bio-ken-wessonDr. Kenneth A. Wesson

Dr. Kenneth Wesson is a former college and university-level faculty member and administrator. He delivers keynote addresses on the neuroscience of learning for educational organizations and institutions throughout the United States and overseas. His audiences range from early childhood specialists to college and university-level educators. His international audiences have included educators and administrative officers from six of the world seven continents. His research is frequently published and referenced in Parents Magazine, HealthNet, and the journal Brain World.

Wesson regularly addresses educational organizations, counseling associations, school districts and parenting organizations on the subject of “brain-considerate” learning environments. In addition to his speeches on the neuroscience of learning, Wesson speaks on the subjects of early brain development, design and engineering, STEM and STREAM, contextual learning, and curriculum development. Wesson also serves on the advisory board for the Korean Institute of Brain Science.

In addition to participating in a symposium at the United Nations, Wesson’s recent work has also included delivering addresses to the Summer Institute for the Distinguished Scientist Lecture Series; the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; the National Symposium for Scientists and Engineers; the National Academy of Sciences; the Annual Model Schools conference; the American Society for Microbiology; the Science Education Administrators and Policymakers Institute; the Association of College and University Biologists; the Hampton University School of Pharmacy; the STEM Education Excellence for the 21st Century conference; the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); Western Regional National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; the International Brain Education Association; STEM Conferences for the states of Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Virginia; the National Science Research Council; the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives; the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Science and Mathematics; the Maine Science and Literacy Conference; The Science Teachers Associations for the states of Kansas, Alaska, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Hawaii, California, Wyoming, and New York; the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders; the Northern New Mexico Science Education Consortium; the Alabama Governor’s Summit on Mathematics and Science Education; the California Science Center; the Johnson and Johnson Corporation; the IBM Corporation; the Hawaiian Association for Counselors and Educators in Government; the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences); the National Alliance of Business; Head Start; the Great Teachers’ Seminars; the National Science Foundation’s Systemic Initiatives for Math and Science; the IDATER (International Design and Technology Educational Research and Curriculum Development) Conference in England, and numerous American colleges and universities.

“Each year, new findings in cognitive psychology and neuroscience will be infused into teacher preparation, curriculum, instruction, student assessment, and the classroom environment. The works of Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence), Kenneth Wesson (Brain-considerate Learning), and others have already been influential in reshaping the independent school classroom, while programs like Mel Levine’s Schools Attuned are assisting educators in using neurodevelopmental content in their classrooms to create success at learning and to provide hope and satisfaction for all students.” Forecasting Independent Education to 2025
-- National Association of Independent Schools

Wesson’s latest articles on the brain include: “Has Standardized Testing Run Its Course?”; “Reverse Direction Decoding: Revolutionizing How We Teach Reading”; “From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling our Disaggregated Curriculum”; “The Impact of the Next Generation Science Standards”; “30 Ways to Improve Your Memory”; “Brain-Sight: Can Touch Allow Us to ‘See’ Better Than Sight?”; “Neuroplasticity: The Effects of Experience on the Brain”; “Minds, Models and Maps: Visualizing Science”; “The Magic of Human Language Development”; “Drawing and the Brain”; “Learning and Memory: How Do We Remember and Why Do We Often Forget?”; “Emotions and Education: How Children Feel Affects How They Learn”; NSTA Reports: “Brain-considerate Learning”; “Education for the Real World: Six Great Ideas for Parents and Teachers”; “Summertime and the Learning Should Be Easy”; “Positive Teaching = Good Education”; “Brain-considerate Strategies for the Home and School”; “From Synapses to Learning—Understanding Brain Processes”; “The Developing Brain”; “Building a Better Brain”; “What Recent Brain Research Tells Us About Learning”; “Neuropsychology and Prejudice”; “A Brief History of Neuroscience”; “Where is God in the Brain?; “Memory and the Brain” and “Early Brain Development and Learning.”

