USEA Awards

We’re proud to honor the following USEA award winners who have displayed passion and dedication for STEM disciplines. 

USEA award criteria and eligibility

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2024 Winners

USEA President's Award — La Keisha Leonard, Teach North Texas

La Keisha Leonard

La Keisha Leonard is a graduate of Teach North Texas at the University of North Texas and is now a Master Teacher for the program. Her passion, expertise, and heart make her a valuable leader within the USEA community, and her contributions continue to make an impact on USEA and STEM education across the country.

La Keisha's dedication to her work and her unwavering commitment to the advancement of STEM education are evident in all that she does. Before returning to her alma mater as the first Alumni to be hired as a Master Teacher, La Keisha taught high school Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. La Keisha’s favorite and most impactful teaching assignment was at a Project-Based Learning academy, where her passion for STEM education flourished and expanded.

Since returning to the University of North Texas, La Keisha has become an invaluable member of her faculty and the USEA community. An integral part to countless USEA initiatives, La Keisha took on the role of chair of the ERJ Professional Development Working Group in 2020 and, with a co-speaker, delivered the opening address for UTeach’s 2023 Equity and Racial Justice in STEM Teacher Development Summit. La Keisha's exceptional efforts in planning and speaking at the Summit made her an obvious choice to lead the newly formed UTeach STEM Educators Conference Programming Committee, which helps shape conference content and engagement.

La Keisha’s enduring positivity and enthusiasm for creating strong connections is a bright light, essential to the success and innovation of USEA.

Outstanding Master Teacher Award — Kelli Allen, UTeach Austin

Kelli Allen

Kelli Allen is an Associate Professor in Practice and Master Teacher at the University of Texas at Austin. An integral part of the UTeach community, Kelli has exhibited unwavering commitment to her students, colleagues, and the educational mission of UTeach.

Kelli prioritizes the unique needs and strengths of each of her students, emphasizing the importance and value of diversity in the classroom. Whether it’s modeling equity-focused lessons in UTeach Apprentice Teaching Seminars or developing observation protocols to highlight inclusive teaching practices, Kelli demonstrates the importance of celebrating individuality in the classroom. She is instrumental to the continuing success of UTeach Austin, acting as an apprentice teacher supervisor and traveling far and wide to observe student teachers placed in remote districts. Her commitment to her students and fellow teachers is evident, leading those around her to describe her as a true innovator, capable of tackling challenges with compassion and skill.

Throughout her 30+ years as a STEM educator, Kelli has played a pivotal role in strengthening STEM education for all. As a current member of the UTeach for Texas Planning Committee and the UTeach Curriculum Revision Working Group, she strives to enhance teaching practices, support teacher development, and foster student success in STEM fields. Kelli’s genuine passion for education is rivaled only by her dedication to mentorship, collaboration, and commitment — fostering a culture of respect and positivity, both in and out of the classroom.

Outstanding Alumni Award — Michelle Laskowski, GeauxTeach alumnus

Michelle Laskowski

Michelle Laskowski is a graduate of the GeauxTeach STEM program at Louisiana State University. A National Board-certified CTE teacher and Washington State-endorsed CS teacher, Michelle teaches Mathematics and Computer Science at Fife High School and acts as the CTE department chair and Building Technology Instructor.

In the classroom, Michelle is a tireless advocate for her students. Founder of her school’s competition Robotics team, Michelle encourages her students to voice their opinions and listen to their peers. Along with revamping the Algebra I curriculum to include culturally relevant examples and attending regular professional development workshops, Michelle coordinates a STEM Carnival for her school where students can create and host stations to teach their peers about 3D modeling, computer programming, and more. Her innovative teaching methods foster student-centered curiosity and exploration through her workshop-style classes. 

Michelle's dedication to inclusive education is rooted in her experience with GeauxTeach, where she learned to collaborate with fellow educators, drawing on their individual experiences and backgrounds to encourage engagement and community building among her peers. Michelle is an active member of Puget Sound CSTA and CSForAllWashington, where she regularly meets to discuss CS education within the lens of Washington legislation. Michelle’s advocacy, creativity, and transformative approach to STEM teaching reflect her belief in the power of education to enact positive change.

Outstanding Staff Award — Aaron Koehler, UTeach Austin

Aaron Koehler

Aaron Koehler is the Academic Services Manager, UTeach Access Student Services Manager, and a UTeach Academics Advisor for the UTeach Austin program at the University of Texas at Austin.

