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Hello educators! We are so happy to have you join us! Please meet the team :)


Karen A.L. Guerrero, PhD, EdD
Principle Investigator

Karen Guerrero is an educator with 20 years of K-12 classroom experience, 16 years of teaching future educators at local colleges and universities, and 20 years of conducting teacher professional development. She has worked with a variety of students from inner-city children to urban adults.  Her research focus is teaching STEM content to diverse learners. She is a National Geographic explorer with research on STEMSS teaching and learning and continually looks for opportunities to collaborate globally.


Dianne McKee, MEd
Project Director

Dianne McKee is an alumnus of ASU and brings over 20 years experience teaching in both formal and non-formal settings, directing federal and regional grants, developing courses and curricula, and designing and delivering both in-person and online professional development for K-12 teachers. She is a Teacher Consultant for the Arizona Geographic Alliance, and a Teacher Trainer for Engineering is Elementary, Makey Makey and Population Education. She has also authored numerous science, environmental, and geographic student publications, as well as developed a number of environmental programs, courses, and training guides for government agencies and non-profit organizations.


Dawn Lambson, EdD
Academic Coach

Dr. Dawn Lambson received her Bachelor's Degree from Arizona State University in Elementary Education and Special Education, Learning Disabilities, and taught in various capacities in elementary and middle school classrooms in the Phoenix area. She then received her Master's Degree from ASU in Teaching English as a Second Language (MTESL) and went on to receive her doctorate from ASU in Curriculum & Instruction/Language and Literacy, with an emphasis on Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). She then served as a lecturer in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of English, teaching English language education courses to pre-service and in-service teachers. She also served as Program Coordinator for the BLE/ESL Initial Teacher Certification Program at Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College from 2008 to 2011.

In 2018, Dr. Lambson served as the project director for the STEMSS CRUISE EL Project, a National Professional Development grant-funded project through the Office of English Language Acquisition, providing STEMSS-based professional development for teachers of English learners. Dr. Lambson currently serves as Teacher Coach and Mentor for teachers participating in the STEMSS CRUISE EL Project, supporting them to develop their knowledge and skills for teaching ELLs and helping them to effectively apply their learning to better support the English language learners in their classrooms.

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Stephanie Nunez

Student Assistant

Stephanie is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Astrophysics at Arizona State University. She's also earning 2 minors: Spanish and Biology. After graduation, she wants to continue her studies culminating in her Ph.D., and then hopefully work for NASA studying supernovas.


Melissa Mercado

Cesar E.Chavez Leadership Academy


Yá'át'ééh! My name is Melissa Mercado and I am an Indigenous matriarch from the Diné (Navajo) Nation. I am a proud Arizona State University alumni, graduating with a degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. Currently, I am at the end of my third year teaching at Cesar E.Chavez Leadership Academy in South Phoenix, Arizona, where I teach science to fifth and sixth graders. In the last seven years, I have had the opportunity to participate in various organizations that allowed me to present my experiences and knowledge at numerous local and national conferences, giving a voice to indigenous voices. As an indigenous person, I am constantly working to decolonize my way of life and advocate and create opportunities for indigenous youth to reclaim and sustain language and culture. For this reason, during the summer I host a day camp to provide space and learning for Diné kids to connect to their culture, language, and other kids. I find joy in dancing salsa, bachata, cha cha cha, and merengue, spending time with my siblings and family, learning Spanish and human anatomy and physiology, crafting, and sewing.

Dr. Margarita Jimenez-Silva

External Evaluator

Dr. Margarita Jimenez-Silva is Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Education at the University of California, Davis, and co-founder of Sisterhood for Equity Consulting. Prior to entering higher education, Professor Jimenez-Silva worked with newcomer students as a middle-school math and science. Her research focuses on preparing and supporting teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse learners. She has coordinated curriculum and programs addressing the needs of emergent bilinguals in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Jimenez-Silva has evaluated numerous federally-funded projects. Her most recent work focuses on developing pipelines of future bilingual teachers in ways that honor and build on their cultural and linguistic capital. Her research has been published by journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Multicultural Perspectives, and the Journal of Research on Childhood Education.


Sara Laplanche, MPA

Project Coordinator

Of Haitian American decent, Sara Cassandre Laplanche was born in Brooklyn, NY but raised in Haiti. She did her primary studies in Haiti and moved back to the US post the 2010 earthquake that happened in Haiti . She proceeded to complete her High School diploma in Brooklyn , Associate degree of science from  Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2014 and attended St John Fisher University, Rochester NY in 2016 where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and minor in languages, specifically French and Spanish.  She went ahead to pursue a Master in Public Administration from Long Island University Brooklyn campus in 2021. After the latest studies, she decided to broaden her horizons and moved to Arizona in December 2021.

 ASU Housing Department welcomed Sara among their ranks as an Occupancy manager and provided her with extensive managerial experience. Sara is thrilled to join the team as a program coordinator on this new adventure because she loves to travel, to discover new places, cultures and new challenges. She cannot wait to see what the future will bring with The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University (Geocivics Project) . 

Ashley Alarcon, MEd
Pensar Academy


My name is Ashley Alarcon and I currently teach at Pensar Academy; a public, Project Based Learning school serving students in grades 4th -8th grade located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. Previously, I taught 6th grade and this will be my fourth year teaching 4th grade. I am an enrolled member of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe: we are the southernmost branch of Souther Paiute.  I’m from a small town alongside the Colorado River called Parker, Arizona. I moved to the valley over a decade ago to attend Arizona State University, and then Grand Canyon University. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Grand Canyon University. I am an active member of my school community and continue to seek opportunities to perfect my teaching craft and support my diverse learners. I am also a proud member of the Arizona Geographic Alliance. I was a part of the 2020 STEMSS Cohort and then became a Teacher Lead in the Summer of 2021. I am extremely passionate about multicultural education and representation in the classroom!

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