Meet the 2011-2012 Heliophysics Educator Ambassadors

Arizona | Colorado | Connecticut | Florida | Georgia
Hawaii | Illinois | Michigan | Minnesota | Ohio | Virginia | Texas


Mari Westerhausen   Mari Westerhausen

Dr. Westerhausen has been an educator for more than 20 years. She completed a Graduate Degree in Education in TESOL in South Australia, and her master's and doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership in the Philippines. Her certification areas include Gifted Education, Math Education, Full ESL, and Administration. She has been a Master Teacher-Trainer for Intel Teach to the Future Program since 2000, a Maricopa County Teacher Leader for Math, Science & Technology Integration, and STAR Discovery Educator. Mari is one of the AIMS test developers, as well as National Geographic JASON Project Curriculum Reviewer. She has presented at major professional conferences: 2011 National NSTA Conference in San Francisco, 2010 NSTA in Philadephia, 2010-2011 AATM Conferences and AzTEA WOW.

She loves spending time with her very supportive family. Together they like to go on road trips, hiking, biking, camping, and stargazing.



Alyce Dalzell   Alyce Dalzell

Alyce has experienced an eventful journey through her 33 years in education. She has instructed budding scientists in preschool / kindergarten through juvenile detention center GED programs.

Alyce began her teaching as a Special Education instructor in the Washington, DC area. Leaving DC with her Air Force husband, Robert, she called Athens Greece then Tucson, AZ her home where she continued teaching elementary and gifted and talented programs. While attending the University of Arizona she co-authored a chapter in Japanese education college textbooks detailing her teaching philosophy of interactive student learning.

Alyce's family relocated to Colorado Springs where she became interested in the geology of Colorado and completed her Masters of Education with a science/math emphasis. As Alyce moved up the grade level ladder of teaching she continued pursuing her interests in geology and space. Alyce was the recipient of the Honeywell Educator in Space Program, US Space Foundation's Teacher Liaison Award, and numerous grants to fund and supply her classrooms with aerospace engineering design, robotics and instructional materials. Alyce currently teaches at an alternative middle/high school in Peyton CO, instructs talented and gifted elementary students at the University of Colorado and is an Online Advisor for the National Science Teacher's Association.

Alyce has two daughters who share her love for science and laughter, horses, dogs and cats. Daughter Elizabeth has a degree in Biology and Space Education and teaches middle school and Danielle conducts medical research for the USAF in San Antonio, Texas.


Louise McMinn   Louise McMinn

Louise McMinn has taught middle school science in the Stamford Public school system for over 20 years. She is passionate about science education. As a life-long learner, she actively participates in teacher research opportunities and incorporates her experiences into classroom learning activities.

As a participant in the ARMADA teacher research program sponsored by the University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs, she studied with scientists in South Central Alaska. This experience stimulated her interest in Earth and Space Science. Through the School of Rock sponsored by Ocean Leadership, and an Earthwatch experience in Churchill, Manitoba, she became more knowledgeable about ocean drilling and permafrost research. After attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and taking a Zero Gravity flight, she wanted to learn more about the space program. She completed the course work for a STEM Education certificate in 2010 as a NASA Endeavor fellow.
In 2010 Ms. McMinn was recognized for Excellence in Middle School Science Teaching by the Connecticut Science Teachers Association. Her students have won awards in the Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision competition and the Discovery Young Scientist Challenge. All of these experiences have enriched her classroom and encouraged her students to follow careers in science.


Esther Hoffman   Esther Hoffman

Ms. Hoffman has a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master's of Science in TESOL. Areas of certification include Middle School Integrated Curriculum and Gifted Education. Ms. Hoffman has taught Math & Science since she began teaching. She is currently teaching science in a Tile I middle school in Miami, FL as well a teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in an adult program in the evenings. Involvement in local pre-service teacher programs is an important part of giving back to the community. Next year she will teach in the Science, Technology, & Investigative Research Magnet (STIR) that infuses the current trends in STEM Education in the classroom.



