Our teacher ambassadors are a stellar bunch, constantly going above and beyond to support student and teacher learning when it comes to evolution, climate change, and the nature of science. Their résumés overflow with teaching experience, leadership positions, and conference presentations. Not even a global pandemic could stop them from continuing to gain accolades. Here are some of their achievements over the past 12 months, along with projects they’re currently involved with. I’m certain you’ll be as impressed as I am.
Dave Amidon, LaFayette Junior-Senior High School, LaFayette, New York: Amidon attained National Board Certification. His teaching was also the subject of a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration article, and he was featured recently in Reports of the National Center for Science Education about NCSE’s work collaborating to develop climate change visualizations.
Rebecca Brewer, Troy High School, Troy, Michigan: Brewer co-authored the 3rd high school edition of the textbook Biology Now and the educator guide for the graphic novel The Curie Society. She was awarded the 2021 Science Teacher of the Year Award from the Detroit Science Fair and was recently selected as a BSCS teacher co-designer for the Climate Education Pathways curriculum. Brewer is also the author of an NCSE evolution lesson set, The Origin of a Species: A Snake in the Grass, which will be released soon.
Jennifer Broo, Mariemont High School, Cincinnati, Ohio: Broo is writing guides for Advanced Placement biology units for a textbook to be published titled Biology for the AP Course. She is also developing lessons in collaboration with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida: “The Origin and Diversity of Armor in Girdled Lizards: A Case Study in Convergent Evolution” and (for AP environmental science) “Fishing in the Trophic.”
Jason Carter, The Science House, Asheville, North Carolina: Carter has transitioned from classroom teaching to serving as the Assistant Director for North Carolina State University's The Science House, Mountain Satellite Office. He was also named the North Carolina Science Teachers Association Region 8 Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, and he was chosen to be part of the first cohort for North Carolina STEM Educators fo Equity and Diversity Fellows.
Andy Epton, Henry Ford Academy, Dearborn, Michigan: Epton led a presentation titled “Vulcan: Mercury's Contender for First from the Sun” at the first Friday lecture series at his local planetarium. Epton is also developing an exhibit about geology and moon rocks at the Henry Ford Museum, which is attached to his school. And he was named a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solar System Ambassador.
Tom Freeman, Esperanza High School, Anaheim, California: Starting in 2022, Freeman has been a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers’ Board of Directors. He was also a table leader at the 2021 AP Biology Exam Reading of student responses on the Advanced Placement Biology Exam; as table leader, Freeman answered questions from his group of teacher readers and helped settle discrepancies in scoring.
Jeff Grant, Downers Grove North High School, Downers Grove, Illinois: Grant received the National Association of Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher for Illinois award for 2021. He is also currently developing with his class an experimental prairie, a project funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. And he is putting his great artistic talents to use for NCSE by creating a collection of animal drawings for one of our evolution lesson sets.
Melissa Lau, Piedmont High School, Piedmont, Oklahoma: Lau was named to Oklahoma’s State Department of Education Standards Review and Revision Writing committee, working specifically on the high school physical science standards. She and her students were also featured in the recently published book Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America. A veteran middle school science teacher, Lau also recently survived her first semester teaching chemistry.
John Mead, St. Mark’s School, Dallas, Texas: Mead became president of the Texas Association of Biology Teachers. He has also been nominated for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching for the state of Texas. Mead was also one of a handful of teachers who authored a chapter in the new Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science book On Teaching Evolution.
Ericca Thornhill, Southern Boone High School, Ashland, Missouri: Thornhill wrote a section for the Biology Now teacher resource guide on best practices for teaching socially controversial topics in the classroom. The guide is expected to be published in June 2022. She is also joining the Missouri Scholars Academy as a faculty member leading a summer program for gifted rising juniors whom she will be teaching about the nature of science. Thornhill also received funding to take environmental science students on a trip down the Missouri River.
Blake Touchet, Lafayette Parish School District, Louisiana: Touchet transferred into the role of Science Master Teacher, overseeing science curriculum and instruction for two high schools and two middle schools in his district. He is presenting a paper titled “Administrators’ Perceptions of and Roles in Teaching Socially Controversial Science Topics” at the American Educational Research Association conference in April 2022 (and he plans to finish his doctoral dissertation by summer 2022). Touchet was also one of a handful of teachers who authored a chapter in the new Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science book On Teaching Evolution.
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