He has been a keynote speaker for many of the leading international educational organizations for American and International schools, including the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA), the Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA), the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA), the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS), the Near East South Asia schools (NESA), along with numerous American educational organizations, school districts, and colleges.

At the 2012 STEM Forum and Expo sponsored by the NSTA, Wesson and NASA astronaut Mary Ellen Weber delivered the keynote addresses. He was/will be a keynote or featured speaker for such diverse groups as the following: the Hawaii ASCD, International Symposium on Electronic Arts, the Distinguished Educators Series, the North Dakota School Boards Association, the Arkansas Leadership Academy, the Virginia Science Teachers Association, New Mexico Science Teachers Association, Migrant and Seasonal Workers HeadStart Programs, National Brain Awareness Week, and the Montalvo Arts Education Conference. His keynote addresses are frequently grounded in the question, “If It’s Your Job to Develop the Mind, Shouldn’t You Know How the Brain Works?” His Brain-STEM presentations focus on merging brain science and the goals of STEM education.

The NSTA and Shell Oil Company identify 4-6 people annually, who they recognize for making unique contributions to science research and education. Those individuals (the "Shell Science Scholars") are invited to address the members of the NSTA at their annual conference and are also honored at a special reception. This group includes the 1998 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, the Director of the Human Genome Project and Kenneth Wesson, who will be recognized again in 2011 for the second time within the past decade – a “first” for Shell Science Scholars. The NSTA is the world's largest educational organization (scientists, researchers and science educators) with over 53,000 members dedicated to the improvement of science education.

Wesson has been profiled in “Who's Who in Science and Engineering,” “Who’s Who in American Education,” and “Who's Who in America.”

bio-usha-rajdevDr. Usha Rajdev

Dr. Usha Rajdev brings expertise in teaching math and science methodology with an emphasis on identifying errors and misconceptions in mathematics. Her integrated approach to teaching math and science has been recognized by NASA's Goddard Space Center. She was fortunate to be selected by the Center to send an experiment, on the germination process of a variety of beans, up on the space shuttle Atlantis in 1999. She turned her classroom into a space shuttle and launched her students into orbit through simulating mission control and a space shuttle by using cardboard as walls. The cardboard was covered with dials and maps. The student astronauts wore full spacesuits -- white scrubs donated by a paint vendor and white football helmets on loan from a local high school.

Dr. Rajdev enhances her students learning through hands-on teaching using Science Technology Engineering and Math. She invites NASA's Aerospace Educational Specialists from the Goddard Space Center visit the Science Methodology class every semester and provides professional development training related to the Earth and Space Unit. She has been collaborating with NASA Education for the past seven years. Content learned by the pre-service teachers are incorporated into the activities in their own teaching.

In 2014, Dr. Rajdev's students and Fort Belvoir Elementary School (FBES) children communicated with astronauts in space. This event was coordinated through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), a cooperative venture of NASA, the American Radio Relay League, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, and other international space agencies that schedule radio contacts between astronauts and schools. The proposal put forward by Dr. Rajdev and her colleague, Dr. Bubar, working in partnership with Ft. Belvoir Elementary School, was one of the few in the country that resulted in an invitation to make contact with the space station in 2014. To prepare the children, FBES STEM teacher initiated lessons leading up to the contact include learning about the need for thermal protection on the spacecraft; the history and purpose of space stations; robots, like the Mars rovers and landers; lunar explorations; satellites and orbits; and the atmosphere and condition in outer space. The children conducted hands-on experiments to better understand the material with Dr. Rajdev's pre-service teachers helping them. She started the first after school K-3, "Sprouting STEMs" at a local Catholic School, where her pre-service teachers conducted hands-on activities through STEM. Dr. Rajdev and her pre-service teachers participate every semester at STEM nights conducting activities at the partner schools for the children and their parents.

