand and enjoy science (but it sometimes helps!)' Robert enjoys using humor to connect with students.