Space Exploration Educator Crew

Educators from around the country are collaborating to prepare students for 21st century science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers through Space Center Houston’s Space Exploration Educator Crew.

Space Center Houston launched the program in 2017 to help meet a nationwide need to prepare students for STEM careers and an equal need for extraordinary teacher leaders to inspire students.

2017-2018 Space Educator Expedition Crew Logo

The crew aims to empower teachers to build leadership competencies by creating innovative STEM programs for their students, schools and communities. The crewmembers serve as lead space science educators in their region.

Crews and member locations

  • Destiny: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico and Oregon
  • Harmony: Louisiana, Texas and Georgia
  • Starliner: Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia
  • Tranquility: Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan
  • Quest: Georgia and Florida
  • Unity: New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island

The group of kindergarten through 12th-grade educators attend Space Center Houston’s annual Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC). At the conference, the educators share their outreach experiences with other educators in their schools, districts, states or regions for one year.

Through the program, teachers have access to unique professional development opportunities including the ability to collaborate with their regional teams and collaborate virtually with national educators to enhance and expand outreach.

The Space Exploration Educator Crew was made possible by a generous grant from The Boeing Company.

Explore crewmembers bios as well as news and initiatives below.

Space Exploration Educator Crew members

Adlena Jacobs profile picture

Adlena Jacobs

Educating since: 2008 | Title: STEM Educator/Coordinator
Location: Sunnyvale, Texas | School: Sunnyvale High School
Education: B.S. in Physics Stephen F. Austin State University; M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M at Commerce
Highlights: SEEC crew has allowed Jacob's educator experience to reach new heights. By being involved with this awesome crew the connections to other districts and organizations has allowed her to help all of her students reach higher limits into their STEM aspirations. She and her students became more involved with national competitions and regional contest and became recognized as a district in STEM.

Alexandra Hill profile picture

Alexandra Hill

Title: STEM Teacher
Location: Clinton, Missouri | School: Clinton Middle School
Highlights: Hill is excited about the “Year in Space” because she can’t wait to learn more about space exploration to share with her students and other educators! She tries to make learning exciting for her students and can be found roaming the halls of her school in her lab coat or flight suit. She has led professional development workshops in China and recently attended Space Camp for educators. Hill hopes to use this experience to show her students how big their world can become if they work hard and reach for the stars.

Amanda Blough profile picture

Amanda Blough

Educating since: 2000 | Title: 4th grade teacher
Location: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania | School: Corpus Christi Catholic School
Education: B.S. in Exercise and Sports Science from Penn State University Elementary Education Certificate from Wilson College Chambersburg, PA; STEM Leadership Certificate from NASA Endeavor STEM Teaching Certificate Project
Highlights: Throughout the past few years, Blough has had the opportunity to reach teachers and students from across the local school district as well as throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg. Her participation in the SEEC Crew has allowed her to instill the love of space and learning and branching out to explore new ways of delivering content.

Amy Fetterhoff profile picture

Amy Fetterhoff

Educating since: 2002 | Title: Teacher
Location: Chambersburg, Pennsylvania | School: Corpus Christi Catholic School
Highlights: With 18 years of teaching, Fetterhoff’s love for science has grown with the help of several NASA encounters. She has partaken in the Reduced-Gravity Flight Program, conducting research in a weightless environment. In addition, Fetterhoff has participated in the ARISS program where her students spoke directly to Astronaut Kjell Lindgren onboard the International Space Station. She believes the more experiences she has, the better she will become at capturing her students and developing them into life-long scientists and engineers.

Amy C. Tinnell profile picture

Amy C. Tinnell

Educating since: 2000 | Title: Gifted Resource Specialist
Location: Hoschton, Georgia | School: West Jackson Elementary School
Education: Bachelor of Science in education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, specializing in integrated teaching through the arts
Highlights: Tinnell’s 5th grade class was chosen as one of five in the state to radio communicate with an astronaut on the International Space Station. Tinnell feels a great sense of accomplishment when she provides learning experiences for students in her rural community that challenge them to exceed expectations of what small-town kids can do.

Ashlie Smith profile picture

Ashlie Smith

Title: Physical Science Teacher
Location: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan | School: Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls
Highlights: Smith counts “flipping her classroom” as one of her top achievements. For Smith, “flipping her classroom” means more time with students exploring real-world projects and introducing new technology. In 2016, she was honored to present a TEDx talk titled “Inspiring the Astronauts of Tomorrow," and in 2017, Smith was the recipient of the prestigious Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award presented by NASA, Astronaut Memorial Foundation, and Space Foundation. Recently, she was recognized by the Science Channel as a Science Super Hero.

