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2015 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Bios


Alex Kmicikewycz

Alexander Kmicikewycz is a high school math and science teacher at Urban Prep Academy – West Campus in Chicago. He is passionate about urban education, social justice, and empowering students to give back to their communities and the world around them. He applies a hands-on approach to learning by integrating all subject matters into math and science classrooms. Check out Alex's blog >>

Amy Austin

Amy Austin is the literacy specialist and sixth and seventh grade reading and language arts teacher at Centennial Middle School in Boulder, Colorado. Having taught students in second through seventh grades, Amy is passionate about building cross-curricular connections through experiential learning and interactions with authentic literary resources gathered from her travels abroad. A Japanese Fulbright Memorial Fund recipient, Amy hopes to inspire new generations of environmentally conscious and globally aware adventurers. Check out Amy's blog >>

Angie Miller

Angie Miller, a Grade 7-12 teacher-librarian in Meredith, New Hampshire, has been devoted to integrating her students into geographic education and adventures for thirteen years. The 2011 NH Teacher of the Year, a TED speaker, and a freelance writer, Angie is an avid traveler who believes that the classroom is always greater than its four walls.

Beth Thomas

Beth Thomas teaches ninth grade science at Great Falls High School in Great Falls, Montana. To augment student learning, she provides a wide range of creative and innovative opportunities for her students to learn while utilizing technology. She hopes her voyage to Antarctica will help her students develop skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, foster global perspectives, and inspire and empower her students to understand how their decisions and actions will shape the future. Check out Beth's blog >>

Carissa Martus

Carissa Martus is a Grades K-6 music teacher at Quatama Elementary, a STEAM and “Green School” in Hillsboro, Oregon. She is a board member for the Portland Orff-Schulwerk Association, where integrating geography and music comes naturally. She is passionate about world music; in 2013, she won a Hilton Teacher’s Trek Grant to travel to China and South Korea. In her free time, she volunteers with a Teen Outdoor Adventure program.

Cassie Nodine

Cassie Nodine is a secondary instructional coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a humanities teacher for eleven years, she encouraged creativity, compassion, and exploration as the foundations for authentic learning. She is passionate about developing students’ view of themselves as global citizens and works to instill in them a sense of social justice and environmental stewardship. Cassie has traveled to Germany, China, South Africa, Israel, and Poland as the recipient of multiple educator fellowships.

Chris Flaherty

Chris Flaherty is a high school math and reading teacher at the Boston Arts Academy. He has the privilege of working at the only public high school for the visual and performing arts in Boston. Chris and his colleagues pride themselves on being forerunners of STEAM education (putting the arts in STEM). His curriculum seeks to empower students with authentic projects that activate the interests and strengths of students as young scholars, artists, and citizens.

Dave Grant

Dave Grant has studied and taught marine science for more than 20 years at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. With graduate degrees in science and education, he has been involved in STEM-related projects like underwater ROV’s, satellites, astronomy, ocean drilling, climate, and research in oceanography. Educational outreach and studies have provided opportunities to visit Barrow Alaska in the winter, the Falklands, Pitcairn, Easter and South Georgia islands, and sail on a Russian icebreaker. Check out Dave's blog >>

Dawnetta Hayes

Dawnetta Hayes is a sixth grade teacher at Rockdale Academy and has been teaching reading and history for more than 14 years in Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon obtaining her Montessori certification, she developed a passion for creating outdoor educational field studies for urban youth. She’s taken seven trips with students to Pigeon Key Island for a marine biology study and each year organizes a camping expedition focused on exploring the cultural and ecological history of the Little Miami River valley. Check out Dawnetta's blog >>

Doug Anderson

Doug Anderson teaches AP Environmental Science at Brentwood High School in suburban Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up near, and working in, local parks brings his place-based curriculum to life. Students complete research and restoration projects in local forests and streams, educating them on local environmental issues related to global problems. Inspired students contribute as leaders in solving these environmental issues and sometimes choose lifelong careers in the field.

