Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers

Grant Recipients

Tomika R. Altman (2015)
Seawell Elementary School
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District

Ms. Tomika R. Altman is a K-5 Academically and Intellectually Gifted Facilitator/Teacher at Fayetteville Street Elementary School in Durham Public Schools.  She has over ten years experience in education and has taught every grade level in K-12.

Mrs. Altman first became interested in S.T.E.M. in 2012, when she completed her Kenan Fellowship, Common Core Curriculum Design, with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).  Since then she has completed the NC Science Leadership Association Fellows Program and the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) Data Literacy Specialist Training. [more

Michelle Beard (2013)
Alleghany High School
Alleghany County School System

After graduating college, Beard worked as a chemist for eight years, mostly in the environmental field, as well as pharmaceuticals.  She taught six years of chemistry in southern California.

From there, she moved and taught in Phoenix, Az. for five years and then moved to Alleghany High School in Sparta N.C. where she currently teaches all levels of chemistry and physics. She feels fortunate to have earned the CASMT and the PRISM grant from BWF as well as funding from DonorsChoose and is looking forward to using more technology within her classroom to make her students better prepared for college and/or work.

Casandra S. Cherry (2019)
Phillips Middle
Edgecombe County Schools

My philosophy as an educator is that I strive to find the abilities in all children I teach, and empower them to believe in those abilities and be the best people they can be. My goal as an educator is to prepare students globally, instill a growth mindset, and foster an appreciation for math and science.

I attended Elizabeth City State University and graduated with honors –Cum Laude in May of 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology-Social Work. Upon graduating I worked as a high risk social worker level one with parents and children at Tideland Mental Health in Beaufort, County NC. [more]

Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark (2013)
Charles D. Owen High School
Buncombe County Schools

Kimberly Clark has been an educator in the Buncombe County Schools system for eleven years. She has enjoyed teaching mathematics at Charles D. Owen High School in Black Mountain for most of those years. In 2009, Kim took a break from the classroom to become Buncombe County Schools’ first high school mathematics coach. For two years she collaborated with high school and middle school mathematics teachers, and other instructional coaches to improve teaching and learning. She worked directly with the mathematics curriculum specialist to promote teacher leadership and provide professional development in preparation for the transition to the Common Core. She returned to her classroom at Charles D. Owen High School in 2011 in order to apply what she learned in her experiences as a mathematics coach and to create a model classroom reflecting the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Kim is a 2001 graduate of Appalachian State University and she attained her National Board Certification in 2007. [more]

Renata Crawley (2019)
West Marion Elementary School
McDowell County Schools

Mrs. Renata Crawley has been a teacher at West Marion Elementary School located in McDowell County for the past 28 years.  Renata grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where a love of nature was instilled in her at a young age.  Hours were spent hiking mountain trails and fishing with her father on Lake James.  Renata has always believed that children become most excited when time is spent outdoors.  

For the past ten years, Renata has been the director of after school science clubs, Project Wild Thing, an outdoor program that focuses on students learning inquiry based science on nature trails, butterfly gardens, fields, and streams.  Renata developed the program, Nurture Your Nature, to inspire teachers to implement inquiry based science activities in an outdoor setting.  This program creates outdoor classrooms at all elementary schools in McDowell County, and includes activities centered on the monarch butterfly, composting, aquatic insects, birds, trees, and nature trails.  Students take on the role of field scientists by observing nature, exploring, researching, and becoming active citizens within their community.  

Michele Ellis (2013)
Hunter Huss High School
Gaston County Schools

Michelle Ellis is an 11 year teaching veteran. She started her career after she graduated Belmont Abbey College in 2002 with a degree in Elementary Education. After her rookie year as a 7th grade math teacher at York Chester Middle School,  she transferred to Lingerfeldt Elementary School where she taught for nine years. During her tenure at Lingerfeldt, she developed an even greater perspective on how science should be incorporated more at the elementary level.

She became more involved in science education’s curriculum and policies. She was chosen to work on the 5th grade science curriculum unit development team for NCDPI and was chosen as a North Carolina Science Leadership Association Fellow. During her time in elementary school, she completed her AIG and middle school science certifications. In 2012, Michelle completed her Master’s in Education with a Specialization in Science K-8 from Walden University.

