Meet NCSE's curriculum study field testers

NCSE has recruited middle and high school teachers from all over the US to field-test and assess new nature of science, evolution, and climate change lessons currently in development. These teachers will gather virtually with NCSE staff in July 2021 to better understand how to implement the lessons, and then will try them out with their students during the 2021-2022 school year. The field testers will provide feedback on how the lessons worked and make suggestions for how we can improve them with the aim of releasing the finalized versions during the 2022-2023 school year.

Find out more about this amazing group of science educators:

Matthew AllenMatthew Allen earned a bachelor's degree from Tennessee Wesleyan University where he also played baseball. He spent seven years teaching in Tennessee public schools before coming to the prestigious McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is completing his second year teaching seventh-grade science at McCallie, as well as serving as an assistant coach for middle school football and varsity baseball.

David AmidonDavid Amidon of Lafayette Junior-Senior High School in Lafayette, New York, an NCSE Teacher Ambassador, has been teaching middle school science for over 20 years. He has also taught high school classes and served as a coach and advisor for many of the programs in his school. Among his highlights include being selected for the inaugural cohort of the New York State Master Teacher Program, participating in the Space Academy for Educators, and earning a grant from the NOAA Planet Stewards program. Amidon is also a National Geographic Certified Educator and a Solar System Ambassador through NASA/JPL. In 2017, he sailed on board the NOAA ship Reuben Lasker as part of its science crew through the NOAA Teacher at Sea program. He was awarded the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators from the EPA and White House Council of Environmental Quality in 2016.

Laura BranchLaura Branch has been teaching at Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, California, for the past 23 years. She is also a part-time faculty member at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. When not teaching AP Environmental Science and Geology, she is either writing curriculum for the Educator Academy in the Amazon through the Morpho Institute or at the soccer field watching her twin daughters play.

Jennifer BrooJennifer Broo of Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, an NCSE Teacher Ambassador, is particularly interested in the intersection of evolution and climate change. She has published articles in The American Biology Teacher on the evolution of horses and the rapid evolution of Drosophila. She has also presented at numerous conferences and participated in professional development opportunities across the country.

Amelia CookAmelia Cook, a biology and AP environmental science teacher at Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma researching indigenous science knowledge and Native American storytelling for tools to teach climate science and build community resilience.


Dawn FuelberthDawn Fuelberth, of Skutt High School in Omaha, Nebraska, is a National Biology Teacher Association Outstanding Biology Teacher honoree. Prior to teaching, she was privileged to work at CalTech in a world-renowned molecular biology lab researching gene therapy on Alzheimer's disease. With this background, she now integrates higher-level biotechnology concepts into the secondary setting. Fuelberth does not stop at the molecular level. Working with Edward Louis, director of the Henry Doorly Zoo genetics lab, she and her AP students raised over $15,000 to hire locals to plant, raise, and tend trees in Madagascar. In recognition of their efforts, Louis named a plant building in Madagascar the Skutt Nursery. Since she says "science is doing," her classroom is organized chaos.

Angelee GensAfter years of working in the scientific field and in laboratories, Angelee Gens of Brookside Middle School in Sarasota, Florida, decided to share her passion for and knowledge of science by teaching. Four years into teaching middle school, she could not be happier with her career change. When she's not keeping busy with teacher life, you can find her either relaxing at home with her family or exploring this beautiful world.

Felicia GuintaFelicia Giunta is currently in her eighth year teaching AP biology, living environment, and chemistry at Staten Island Technical High School in Staten Island, New York. She loves coming up with new ways to bring real-world applications of science into her classroom.


Shatavia HarrisShatavia Harris teaches biology at West Point High School, North, in West Point, Mississippi. She is currently in her tenth year as a science educator.



Katherine Hinckley-JenkinsKatherine Hinckley Jenkins teaches ninth-grade biology and a tenth-grade living and physical sciences course at Friends School of Baltimore, a Quaker independent school in Baltimore, Maryland. On campus, she also loves to work with students in the aquaponics, ecojustice and sustainability clubs. Off campus, she loves to enjoy her city and the surrounding woods with her friends, family, and two dogs.


Jennifer KaszubaJennifer Kaszuba teaches biology at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, Texas. She has taught high school, provided professional development at a regional service center in Austin, Texas, attended graduate school, and most recently worked for Argument-Driven Inquiry before returning to her love: working with students. She is passionate about designing and developing ways to engage students through inquiry while helping them to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

Michael LowryMichael Lowry is a National Board Certified Teacher at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. An active area of his research includes exploring the impact and efficacy of incorporating engineering-design challenges into the science curriculum.


Melissa MaraMelissa Mara, of Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix, Arizona, is a National Board Certified Teacher and has a master's in science teaching. She teaches biology and environmental science, loves gardening and travel, and hopes to visit Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks.


Mary Ellen MarkhamMary Ellen Markham, of Bowling Green Junior High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has been a science educator for 17 years. She has a doctorate in mathematics and science education. Her experiences include teaching secondary education, higher education, and teaching overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer. She is excited to participate in the NCSE curriculum study and grow her pedagogical content knowledge for the benefit of her students. 


Xaviera McCraeXaveria L. McRae was born, raised, and presently resides in South Carolina. She is a middle school career technical education teacher at Spring Hill Middle School in Laurinburg, North Carolina, who teaches sixth- through eighth-grade students the basics associated with diagnostic, therapeutic, and biotechnology service fields. She has been a member of the curriculum and CTE departments during her 17 years as an educator.

