Meet the 2023 GeoCivics Cohort! Congratulations Everyone!
Carolyn Regan, Ideal Elementary School - Countryside, Illinois
4th & 6th Grade Teacher
My name is Carolyn Regan and I currently teach at Ideal Elementary School; a K-6 grade public school. The school is located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago in Countryside, Illinois. I am an English Language Specialist currently working with 4th grade and 6th grade. This is my 25th year of teaching. I have taught in 3 school districts in Illinois and I also have taken advantage of opportunities to teach in Guayama, Puerto Rico and Cali, Colombia. I’ve been a classroom teacher and an EL Specialist and have worked with every grade level from kindergarten through 8th grade. I was originally born in Iowa, then moved to Indiana and Oklahoma before ending up in the Chicago area. I attended the University of Iowa and received my graduate degree from National Louis University. I also recently achieved my National Board Certification. I am a dedicated staff member and am always seeking out opportunities to broaden my worldview and best support learners of diverse cultures and backgrounds. The one constant in all of my years of teaching is that I have always worked with language learners; as that is truly my passion and has proven to be so rewarding!
Myron Gabriel Reyes Mendoza, San Vincente Elementary School - Saipan, Northern Marianas Islands
My name is Myron Gabriel Reyes Mendoza and I currently teach at San Vicente Elementary School, located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands on the island of Saipan in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is currently my fifth year of teaching. I have taught 2nd grade for two years, and this is my third year of teaching Kindergarten. I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Northern Marianas College and obtained my Master’s Degree in International Teaching from Framingham State University. As an aspiring educator, and a history buff, I am always looking for ways to make Social Studies more interesting, interactive, and fun for my learners. In 2017, I also took part in the NASA-MEI Stem Educator Professional Development Collaborative for pre-service teachers to develop instructional practices to enhance STEM instruction for my students.
Tanisha Dudley-Williams, Brownsville Road Elementary School - Memphis, TN
English as a Second Language/Social Studies Elementary Teacher
My name is Tanisha Dudley-Williams, and I currently teach at Brownsville Road Elementary School in Memphis, TN. It is a public, magnet school serving students in grades kindergarten - 5th grade. In total, I have taught for twenty-four years, and this is my sixteenth-year teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). In addition to my teaching position, I am an ESL peer coach for my school district. I’m a born and raised Memphian. I earned my bachelor’s degree from The University of Memphis and master’s degree at Union University. I am an active member of TESOL and currently serve on the organization’s Research Professional Council (RPC). I am also a proud member of the African Studies Center K-16 Education Advisory Committee for Boston University. In 2019, I was selected as a fellow for the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms. I am very passionate about teaching multilingual learners.
Makatala Iliganoa Tanielu, Olomoana Elementary School - American Samoa
5th Grade teacher
My name is Makatala Iliganoa Tanielu and I currently teach at a local public elementary school in American Samoa (U.S Territory). I taught 4th grade previously for one year. I have been teaching 5th grade for a total of 3 years. I am of Samoan descent born and raised on the tiny island of American Samoa. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my bachelor’s degree in elementary education at our local community college and a master's in education at UAGC (University of Arizona Global Campus) with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. I am an active member of multiple committees in my school and would spend most of my summer in various trainings, academies, etc. I strive to become an effective teacher so I can help all my students learn and improve. I continue to search for strategies and methods that I can implement in my classroom to support multiple learning abilities, especially for our local children. There is still a lot more that I don't know, so I always accept opportunities where I can learn new things and apply them in my classroom.
Lizeth Herrera, J.B. Sutton Elementary School - Phoenix, Arizona
First Grade teacher
My name is Lizeth Herrera. I teach in sunny Phoenix, Arizona for the Isaac Elementary School District. I am 4'11'' so I try to work with children that are shorter than me. I am currently a first grade teacher in the middle of my 7th year in education, and have taught kindergarten and 2nd grade in the past. I am originally from Southern California, and received my Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from New Mexico State University. I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the 2021 STEMSS Cohort and learned so much from my experience. I am also a Teacher Consultant for the Arizona Geographic Alliance. My hobbies include eating and napping.