Dr. Rajdev also led 17 graduate students to India where they taught children and pre-service teachers in Porbandar, Gujarat. Dr. Rajdev organized the study-abroad experience with students from her Math and Science Methodology course. In Porbandar, they worked with the children and shared their teaching methods with Bachelor of Education students enrolled at the Dr. Virambhai R. Godhaniya College. The materials included the makings for flip books about the lunar phases, as well as components for experiments to explore the water cycle, the parts of a tree, and plant classification. Marymount students brought a new approach to the B.Ed. students there with hands-on methodologies.

She has been part of Marymount's faculty since 2008. She is a recipient of the Faculty of the Year 2012 Service Award, the 2012 Virginia Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator Award, and the 2012 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator Award. Dr. Rajdev was one of five educators who use environmental education as a tool to teach core subjects and foster environmental stewardship and was named the 2012 National Outstanding Educators by Project Learning Tree, an environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. Dr. Rajdev and Fort Belvoir Elementary School earned the Association of Teacher Educators in Virginia 2014 School/University Partnership Award. She was recently recognized and awarded 2014 STEM Leadership Award by the International Association of STEM Leaders, for her STEM program and activities conducted at local area schools and the involvement of Marymount students.

She has also been selected for a Fulbright Specialist Project in India to conduct professional development workshops with faculty and undergraduates in Education, and develop a community-wide service-learning project to promote literacy. The program focused on teaching PreK-7 grades through an integrated approach. The purpose was to help students in math and science methodology to further their understanding of how a diverse population with little concept of U.S. teaching methods approaches learning mathematics and science concepts. In 2013 Dr. Rajdev also presented a paper titled "A Hunger for Learning in Porbandar, Gujarat, India (Gandhi's Birthplace): Fulbright Specialist Program" at the Mediterranean Conference for Academic Disciplines, the International Journal of Arts & Sciences' annual refereed conference, in Valletta, Malta. The paper focused on a five-week service-learning project that Dr. Rajdev conducted in Porbandar in July and August 2012, financed by a Fulbright Specialist Program grant.

Dr. Rajdev is also a counselor for Marymount's chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international Education honor society and faculty advisor for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Student Chapter.

bio-ershela-simsDr. Ershela Sims

Dr. Ershela Sims is the Dean of Engineering and Technology and an Engineering Instructor at the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). As an instructor, she has developed and teaches a variety of engineering courses including, Intro to Mechanical Engineering, Statics, and Biomedical Instrumentation. In addition, she is currently a lead developer on a curriculum development project for the NC Department of Public Instruction, where she is in the process of completing the fourth course of a 4-year curriculum in health & life sciences and biomedical engineering. She also mentors student research projects in Biomechanics as well as other areas of engineering and is the faculty sponsor for multiple engineering clubs including NSBE Jr and NASCAR Ten80. Dr. Sims earned a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 1993 and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of NC at Chapel Hill in 2000. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biomechanics in the Department of Surgery at Duke University, where she worked on an NIH funded longitudinal study investigating gait mechanics associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, she taught anatomy courses in the medical school at Duke University for two years. From 2010-2013, she was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Duke University. In that role Dr. Sims trained and mentored undergraduate and graduate students on Biomechanics research projects and theses. Mostly recently she worked with a senior on her thesis investigating the effects of high heeled shoes on gait mechanics during walking. During her tenure at Duke, Dr. Sims and her colleagues published an number of manuscripts on biomechanics, as well as anatomical and medical education. Prior to her career in academia, Dr. Sims worked as a software design engineer and later a technical architect at Nortel Networks for five years developing telecommunications software. Following her work in industry, she worked as the Assistant Director of the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center for two years where she performed functional MRI research and managed a number of ongoing research projects.

