UTeach Alumnus Spotlight

We are featuring UTeach alumni who are doing amazing things in research or their community.Know an alumnus who deserves the spotlight? Let us know here, and they could be featured in an upcoming USEA newsletter. Self-nominations are welcome!

Ralph Saint-Louis, UTeach, UMass Lowell

Ralph Saint-LouisWe are delighted to introduce Ralph Saint-Louis, who was recently recognized with local (Science Educator of the Year Award for Middlesex County, 2020), state (Top 5 Massachusetts STEM Educators of the Year, 2021; Sontag Prize for Excellence in Urban Education, 2022), and national (Marquis Who's Who Top Educators, 2021) awards for his commitment to education and excellence in the classroom.

I teach Biology and Chemistry at Lowell High School in Lowell, MA, where I also advise for the Tenacity Challenge Academic Decathlon and Strings Club. I graduated from UMass Lowell with a B.S. in Biology and Education, and then an M.S. in Biological Sciences with a focus in Biotechnology and Business. I am currently pursuing a CAGS in Educational Leadership and Management at Fitchburg State University.

We are keenly aware that our students need us to be so much more than content disseminators. Massachusetts currently has unprecedented funding levels for education, so we have an opportunity to push the system and ourselves to address the needs of our students. Right now, I work on the Portrait of a Graduate team in my district; we are responsible for re-envisioning what education looks like in Lowell Public Schools, with a focus on equity.

As a system, we are tasked with developing students' social-emotional competencies and the real-world skills to be life, career, or college-ready. This single understanding has given me a mission to explore and develop pedagogies for student-centered learning. It excites me that I have such a purpose in learning new practices to meet the needs of my students. I challenge my students every day to be curious and look at situations from a different perspective. I believe that, as long as students leverage their curiosity to aim for a meaningful understanding of content beyond memorization, they are developing essential skills to become productive and responsible members of our society. 

By the time I finish the year with my students, I want them to have developed a positive relationship with the idea that learning requires a productive struggle and a growth mindset. To achieve this outcome, I strive to create a welcoming and affirming environment that is conducive to learning.

 

Laura Beck, STEMteach, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Laura BeckWe are thrilled to introduce Laura Beck from STEMteach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF). She is the lead author on an article in The Science Teacher.

I am currently teaching Physics and Earth Science in a 100% Remote Learning Program through the Lincoln Public School System in Lincoln, Nebraska. I recently completed my Master of Science Education in Spring 2021 from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In Summer 2021, I was the lead author on an article titled “Who is Most Affected by COVID-19?” which was published in The Science Teacher. The article is about teaching social justice through StoryMaps and focuses on ways students can use the data from StroyMaps to answer their own research questions, especially as they relate to racial disparities. I also work with the STEP UP program to promote more females in physics.

 

Miranda Blaser, MonarchTeach, Old Dominion University

Alumnus Miranda BlaserWe are excited to introduce Miranda Blaser from MonarchTeach at Old Dominion University. Miranda will be presenting many of the strategies she learned at the UTeach Conference at her alma mater’s Induction Week

I am currently teaching inclusion geometry at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I plan to present to my fellow alumni a variety of useful online tools for creating interactive slides that could be used in a virtual setting or a contactless face-to-face setting. I also learned engaging math activities to share that can be used in any educational setting such as Arithmetiquities, a mathematical fantasy adventure told through a sequence of pre-algebra story problems.

 

Ken Suura, UTeach Dallas, University of Texas at Dallas

Alumnus Ken SuuraWe are pleased to introduce Ken Suura from UTeach Dallas at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the student curriculum team lead on the NSF-funded STEM+C physics education project Scaffolded Training Environment for Physics Programming (STEPP) available to classrooms this fall at stepp.utdallas.edu.

I have a M.S. in Physics at UT Dallas (completed in Spring 2020) and an M.A. in Teaching from the Science/Mathematics Education Department at UT Dallas (expected graduation date, Spring 2021). My role on STEPP is to act as the curriculum team student lead as well as the project manager. This involves giving input on design and features for the application alongside current in-service teachers. In addition, I create materials such as practice problems, lesson plans, videos, and curriculum guides for implementation of STEPP. I also work with students and faculty in our field test to ensure STEPP runs as smoothly as possible in the classroom. Lastly, I have given presentations and workshops at conferences like CAST and Mini-CAST to in-service teachers on STEPP and ways STEPP can be used to supplement current physics curriculum. One thing I’d like to add is that I’m actually still a pre-service teacher. I’m currently job hunting which is super exciting!

 

Miranda Mellen, STEMteach, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Alumnus Miranda MellenWe are delighted to introduce Miranda Mellen from STEMteach at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls (UWRF). Her article will appear in an upcoming edition of NSTA’s Science Teacher Idea Bank

I am currently teaching at Portage High School in Portage, WI, and teach biology. My article "Bringing Literacy into the Biology Classroom using Story Progressions" is about how I incorporate story writing into my classroom to help students review and learn different biological processes. Essentially, Story Progressions give students a list of terms in a specific order related to a biological process. The students need to create a story, using those terms in that order, that explains how that process works. For example, they write a story that explains how cell division works using the terms given to them. The article goes into detail about what a Story Progression is, how I use them in my classroom, and ways to adapt the Story Progressions to fit the needs of different learners.