Barb Lambert Gruber profile picture

Barb Lambert Gruber

Title: Supervisor School Programs
Location: Ashburn, Virginia | School: National Air and Space Museum
Education: Bachelor of Science in chemistry education from California University of Pennsylvania; Master of Education in educational technology from San Diego State University; Master of Education in administration and leadership from The University of Phoenix; Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in instructional technology and educational policy from George Mason University
Highlights: Gruber became the first certified educational technology leader from The Consortium of School Networks (CoSN) in the greater Washington D.C. area.

Becky Busby profile picture

Becky Busby

Educating since: 2003 | Title: Gifted Resource Teacher
Location: Hinesville, Georgia | School: Frank Long Elementary
Highlights: In the classroom, Busby is a powerhouse. She has written grants to obtain STEM resources for her school, facilitated school climate activities for staff and students, and has personally brought the first robotics program into the district. Busby was selected to work with NASA on the “Year in Space” mission to bring NASA resources and STEM education to Liberty County. Through this experience, she plans on implementing professional development courses for teachers and parents to enrich the Liberty County School District.

Becky Fritchie profile picture

Becky Fritchie

Educating since: 2009 | Title: STEAM Lab Facilitator
Location: Prairieville, LA | School: Bluff Ridge Primary
Education: B.S. in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University
Highlights: Being part of the SEEC Crew has helped Fritchie, her students, and her community by allowing access to some of the country's finest aerospace educators. Crew members help with resources, lesson plans, activities, and ideas to help reach her students. She was named Southwest Region Aerospace Educator of the Year in 2019 and from the Civil Air Patrol in 2019, Louisiana State Aerospace Educator of the Year from Civil Air Patrol in 2018 and Spanish Lake Primary Teacher of the Year in 2016.

Betty Jo Moore profile picture

Betty Jo Moore

Educating since: 2007 | Title: Science Teacher/6th grade
Location: Winston-Salem NC | Education: School: Wiley Magnet Middle School
Bachelors of Science in Management Information Systems Winston-Salem State University Masters of Arts in STEM Education Western Carolina University
Highlights: Moore has connected with like-minded educators and professionals through the SEEC Crew. She has been able to share teaching ideas that have worked in her classroom and her students have had the opportunity to video conference with other students across the country and share their projects. She received first place in Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award in 2018.

Celena Miller profile picture

Celena Miller

Educating since: 2008 | Title: Senior Education Outreach Coordinator
Location: Austin, Texas | Organization: NASA Texas Space Grant/UT Center for Space Research
Education: B.S. from University of Texas RGV; M.S. from University of Texas RGV; NASA Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate in STEM Education from Colombia University
Highlights: Miller has participated in NASA’s Project 3D View, the NASA Endeavor Science Teaching Certificate Project, the Robotics, Ocean and Microgravity Explorers Challenge, and as a Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution Teacher Ambassador. She was a Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching National Winner in 2013, and HEB Excellence in Education Award winner in 2014 and Leadership Category winner in 2019.

Courtney Black profile picture

Courtney Black

Educating since: 2007 | Title: Education Project Manager
Location: Melbourne, Florida | School: ISS US National Lab
Education: B.S. in Communications from FSU; LLB in Laws University of Southampton
Highlights: Black is a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, JPL Solar System Ambassador, Space Station Ambassador, and an educator member of the Civil Air Patrol and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She has received the Golden Apple Award from the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Excellence in Education award from the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce. In the fall of 2018, she coordinated an ARISS contact and in February of 2020 coordinated a downlink with the ISS.

David Ariza profile picture

David Ariza

Educating since: 2017 | Title: STEM leader
Location: Madrid, Colombia | School: Institución Zoraida Cadavid de Sierra
Education: Bachelor's in electronics from Universidad Pedagógica Nacional; Master's of renewable energy and energy efficiency from the Renewable Energy Study Center; CEER Master of social innovations in education (current) from Universidad Minuto de Dios
Highlights: Ariza believes each talk serves to inspire and empower his students to achieve their dreams. He works to give context to the content he teaches and generate interdisciplinary projects that enrich his students' learning. Ariza was recognized by the Ecuador Ministry of Education in the development of STEAM guides for their application in public schools in 2020.