Dr. Sims is a member of a number of professional organizations including the American Society for Engineering Educators, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Duke University Engineering Alumni Council (EAC). She is currently the President-Elect for the Duke University EAC and she is the Region 2 NSBE Jr. National Advisor Council representative; she also a member of the NSBE Jr Scientific Review Committee. Dr. Sims is involved in a number of STEM outreach activities, both through her position at NCSSM and through professional organizations of which she is a member. She is the program director of Step Up to STEM, a 2-week STEM summer program for underrepresented rising 9th grade students from the state of North Carolina. Prior to her involvement in Step Up to STEM, Dr. Sims was an applied science instructor in the Labs for Learning summer program which served a cohort of rising 7th through 10th grade students from underserved counties in the state of North Carolina. She has also led a number of STEM workshops at NSBE national conventions, ranging from biomechanics of human movement to the design of a respiration rate study. Moreover, Dr. Sims is the principal investigator on multiple STEM curriculum grants that support the development and delivery of engineering courses to students around the state of North Carolina. In addition to outreach, Dr. Sims has also performed a variety of service in her field as a reviewer for journals such as Arthritis Care and Research and the Journal of Ergonomics, and as a participant in career panels for local chapters of organizations such as the Biomedical Engineering Society, Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and Women in Technology International. In addition, she participates in the annual Duke Engineering Alumni Council Resume Review Workshop.

Her dedication to engineering, STEM education and scholarship has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Sims is the 2012 recipient of the National Society of Black Engineers Dr. Janice A. Lumpkin Educator of the Year. That same year, she and a colleague, physics instructor Jackie Bondell, also won the National Science Teachers Association Vernier Technology Award for their two collaborations using Vernier Technology. Sims and Bondell gave a workshop in the fall of 2012 at the NC Science Teachers Association Professional Development Institute entitled "Integrating Physics and Engineering: Biomechanics of Human Movement", to train other teachers around the state of NC how integrate biomechanics into a Physics curriculum using anything from a bathroom scale and mobile phone camera, to the iPad or sophisticated Vernier force plates and video cameras. In 2013, Dr. Sims was awarded the NC School of Science and Mathematics Exceptional Contribution in Scholarship Award.

bio-sheila-boyingtonSheila Boyington, MS, P.E.

Sheila Boyington, MS, P.E. is co-Founder with her husband Dane of Thinking Media where she serves as President. Thinking Media is the creator of Learning Blade® for STEM education that introduces the students to STEM technologies and career opportunities through an entertaining game-based forma and has been validated by BattelleEd to increase awareness and interest in STEM Careers. Thinking Media also created KeyTrain® that was acquired by ACT (where she also served as Vice President until 2012) and has been hailed as the most effective system for improving basic skills, and was used by millions of students/clients in high schools, community colleges, one stops and major corporations in throughout the United States and abroad. Thinking Media is also the creator of PictureRx® for health literacy and CharacterEd.Net® for K-12 character education.

Sheila is currently serving as a Strategic Partner and Senior Advisor to STEMconnector® - the leading STEM organization in the country. Additionally she serves on their STEM Innovation Task Force. Sheila is well-known for her passion, strong management and leadership skills. Those skills have been and are being used to gain high adoption of the Thinking Media tools.

Sheila has won numerous awards for her Entrepreneurship and Leadership including the Athena, Navigator of Entrepreneurship, Supernova, and Chattanooga Engineer Entrepreneur of the Year. Sheila is a Professional Engineer, and holds a Masters Degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. Sheila worked for environmental firms such as Black and Veatch, Parsons Engineering prior to founding Thinking Media.

While working with and for ACT, Sheila led efforts that developed programs focused on technical jobs that were part of the National Association of Manufacturing's - Manufacturing Institute, Veteran Programs among others. The Boyington's have also served in numerous leadership roles including serving as the first Chairs of the Parent's Advisory Board at Georgia Tech, Engineering Dean's Leadership Council University of Tennessee of Chattanooga. They have sponsored activities related to STEM at University of Florida (Undergraduate Lab), Georgia Tech (President's Scholarships), Girls Incorporated (Programs focused on STEM), and Girls Preparatory School (STEM Curricula).


Yvonne V. Thayer, Ed. D.