In the Fall of 2014, Ellis transferred to Hunter Huss High School to become a 9th grade earth and environmental science teacher. She is excited to use her award to further STEM education in the Gaston County School system. Her goal is to share the funding so that a STEM learning network can be built among middle and high schools. This way many economically disadvantaged students can benefit from the resources.

Chris Fisher

Christopher Fisher (2013)
Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts
Monroe County Schools

Chris Fisher teaches Academically and Intellectually Gifted students at Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, a high-needs, Title One school in Monroe.  Prior to transferring to Benton Heights, Fisher taught Science Lab and Third Grade for five years Allenbrook Elementary, a Title One school in Charlotte.   He was recruited to teach at Allenbrook as a part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ (CMS) Strategic Staffing Initiative. 

Throughout his nearly twenty-year teaching career, Fisher’s students have demonstrated high growth in math, due to a differentiated, engaging instructional style that incorporates songs, games, movement, technology, cooperative learning, hands-on activities, and problem solving.  Fisher is also an innovative science teacher, guiding his students in inquiry and integrating science with reading, math, and the arts. [more]

Betsy Foreman (2017)
Holly Tree Elementary
New Hanover County Schools

Betsy Foreman is a dedicated fifth grade teacher with a proven background in improving student performance by developing creative and innovative lesson plans which use best teaching practices for diverse classroom settings.  Additionally, she fosters a cohesive student-learning atmosphere by identifying children's individual and collective needs.  

Foreman earned her teaching degree at Meredith College and received a B.A. in psychology from North Carolina State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.  Currently, she has been an educator at the elementary level for the past 16 years in New Hanover County.  The majority of this time has been spent as a 5th grade science teacher.  In 2005, she received New Hanover County's Walmart Teacher of the Year Award, has been a nationally board certified teacher since 2008 and in 2013, received certification to teach academically and intellectually gifted students. [more]

Justin Jones (2019)
Ansonville Elementary School
Anson County Schools

Justin Jones teaches fourth and fifth grade science at Ansonville Elementary School. Prior to beginning his teaching career, Jones received his BA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and worked for nine years in the biomedical field.

As a result of his hands-on "learn by doing" approach to teaching and learning science, student achievement in science has increased tremendously and the science program at Ansonville Elementary School has been transformed to include opportunities for students such as robotics club, STEM club, a school garden and greenhouse, and much more. Jones and his students are also involved in sharing their excitement for science with families and their community through an annual AES Science Night, science demonstrations at community events, and other opportunities for hands-on learning in the community and at other schools in Anson and surrounding counties.

Jones has also received recognition for his work in the classroom through participation in a Kenan Fellowship with Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, a STEM Fellowship with Discovery Place Education Studio, and numerous grants and awards for STEM programs and activities in his classroom.

Kirk M. Kennedy (2017)
East Duplin High School
Duplin County Schools

Kirk Kennedy received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his Master of Arts in Education from East Carolina University.  He has been an educator in the Duplin County School system for twenty-two years.  During this time, he has taught Biology, Honors Biology, and AP Biology at East Duplin High School.  Also, he became East Duplin High School’s first AP Biology teacher and has been the Science Department Chair for the last twenty years. 

In 2015, Mr. Kennedy became the Lead Biology Teacher for the District in which he travels from to each high school in the district and helps provide support to the Biology teachers.  He plans to use the funds from the Burroughs Wellcome award to help provide Biology teachers all over the district professional development opportunities and in class support.  Also, he plans to purchase technology and lab equipment for his classroom that will help students explore the wonderful world of Biology.

Mr. Kennedy’s tenure has included multiple honors and awards.  He is a National Board Certified Teacher, a Kenan Fellow, and has been the Teacher of the Year twice.  Also, he was the 2015 Outstanding 9-16 Educator Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education.  Aside from his work as a teacher, he enjoys spending time with his wife, April, and his two daughters, Ellison and Emory.

