Meet Our Newest Teacher Ambassadors Focused on the Nature of Science

Understanding how science functions is critical for anyone who engages in science learning. For that reason, we’ve embarked on developing our first cohort of NCSE Teacher Ambassadors who will create a series of lessons on the Nature of Science. This group will be meeting at Clemson University this summer, working with Cynthia Deaton and two NCSE staff: me and Kate Carter, our director of community science education.

This is an exciting project since the teachers involved will be able to focus across science disciplines to design lessons that teach students how science works and applies to their everyday lives. We’re excited to tell you a little bit about this group.

Brock BaxterBrock Baxter is a a high school STEM teacher at Osage City High School in Osage City, Kansas. He currently teaches physics, robotics, an algebra 1 lab, and consumer math. Next year will be his seventh year of teaching. A traditional teacher, however, he is not. His college degree is in civil engineering, and his profession for a few years after graduation was in construction management.

Jerry CitronJerry Citron is a biology teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York City where he currently teaches general biology and AP environmental science as well as two biology electives he designed himself: Human Infectious Diseases and Pathophysiology. As a former medic he is also the high school coordinator for the medical internship program at Stuyvesant for rising seniors interested in the medical field. He strives to provide his students with a variety of problem-solving skills using hands-on approaches, project-based learning, and analysis of case studies that they can apply to the different science disciplines and in their lives in general. He is a Fund for Teachers grant recipient, a Math for America fellow, a National Geographic Grosvenor teacher fellow, and an AP Environmental Science reader for the College Bboard.

Jennifer Clark-CruzJennifer Clark has been an elementary school teacher for 23 years in East Providence, Rhode Island. Her focus for the majority of her career has been grades 2–5. Over the last six years, she has taken every opportunity to dive deep into NGSS. In June 2018, she was chosen as the Rhode Island State Finalist for Science for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Patrick GoffPatrick Goff has taught for 20 years in North Carolina and Georgia, and is currently teaching eighth graders science at Beaumont Middle School in Lexington, Kentucky. He is a National Board Certified Teacher, serves as the Past President of the Kentucky Science Teacher Association, and is the Education Officer for the Society of Conservation Biology Marine Division. In his own words: “Teaching middle school is a passion of mine, each day is a new day with my kids. A solid science education is needed so all can be scientifically literate as adults.”

Susan GroffSusan Groff is an inquisitive and enthusiastic Biology and Global Studies teacher at Middle College High School @ Santa Ana College in Santa Ana, California. She is a lifelong learner who has participated in several fellowships: Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Scholar to Japan (2002), Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow to the Philippines (2015), Partners of the Americas Fellow for the Panama Teacher Match Program (2016), and NASA SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) Airborne Astronomy Ambassador (2013). Recently, she served as a Science Communication Fellow for Ocean Exploration Trust aboard the E/V Nautilus, NASA SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) Gorda Ridge expedition. Santa Ana Unified School District honored her with the 2010 SAUSD High School Teacher of the Year and she also received the Outstanding Teachers of America Award from the Carlston Family Foundation in 2013.

Glenda LozadaGlenda Ivette Lozada is the fourth and fifth grade science teacher at the Second Unit Adolfo García School in Naranjito, Puerto Rico. She was a PBS Digital Innovator teacher in 2016, and in 2018 was chosen as a PBS Digital Innovator All-Star. She was also a participant in the Global Education Allies program in Finland. She holds masters degrees in education and mathematics and a graduate certification in STEM from the University of Puerto Rico. She is known for being a constant learner.

Meg RichardMeg Richard is a seventh grade science teacher at Summit Trail Middle School School in Olathe, Kansas. She is passionate about equity in science education and about integrating authentic, hands-on science experiences to promote students making sense of phenomena. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences and is a featured science teacher laureate on the Teaching Channel. Recently she was named a Presidential Award of Excellence for Math and Science Teaching Kansas State finalist and has been serving on the 100Kin10 project team looking at “Addressing Implicit Bias in the Classroom.” She is honored that she gets to do the best job in the world: Teach!

Melissa SleeperMelissa Sleeper is a National Board Certified Teacher currently teaching Science at Gifford Middle School in Vero Beach, Florida. She has taught in both private and public schools in Grenada, Barbados, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the United States. She was the 2018/19 Teacher of the Year for Gifford Middle School and a district-level finalist. As an an active member of the National Science Teachers Association, she is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences. She has served on a number of NSTA Committees and Advisory Boards, including the Advisory Board for Science and Children; the Preschool and Elementary Science Committee; the NSTA Special Needs Advisory Board; the Aerospace Advisory Board; and the International Advisory Board. She is also on the Board of the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association and is the Chair elect for the Alliance of Affiliates. She was the 2017 District V Winner for the Shell Science Lab Challenge and the recipient of a 2018 Science for Society and the Public STEM Research Grant. She is an Education Ambassador for NASA’s MAVEN program and a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

LaStelshia SpeaksLaStelshia Speaks has been a Special Educator for Baltimore City Public Schools for 13 years, the last 10 of which have been teaching students diagnosed with disabilities of emotional disturbance. Aside from being an educator, she enjoys poetry, sitting on oceanic beaches—or by any body of tranquil water—and cooking. Her dream careers involve being an astronomer or meteorologist. 

Ericca ThornhillEricca Thornhill teaches biology at Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri. With 21 years of teaching experience, she 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.

Chris WhiteChris White has been teaching at Seneca High School in Seneca, South Carolina, for the past 21 years, and has served as department chair for 16 of those years. He primarily teaches physics, but has also taught physical science, chemistry, biology, Project Lead the Way courses, and currently teaches AP Capstone: Research. He earned a Master of Arts in Physics Education from the University of Virginia in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Clemson University in 2015. He has coached track and field and cross country for the majority of his teaching career and is currently the head Track and Field Coach at Seneca High, also serving as the President of the South Carolina Track and Cross Country Coaches Association.