Debbie Reynolds profile picture

Debbie Reynolds

Educating since: 1986 | Title: Director of TechWorks
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | School: Commonwealth Charter Academy
Education: B.S. in Biology from SFA State University; Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in STEM from Concordia University; K-12 Administration from Point Park University
Highlights: Being part of the Space Exploration Educator Crew, Reynolds has expanded her STEM and space education outreach and has made a greater impact on the students in her school and educators in multiple networks. She was named Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, Communications and Technology (PAECT) Educator of the Year in 2020, and Carnegie Science Award - Middle Level Educator of the Year in 2019.

Denise Duke profile picture

Denise Duke

Educating since: 1995 | Title: Technology Learning Coach
Location: Columbia, South Carolina | School: Forest Lake Elementary
Highlights: Duke has worked tirelessly to increase students’ and teachers’ knowledge of space exploration as a classroom teacher, NASA Lab teacher, and currently as a Technology Learning Coach. She was recognized as the first recipient of the NASA Digital Learning Network Beagle Award after years of working with NASA to extend DLN programs to the primary grades. Duke and some of her fourth-grade students also assisted EdVenture Children’s Museum with the creation of a flight exhibit, bringing the week-long STARBase field study experience back to the school.

Deb Elliott profile picture

Deb Elliott

Educating since: 2008 | Title: 4th Grade math teacher
Location: Carthage, North Carolina | School: Sandhills Farm Life Elementary
Highlights: Elliot was selected as a teacher liaison for the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, where she learned how to bring STEM to life with her students and collaborate with remarkable teachers. She has also presented at a teacher workshop at the National Space Symposium on innovative ways to incorporate STEM, and has been creating a science program and implementing it for kindergarten through sixth grade.

Diego Martinez profile picture

Diego Martinez

Title: Science Mastery Specialist
Location: Sheridan, Oregon | School: Delphian School
Highlights: Some of his top achievements include earning the United Space Alliance Grant, a space astrogation project called Mars in 2020, which helped him inspire students to imagine exploring Mars through a unique space curriculum. This project culminated with a summit of Mount Blanca, over 14,000 feet, and breaking a model rocket launch record. He also wrote the TESLA program (Teaching Extraordinary Students Lessons in Aerospace), which was a key component to winning the 2013 Alan Shepard Award for Space Education Technology.

Ellisha Newton profile picture

Ellisha Newton

Educating since: 1995 | Title: At-Risk Teacher
Location: Spring, Texas | School: Twin Creeks Middle School
Education: Master of Science in education leadership from Southern University and A&M College; Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Dillard University
Highlights: As a result of sharing STEM with her scholars and community, Newton's scholars, who were previously quiet and withdrawn, now participate with their hands held high and are scholar advocates. Newton builds relationships and influences leaders who provide engaging activities, student praise, scholars’ jobs, and more. She was awarded the Bright Spot Speaker for the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation’s Leadership Series in 2020.

Fernando Ruiz profile picture

Fernando Ruiz

Educating since: 1996 | Title: STEAM Educator
Location: Colombia | School: Colombia Space School / Oakland School
Education: Director of Photography FAMU Academy of Science and Arts, Czech Republic Chief Communications Officer Colombia Space School
Highlights: Since 2009, Ruiz has participated in various experiences throughout space centers in the USA. He has worked to incorporate STEAM activities into each and every class at Oakland School to inspire students. Ruiz has had the privilege of taking students from 20 Colombian schools and universities to join in this learning adventure. Alumni are becoming doctors, engineers, pilots and professionals who help invite young students to keep reaching for the stars.

Heidi Ragsdale profile picture

Heidi Ragsdale

Educating since: 2003 | Title: STEM Educator
Location: Grand Junction, CO | School: Grand Junction MakerSpace
Education: Bachelor of Science from Colorado Mesa University; Master of TESOL from Grand Canyon University
Highlights: Ragsdale's SEEC CREW experiences have allowed her to to attend Space University and the SEEC Conference, which have allowed her to bring back programming to construct events such as the Western Colorado Girls in STEM conferences! In 2019, Ragsdale became a member of the National Geographic Teacher Advisory Council (TACPAC). In 2017, she was honored as a Denver Broncos STEM Teacher, and she is a 2020 National Geographic Society Grantee.