Jennifer Roman, Cesar Chavez Community School - Phoenix, Arizona
First grade Teacher
My name is Jennifer Roman and I currently teach at Cesar Chavez Community School; a public school serving students in grades Kindergarten - 8th grade located in the heart of South Phoenix, Arizona. Previously, I taught Kindergarten, and this will be my third-year teaching 1st grade. I was born and raised in West Phoenix, Arizona. I moved closer to the Tempe area and earned my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a focus on Bilingual/ESL Education at Arizona State University. I am an active member of my school community as a first grade teacher and the after school clubs coordinator for my school. My favorite part is being able to meet students from all grade levels, outside of just my own first grade classroom. I am also a Teacher Consultant of the Arizona Geographic Alliance. I was a part of the 2020 STEMSS Cohort, the Monarch Migration and Multilingualism Conference, NAME Conference and many more. I am extremely passionate about multicultural education and integrating it into my classroom!
Valerie Tanayan, Luis P. Untalan Middle School - Dededo, Guam
Middle School Social Studies Teacher
Hafa adai, my name is Valerie Tanayan from the beautiful island of Guam. I currently teach at Luis P. Untalan Middle School, a STEM school serving students in grades 6th - 8th in the village of Barrigada. I am born and raised on the island of Guam and live in the village of Dededo. I am going on 11 years of teaching in Guam’s public school system at L.P. Untalan Middle School. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Guam. I have been a nominee for the 2022 Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award which I have received a Congressional Certificate for it. I continue to seek opportunities to hone my craft of teaching and strongly advocate for the representation of multicultural perspectives in the classroom.
Rosa Jimenez - Puerto Rico
4/5th Grade Teacher
Hello! My name is Rosa M. Jimenez. I am from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I was born and raised in Glendale, California. I am an Elementary bilingual teacher, and have been teaching for 27 years. I have a bachelor's degree in English education from the
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico and a Masters degree in teaching ESL from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. I have participated in many different academies related to teaching and improving students' learning abilities. I am also a
member of Puerto Rico TESOL. I enjoy teaching students from all grade levels and learn so much everyday from them. I am looking forward to this new experience and for it to help me be able to provide my students with new ways for them to learn and understand
the importance of history and civics.
Tiara Terlaje, Oceanview Middle School - Guam
7th Grade Geography Teacher
Hafa adai, my name is Tiara Terlaje. I currently teach 7th grade geography at Oceanview Middle School located in the southern region of Guam. This is my 8th year teaching with the Guam Department of Education. I am a proud indigenous Chamorro woman, born and raised on the island of Guam. I earned my bachelor's degree in 2015 and I am currently working to finish my masters degree from the University of Guam. I am passionate about my culture and island. I yearn to continue learning and sharing knowledge of my people while making connections with other people and cultures worldwide. I hope to share this love and passion with all generations but especially for the future leaders and generations including my beautiful daughter, Melody. My family is my support and motivation and I am certain this opportunity will contribute towards the progress and improvement in all aspects of life.
Janet Materdo, East Forsyth Middle School - Kernersville, North Carolina
Middle School Social Studies teacher
My name is Janet Materdo and I currently teach at East Forsyth Middle School (EFMS), a public school in the Winston Salem Forsyth County School District. EFMS is home to the district’s Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program where I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I have been teaching for 24 years and have taught different age groups, ranging from Kindergarten to Adults. I grew up in a rural town in South Carolina where my family was the first bi-racial and bi-cultural family to live there. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Appalachian State University. After graduation, I taught high school Spanish in NC for two years and then became an international teacher in Guadalajara, MX. While teaching kindergarten in Guadalajara, MX, I earned my master’s degree in International Teaching at Framingham State University. Most recently, I earned my add-on licensure in Educational Leadership at High Point University. I am a bilingual educational leader with experience in coaching teachers, growing students, and building capacity within an educational environment. I am passionate about providing an equitable education for all students and their families, especially our Hispanic community. As a Hispanic, Filpina-American, I am able to incorporate my heritage and understanding of Hispanic culture in order to ensure that our students and their parents have a voice.