Julie Sear   Julie Sear

After getting her degree in Biology (1993) at DePauw University, this Chicago native spent three years as a science outreach and environmental field trip educator. But working with students for only a few hours at a time was not enough to build relationships, so she decided the middle school classroom was where she wanted to focus her efforts. Julie got her Master’s Degree in Science Education (with certification) at Florida State University and has been teaching in Tallahassee for the past 11 years. She is currently the middle school science teacher and team leader at The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), a K-8 Charter school. With a school philosophy that promotes engaging and thematic learning, Julie uses a curriculum rich with hands-on activities and projects, while at the same time, carefully balances the demands on standardized testing. Her favorite part of the job is that she gets to work with students for their entire 3 years of middle school. By the time they graduate 8th grade, she has built strong relationships with her students – both academically and emotionally – which brings an increased level of meaning and reward to her job. And to stay balanced after a long day at work, you might find Julie in a yoga class, on her bike, or dancing around her living room with her 9 year old daughter.


Jayma Koval   Jayma Koval

I am originally from Long Island, New York and growing up, I was always fascinated by the weather-Hurricane Gloria and numerous blizzards and nor’easters helped this fascination grow. I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Meteorology in 2001 after having completed two internships with Delta Air Lines and the New York Times Weather Page. I then decided to return to school and become certified to teach. I attended Long Island University and graduated with a M.S. in Earth Science Adolescent Education. I loved my student teaching experience and knew that a career in education was for me.

My teaching career began at Hicksville Middle School and I taught honors Regents earth science and general science for two years. I then moved to Atlanta and have been teaching life science and physical science for the past eight years. I have recently graduated from Georgia State University with an Ed.S. in Science Learning and Teaching.

When I am not working, I love to relax by running, baking or reading. My husband and I are avid travelers and enjoy hiking and watching sports- especially our alma mater, Penn State.


Graham DeVey   Graham DeVey

Graham DeVey has been a physical science teacher at Baldwin High School on Maui for 16 years. While at Baldwin, he has launched an Astronomy initiative, advised Future Scientists and Engineers of America, and served as science department resource teacher. He personally petitioned state legislature for $1.3 million to build Baldwin’s science wing, completed in 2006.

Graham holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautical Science from Northwestern University and an MA Teaching (Physics) degree from State University of New York.

Prior to teaching, he was a Navy Patrol Plane Commander for six years, and an engineering executive with Carrier Corporation for 18 years, including ten years overseas developing and managing product design centers.

Mr. DeVey has been appointed to Mu Alpha Theta and to Sigma Pi Sigma, national fraternities for Mechanical Engineering and Physics, respectively. He holds a Professional Engineering License and a Commercial Pilot’s license. He enjoys running, playing the guitar, and skiing. Graham has been married 33 years and has a son working for in California


Eulene Carter   Eulene Carter

Hola, I can smile and say everyday is a new rewarding challenge after 25 years of dedicated service with the Chicago Public School System. I am living my dream, I am a teacher and I love my job. I received my National Board of Certification (2002), Masters of Education and Administrative Certification from Lewis University, Romeoville, IL (1999), Bachelor of Science in Education from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL (1974). I graduated from Wendell Phillips H.S. (1974) and Doolittle Elementary, (1970), Chicago, IL. I am proud to say I am a product of the Chicago Public School system and I had great teachers and role models. Presently I am completing a science endorsement for Middle School endorsement in Science. I provide test preparation instruction to prepare student teachers and teachers for the ITBS at Roosevelt University and the CTU. I am an instructor for the AFT for the course, Instructional Strategies that Work for all Disciplines and LSC teacher representative. I am a teacher of the 21st century, dedicated to my profession and proud to be a teacher, serving the children, parents, teachers and families of Chicago, a mother of three grown adults and grandmother of one. I accept the challenge to serve and I believe in extending learning beyond the classroom, by reflecting and integrating, collaborating, cooperating and investing in the future through continuous learning.


Katie Duff   Katie Duff

Katie Duff is a scientist and educator teaching 8th grade science in a south suburb of Chicago, IL. She was inspired to become a junior high science teacher after having been shown the wonders of science and catching the enthusiasm shown by her 7th and 8th grade science teachers. Katie hopes to inspire a new generation of scientists by providing students with hands on learning opportunties and the skills needed to gain access to any science related subject they choose. She is an active member of the community, involving herself in youth ministry opportunities at her church. Katie holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Augustana College in Elementary Education with a middle school endorsement, has been recognized by ISBE's Those Who Excell program, and was a featured video for The Museum of Science and Industry's Month at the Museum contest.