Yvonne Thayer has over four decades of experience in public school, state department of education, and educational nonprofit leadership positions and as a consultant to a variety of leadership, curriculum, and evaluation projects. She received her doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University in Adult Education. An experienced facilitator and trainer with certification in quality process management, she completed the requirements for Certified Professional Coach and has helped school improvement coaches understand coaching in the context of change and adult learning. She recently published a study of how school coaches use principles of transformative learning to effect changes in adult behaviors that change practices in schools.

Her educational publications reflect her career interest in changing schools to meet the needs of learners as the profession learns more about how we learn and as the nation demands knowledge workers. She believes every school should respond to the STEM crisis by focusing on the experiences students have in classrooms.

bio-lynn-mcgeeLynn McGee

Lynn McGee is a seasoned mechanical and chemical engineer with a diverse portfolio of experience in various industries spanning from aerospace, automotive design and high-production manufacturing environments to micro-electronics development and high-technology product manufacturing. She holds a BS degree in both Mechanical and Chemical Engineering from NC State University and is a two-time recipient of the NASA Group Achievement Award for her role as Chief Engineer on the highly successful CERES Instruments, integral to the Aqua and Terra Missions, which are actively collecting and sending continuous radiometric data to NASA.

She recently completed a Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instructional Strategies from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. As a NC licensed professional educator in mathematics, science and engineering, she consistently utilizes 21st Century technology and teaching methodologies within her classes. She has a passion for STEM education, and engages students in creative ways to make connections between real-world engineering problems and the classroom. She currently teaches Honors Aerospace Engineering in the Distance Education Department at the NC School of Science and Mathematics and is developing a four-year curriculum for the NC Department of Public Instruction (Race to the Top Grant recipient) regarding Energy and Sustainability.

bio-jason-turnerJason Turner

Mr. Turner, a native of Washington D.C., is passionate in his belief that anyone – given the tools, access and opportunity – can change the world. On a mission to broaden access and build opportunity for historically underserved students through STEM, Mr. Turner first forged partnerships with both the District of Columbia Public Schools, as well as the Prince George’s County Public Schools in 2012 to successfully install each’s FIRST standalone STEM laboratories for elementary school children, and use these resources to change a young person’s view of what’s possible while making science and engineering FUN!!

He founded Root Cause in 2011 as a business mechanism to deliver just this: access to best of breed STEM curricula, equipment, teacher training and stakeholder engagement - a PLATFORM – from which those with the least can be set to compete for jobs in today’s STEM driven economy. He designed the firm’s proprietary “STEM-fra-STRUCTURE” platform, along with business partner Mark Wyatt, President of Diversified Educational Systems (DES), to rapidly deploy and support STEM-based tools and programs, yet deliver increased R.O.I. by ensuring they are measureable, scalable and sustainable.

With DCPS and PGCPS STEM labs as the model, Root Cause engaged internationally in 2013 with the Republic of Botswana, and is leading a feasibility study to re-engineer the nation’s primary education system around a STEM philosophy, curricula, and training for teachers, by the republic’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2016. Today, while expanding into middle and high school STEM solutions locally, Root Cause is engaged with other African nations like Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Kenya, as well as in the Caribbean to quickly advance national job creation and economic sustainability through access to best of breed STEM and CTE tools.

Among his accomplishments, Mr. Turner is especially proud of having co-founded the charity Extra-Ordinary Life (www.extra-ordinarylife.org) in 2009 to provide global experiences to foster youth in Washington DC. These efforts culminated in a 2010 trip to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa for DC foster girls, filmed in a documentary by Black Entertainment Television (BET) and shown in 34 countries. In 2007, Jason was appointed by D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to oversee a $350 million overhaul of parks and recreation facilities. Until 2009, Mr. Turner served as Chairman of the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission, where he focused on youth programming and advocacy.

Mr. Turner has held various management positions with corporations such as The Procter & Gamble Company, Baxter Healthcare and Verizon Communications (Digex), in addition to his local government leadership. A 1991 graduate of the University of Virginia, Mr. Turner maintains his primary residence in Washington, DC and has two children, ages 13 and 9, who both attend D.C. public schools.