His steadfast dedication to students makes Aaron’s impact significant and widespread. Through his creation of the UTeach Austin Student Ambassador program, Aaron has mentored 14 student interns, marketed the program to roughly 12,000 students each semester, and created countless community engagement events to bring students together. When feedback indicated a desire for more educational resources outside of the classroom, Aaron, in partnership with professors and student ambassadors, created the Wednesday Workshop series where students, instructors, and alumni can come together to discuss topics like serving students with disabilities, deepening communication skills, methods of assessment, and how to bring creativity to the classroom. He has developed countless recruitment and retention strategies, like UTeach Palooza and Step 1 Snack Bag Delivery, and he facilitates the annual UTeach Town Hall. 

His innovation, originality, and enthusiasm have fostered an environment where students feel supported and have resources to aid in their success, both in and out of the classroom. A flexible and solution-oriented addition to the UTeach Austin team, Aaron has fostered an environment dedicated to innovation, originality, and adaptability. His positive spirit keeps everyone around him feeling motivated and inspired. 

USEA Special Award — Dr. Dana Grosser-Clarkson, Terrapin Teachers

Dana Grosser-Clarkson

Dr. Dana Grosser-Clarkson has been involved in the Terrapin Teachers program at the University of Maryland for over 10 years, moving from doctoral student to post-doctoral student and now to Master Teacher. Referred to fondly by peers as “not only a fantastic educator but an amazing colleague and overall human being,” she has dedicated her career to furthering STEM education in her community and nationwide through her tireless advocacy efforts, inclusivity, and commitment to fostering meaningful relationships with colleagues and students alike.

Dr. Grosser-Clarkson is the founding faculty member of her local NCTM student affiliate, the Future Mathematics Teacher Council, secretary of the Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators, 13-time advisor of student presentations at the Michigan Early Career Teaching Conference, and speaker at the 2023 Building Community Through Resource Sharing Conference. She has also acted as faculty advisor for two alumni book clubs and works especially hard to keep in contact with her former students through community-building events and by attending their presentations at conferences, as well as sharing resources through social media groups and meeting in person to talk about inclusion and equity.

Colleagues who teach near her classroom say they frequently hear laughter and collaboration and express that, if they could, they would “turn back the hands of time to have her as a teacher.” Dana was nominated for the Donna B. Hamilton Teaching Award at the University of Maryland and has been identified by past students as a “most influential teaching mentor.” Dr. Grosser-Clarkson is an exemplary educator, taking true delight in creating community around the joy, wonder, and beauty of mathematics.


Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award

Dr. David Sparks, UTeach at Permian Basin

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Dr. Jacqueline Ekeoba, teachHOUSTON

Outstanding Alumni Award

Preston Dozier, UTeach Dallas

USEA Special Award

Elizabeth Goldberg, UTeach Dallas


Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award

Emily Hennessy, UTeach Dallas

Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award

Sherry Southerland, FSU-Teach

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Paige Evans, teachHOUSTON

Outstanding Alumni Award

Alexander Eden, UTeach at the University of Massachusetts Lowell

Outstanding Staff Award

Michelle Lowry, UTeach Austin


USEA Special Award 

Jennifer Smith, UTeach Austin

Tim Sears, UTRGV UTeach

Rachel George, CWU Teach STEM

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award

Michael Odell, UTeach Tyler

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Katie Donaldson, UTeach Dallas

Outstanding Alumni Award

Spencer Martin, UTeach Austin

Carlos Perez, teachHOUSTON

Outstanding Staff Award 

Leah McAllister-Shields, teachHOUSTON


Special Award for Outstanding Contributions to STEM Education 

Mariam Manuel, University of Houston

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award

Martha Day, Western Kentucky University

Outstanding Master Teacher Award 

Michael Ralph, University of Kansas

Outstanding Alumni Award

Kira Lowery, UTeach Austin

Outstanding Staff Award 

Monica Yates, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley


USEA President's Award 

Larry Abraham, University of Texas at Austin

Special Award for Outstanding Contributions to STEM Education 

Ariel Taylor, University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Shelly Rodriguez, University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Staff Award 

Erin Gonzales, UTeach Arlington

Outstanding Alumni Award 

Amieé Himler, UTeach Dallas


Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award

Dr. Greg Hale, University of Texas at Arlington

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Rico Tyler, University of Western Kentucky

Outstanding Staff Award 

Kim Distin, University of Texas at Dallas

Outstanding Alumni Awaard

Jennifer West, UTeach Arlington


USEA President's Award 

Carrie Culpepper

Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award

Lisa Duffin, Western Kentucky University

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Pamela Powell, University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Alumni Award 

Janice Trinidad, UTeach Austin

Outstanding Staff Award 

Lindsey Robinson, University of West Georgia

USEA Special Award 

Tracy LaQuey Parker


Outstanding Faculty Award

Mark Daniels, University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Master Teacher Award

Perri Segura, University of Houston

Outstanding Alumni Award 

William Kiker, UTeach Austin

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