James M. Falletti profile picture

James M. Falletti

Educating since: 2010 | Title: 5th & 6th Grade Science/STEAM & Tech Integrator
Location: Hasbrouck Heights, NJ | School: Corpus Christi School
Education:B.A. from Stony Brook University; Master of Education in Teaching, Education Leadership, and Counseling from Saint Peter's University
Highlights: Falletti is a lifelong learner who has grown as a global educator through programs like SEEC, HESA (2017/2018), HIEE (2018), Advanced Space Academy for Educators, and Teacher’s School for Ecology. Most recent accomplishments include becoming a NatGeo Certified Educator, a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador 2020, and a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison Flight 17-20. Falletti looks forward to inspiring the next generation of astro scientists.

Jennifer Cheesman profile picture

Jennifer Cheesman

Educating since: 1998 | Title: Teacher
Location: Sun City, Arizona | School: Zuni Hills Elementary School
Education: Degree in Elementary Education through Northern Arizona University; Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix
Highlights: Cheesman has presented at numerous local and national conferences across the United States. In the summer, Cheesman can be found at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as an educator crew trainer educating teachers from around the world in STEM and space education.

Jennifer Duffer profile picture

Jennifer Duffer

Educating since: 2005 | Title: Engineering and robotics teacher
Location: Montgomery, Texas | School: Montgomery High School
Highlights: Duffer has been an integral part in developing the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Robotics programs at her school. Currently Duffer and her Aerospace Engineering students are building a Van’s RV-12 airplane along with the support of local mentors from the aviation and engineering career fields. Participating in the Texas Space Consortium Lift Off Summer Institute, Space Academy and SEEC provide her with opportunities to learn more about the current mission and focus of space exploration so she can take that back to her students.

Jenny McCall profile picture

Jenny McCall

Educating since: 1997 | Title: 8th Grade Science Teacher
Location: Lexington, KY | School: Winburn Middle School, Fayette County Public Schools
Education:Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Chemistry Education Indiana University of Pennsylvania Master of Education in Diverse Learning Trinity International University
Highlights: As a 2020 Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium Embedded Teacher, McCall's students researched and designed experiments centered around fluid dynamics in microgravity with research based connections to the design of the Modal Propellant Gauging system of the Lunar Orbiting Platform. She was named a JPL Solar System Ambassador in 2020, a Honeywell Educators at Space Academy in 2018 and a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison Flight 17-20.

Jessica Strauss profile picture

Jessica Strauss

Educating since: 2005 Title: 3rd grade gifted math/science teacher
Location: Tampa, FL | School: Mabry Elementary
Education: B.A. in Elementary Education from Stetson University; Master in Educational Leadership from Saint Leo University
Highlights: Strauss has connected with educators around the country as a SEEC Crew member. She has gained knowledge and resources and grown as a STEM education leader, providing a platform to collaborate with NASA experts, present at conferences, and improve her ability to disseminate information to educators in her state. She was a Space Teacher Liason in 2019, part of the Student Spaceflight Program in 2015 and Mabry Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Jill Gilford profile picture

Jill Gilford

Educating since: 2006 | Title: Earth and Space Science Teacher
Location: Monticello, Indiana | School: Twin Lakes High School
Highlights: In 2014 Gilford created a program named the “Science Buddies” that allows honors Earth/space students to partner with a class of first-grade students. In 2017 she was selected as TLSC district teacher of the year and made it to the top 25 in the Indiana Teacher of the Year program. She is grateful to be a part of the Space Exploration Educators Crew and looks forward to gaining new lessons that will ignite her students’ passion for astronomy!

Jodie Guillen profile picture

Jodie Guillen

Title: Space Education Specialist
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado | School: The Space Foundation
Highlights: Prior to joining the Space Foundation team, Guillen taught Earth, space, and life science to middle school students in Moriarty, New Mexico, where she secured over $80,000 in grant money for her Title 1 school. Most recently, she spent three weeks in Shenzhen, China, during the summer of 2018, teaching a Space STEAM camp to Chinese students from K-5th grade. Guillen has won several awards from her teaching, including the 2017 Cheri Brinley Outstanding Teacher Award from the Space Center Houston.