Robert Lapin   Robert Lapin

Mr. Lapin is a scientifically trained educator who has worked as a scientist, consultant, adult educator and elementary school science teacher. He has excellent presentation and facilitation skills as demonstrated with children and adults from a wide range of backgrounds.

He has been the science teacher at McDade Classical School of the CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS since June, 2004. He teaches third through sixth grade science. He holds Standard Elementary Teaching Certificate with a endorsement in Middle School Science.
He has developed the school's science curriculum that prepares fourth graders for the ISAT science test. Students exceeding standards began at 18% and are now reaching 47%. The sixth graders from McDade have successfully competed in each year's area and regional science fairs and have taken top honors in several of those years. McDade sixth graders have also participated in the “You Be the Chemist” Challenge in the 2008-2011 school years. Students have placed third, second and first in this competition.

Mr. Lapin was selected as a Neil Campbell Fellow of Project Exploration’s Science Teacher Field Institute. He attended a three week program from July 9 through July 20, 2007. One week was spent in the field in Montana studying geology, paleontology and astronomy.

Mr. Lapin enjoys conduct “Astronomy Nights” for students and parents in the evening during the summer and school year using the school’s 150 mm Mak-Cass telescope to view the heavens.

Prior to teaching, he has worked as a scientist and consultant


Wendy Marinier   Wendy Marinier

After High School I went to college for BA in Business. After working in the business field I came to the realization that I wanted to work with children, so I went back to school and pursued a teaching degree. I have a K-9 Teaching Certificate, ESL degree and a masters plus 47 hrs. I'm very involved with my district and my students. I run our Student Council, I coach Cross Country, Boys/Girls Track, tutor several students, homework lab everyday, Intramurals and I put together several science programs for parents and students such as, View the Planets. I always apply for any workshops or conferences that are available so I can learn new things to bring back to my students.




Debbie McNulty   Debbie McNulty

I have been a science teacher for grades five through eight for two years at St. Edmund Parish School in Oak Park. Prior to that, I taught for one year at Hauser Jr. High School in Riverside, and for six years at St. Priscilla School in Chicago.
I received a B. A. in Elementary Education at Northeastern Illinois University. I received a M.A. in Reading Education from Concordia University.
I became interested in teaching science because I wanted to understand how the world works, and because I have a natural curiosity about me surroundings. I always look for learning experiences in everything I do and everywhere I go. I always look for the science lesson that exists all around me.



Linda Thompson   Linda Thompson

I have taught many ages and grade levels in both Wisconsin and Illinois. My current position began as a primary/intermediate science teacher presenting science concepts off a cart and running Star Lab programs. I have evolved to District Gifted Teacher/Coordinator and now use science and social studies to "drive" the curriculum for my gifted students. What I have learned over the years is that all students of all ability levels can love science!

When not teaching, I enjoy traveling, cooking, and animals. Of course, everywhere that I visit, I'm always scouting out "cool" science places. Recent trips found me visiting the Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Ireland and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. There are fun places to learn all over.


Asif Wilson   Asif Wilson

Mr. Asif Wilson is currently a 7th/8th grade science teacher at May Community Academy on Chicago’s Westside. He has worked extensively with children in many capacities for the last 7 years, from working with first time offenders in Englewood to speaking to local churches’ adolescents. He received his undergraduate degree in elementary education in 2008 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, his master’s degree in education in 2010 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has plans to start his Ph.D in 2011 in curriculum studies. Mr. Wilson’s research has been primarily on the role education plays for African American youth in urban settings. He has presented his research at several conferences, and has been an active board member for Rotaract Club of Chicago, Agape Youth Network, Southside School for Social Justice (proposed 6-12 school in Chicago), and Fathers Who Care. Mr. Wilson was most recently selected to join faculty from 4 major institutions in Illinois and several CPS teachers to redesign urban teacher education (CTPP grant). For the past several years, Mr. Wilson has been conducting community organizing for education reform in Englewood as well as other Chicago neighborhoods, while enthusiastically pursuing his teaching responsibilities at May Community Academy.