Ellie Clin

Ellie Clin teaches Grade 1 at The Grove Community School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she delivers her curriculum through the lenses of social justice, community activism, and environmentalism. Whether planting in the school garden, writing letters to community leaders, or creating documentary films, her passionate students love to be in nature, think critically, and communicate across international, cultural, and demographic boundaries. Check out Ellie's blog >>

Greg Gaiera

Greg Gaiera has taught third and fourth grades at Union Street Charter in Arcata, California for the past 14 years. He loves developing projects that help his students build an appreciation for the natural world and gives them the tools to think critically about their place in it. Prior to classroom teaching, Greg spent four years as an environmental educator on Catalina Island. Greg’s time on Catalina and his own personal sense of adventure inform his teaching practices. Check out Greg's blog >>

Janet Ruest

Janet Ruest teaches geography and history courses at Chemainus Secondary School in British Columbia, Canada. Janet’s goal is for her students to never look at the world the same way! She provides opportunities for students to truly see, hear, smell, and feel the world around them and to make personal connections regarding their role as global stewards of the planet and citizens of the 21st Century. Janet hopes her Galapagos adventure will inspire her students to become explorers of the world. Check out Janet's blog >>

Janet Shedd

Janet Shedd is a teacher at Providence Montessori School, a private school in Lexington, Kentucky. She teaches ages three through six in a mixed-age classroom focused on hands-on learning. Before becoming a teacher, she worked as a newspaper reporter and designer. Janet is passionate about teaching geography and helping children discover that they are part of an amazing world that extends far beyond their school. Check out Janet's blog >>

Jason Nord

Jason Nord is a middle school Montessori teacher at Prairie Hill Learning Center, Nebraska’s first wind and solar powered school. He teaches all subjects in a multidisciplinary model that allows students to help define their own curriculum while developing responsibility, independence, and interdependence. Each year he and his students embark on a five-day learning expedition completely researched, organized, and funded through the students’ work. Check out Jason's blog >>

Jesse Lowes

Jesse Lowes teaches middle school science at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon. An avid explorer and committed place-based educator, Jesse draws upon his extensive experiences as a naturalist, wilderness guide, and outreach science teacher to connect his students to the wonder of their world. Jesse believes deeply in the power of curiosity, critical thinking, and compassion and teaches to empower students to be responsible environmental stewards and global citizens. Check out Jesse's blog >>

Kathy Eldridge

Kathy Eldridge is a National Board Certified teacher at Muscle Shoals High School in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where she developed her school’s first Aqua Science course. In addition, she teaches AP biology, biology, and Earth science. She is a member of the Alabama Geographic Alliance and guides her students’ learning about the natural world through scientific investigations, Google Hangouts with scientists and naturalists, case studies, and cooperative learning activities.

Laura Schetter

Laura Schetter is the Environmental Educator at Wildwood Environmental Academy in Maumee, Ohio. She orchestrates programs that integrate conservation lessons into the school curriculum. As an instructor for Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, she leads master’s students through inquiry-based coursework in India, Mexico, and Belize. Laura strives to motivate others to care for—and connect with—nature. Check out Laura's blog >>

Laura Wommack

Laura Wommack is a high school science teacher at a very small rural school in Potlatch, Idaho, where she teaches biology, physics, chemistry, and science electives like forensics and astronomy. She is a trained STEM educator with 11 years of teaching experience. Laura is passionate about Earth and space science, developing a sense of multiculturalism, and creating life-long learners in her classroom.

Leslie Wiles

Leslie Wiles has been teaching for 17 years. She currently teaches Grade 2 at First Flight Elementary School in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. She has her National Board Certification, a Masters Degree in Elementary Education, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. She is a member of the Surf Rider Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving beaches and ocean conservation and research.

Lily Wehtje

Lily Wehtje teaches eight grade writing and language arts. Lily teaches in Homestead, Florida just south of Miami. Lily has previously taught third grade in India, fourth grade ESOL in St. Louis, and 12th grade U.S. History in Chicago. Her mission is to ground each lesson in geography. Most recently her students took a “trip” to Indonesia to discuss the impacts of gold mining for use in their cell phones. She sees geography as an opportunity for students to step outside of themselves and connect their every day lives with the world around them.

Merinda Davis

Merinda Davis teaches social studies and Latinos in Action at Lakeridge Junior High School in Orem, Utah. She teaches geography through the lens of sustainability. Students learn how everything, past to present, no matter the geographical location, is connected through sustainability. Her primary goal is to empower students to become global citizens, environmental stewards, and to have a positive impact on the world.

Michael Presser

Mike Presser teaches world history and AP Human Geography at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, California. An avid traveler and photographer, Mike has studied abroad in Cuba, worked as a volunteer in Peru, backpacked throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, and India, and spent time in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring. He uses his experiences to enrich the curriculum and excite students about geospatial thinking. Check out Michael's blog >>

Nicole Means

Nicole Means, a National Board Certified teacher, teaches secondary social studies courses in St. Francisville, Louisiana. She is passionate about instilling global citizenship in her students, so she founded her school’s International Club, which enables her students to participate in cost-friendly international travel opportunities. In her quest to learn more about global environmental issues, Nicole has also traveled to Japan, India, and Germany as a recipient of various educational fellowships.