Amy KellyAmy Kelly is a biology and forensics teacher at Minooka Community High School, a suburban public school in Minooka, Illinois. She also co-sponsors the school's Science National Honors Society and Science club. When not teaching, she enjoys photography and reading.


Janelle MillikenJanelle Milliken has taught honors biology, regular biology, animal science, plant science, PLTW biomedical science, and AP environmental science at Century High School in Rochester, Minnesota, for the past 22 years. She is the Century Science Fair coordinator and has a master's degree in science education. Her greatest passions are her family, her many animals, biology, and inspiring students to love biology, animal and plant sciences, and environmental science.

Chandler MissigChandler Missig is a fourth-year educator teaching honors and AP biology in Michigan's L'Anse Creuse Public Schools in Clinton Township, Michigan. She is passionate about biology curriculum and creating her own NGSS-centered storylines. She currently serves on the Michigan Association of Biology Teachers' Board of Directors and as a national AP biology reader. Apart from teaching, she enjoys being active outside, reading, gardening, baking, and spending time with her family.

Cheryl MoertelCheryl Moertel has been teaching biology, chemistry, biomedical science and AP biology for the past 28 years at Century High School in Rochester, Minnesota. Prior to teaching, she was a cytogenetic research technology specialist at the Mayo Clinic working on the cytogenetic abnormalities associated with amniocentesis and solid tumors. She holds a master's degree in molecular biology, a master’s degree in education, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership. She is National Board-certified in adolescent and young adult science.

Karah NazorKarah Nazor of the McAllie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, teaches biology, marine biology, and environmental science. She runs the scientific research program and mentors students in hypothesis-driven research projects in her jellyfish wet lab and in the cell culture lab.


Jessica NewportJessica Newport, of Bowling Green Junior High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is entering her fifth year at the school and enjoys continuing to learn new things daily from her inquisitive students. When she's not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family or reading a book in a cozy chair.


Deborah ReichDeborah Reich of World View High School in Bronx, New York, currently teaches a ninth-grade environmental science class and serves as the Science Department Chair, Peer Collaborative Teacher, and Sustainability Coordinator. As the facilitator of the student-led Green Team, she helped the school win two New York City Zero Waste School Awards: the Super Recyclers winner and the Reuse Challenge honorable mention. She is also part of the New York City Department of Education Climate Education Leadership Team and a Math for America Master Teacher.

Leslie RobbinsLeslie Robbins of the Westinghouse Arts Academy in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, has been teaching high school biology for 22 years, first at an International Baccalaureate school and now at an arts academy. She holds degrees in molecular biology, genetics, education, and a certificate in instructional technology. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and dogs. To exercise the other side of her brain, she enjoys oil painting and baking.

Darcie RubyDarcie Ruby of Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, has been teaching science for 15 years and is the current department head at her own former high school in Michigan. After attending a teacher workshop with lemurs, she pursued her masters degree and found her passion in teaching conservation and environmental science.

Amanda StaggsCurrently an eighth-grade science teacher at Bowling Green Junior High School, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Amanda Staggs has been teaching for eight years at the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade levels. She considers herself a lifelong learner and is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this NCSE program with her current teaching partners.

Jason StevensJason Stevens of Horizon High School in Thornton, Colorado, has a passion for engaging students in the study of evolution and conservation. He hopes to develop students' ability to identify actionable issues in their natural world, building their capacity as stakeholders and stewards, especially since Colorado is in immediate need of scientifically literate citizens as its population grows and diversifies within a rapidly changing environment.

Alex SwavelyAlex Swavely of Manheim Township Middle School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has a bachelor's degree in environmental biology and a master's degree in STEM education. Prior to teaching, he worked as an arborist. He uses his knowledge of trees to teach about phylogenetic trees and evolution. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, and playing disc golf.

Shelena ThomasShelena Thomas of the Oklahoma Virtual Academy in Midwest City, Oklahoma, has 10 years experience in science and STEM education. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in biotechnology from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She holds certificates in biological science and chemistry. She is very passionate about science education in Oklahoma: she has served as the high school director for the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, took part in the rewriting of the Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators chemistry exam, and is a graduate of the first State Department of Education's OK Sci Leadership class.

Ericca ThornhillWith more than 20 years of teaching experience, Ericca Thornhill of Southern Boone High School in Ashland, Missouri and an NCSE Teacher Ambassador, knows the importance of clearly defining science to help her students recognize and avoid pseudoscientific ideas. She loves exploring, both places and ideas, and uses her kayak for that whenever possible.

Laura UnterholznerLaura Unterholzner is a biology and anatomy and physiology teacher at Century High School in Rochester, Minnesota. She has been teaching Rochester students since 1997 and is a National Board Certified Teacher.


April WallaceApril Wallace of the Pittsburg School in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, teaches science for grades 7-12 in the northernmost school in New Hampshire. She is an active member of the school curriculum and leadership teams. She strives to engage students in hands-on and problem-based learning whenever possible. When not teaching, she enjoys working in the garden and spending time with her husband and son.

Robin WilsonRobin Wilson of Emmett High School in Emmett, Idaho, has been a science teacher and department chair at Emmett High School since 2014. Prior to teaching, she was a professional biologist for approximately 18 years. She transitioned to becoming a teacher to create "light bulb moments" for science students.

NCSE Director of Teacher Support Lin Andrews
Short Bio

Lin Andrews is NCSE Director of Eduation.
DeeDee Wright
Short Bio

DeeDee Wright is Assistant Director of Teacher Support and Science Education Research Specialist