My Story

I currently work as a Science Education Specialist for the Sanford Underground Research Facility. While scientists from all over the planet search for direct evidence of Dark Matter, and clues to the elusive neutrino, I search for K-12 science connections.

Prior to my current role, I served as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Sioux City Community School District.  One of the great joys of this work is building relationships with teachers and teacher-leaders.  Sioux City Community School District was a recipient of Year 1 funding in Iowa's landmark Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) grants.  I am convinced that empowering teachers as leaders--both within and beyond the classroom will  move the needle on student achievement for Iowa's kids.  I'm glad to have been a part of that work.

In my opinion, the effectiveness of teachers is maximized when three critical components are in place:
  • professional autonomy in the classroom which allows for the art of teaching, implemented with creativity
  • collaborative structures with peers which empowers the exchange of ideas and the participation in team processes
  • deep understanding and application of content that ensure an enacted curriculum which reaches the cognitive demand of the standards 

In 2012-2014, I had the privilege of serving as the Northwest Regional Manager for the Iowa Governor’s STEM Initiative. The top priorities of the initiative are increasing student interest and achievement in science,technology,engineering and math.  

The work we do is far-reaching, significant, and has the potential to create opportunities for both teachers and learners to re-design classroom learning. I honestly believe that STEM might just be the answer to a lot of educational reform questions.

I have a keen interest in exploring alternatives to the carrot and stick model of assessment and credits in educational systems.  I have served on the Iowa Competency Based Education Task Force, and the Next Generation Science Standards Task Force. I contributed to this resource, "The Art and Science of Designing Competencies", and remain deeply committed to the transformational ideas associated with Competency Based Education models. 

I worked in the areas of academic innovation and technology integration, spearheading pilot programs in project-based learning, 1:1 teaching and learning, blended course delivery, and project-based student internships at Spirit Lake High School. 

Along with many other great educators, I helped to design and implement a school-wide initiative, featuring Immersive Project-Based Learning combined with Competency-Based Education Pathways. 

One of the highlights of my professional career was January Term, 2011 at Spirit Lake High School.  The innovation:  stop all traditional teaching and learning for every student and every teacher for twenty days in January.  Recently, the district's work in competency based education, blended learning and personalized project-based-learning at Spirit Lake High School was featured on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills as an exemplary school model.
Experience the journey HERE. This blog is a record of the pioneering work in immersive PBL, accomplished by the students and faculty of Spirit Lake High School.

Read the January Term White Paper, HERE.  This paper includes evaluation data on our January Term work, with contributions from the Iowa Department of Education.

At heart, I am a chemistry geek.  I taught chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry for ten beautiful years at Spirit Lake High School in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

A long time ago, I earned a Master’s degree in the field of inorganic chemistry from the University of South Dakota.  My thesis was, "The Study of Lithiomethyldimethylaminomethyl-borane, and Its dimethylgallata Derivative".  It is compelling reading, and I'd be happy to loan you a copy. (just kidding)

I love school so much, I am still taking classes.  I spent some time studying at a seminary in Sioux Falls, trying to wake up the right side of my brain with classes like theology and servant-leadership. 

I recently completed a second Master of Arts in Education Policy and Leadership at the University of Iowa. 

I hope never to be finished with learning new things.