Katie Mauldin Matthews (2015)
Valle Crucis School
Watauga County Schools

Katie Matthews is beginning her 19th year as an educator.  She has been teaching in Watauga County for the past 10 years and taught in Wake County and Richmond, VA prior to returning to Boone in 2005.  She has taught kindergarten and first grade. She is a Nationally Board Certified teacher and is in the graduate program at UNC-Wilmington getting her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  She was Watauga County's Teacher of the Year in 2012-2013.

Katie developed a science mentor program that focuses on partnering primary students with middle school students for weekly science labs.  Science PALS (Partnering in Active Learning through Science) promotes collaboration among students and teachers, with emphasis on STEM based projects and lessons using 21st century skills. The award will help fund Science PALS in Watauga County and surrounding districts.  Katie will also be developing a Science PALS vertically aligned program for K-5 schools during the duration of the grant.

Jennifer Michelle McCarthy (2015)
Jay M. Robinson High School
Cabarrus County Schools

Mrs. McCarthy is a National Board Certified teacher who has taught for nine years at Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord, NC.  She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2011 with a Master’s in Mathematics Education and in 2006 with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics.  She has served as Co-Chair of the Mathematics Department since 2011 and also serves on Robinson’s Academy Design Team.  Using the funds from the Burroughs Wellcome award, Mrs. McCarthy will be working to fully integrate the areas of math, science, and engineering education for students in the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and Automation at Robinson High School.  She will also be working to provide professional development opportunities for mathematics and science teachers on using instructional technology tools to support student inquiry as well as using technology to engage students in relevant and real world problems.  Throughout these experiences, it is her hope that more students will recognize the amazing opportunities in STEM that can provide a bright and exciting future.

Mrs. McCarthy is passionate about passing on her love for mathematics to her students and helping them become critical thinkers.  She also finds that students are most engaged when they feel connected to the mathematics and find it relevant to their futures.  Her overarching goal for this award is to see all mathematics teachers in her department implementing meaningful collaborative hands-on activities with 21st Century technology and innovative materials that help students understand the integrated nature of all STEM fields.

Sonja McKay (2013)
Exploris Middle School
N.C. Charter School

Sonja McKay is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence Mathematics. She earned a MEd in Middle Grades Mathematics Education from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She earned her undergraduate degree in Middle Grades Mathematics and Science Education as a Teaching Fellow at Appalachian State University.

Sonja McKay currently teaches seventh grade at Exploris Middle School, an innovative charter school in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Before moving to Raleigh in 2004, Sonja taught sixth grade mathematics and science in Guilford County.

In 2010, Sonja McKay completed a two year Kenan Fellowship during which her students piloted STEM curriculum related to sustainability, consumerism, and packaging design. Sonja McKay’s work through the CASM Award builds upon her Kenan Fellowship work in design thinking. Over the next five years, McKay will work with in-service and pre-service teachers to incorporate design thinking into student experiences that are authentic, issue-driven, and project-based.

Beverly Owens (2019)
Kings Mountain Middle School
Cleveland County Schools

Mrs. Beverly Owens is an 8th grade science teacher at Kings Mountain Middle School in Cleveland County. She also teaches online Earth and Environmental Science, and coaches her school’s Science Olympiad team. Owens works closely with her Professional Learning Community, the “Science Squad,” and they implement a unique model of science-inclusive blended learning in their classes.

Mrs. Owens has over 15 years experience as an educator. In addition to working as a classroom teacher, Owens has been a part-time Program Specialist at the Schiele Museum of Natural History for 13 years, and worked for two years as the Program Manager of Professional Development at the Discovery Place Education Studio.  [more]

Brad Rhew (2017)
Cook Literacy Model School
Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2010 with a Bachelor of Education degree in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in science and social studies, Brad spent his first six years teaching at Walkertown Middle School in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System. His performance was recognized with the Promise Award, a prestigious award given to teachers showing great potential, responsibility, ingenuity, and innovation in their first year of teaching within the county. In 2014, his teaching excellence was again recognized, being selected to receive the Outstanding K-8 Educator Award given by the SMT Center. In addition, he has also received the SciWorks Innovation in Science Education Award and the NCAE Educator of Excellence Award.  [more]

Melaine Rickard (2017)
Western Alamance Middle School
Alamance Burlington School System

Melaine Rickard is an educator with twenty-four years’ experience. She earned a BA in Middle Grades Education from Elon College with concentrations in English and Social Studies. Ten years into her career, she realized that science education, particularly inquiry-based science education, was her passion and gained certification in middle grades science. She is National Board certified in Early Adolescent Science and a holds a master’s degree in middle grades science education from UNC Chapel Hill. She is also AIG certified. 

