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


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.



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.


Juan Mendoza
Business Operations Specialist

Juan is an ASU alumni, who got his bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis on sports and marketing. He’s a first generation Mexican-American, born in Los Angeles but grew up in the east valley of Phoenix for the majority of his life, so he would consider himself an Arizona native. He enjoys hiking, watching shows and movies, as well as playing pickleball, soccer and basketball (Go Suns!) with friends. For the last few years, Juan has had the opportunity to gain some experience in both warehouse operations and the logistics industry. The bulk of which was spent working as a Staffing Planner and admin for Amazon, then as a Carrier Sales Executive for a 3rd party logistics company, moving freight all over the country. He has a passion for event planning and coordinating, with the hope of pursuing a career in related fields at ASU or within Arizona.


Ashley Alarcon
Pensar Academy

Teacher Mentor

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!

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.


Tawn Hauptli, EdD
Residential Faculty & Department Chair | Education Studies

Teacher Mentor

Dr. Hauptli has been an educator in various grade levels and capacities for the past 31 years. She began her career as a preschool teacher, taught high school for 10 years and has been teaching community college preservice teacher education coursework at Mesa Community College since 2001. At MCC, she currently serves as the Chair of the Education Studies department. She is a product of and passionate advocate for public education and fervently believes in its promise to improve the lives of the children it serves. In her view,  the purpose of education is to empower students by providing them with rigorous and engaging experiences that teach them how to think, not what to think. For future teachers, she offers this advice: “Teaching is not a job, it is a lifestyle. Remember that you are a role model and that the students and parents in your community look up to you. You are the magic in the classroom; it is your compassion, intelligence, and skill that allow the students you teach to reach their full potential. Don’t ever forget what a difference you make.”


Ruth-Terry Walden, Westhill High School - Stamford, Conneticut
Social Studies High School teacher
Teacher Mentor


Ruth-Terry Walden is a teacher of many passions and pursuits. A lawyer by trade, she has honed her passion for antiracism and social justice her entire life. After serving as the director of the South Bronx community organization Neighborhood Youth and Family Services, she worked with the Yale School of Medicine, serving as the Assistant Director of Clinical Trials, Grant and Contract Administration. Now, her passions have led her to becoming an educator in Stamford, having taught literature at Westhill High
School for twenty years. With the right texts and sources, kindness and respect, and more than an ounce of fearlessness, Walden has built her classroom into a safe space for dangerous ideas.


Nedre White, school, Arizona
Grade 4 teacher
Teacher Mentor


On the way...


Melissa Mercado, Cesar E.Chavez Leadership Academy, Arizona

Teacher Mentor

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.

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