We’re proud to introduce our second cohort of NCSE Teacher Ambassadors focusing on evolution. This group will be meeting at BEACON on the Michigan State University campus this summer, working with Louise Mead, me, and my colleague at NCSE Kate Carter to update our soon-to-be-published evolution lessons and strategize ways to offer effective professional development for teachers in their areas. This is another outstanding group (learn more about our first cohort) and we’re happy to tell you a little bit about them.
Arnel Dela Cruz teaches biology and AP environmental science at Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico. He earned a Master of Science for Teachers from New Mexico Tech and a bachelors degree in secondary education from the Philippine Normal University, Manila. He is also a technology integrator, instructional coach, and lead teacher of his school for Early Warning System (EWS) and the High School Redesign Network (HSRN). As such, he modeled the use of technology and conducted campus-wide training among teachers on how to effectively use technology to further enhance students’ learning experiences. He has been involved in lesson development, problem-based learning, model-eliciting activities, perspective videos through BIOSCOPES, CPALMS and Biology Partnership Grant initiatives. In 2010, he participated as one of the field test teachers for the Evolution & Medicine Curriculum Supplement developed by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Chance Duncan is a high school life sciences teacher from Central Arkansas. He just completed his 11th year in education and has spent most of that time teaching courses like biology, anatomy and physiology, and AP biology. His current assignment is teaching pre-AP biology and a course in the Project Lead the Way Biomedical pathway called Medical Interventions. He completed his B.S. in Science Education from Arkansas Tech University in 2007 and began teaching at a very small school district where he was one of two middle school/high school science teachers. After teaching there a year, he moved to a slightly larger district where he could focus more strictly on life sciences. He received his M.S. in Science Education from Montana State University in 2014. He counts himself fortunate to have grown up in rural Arkansas where his backyard and nature were one and the same, and he is especially proud to be teaching in the Russelville School District, saying he is now right where he wanted to be after finishing college. When he is not in the classroom teaching, he is usually hiking one of the many awesome trails within minutes of his house, cycling, or caring for the myriad critters he keeps in his classroom to supplement his instruction. He is an avid “herper” and enjoys going out to try to observe and photograph Arkansas’s native reptiles.
Steven Epton obtained his B.S. in Geology from Clemson University in 2004. He teaches earth science, environmental science, and astronomy at Gretna High School in Gretna, Virginia. He has been teaching for seven years. He self-published the book The Past Is the Key to the Future: A History of the Universe, Earth, and Life in 2017, and he volunteers at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in the paleontology lab. His chief interests outside of his classroom are paleontology, the history of Earth, and the history of science. He also plays trumpet in a local jazz band, reads and writes about science, and enjoys watching sports.
Laurie Font currently teaches AP environmental science at Baton Rouge Magnet High School. She completed her B.S. in Applied Biology and M.S. in Herpetology from Southeastern Louisiana University, and an M.S. in Natural Science from Louisiana State University. In addition to teaching, she is also currently an AP Environmental Science Test Reader and Companion Animal Alliance Volunteer Coordinator. She worked in Research Conservation and Recovery Act enforcement for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality before becoming a teacher. She is a Master Teacher, seminar leader, and portfolio evaluator for The New Teacher Project.
Jeff Grant has been teaching for 16 years at Downers Grove North High School in Downers Grove, Illinois. He has taught chemistry, freshman biology, and is currently teaching AP biology and anatomy. He is a pathological optimist who believes that teaching is all about making class learning a team effort and that science is all about exploring our natural world. By combining the two along with an excess of puns and some theatrical performances he hopes to make each student love science as much as he does. If he is not reading about science or taking runs or walks through nature, he is out with his family exploring with only a camera and some binoculars.
Allystair Jones is a lecturer at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, where he teaches dual-credit courses in bioloy and environmental science. He has a B.S. degree in biology from Dixie State College and an M.S. from Brigham Young University, specializing in life history theory. He started formally teaching as a rock climbing guide before he went to college and learned very quickly the importance of good instruction. He has been teaching at the higher education level for 8 years and currently serves as the faculty senate president and department chair. He decided to teach at the junior college level because that is where the need is greatest. He has updated the biology course curriculum to make evolution a central theme. Additionally, he has written content to create free textbook courses to save his students money.
Padmini Kishore is a high school biology teacher at La Mirada High School in La Mirada, CA. She teaches AP biology, International Baccalaureate (IB) biology, honors biology, Solar Academy biology, and general biology. She has a B.S. in Botany-Zoology-Chemistry from Agra University at Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India; a bachelors degree in education in biology and science methods with special training in educational technology from Maharaja Sayajirao University at Vadodara, Gujarat, India; and an M.S. in secondary science education from California State University Long Beach. She currently serves on the NGSS Leadership Team for the Norfolk-La Mirada Unified School District, as Coordinator for Student-Based Workshops at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, and as Coordinator for the Roundhouse Aquarium Water-logged Program. Science Fair Delegations for which she has served as Lead Teacher have won 11 awards at the city, district and state levels.
John Murnan teaches AP biology, AP capstone research, and human anatomy and physiology at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. John has served as an AP biology reader since 2015. He has experience writing and producing videos for TEDxED and Science Screen Reports. He has also conducted research on the effectiveness of an inquiry approach for student understanding of natural selection. He served as a Teacher Scholar at the Institute on Neuroscience where he studied the effects of early exposure to anesthesia on brain development. He has also presented at professional conferences on ways to improve vertical integration between elementary, middle and high schools.
Susan Morgan teaches chemistry, forensic science, genetics, and environmental science at Bowling Green High School and dual-credit chemistry at Western Kentucky University. She has a B.S. in biology and chemistry, and another B.S. from the Cumberland School for Medical Technology at WKU. She also has an M.A.E. and her secondary teaching certificate from WKU. She was a medical technologist before becoming a teacher and was a Clinical Laboratory Specialist in Cytogenetics. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in AYA chemistry.
Traci Richardson-McVicker teaches high school science in Perry, Oklahoma. She has her B.S. in zoology, an M.S. in teaching, learning & leadership, and is working on a Ph.D. in educational technology from Oklahoma State University. She was Oklahoma Science Teacher Association High School Science Teacher of the Year and also won the NABT Outstanding Biology Teacher Award in 2016. She was an NSTA New Science Teacher Fellow in 2011. She started teaching by accident. She has always loved science, but when she applied for a lab assistant job as an undergrad, she found out it also came with teaching responsibilities, and she was terrified. She realized during her first semester, however, how much fun it was to help students figure out how the world works. Thirteen years later, she loves teaching science even more, and especially loves learning with students from small, rural communities like the one where she grew up.