Jenny Logologo, American Samoa
Middle School Civics teacher
I have been a classroom teacher for 22 years. I have worked from Kindergarten to the 8th grade. I have taught all the content areas. Just 3 years ago, I started teaching civics for 8th graders. The students in American Samoa are 100% English Language Learners. Their first language spoken at home is the Samoan language. However, the language of instruction is delivered in the English language. There is a dire need for an intervention in Social Studies, because many of my students are performing below expectations, and they need to understand the historical context of the instruction. As their teacher, it is very important to find effective means of helping my students learn. In my classroom this year, I have focused on the project-based learning model of teaching. I believe geography/civics is important to the students of American Samoa, as our island is territory of the United States of America. A Deed of Cession was signed on April 17, 1900. This event is critical for the students to gain historical knowledge and its effect on how the people of American Samoa are impacted today. If chosen to attend this academy, I will emphasize the importance of networking among educators. It is of great significance to accept all the strategies to teach the diverse classrooms today.
Cindy James-Maynard, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Middle School Social Studies teacher
“Making a lasting impression on my students is truly my greatest reward”. Cindy James-Maynard has been a proud educator on the island of St. Croix for the last 22 years, educating the minds of Middle school scholars in the territory. I was born on the beautiful island of St. Lucia, West Indies, at the tender age of 8 my parents and I relocated to St. Croix. This is where my formal education began. I am a proud mother of two wonderful children and the wife of an amazing spouse. I currently hold a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary studies and a minor in history which was obtained at Norfolk State University in Norfolk VA. In addition to the Bachelor degree, I also acquired a Master’s of Art in human services with a minor in counseling at Capella University. In my earlier years, I taught elementary for four years and currently teaching U. S. history for 17 years.
In my tender years, I have always had a love for history rich in culture. I love black studies due to one of my professors who made a lasting impression on me, so I decided to minor in history. My future goal as an educator is to expand my knowledge in Geo Civics so I can educate young minds and become very knowledgeable in the field of history. It brings me great joy to see that my teaching and classroom are leaving an impact on young minds. I am looking forward to embrace this opportunity given.
Myla Satterlund Liljemark, Seward Middle School - Seward, Alaska
7/8 Grade US History teacher
My name is Myla Satterlund Liljemark and I am a 7th and 8th grade World and US History teacher at Seward Middle School in Seward, Alaska. I have taught in Seward for the last 18 years with one year spent on an international teacher exchange to New South Wales, Australia. I am originally from Oregon, but left when I was young and grew up in a small village in northern Bavaria, Germany. I earned my Bachelors of Arts in History with a minor in German from Humboldt State University in California. In 2005, I earned my teaching certificate and later my Masters in Education from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. I am a leader in social studies education both in my district and at the state level. For the last two years I have served on the Board of Alaska Council for the Social Studies, and in 2019 I was honored with the Alaska History Teacher of the Year award. I am passionate about global education and helping students connect what they learn in class with the world we live in today.
Samuel D Francés Vázquez, Pensar Academy
8th grade STEM Coach
My name is Samuel D Francés Vázquez, son, brother, uncle, and proud teacher. For the past 7 years, I have worked as the STEM Director at Pensar Academy, but more importantly, I’ve taught STEM subjects to amazing students. I am a native of Puerto Rico where I was born, raised, and educated on the land once inhabited by my ancestors the Taínos. True to my heritage, my ancestral DNA includes European, African, and Taínos markers that exemplify the history of colonialism, slavery, and survival of Puerto Ricans. I moved to Arizona 16 years ago to complete my Master in Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary Education at Arizona State University supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation - Bridge to Teaching. I have called Arizona my second home ever since and I have built a chosen family who made me feel loved and that I belong. It is that sense of belonging and love that I strive to provide to students in my classroom. I want them to know that they belong and that they are worthy of a world-class education. As an educator and educational leader, I strive to provide students with opportunities to learn and pursue their dreams knowing they are capable and worthy. I want them to hear loud and clear "Si se puede/Yes we can." I am a Big with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona in which I have had the distinct honor of mentoring a little for almost 2 years. I am always looking for opportunities to improve my professional and personal capacity and ultimately better impact my contribution to the lives of those I serve; the GeoCivics Academy seems like a great opportunity to improve my capacities!
