An Ode to NCSE’s Teacher Ambassadors — A Community of Practice in Action

NCSE Teacher Ambassadors and staff.

“A rising tide lifts all boats.” This aphorism can be applied to many things, both literal and figurative, but at NCSE, it applies to the community of practice that our Teacher Ambassadors have established. By teaching one another, adding creativity to collaborative projects, innovating new ways to approach topics with diverse groups of students, and helping one another excel, advance, and gain ground, NCSE’s Teacher Ambassadors have affirmed this aphorism time after time. Individually, all our Teacher Ambassadors have strengths that make them phenomenal educators; collectively, they have created a tide that continues to uplift science education across the country.

Since the Teacher Ambassador initiative began, over 50 teachers have supported NCSE’s mission to ensure that all students receive an accurate science education regardless of the socially controversial nature of essential topics such as evolution and climate change. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our ambassadors were barely able to cope with the new educational challenges of quarantine teaching and had to step away from their volunteer roles. While their numbers decreased, a core group of NCSE Teacher Ambassadors emerged even more determined to stand firm against the steadily increasing volume of science misinformation inundating social media and news outlets.

The entire NCSE Supporting Teachers team wants to take a moment during Teacher Appreciation Week to say thank you to these amazing educators and shed a little light on just how important the work they are doing in the classroom and for the larger science education community truly is!

Lin Andrews, Director of Teacher Support

Thank you to our entire Teacher Ambassador crew! Our bimonthly meetings are always energizing to me as they remind me why I left the classroom — in order to make sure teachers everywhere know that they are not alone and that we are stronger together. Having taught my entire career in Kansas, I remember the feeling of often being unsupported by my administration as well as being asked to minimize socially controversial topics such as evolution, sex education, and much more. Every time I’m with the Teacher Ambassadors, it gives me hope that meaningful science is happening all across the US and that with this group of teachers, anything is possible.

My favorite part of spending time with the NCSE Teacher Ambassadors is sharing all our good news at the beginning of each meeting. I love hearing about exciting state developments, professional learning opportunities and awards these deserving teachers receive. I love cheering about our triumphs and laughing (instead of crying) about our challenges. But, most of all, I love being with a group of people that truly “get it” — that have dedicated their lives to the same thing I have — educating kids. Nothing can ever beat that.

I’m sometimes asked, when I'm out and about, what I do for a living. Even after serving four years as NCSE’s Director of Teacher Support, my answer is always the same: I’m a teacher. I will always be a teacher, even if I am not in the classroom. While I may no longer experience the daily thrill that goes with teaching high school, and I definitely miss the joy of seeing a new concept click with my students, my new role is still extremely gratifying because I get to work with some of the most outstanding teachers across the nation — the NCSE Teacher Ambassadors.

I appreciate you and everything you do! Thank you, TAs, from the bottom of my heart!

Heather Grimes, Program Coordinator

Shout out to all our Teacher Ambassadors for the extraordinary work you do for NCSE! Your expertise and creativity are a vital driving force to the Supporting Teachers program. Thanks to you, we are able to support teachers from all over the country in delivering accurate and engaging science education to students from all walks of life, with the added bonus of helping students develop the skills they need to navigate a world that's cluttered with misinformation.

Cari Herndon, Curriculum Specialist

What makes the National Center for Science Education truly great is the teachers who support our mission. Our Teacher Ambassadors not only share our vision but even guide our actions and carry our message. In their individual communities, they are not just teachers, but also leaders, innovators, coaches, mentors, researchers, and creative thinkers. They bring their expertise, their skills, and their knowledge to their roles as Teacher Ambassadors, and we are deeply thankful for them.

Our misconception-based lesson sets would not exist without our Teacher Ambassadors. Not only were they integral in laying the foundation for each lesson set, but they were deeply involved in developing each storyline. Each Teacher Ambassador lent their voice to the lesson sets in their own unique way, from generating creative ideas for implementation to writing scripts teachers can follow, from illustrating different activities to providing feedback after testing them in their own classrooms. Each and every one of our Teacher Ambassadors is dedicated to our mission of ensuring all students receive an evidence-based science education.

Thank you for everything you do, for us here at the National Center for Science Education and for teachers and students across the United States.

Blake Touchet, Partnership Specialist

I’ve read that a great teacher is not one who supplies the most facts, but one in whose presence we become different people. I think this statement encapsulates the teaching profession as a whole but also applies uniquely to our Teacher Ambassadors. Over the last five years, I have worked with this amazing group of teachers, and while I have indeed learned plenty of facts from them, I have also become a different person because of them. The Teacher Ambassador team has been tremendously influential in changing who I have become as a teacher, as a leader in the science education community, and as a friend.

When everyone else went home for the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of teachers put in extra time and effort to ensure students had access to accurate scientific information. They have kept up those efforts in the years since. (I might add that they kept me sane and motivated while juggling the demands of teaching and graduate study.) They lead by example and inspire me every day to do my best to make the biggest impact I can. Please join me in thanking a teacher this week (and every week) for sharing their passion for learning with the world.

The National Center for Science Education mark.
Short Bio

We give science teachers the tools and skills to help students overcome misconceptions and misinformation about climate change, evolution, and the nature of science.