Julie Farmer profile picture

Julie Farmer

Educating since: 2005 | Title: 2nd Grade Teacher
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | School: Mooreland Heights Elementary
Education: B.S. in Education and M.S. in Elementary from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; M.A in Family Therapy from Appalachian State University
Highlights: Being a part of the SEEC crew has opened up a world of opportunities for Farmer's students and school as well as for her own professional development. Since becoming a SEEC crew member, she has coordinated an ARISS contact for her school, participated with her grade level in an Explorer Classroom with astronaut Terry Virts, became a National Geographic Certified educator, and participated in the Liftoff program for teachers.

Karen Kingrea profile picture

Karen Kingrea

Educating since: 1988 | Title: STEM Director; 7th & 8th grade Technology & Engineering teacher
Location: Durham, North Carolina | School: Immaculata Catholic School
Highlights: In 2008, Kingrea was part of a two-week institute at NASA Langley Research Center. A lucrative partnership continues as she brings teacher and student groups to the facility, hosts NASA experts at her schools and works various NASA events. In 32 years of teaching, nothing she did made her more excited than the ICS middle school STEM project this year, Project Eagle: Mission to Mars. Student teams create a Martian habitat which includes ten different 12-foot by 5-foot modules, working drones and ROV’s, an astronaut transport vehicle and more.

Kate McCann  profile picture

Kate McCann

Educating since: 1998 | Title: Math Teacher
Location: Montpelier, Vermont | School: U-32 Middle & High School
Education:Masters in Curriculum and Instruction University of Vermont Bachelors of Science in Mathematics University of Vermont
Highlights: McCann has used TeachEngineering curriculum in the classroom, set up a video conference for her students with a Boeing rocket scientist, presented at her first international conference, and applied for a Rowland Fellowship to begin a STEM Academy at her school. She was awarded an Einstein fellowship in 2018, Vermont State Teacher of the year in 2017, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching in 2015.

Katie Belloli profile picture

Katie Belloli

Title: Innovation Center Instructor
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana | School: Westfield Intermediate School
Highlights: One of Belloli's greatest accomplishments as an educator was when she communicated with author Robert Paul Weston, after reading his books, “Zorgamazoo” and “The Creature Department.” Another key achievement was the incorporation of art into her classroom through Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). She is extremely excited about her “Year in Space” because it combines three of her passions – collaboration with educators, planning a curriculum and space!

Katrina Roddenberry profile picture

Katrina Roddenberry

Educating since: 2008 Title: Science Teacher
Location: Crawfordville, Florida | School: Wakulla Middle School
Education: B.A. in Elementary Education from Flagler College; Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with Concentration in Teaching Science American College of Education
Highlights: Before teaching at Wakulla Middle School (WMS), Roddenberry taught for nine years at Riversink Elementary School (RES). Roddenberry is also an adjunct instructor at Flagler College-Tallahassee. She and her students have participated in numerous NASA Challenges and programs over the years. She was named WMS Teacher of the Year in 2019; Space Foundation Teacher Liaison in 2018 and RES Teacher of the Year in 2013.

Kellie Taylor profile picture

Kellie Taylor

Educating since: 2004 | Title: Elementary educator
Location: Boise, ID | School: Cynthia Mann Elementary
Education: Doctor of Education in Educational Technology, M.S. in Educational Technology, and Bachelor's in Elementary Education from Boise State University
Highlights: Taylor is a NMAAHC STEM Master Teacher fellow and served as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. She collaborates with state organizations to assist with bringing STEM opportunities to students across Idaho and beyond. She was named Museum of African American History and Culture STEM Master Teacher Fellow in 2021 and was was awarded the Engineering Educators Association Teacher Excellence Award in 2020.

Lauren Parker profile picture

Lauren Parker

Educating since: 2010 | Title: 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher
Location: Fort Worth, Texas | School: Fort Worth Academy
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education from Texas Christian University
Highlights: Parker has earned many recognitions in her teaching career including being named District Teacher of the Year. She was also selected to present with her students at the NASA/Sally Ride Science GRAIL MoonKam Teacher Expo in Washington, D.C. to share how the mission was incorporated in the classroom. She is a frequent presenter at both local and national conferences.

Leesa Hubbard profile picture

Leesa Hubbard

Educating since: 1987 | Title: STEM Teacher
Location: Wilson County Schools | School: W.A. Wright Elementary
Highlights: During the 2002-2003 school year, Hubbard was awarded the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, where she worked for a year at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. While there, she had the opportunity to work with the Educator Astronaut Program. She also served as a Teacher in Residence for Sally Ride Science, and implemented professional development for teachers surrounding NASA’s GRAIL mission to the Moon. Hubbard has been the recipient of several awards, including the Cheri Brindley Space Educator Award.

