Skip to main content

Congratulations to Crew 4 of NC Space Education Ambassadors

collage of three images 1) learning activity NCSEA participated in, 2) NCSEA looking at NASA Langley Research center's Gantry, and 3) planet figurine held by 2 hands
The first three crews of NC Space Education Ambassadors traveled to and toured NASA Langley Research Center in Summer 2023. NCSEA were immersed in all-things STEM education and participated in professional development opportunities, an experience this year’s new crew will have in Summer 2024.

North Carolina Space Grant welcomes Crew 4 of North Carolina Space Education Ambassadors (NCSEA). This year, 15 ambassadors join NC Space Grant’s statewide network of master teachers who deliver NASA educational content to their students, colleagues and communities. 

Six counties are newly represented in this year’s group of ambassadors, bringing the total number of NC counties with ambassadors to 34. New to the list this year are: Cleveland, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Wilkes and Randolph counties. 

“We welcome our newest cohort of ambassadors and look forward to expanding space education into more school districts across the state,” Jobi Cook, associate director of NC Space Grant, said.

Over the next year, newly selected NCSEA will participate in professional development in current NASA Next Gen STEM and NASA mission-related education themes in collaboration with NASA Langley Research Center. NCSEA will also travel to and tour NASA Langley and participate in additional professional development activities. 

From the program’s start in 2020 through 2022, NC Space Grant trained 44 educators from 28 counties in the state. Additionally, Ambassadors have led 55 activities beyond the classroom, including presentations at professional conferences and outreach to community groups, serving 500 teachers and over 5,000 students.

“The NC Space Grant team is excited to see all Crew 4 accomplishes, learns and contributes over the next year,” Cook said. 

“How lucky can one person get? The opportunities presented by the NCSEA program are my most favorite things: space, astronomy, engineering, and science!” said Thelma Kastl, Drone Technology, Engineering and Sustainable Development Teacher at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek.

“Every opportunity planned by the NCSEA program literally thrills me. I am excited to collaborate on lessons that will inspire students to achieve success in STEM and to do research as we develop lessons and opportunities. I can’t wait to share my passion for NASA and space education within my school and community.”

Meet Crew 4 of NC Space Education Ambassadors

Rita Almond
Math and Science Teacher at Uwharrie Charter Elementary; Asheboro, Randolph County

“Space can be abstract learning content, like so much of technology. I am excited to learn more in the presentations by NASA professionals.”

Savannah Brown
Science Teacher at Hunters Creek Middle School; Jacksonville, Onslow County

“As a female in STEM, I am always working towards breaking ceilings for all of my students and showing them that the field of science is immensely vast, and holds no reservations for what gender, color, or age you are. Everyone can be a scientist. It is important to get students excited about the field of space exploration and research at a young age when their world is ever changing, so that we can plant the seeds for growth when they begin to enter the workforce. I firmly believe in the quote by Walt Disney that ‘Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.’” 

Carla Butts
Instructional Technology Facilitator and STEM Teacher at Overhills Elementary School; Spring Lake, Harnett County

“It’s important to equip the next generation of STEM leaders with NASA/Space education so the sacrifices and successes of our early explorers are never forgotten and so they can take the next great leap forward for all mankind.”

Tesia Bynum
Digital Literacy Coach at Martin Millennium Academy; Tarboro, Edgecombe County

“It is important to equip the next generation of STEM leaders with NASA/Space education because we live in an ever evolving world of technology and there is so much to discover and learn. Each day new technologies are created to help educators create new learning opportunities for scholars; therefore, equipping scholars with 21st Century skills in correlation with NASA/Space education will give our scholars the tools and resources needed to flourish in the workplace.”

Jenny Combs
Digital Teaching and Learning Specialist for Wilson County Schools; Wilson, Wilson County

“In my role, I spend much of my time coaching teachers, specifically STEM facilitators, how to incorporate STEM into their daily curriculum across settings. NASA’s resources are engaging and relative to what teachers need to equip their students with real life learning experiences. I think it is important to share this next generation of STEM leaders this information to continue engaging them and getting them interested in STEM careers, since they are the future of our world.”

Lisa Cook
AIG Coordinator and STEAM/STEM Teacher at Shining Rock Classical Academy; Waynesville, Haywood County

“It’s important to equip our next generation with space education as they have more job opportunities than ever in space exploration, communication and medical research advancement.”

Melissa Coxe
Music Teacher at Eastern Elementary School; Greenville, Pitt County

“I am excited to meet other educators from across our state and learn not only along with them, but also from their experiences. I am looking forward to the astronomy and space exploration lessons.”

Brandon Dillman
Earth and Environmental Science Teacher at White Oak High School; Jacksonville, Onslow County

“It is important to equip the next generation of STEM leaders with NASA education to build their skills to advance space exploration and explore other planetary bodies.”

Carrie Dobbins
Earth/Environmental Science and Biology Teacher at Burns High School; Lawndale, Cleveland County

“Although our knowledge of the universe has expanded greatly in the last few decades, we still have much to learn. Learning about our place in the world, solar system, galaxy, and beyond gives us the opportunity to become better global citizens and build upon our understanding using science experimentation and observation. The study of space allows us to marvel at the fascination, designed complexities, and beauty of places beyond us. It provides the next generation of STEM leaders the opportunity to build upon our current knowledge of the universe and discover new places and spaces for generations to come.”

Deborah Fuge
Teacher at Upward Elementary School; Flat Rock, Henderson County

“It is important for me to give my students access to opportunities that they may not have had the chance to experience before. You never know what it may inspire them to pursue in the future.”

Thelma Kastl
Drone Technology, Engineering and Sustainable Development Teacher at West Wilkes High School; Millers Creek, Wilkes County

“I want to offer NASA and space education learning opportunities that will encourage students to want to explore our world and space. I want to pique students’ curiosity, passion, imagination, hope and resolution through these opportunities. Students need to have hope for the future and need to understand that science, mathematics and engineering is within their grasp to conquer new challenges, find solutions and make new discoveries. Students need inspiration that will spark the drive that led scientists, inventors, explorers, pioneers, adventurers and astronauts to rise to the challenges that called out for a solution or understanding. I want to offer opportunities for students to find the part of themselves that will become a scientist, mathematician, engineer, and astronaut. I want students to know that they are the pioneers, explorers, and adventurers that will make space and space exploration a realization, they will add a new volume of knowledge and discoveries to our collective understanding, and they will be the heroes who inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Susan Miller-Hendrix
Science Supervisor for Public Schools of Robeson County; Lumberton, Robeson County

“Equipping the next generation of STEM leaders with NASA and space education allows our students to see that there is much beyond just our county, state, country, and even planet.”

Jennifer Milton
STEM/SparkLab Leader at Douglas Byrd High School; Fayetteville, Cumberland County

“I am passionate about helping students explore various career areas in STEM, to help them find their passion and show them what’s possible.”

Nicole Scuron
STEM Coordinator at Lakeforest Elementary School; Greenville, Pitt County

“In Pitt County, we view STEM as Strategies That Engage Minds. We are looking to create critical thinkers who can effectively communicate and become productive members of their communities.”

Alyson VanAlphen
Science and Math Teacher at Weddington Middle School; Weddington, Union County

“I want to encourage students to stay curious, ask questions, take risks and learn from trials.”

Share this story!