Featured Members


If an educational path is expected to be a direct one to a desired goal, then there were definite points where I was lost in the process – I just didn’t know it which probably provided me with my first great challenge and opportunity. In Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat quips “If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.” I could definitely relate to this based on my educational and professional path to the current point in my life. My initial college career focus was in the area of what we now refer to as forensic science. Upon realizing that standing at a lab bench all day wasn’t my idea of science, I switched to be a business major. After all, I was going to pursue my commission through the ROTC program. My major was simply a means to get there. Former teachers continued to tell me to switch to education – that I was a natural at it – and eventually I did which was a good thing, since a broken ankle squashed my chances of being a commissioned officer. The meandering path that I’ve, taken throughout the years has allowed me to return to my business interests and pursue a degree in that area. There is no doubt that challenges emerge in life that redirect your initial path. However, if you accept those challenges and refuse to accept that you are lost, you will find many opportunities and interests along the new route to your future. See More


Tichina Ward-Pratt was born and raised in Oakland, California. She graduated from UCLA with a major in African American studies and minors in Math and Education. She later received her master’s in education from UCLA. Currently in her 4th year as a math and computer science teacher at Horace Mann UCLA Community School, her goal is to challenge Black and Brown students to see mathematics as their own tool to understand and change the world around them. She believes in providing meaningful and culturally relevant mathematics curriculum to middle and high school students that challenges them to be critical thinkers. As a teacher of the Horace Mann community she has also received the opportunity to work with the Anti-Racist Committee that will guide the school’s pedagogy and programs to stay rooted in racial justice. She and colleagues facilitate the student activism group. She is a member of the Math for America Los Angeles fellowship and Carnegie Professional Math Development Network. Through Carnegie she received the opportunity to present to school administration, staff, and department leads on collaboration in and across math classrooms and math departments at the California Mathematics Council (CMC) conference. The CMC is where she also supported in facilitating a panel entitled “Integrating Social Justice issues in Mathematics.” See More


I’ve been given the delightful opportunity to learn with and from young people in a socioeconomically diverse university town in the Midwest. In our high school classroom, I try to foster active, collaborative learning. We are all there, I hope, to learn together:
• The young adults entrusted to my care are learning to be scientists, students, and citizens. They engage in groupwork and projects that are much more like the day-to-day scientific practice of academic researchers, engineers, and businesspeople than any lecture-based model.

• I, meanwhile, am learning to be a better teacher and community member through leaning into the engineering design cycle, which structures how I think about creating, implementing, and improving curriculum. My students need me to provide feedback and coaching about their learning, of course, but it became clear to me early on in my career that I need their knowledge and insight, in turn, to grow and shape my teaching practice. See More

Past Featured Members

Starting off at the intermediate school level was the perfect stage to get my feet wet. It served as a foundation of learning to interact with young minds. Obtaining a degree in geology entrenched my belief in the effectiveness of hands-on learning utilizing technology. My interests in Earth and Space Science pushed me to seek partnerships and collaborations with local and state organizations. Funding for projects in a classroom in a well-off district was scarce and pushed me to seek awards and competitions that supported me in the direction I wanted to steer our classes.

Doing so not only provided money to fund projects but introduced me to leaders in education at all levels. Under the mentorship of leaders and colleagues, I increased my participation in organizations and conferences. These experiences resulted in my selection as a Presidential Awardee for Science Teaching and further exposure to leaders in education throughout the country. During my time in Washington DC for the ceremonies, I was introduced to the Albert Einstein Distinguished Education Fellowship. In the immediate years to follow, I was a finalist to the Educator Astronaut program and was chosen by NASA as an Einstein Fellow working with other finalists throughout the country. My networking now included leaders, scientists, and professionals in federal agencies. See More


I began my elementary teaching career in 2008. I fully immersed myself into the teaching profession, researching best practices and applying them in my classroom. When presented with opportunities for additional professional development, the answer was always yes. I was a sponge and never hesitated to put newly acquired teaching techniques into practice. My approach has always been from the perspective of a what could go wrong attitude. I often heard other teachers dismiss new teaching strategies without even attempting them. I’m the teacher who gives every new idea a chance. If it fails, then I simply have evidence to support my claim. It was in these early years that I learned one of the most important leadership roles is that of the teacher who leads from the classroom.