Linda Frantz profile picture

Linda Frantz

Educating since: 2008 | Title: Elementary STEM Educator
Location: Oklahoma City School | School: Northridge Elementary, Putnam City Schools
Education: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering University of Oklahoma Master of International Business University of Texas at Dallas
Highlights: Serving as a part of the Space Exploration Educator Crew has given Frantz the opportunity to collaborate with inspirational STEM educators from around the world. Space Center Houston has provided the crew with access to elite professional development and experiences which would not have been possible otherwise. Frantz has grown as a STEM educator through the organization and looks forward to many more years!

Lisa Mitchell profile picture

Lisa Mitchell

Educating since: 2014 | Title: 6-7 grade Science Teacher
Location: Palmdale, California | School: David G. Millen Middle School
Education: Biology degree from California State University, Northridge
Highlights: Mitchell went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama through Honeywell’s Educators Space Academy program, where she learned exciting and fun hands-on activities that she shared with her students. Her students use “alien DNA” as part of a genetics project and plan habitats that astronauts might call home on Mars. She is thrilled to join the Space Exploration Educator Crew program this year!

Lisa Stewart profile picture

Lisa Stewart

Educating since: 2000 | Title: Teacher
Location: Harker Height, Texas | School: Skipcha Elementary
Education: Bachelor of Science in Community Health and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Lamar University Master of Education Lamar University
Highlights: Stewart launched a robotics club at her school with the help of coding resources from SEEC. She also organized her school’s first Space Night with around 1000 attendees visiting over 25 interactive learning stations, including moon and meteorite samples on loan from NASA. She was named Science Teachers Association of Texas Elementary Science Teacher of the Year in 2014 and selected for NASA Texas Space Grant Consortium's LiftOff Institute in 2019.

Lorie Hammerstrom profile picture

Lorie Hammerstrom

Educating since: 1986 | Title: Informal STEM Teacher
Location: Hingham, MA | School: Quincy Public Schools
Highlights: After attending Space Academy for Teachers in Huntsville, Ala., Hammerstrom created an afterschool enrichment program for her students. This program is 10 weeks of STEM activities geared toward space exploration. She is a Space Camp Ambassador as well as an Ambassador to the Solar System and has served as the LEGO robotics coach at her school. Hammerstrom was awarded the Presidential Award for Math and Science Teachers for 2016.

Maria Nickel profile picture

Maria Nickel

Educating since: 2001 | Title: Teacher
Location: Stonewall, Manitoba Canada | School: Ecole Stonewall Centennial School
Highlights: Six of Nickel's space club students are part of a team of Canadian universities’ proposal that was accepted by the CSA. Her students will be building a CUBE SATELLITE and will design, test and build one of the instruments: a Gnomon. Nickel has won numerous awards such as the Provincial Education Award for Group Collaboration for Global Trek Voyagers in 2010, the Prime Ministers National Award of Teaching Excellence for 2013 for Science education in Canada.

Mary Catherine Vaughn profile picture

Mary Vaughn

Educating since: 1989 | Title: Gifted Earth & Space Science Teacher
Location: Lithia, Florida | School: Randall Middle School
Education: B.S. in Education from Oakland University
Highlights: As the program director with Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), Vaughn's district is in its seventh year sending experiments to the ISS. A testament to her work was a recent announcement from a female student stating she wants to be an aerospace engineer because of her microgravity research experience. She was awarded Excellence in Aerospace Education in 2018, a Honeywell fellowship in 2010 and The Prism Project Promoting Regional Improvement in Science and Math in 2010.

Maya Ghosh profile picture

Maya Ghosh

Title: Middle School Science Teacher
Location: Somerset, New Jersey | School: Thomas Edison Energy Smart Charter School
Education: Working on her Master’s degree in science education from Rutgers University
Highlights: Ghosh's students participated in Student Spaceflight experiments program where one of their investigations flew to International Space Station. TEECS students are also contributing to Globe’s El Nino campaign. She is excited to be part of the “Year in Space.” Through this program, she hopes to support teachers and students not only in her school, but also in her community as well.