Paola Paz Soldán

Paola Paz Soldán, native of Lima, Peru, is a Spanish, dual-language immersion teacher at Las Palmas Elementary in San Clemente, California. She designs STEM curriculum at classroom and district levels and is a proponent of outdoor and hands-on learning. She introduced the robotics and organic gardening programs at her school, developing interactive units that integrate these as well as other global and environmental-awareness concepts into the classroom. Check out Paola's blog >>


Rebecca Detrich

Rebecca Detrich is dedicated to connecting students to the natural world and promoting responsible actions to sustain it. She has taught in Yosemite, on Catalina Island, throughout the East Coast, and in Australia. As an undergraduate she studied elephants in Tanzania. Her graduate work focused on community-based conservation in Borneo and Namibia. She is currently the education director of a residential environmental program tucked within the redwoods of Sonoma County, California.

Rebekah Rottenberg

Bekah Rottenberg is a high school science teacher, outdoor educator, and professional mountain biker from Hood River, Oregon. Bekah’s teaching is deeply rooted in project-based learning and service-based projects. She teaches biology, earth and space science, environmental science, and leads a garden class. Check out Rebekah's blog >>

Shannon Bomben

Shannon Bomben is a Grade 5 teacher from Windsor, Ontario, Canada with a passport of over 20 countries visited. She has worked alongside incredible colleagues at both CMIS in South Korea and now at A21 Academy, an innovative, project-based learning elementary school. Shannon infuses curriculum with a global perspective, and hopes this experience will assist her in educating her students holistically and inspiring them to make positive changes in their world. Check out Shannon's blog >>

Shasta Bray

Shasta Bray grew up catching fireflies, reading Ranger Rick, and falling in love with the animals at the zoo. As the interpretive media manager for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Shasta develops award-winning interpretive exhibits and programs that provide meaningful experiences for the Zoo’s 1.5 million annual visitors. She also produces content for the Zoo’s website, blog, and social media, and leads field courses for educators.

Teagan Thomas

Teagan Thomas teaches sixth grade science at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy in Newark, Delaware. She is also the coordinator of ASPIRA’s QUEST program, for gifted students. As a member of MADE CLEAR Academy’s cohort and as a NGSS lead teacher, she is passionate about climate change research and global environmental issues. Teagan encourages her students to think critically and use problem-solving skills to explore the world around them.

Tema Encarnacion

Tema Encarnacion is the lead ESOL teacher at Glen Burnie High School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. She integrates environmental literacy, advocacy, and technology into her teaching to encourage students to become environmental stewards through cross-curricular investigations of local habitats. Tema uses hands-on, project-based learning strategies to integrate language and content learning for English language learners.

Teri Rutledge

Teri Rutledge is a National Board Certified fourth grade teacher at Villa Academy in Seattle, Washington. She has been an educator for several years with unique experience in outdoor education and bilingual education. She is especially passionate about service learning and place-based education and is fortunate to work at an independent school that allows her to develop engaging curriculum for her students. Check out Teri's blog >>

Terri Sallee

Terri Sallee is a science teacher at Heizer Middle School in Hobbs, New Mexico. She was a 2010 Siemens STEM Institute Fellow and has received multiple recognitions throughout her career. Terri has a passion for blending nature, inquiry, and technology into her lessons and continually looks for ways to create authentic learning opportunities within her classroom. Check out Terri's blog >>

Valerie Raymond

Valerie Raymond is a passionate French as a second language and social studies teacher who teaches at Jaanimmarik School in Northern Canada in an Inuit community. She is devoted to empowering youth through outdoors and global citizenship initiatives such as a land re-appropriation project, Jeunes Karibus. This project is connecting Nunavik’s communities through cross-country skiing in order to foster healthy lifestyles, environmentally friendly habits, an appreciation for the outdoors, teamwork, and geographic knowledge.

Xochitl Garcia

Xochitl Garcia is a generalist teacher specializing in life sciences at Bronx Arena High School in New York City. As a recent Fund for Teachers Fellow, she studied the impact of cacao on Ecuador to develop an ethnobotany curriculum for her school. She is passionate about creating and participating in experiences that allow her and her students to explore the world beyond the walls of the classroom.


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