WISE   Eileen Byrnes

My background includes a MEd in Instructional Technology with an emphasis in interactive technologies, and a BS in Elementary Education (DX/BA endorsements). This unique combination allows for personal science expertise as well as group collaboration using technology integration. I am very actively involved in a wide variety of educational areas in addition to my classroom responsibilities.

Recent highlights of my service include:

•Member of the preliminary writing team for the recently adopted science Grade Level Content Expectations for the Michigan Department of Education.

•President Elect of Michigan Science Education Leadership Association.

•Metro Detroit Science Teachers Association – Outstanding Educator Award recipient (2009)

•Technology facilitator / webmaster / mentor for two teacher quality grants via Lawrence Technological University

•Grissom Middle School - School Improvement Committee Chair/Science Content Leader

•Curriculum Steering Committee Secretary for Warren Consolidated School District.

These opportunities have enabled me to develop strong communication, interpersonal, organizational and leadership skills. The skills enable me to be an effective champion for educational achievement, standards, policies and goals.


David Carmichael   David Carmichael

David A. Carmichael received his Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1979. While there he worked for O.U. and The National Severe Storms Laboratory as tornado chaser for 2 years. After a short stint as private forecaster in Chicago and as an Assistant Research Scientist for the General Motors Environmental Research Labs., he accepted a position as a Broadcast Meteorologist for WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After completing 12 years of television forecasting and science reporting, he accepted a position as a middle school science teacher for Grandville Public Schools in Grandville, Michigan. After 10 years in the middle school setting, he transferred to Grandville High School to teach physics. He also piloted their classes in Meteorology and Astronomy. He then returned to the middle school after 5 years in the high school to apply his experiences to teaching Earth Science, and in particular, Meteorology and Astronomy, at the 7th and 8th grade level. Dave is married to his wife Connie of 31 years who is a retired educator and has 2 daughters, one of which is also an elementary educator.


DeAnn Schluessler   DeAnn Schluessler

I am DeAnn Schluessler and I teach at a Center Based Junior High in Macomb County, MI for students with Emotional Impairments. I started working for the Macomb Intermediate School District as a paraprofessional substitute. I then got hired at Rockwell Junior High School and worked there for almost 4 years as a paraprofessional in the art room and in the computer room. Even though the focus of these rooms centered on art and computers we still taught all core subjects. While working I attended Wayne State University and received my Bachelor’s Degree in secondary education with a major in Social Studies and a minor in Science. Rockwell Junior High is like home to me so I went on to get my Masters Degrees, at Wayne State University, in Special Education specializing in Emotional Impairment and returned there to teach for the past 11 years.


WISE   Karie Trupka

Karie Trupka is a christian wife, mother of three young adults and a busy middle school mathematics teacher at the only off reservation boarding school in the nation. I enjoy visiting my dad in the Veterans Nursing Home and being at the Lake Home when ever possible. I love to travel,gardening, and read about educational materials. I love Learning!

Sarah Freundlich   Sarah Freundlich

Sarah Freundlich is currently a 5th and 6th grade science teacher in the Lexington Local Schools in Mansfield. Ohio. She graduated with an undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University in 1985 and a Masters of Ed from MVNU in 2003. She has been married for 25 years and is the mother of four children.






Michelle Lillo   Michelle Lillo

I received a B.S. in education from Akron University and a MEd. from Ashland University.
I have taken advantage of many opportunities to enhance my own learning in science through programs and course work offered in the summers. Through these courses I have had the privelege of meeting educators from all across our country, who have shown me different perspectives of how education works.

Teaching involves a bit of "acting" at times to get your point across. In the past years I have been involved with local community theater which gives me an opportunity to hone my teaching skills! To relieve stress, I have been jogging for 28 years, ( but not continuously!!)




Elizabeth Hobson   Elizabeth Hobson

Elizabeth Hobson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1992 from Brown University with a double major in English and Political Science. She was awarded a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University in 1995. She served as an Environmental Education Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal where she worked on soil conservation and beekeeping projects. After working as on outdoor educator the Appalachian Mountain Club, Y.M.C.A., Peace Corps, and Girl Scouts, she found her calling as a classroom teacher. She currently teachers Life, Earth, and Physical Science for Norfolk Public Schools. She is also pursuing a doctorate in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership at the College of William and Mary. For fun she reads, competes in triathlon,s and has just committed to run her first marathon in January 2012.