Melissa Pore profile picture

Melissa Pore

Educating since: 1997 Title: Science/Engineering Teacher
Location: Arlington, VA | School: Bishop O'Connell High School
Education: B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington; Master of Education from Texas Tech University
Highlights: Pore's teaching experience spans across Virginia, Texas, and Maryland from public to private in K-12 education. Recent experiments include DJOSpaceToast which was launched April 17, 2019 in an ELEO orbit from NG-11 on an ISS resupply mission. She was named Educator of the Year 2020, recognized by AMSAT for Contributions to Human Spaceflight in 2019, and recognized by Space Station Explorers for Contributions to the ISS National Lab in 2019.

Meredith Swartzendruber profile picture

Meredith Swartzendruber

Educating since: 2008 | Title: Science Teacher
Location: Scarborough, Maine | School: Scarborough Middle School
Highlights: Swartzendruber attended Space Academy for Educators in 2009 on a scholarship through Honeywell Technologies and caught the space bug. In 2014, Swartzendruber attended the Advanced Space Academy for Educators and became an aerospace educator for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Her students have taken part in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, where two student-designed experiments were flown to the ISS. In 2016, Swartzendruber was awarded the Delaware State Teacher of the Year for the Air Force Association (AFA).

Michael Wilkinson profile picture

Michael Wilkinson

Educating since: 1990 | Title: Math-Science Specialist
Location: Bronx, New York | School: Fieldston Lower School
Highlights: Wilkinson is a NASA Airborne Sciences Master Teacher and a NASA Earth SySTEM Ambassador. Being part of the Space Exploration Educator Crew is another opportunity to infuse space exploration themes into his curriculum and provide a variety of opportunities for his students.

Michelle Mohrweis profile picture

Michelle Mohrweis

Educating since: 2015 | Title: STEM teacher
Location: Chandler, Arizona | School: Bogle Jr. High
Highlights: Mohrweis has taken on a VEX robotics club and teaches engineering to seventh and eighth grade students. She enjoys every excuse to talk about space in her lessons and has been developing a unit all about engineering on the International Space Station. She’s excited to see where her future will take her and how she can use her time in the Space Exploration Educator Crew to help spread the teaching of space and encourage kids to go into engineering careers within our space agencies.

Molly Nipper  profile picture

Molly Nipper

Educating since: 2006 | Title: STEM gifted & talented teacher
Location: Houston, Texas | School: Bendwood School
Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Biology University of Houston Masters of Science Teaching Rice University EdD Executive Educational Leadership Houston Baptist University
Highlights: Being part of the Space Exploration Educator Crew has enriched Nipper’s STEM curriculum to support student success through engaging activities and update news in the space industry. Crew members network and collaborate and give support to each other throughout the year and resources are shared with the community. Nipper was named Space Foundation Teacher Liaison Flight 14-17 and Campus Teacher of the Year in 2015.

Nancy Sills profile picture

Nancy Sills

Educating since: 1980
Highlights: In 2006, Sills was chosen as a Georgia State Teacher of the Year finalist. The University of Rhode Island’s Office of Marine Studies’ ARMADA Project furthered her Earth science experience outside the classroom. She spent ten days on the research vessel Endeavor off the coast of New England searching for fresh water under the ocean floor. The Space Exploration Educator Crew will allow her to use the experiences that she has in being an educator ambassador with New Horizons, MAVEN and other NASA programs to formulate real-life projects that will incorporate space into a year of teaching.

Nathan W. Tubbs profile picture

Nathan W. Tubbs

Title: 6th Grade Science Teacher & Middle School STEAM Coordinator
Location: Brooklyn, New York | School: PS/IS 30 Mary White Ovington
Highlights: Tubbs has participated in Honeywell Educators at Space Academy, led his students to send an experiment to the International Space Station for a six-week stay through a partnership with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, and currently serves as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. In 2017, he further expanded his professional horizons by being commissioned as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserves, serving as a Chaplain at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Renée Gamba profile picture

Renée Gamba

Title: Museum of Natural History Director
Krupowicz Planetarium Outreach Coordinator/Teacher
Location: Rhode Island | School: Gaudet Middle School and Learning Academy
Highlights: An exciting educational achievement for Gamba was forging a relationship with Middletown public schools to develop and provide science instruction to students using the planetarium located in Gaudet School. She is extremely excited to participate in the Space Education Expedition Crew Program as it will provide her with professional development and resources to use in creating curriculum.