Ruth Luevanos, John R. Wooden High School - Los Angeles, California
Cross Curricular/Social Studies High School teacher
My name is Ruth Luevanos and I am a National Board Certified social studies teacher who has taught diverse, underserved students in K-12 schools in the Los Angeles area for over twenty three years. I am currently a full time cross curricular teacher and Students Run LA Advisor at John R. Wooden High School in the Los Angeles area. I have presented at several conferences including the National Council for Social Studies, the California Council for Social Studies and the Hawaii International Conference for Education. I am a former Teach Plus Fellow for Los Angeles as well as a former chair for the California Council for Social Studies Committee for Diversity. I have a BA in Criminal Justice from George Washington University, a JD from Loyola Law School and an MA in Instructional Leadership from Argosy University. I am extremely passionate about promoting students’ critical thinking and civic engagement by connecting local, regional and national public policy issues to classroom instruction through my recent four year experience as a Simi Valley City Councilmember, a Trustee for the Ventura County Waterworks District No. 8, a Trustee for the Simi Valley Library Board of Trustees and a Board Member for the Clean Power Alliance.
Cindy Cantu, iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas - McAllen, Texas
Bilingual Reading Specialist/Social Studies teacher
My name is Cindy Cantu, and I am currently a Bilingual Reading Specialist for iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas. Teaching is my passion, and I have advocated for a multicultural pedagogy for over 22 years. I focus on teaching literacy, social studies, and reading skills pertinent to student success. I am from the small town of McAllen, Texas, which embraces bilingual learning and diverse cultures. I earned my bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees specializing in curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. My research focused on the representation of emergent bilingual Mexican American in literature. I have been published in several journals, including the Journal of Latinos and Education. I am a proud editor for The Qualitative Report (TQR) Journal and a Kappa Delta Pi Educational Honor Society member. I have worked to develop initiatives that ensure students have access to quality education in spaces where they are empowered, heard, and reflected in the curriculum. I also enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my family.
Parag Bhuva, Washington Latin Public Charter School - Washington DC
World History/AP Human Geography/Meditation teacher
My name is Parag Bhuva and I currently teach at Washington Latin Public Charter School, a public 5th-12th Classical school in Washington DC. I teach World History, AP Human Geography, and Meditation and this will be my 11th year teaching. I'm originally from Connecticut, graduated with both a Bachelor's and Master's from UConn and am a proud Huskies basketball fan. I'm very passionate about weaving in multiple disciplines into History classes and take responsibility of teaching a truly multicultural history very seriously. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and learn about Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and other US territories!
Ariel Alford, Washington DC
Social Studies High School teacher
My name is Ariel Alford, I am a high school social studies teacher and curriculum writer currently living in Washington DC. I am a graduate of Howard University, where I majored in History and Africana Studies with a professional minor in Urban Secondary Education. My passion for history education and the holistic development of children has led me to work with youth in Alexandria VA, Washington DC, Chicago IL, Philadelphia PA, and Kansas City MO.
Born and raised in Richmond Virginia to a high school math teacher and small business owner, I developed a love for history at an early age. My parents further cultivated this love and instilled in me a deep rooted belief in service to the people, a strong sense of respect for our cultural heritage and a passion for justice. This foundation has translated into a life and career dedicated to the study of history, with a specialty in the African Diaspora.
I am actively involved in professional organizations and initiatives related to decolonizing curriculum, culturally responsive pedagogy, and anti-racism within the United States and abroad. I have participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities, working cross-curricularly on specialized humanities curriculum that elevates marginalized histories, voices, and narratives. As well as the National Women’s History Museum’s “For Educators, By Educators” curriculum compendium creating materials for inclusion in the museum's digital classroom resources. Most recently, I served as a content developer for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Digital Learning Initiative, creating curriculum resources to explore African American history through objects. As an engaged educator I continually utilize my craft for the collective uplift of my community. I am an active member of Teaching for Change: DC Area Educators for Social Justice and a proud life-time member of The National Council of Negro Women. I believe that education can be a tool for liberation. A tool that we can use to subvert the deep seeded systems of injustice in our society and improve the human condition!
Tamar Acevedo, Francisco Mendoza School - Isabela, Puerto Rico
ESL/11th grade Teacher
My name is Tamar Acevedo and I currently teach at Francisco Mendoza School; a 9-12 public school. The school is located in the town of Isabela, Puerto Rico. I am an ESL teacher currently working with 11th grade. I am completing my 13 year of teaching. I taught 8 years in elementary level. I have a BA in Teaching English as a Second Language with Multimedia Technology for Elementary Level. Also, I have a MA in Special Education. Recently I finished the certification of Teaching English as a Second Language. In the past few years I collaborated with the Department of Education in the creation of the curriculum maps and evaluation of books for the English program. As an ESL teacher, I am always looking for ways that my students understand that talking in English could be fun and something that they can enjoy.