In my 9th year of teaching, I began to transition from new teacher to mentor. After years of working to prove myself, I realized my new purpose was to help other teachers in their professional development journey. I have had the great honor of serving as a mentor to student teachers and new teachers. I find this to be an incredibly rewarding experience to watch others discover and develop their love for teaching. I have also enjoyed leading professional development sessions for our school district and the Kentucky Center for Mathematics 2020 Conference. In 2018, I received the Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. I do not know where my leadership journey will take me next, so I continue to pursue my passion for teaching mathematics as a Kentucky Math Teacher Leader and a 4th grade classroom teacher. Never underestimate the power of leading from the classroom. The influence of great teachers can not be bound by the walls that surround us.  See More


Dario Soto is currently a STEM Coach at John F. Kennedy Elementary, Windsor Public Schools, in Connecticut. An educator for 15 years, he has taught at the elementary level, served as STEM/STEAM coach at the elementary and middle school level, and served as the STEM Teacher in Residence for the Hartford Public Schools District. Dario has coordinated afterschool programs, for grades 3-12, Project Lead the Way, Vex Robotics, First Lego League, and Technology Student Association. One of his most memorable projects was the development of an award-winning all-girl robotics team. He currently works with teachers on developing their STEM instruction both in-person and online.

He is a strong advocate for inquiry-based learning and STEM education for all students. It is evident through his teaching the strong belief in creating a hands-on experience that allows students to dive deeper into the understating of the content. Dario strives to give students the opportunity to reflect on their inquiry experiences, allowing for development and growth. See More

Currently an Instructional Specialist & Curriculum Consultant at MySci Institute for School Partnership at Washington University in St. Louis, Elizabeth Constantz Petersen writes exemplary lessons that address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and provides PD to teachers K-8 on the MySci Curriculum, which emphasizes 3Dimensional Learning on the NGSS.

Previous to this, Ms. Petersen taught middle school science for 18 years in the Ladue School District, Ladue Missouri. In 2009, she was selected to be a Noyce Fellow through Washington University. While in this program, she worked with other Noyce Fellows to provide teacher training in STEM at Marian School, a middle school in the City of St. Louis, as well as work with teachers all over the St. Louis metropolitan area. See More


Hailing from Houston, Texas, Shane Nicole Woods graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana with a degree in Biology. She also holds a Master’s degree in Middle Grades Science Education and further extended her learning to include educational administration and project management. Ms. Woods had the pleasure of working in Fort Worth ISD for over 17 years. During her tenure with the district, she served as a middle school teacher for five years at J.P. Elder where she was also tasked with being the department chair and lead content teacher. Shane also held the positions of Assistant Principal, Dean of Instruction, and Middle School Science Specialist. For over six years, Ms. Woods was the K-12 Science Director and managed a multi-million-dollar budget that ensured every student had access to a properly outfitted science lab and learned a standards-aligned curriculum taught by teachers who were supported with on-going professional learning.  See More


Julie Olson has been an educator for 32 years and is currently teaching at Mitchell High School and Mitchell Second Chance High School in Mitchell, SD. At Mitchell HS she teaches scientific research methods and college credit Biology. At Second Chance, the district’s alternative school, she developed a self-paced, individualized science curriculum for at risk. She is continually looking to improve STEM instruction for motivating at-risk students. In addition to her work at the 9-12 level, Ms. Olson teaches Microbiology and Science Methods for Secondary Teachers as well as mentors pre-service teachers for Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, SD.


Early on, Julie was encouraged by her cooperating teacher to attend their state science teacher's convention. It was small but she was so inspired by them. She continued to attend and took the leap to present. That has since grown into presenting nationally at NSTA, SSP Research Teachers Conference, and even overseas. She learned that everyone has something to offer - even the young teachers. See More