Ronda McCarthy  profile picture

Ronda McCarthy

Educating since: 2010 Title: Middle School Science/STEM Teacher
Location: Des Moines, Iowa | School: St. Theresa Catholic School
Education:Master of Education Middle School Math and Science Morningside University Bachelor of Education Upper Iowa University Bachelor of Social Work Buena Vista University
Highlights: McCarthy attended Honeywell Educator at Space Academy, Michelson Exxon Mobile Teacher Academy, Set Sail STEM Educator Training at USNA, and STEM Teacher Extern Program. She also received the STEM Best Program Award. McCarthy was honored to receive the STEM Teacher of the Year Award by Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council for the South Central Region in 2020.

Scott Weiler profile picture

Scott Weiler

Title: Instructor of Aerospace Engineering and Robotics
Location: Las Vegas, NV | School: Rancho High School
Education:B.A. Foreign Languages from Louisiana State University; M.A. of STEM Education from University of Arizona
Highlights: Weiler was named Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars in 2019. He was also named Southern Arizona Engineering Educator of the Year by Arizona Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2015. After attending SEEC for the first time, Weiler was pleased to find meaningful professional development related to engineering. He gained many ideas for ways he could add new dynamics to his classes and clubs.

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Shaun Keyser

Educating since: 1991 Title: ICT Teacher
Location: Franschhoek, South Africa | School: Bridge House Prep School
Education:Higher Diploma in Education University of Cape Town
Highlights: Keyser is excited to grow his professional learning network within the "space teaching" world and become more knowledgeable in order to effectively transfer this to his students, colleagues and parents in his school and wider community. He was named a Honeywell Educator at Space Academy in 2015 and project leader for the SUN-STEP pilot project (teaching through electronics) at the University of Stellenbosch 1993 - 1995.

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Stacie Pottenger

Title: Third Grade Teacher
Location: Savannah, Georgia | School: Williams Elementary School
Highlights: Two of Pottenger's top achievements are that she recently earned her education specialist degree in leadership from Georgia Southern University and was named her school’s current Teacher of the Year. She is very excited about her upcoming “Year in Space” during the Space Exploration Educator Crew program because she will provide her students, school and community with STEM-based learning experiences that will help prepare students for 21st century STEM careers.

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Terri Mynatt

Title: Teacher Kindergarten 1st & 2nd grade
Location: Venetie, Alaska | School: John Fredson School – Yukon Flats School District
Highlights: Mynatt is a fellow of Fund For Teachers, which gave her the opportunity to explore Italy and Switzerland’s educational systems. She was selected as a “The Arctic in the Classroom” teacher with ARCUS and became a GLOBE certified teacher. In both those programs, her students are given the opportunity to work with researchers. She found that she does not need to know all the information in the universe to teach science. What she needs is scientists that work with her as she works with her students.

Valeria Rodriguez profile picture

Valeria Rodriguez

Title: Middle School Science Teacher
Location: Miami, Florida | School: Gulliver Academy
Highlights: Rodgriguez's students worked with NASA scientist Gioia Massa and Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens on the “Growing Beyong Earth” challenge. They grow plants indoors under LED lights and recommend potential candidates to be grown on the International Space Station and eventually on Mars. She experienced the OSIRIS-REx Launch, which rocketed her interest in space exploration to another dimension. She looks forward to getting to know the other crew members and picking up tools to create out-of-this-universe learning experiences for students.

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Machin L Norris

Educating since: 2010 | Title: STEAM Educator
Location: Greeley, Colorado | School: Greeley-Evans School District 6
Education:BS Agriculture and Renewable Resources Colorado State University
Highlights: Norris has earned many distinctions, including the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator award. For Norris, SEEC has provided an extraordinary avenue of creating partnerships with like-minded educators interested in transforming educational programming into innovative learning. Connecting her students to possibility is what motivates Norris.

Crew news and initiatives

Adlena Jacobs profile picture

Adlena Jacobs

  • Educating since: 2008
  • Title: STEM – Engineering Design and Problem Solving
  • Location: Mesquite, Texas
  • School: Mesquite ISD, Mesquite High School
  • Education: Bachelor of Science in physics from Stephen F. Austin State University; Masters of Science in college administration from Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Highlights: Jacobs started an after-school program called INNOVATION CONNECTION, consisting of inquiry and project-based learning. A student in the program has speech problems. His involvement with the program drew the notice of investors who wanted to invest in his innovative app for the district.

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