While she has taught all middle school grades and subjects, Rickard currently teaches gifted students. In this role, she gets to enrich and challenge students in her own class and to co-teach with all the core teachers in her school. Using this format, she plans to use the award to integrate STEM learning strategies into all subjects at her school. [more]

Jodi S. Riedel (2015)
Wakefield High School
Wake County Public Schools

Jodi Songer Riedel teaches Agricultural Education and Family and Consumer Science classes at Wakefield High School in Raleigh, NC. Her program is a fusion of food science and horticulture applications. She has taught for 13 years, focusing on urban farming and the farm to fork continuum. While at Wakefield, she has obtained several grants to help fund and establish three vegetable gardens for the school grounds. She focuses on not only sustainable cultivation practices but also what to do with crops after they have been harvested. Students grow vegetables, herbs, and fruits that are then harvested and used by the food science classes. Students learn how to use the commodities but also how to preserve them. As a Kenan Fellow, Governor's Teacher Network member and now the author of a national high school horticulture textbook, Jodi's passion is to create STEM lessons that get students hands dirty, bodies moving, and minds engaged. [more]

John D. Scarfpin (2015)
Havelock High School
Craven County Schools

John D. Scarfpin has taught STEM in Craven County Schools for the past seven years. He is currently at Havelock High School working on creating a high school level STEM program.

He graduated from Ohio University in 2008 and worked at Tucker Creek Middle School. He received a grant to attend NASA Teacher Academy. In 2011, he studied Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and was awarded an opportunity to participate in the Fulbright Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program. Through this program he learned about ESD and traveled to Japan to see how it was implemented in their education system. [more]

Sallie Senseney (2019)
Mountain Heritage High School
Yancey County Schools

Sallie Senseney has taught Biology, AP Biology, and Earth Science at Mountain Heritage High School since 2010.  She returned to MHHS, her home high school, after earning an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  At UNC, she was a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Scholar in the UNC-BEST program.  She earned her National Board Certification in 2014 and a master’s degree in biology from Clemson University in 2017.

In the classroom, Sallie focuses on building relationships with her students in order to make science content relevant to them.  She utilizes hands-on teaching strategies to engage students and uses her school’s rural campus to study concepts like biodiversity, invasive species, and water quality.  Sallie has been recognized for excellence in teaching by Yancey County Schools and is the 2018-2019 Mountain Heritage High School Teacher of the Year.

Sallie is excited to use the Career Award to create an Innovation Lab at her school, strengthen science instruction by providing professional development to K-12 teachers in Yancey County Schools, and integrate science teaching into the internship program at her school.

Lauren McLeod Strickland (2017)
Four Oaks Elementary School
Johnson County Public Schools

Mrs. Lauren McLeod Strickland is a 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher at Four Oaks Elementary School in Johnston County Public Schools.  She is a National Board Certified teacher with over twelve years of experience in the K-5 classroom.   She was Johnston County Public Schools’ NCCTM Teacher of the Year in 2015 and a finalist for Johnston County Public Schools’ Flame for Learning Award in 2011. 

Lauren’s passion is inquiry based math and science instruction.  Her teaching is rooted in the idea that students should never be prematurely taught something they are capable of discovering for themselves.  She is frequently called to facilitate professional development sessions in the areas of mathematics and science in her district and across the state.  Lauren is a facilitator for the North Carolina Inquiry Science Collaborative Network.  She has presented multiple sessions at the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference and the Triangle High Five Math Summit. [more]

Rolie 'Andi" Adrienne Webb (2015)
Alderman Road Elementary
Cumberland County Schools

Andi Webb was born and raised in North Carolina. After receiving her education in Cumberland County Schools, Andi graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a double major in elementary education and English. She was then hired to work in her hometown as a kindergarten teacher. Her own first grade teacher became a principal and hired her as a first year teacher. Andi is now in her 16th year in education. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in education with a focus on science education K-8. [more]