WISE   Beth Clark

My name is Beth Clark. After college graduation, I was a banker for 13 years. After 13 years, I had the opportunity to go back to school and receive my teaching certificate. It was something I had wanted to do for several years. Since my daughter attended Second Baptist School in Houston, I applied there. I was fortunate enough to be hired as a 5th grade teacher. In my 9 years teaching, I have always taught 5th grade. At my school, 5th grade is a part of the middle school. I have taught English, Social Studies and Science. Science is definitely my favorite subject to teach. I love seeing my students get excited about the different topics we study as well as the different hands-on activities involved in my class. I love to learn from them as well as helping them discover new things along the way. I thinking having the opportunity to spend my day with my kids keeps me young!


Nancy Fiegel   Nancy Fiegel

I’m Nancy Fiegel and I currently am an eighth grade science teacher at Space Center Intermediate School which is located on NASA property across from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. We are a Middle School that has a very diverse culture in the middle of the JSC community. My love for science, in particular Space science began at an early age. I grew up in the shadow of Johnson Space Center and the Apollo era. My Dad worked on the software for the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). As an eight year old, I remember exactly where I was and what my family was doing when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon. (Yup, I am old) There was no hope for it, I was the science nerd. I participated in science fairs during grade school and middle school, attended science camps as a kid, and when I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I became a science teacher. As a science teacher, I could do it all! My true passion is being a classroom teacher where I can share the joys and excitement of learning about real science that matters with my students. During the summer months I can be found just about anywhere except at home finding new and updated information to bring back to my kids. I received my bachelor degree from University of Houston and earned my Master of Science Teaching from Rice University. I had the opportunity to be a member of the first HEA group from Alaska. This is my second year to be an HEA Teacher Mentor. I love this program and all it has to offer. I have three grown children and two very inquisitive grand daughters who are eight and nine as well as a brand new granddaughter! Life is VERY Good!


Molly Nipper  

Molly Nipper

Molly Nipper is from Houston, Texas. She is a 7th grade science teacher at Hodges Bend Middle School for 5 years. Hodges Bend MS is the home of the Rookie Teacher of the Year-2011, Secondary Region IV Principal of the Year-2011, and Finalist District Teacher of the Year-2011. Molly has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and minor in Biology from the University of Houston. She also has a Masters of Science Teaching degree from Rice University-2010.

As a teacher, Molly has sponsored her 7th grade science students to Sally Ride Science Festival held at Rice University in 2009 and 2010.

She also coached Science Olympiad 2010-2011 with her fellow colleague. The Science Olympiad team has won 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place at the Regional competition in Galveston, Texas 2010 and won 2nd place in State Competition at Texas A&M 2011.

Molly has experiences in training and workshop presentation in her school district’s workshops (Fort Bend ISD) and state conferences (SEEC-Science Exploration Educator Conference and CAST- Conference for the Advancement of Science Teachers).

She was selected as one of the 30 original educators to be the Heliophysics Educators Ambassador trained in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009. In 2010, Molly was asked to become one of the Mentors for the HEA program held in Chicago. This year, Molly will return back as a Mentor for HEA program held in Chicago.

When she is not in school; she enjoys traveling, volunteering in various programs in the community such as Rebuilding Together-Houston, and have gone to mission trips in Cambodia-2010 and the Dominican Republic-2011.


Lauren Parker   Lauren Parker

Lauren Parker teaches math and science in Arlington, Texas. She earned her BS and Masters degrees in Education from Texas Christian University. In addition to teaching, Lauren serves as the lead Science Club sponsor where she strives to create young scientists. She has been awarded scholarships from Honeywell Hometown Solutions to attend Educators at Space Academy as well as Educators at Advanced Space Academy where she was one of 16 teachers working together to develop ways to make space come alive for students. Lauren is also a Solar System Ambassador as well as a NASA Explorer School Teacher. When she grows up, Lauren wants to be an astronaut.