AFT Science Cadre Team

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Elementary Teachers


Sandra Cappelli (RI) Local: West Warwick Teachers Alliance

Sandy Cappelli has been a classroom teacher for twenty years, currently teaching first grade students at Horgan Elementary School in West Warwick, Rhode Island. She is a grade one Lead teacher in the West Warwick School District, which allows her the opportunity to collaborate with content area coaches to develop first grade curriculum. She serves as the head of the STEAM team in her elementary school which coordinates STEAM nights for students and families around engineering challenges. Sandy also serves as a Peer Evaluator, where she evaluates teachers based on the Innovation Evaluation Model. As a member of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, Sandy has proven herself as a teacher leader, training teachers throughout Rhode Island on innovative instructional techniques, serving in roles such as a Google Instructional Apps Trainer, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) National Thinking Mathematics K-2 trainer, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) trainer. In addition, she has been a member of the AFT NGSS Team for the past six years, where she has worked with Achieve to provide feedback on NGSS during the revision process. She was also provided extensive training on the Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Product (EQUIP) rubric, providing her with further skills and knowledge in evaluating the resources available to teachers as they implement the NGSS in their classrooms. Sandy is also a member of the Teaching Channel NGSS Squad, where she has worked for two years to focus on learning, practicing, and expanding her knowledge of NGSS. In the current year, her team is focusing on writing blogs for the Teaching Channel based on their classroom work around NGSS. In recognition of Sandy’s many accomplishments as a teacher leader, during 2016 she was voted AFT’s Early Childhood Everyday Hero. Sandy also has her own technology blog which offers support for teachers in the area of blended learning. You can follow Sandra on Twitter @scappelli3 or through her blog

Tammy Stegeman (IL) Local: Quincy Federation of Teachers

Tammy Stegeman is a new K-3 STEM Coach at Madison School in Quincy Public School District #172 in Quincy, IL. This is her 29th year of teaching. Prior to this year, she taught second, third, fourth, seventh, and eighth grade. She has loved every minute of it. Tammy achieved National Board Certification in early/middle school reading and language arts in 2005 and recertified in 2015. She is a new teacher mentor and professional development provider for math and science at the district, state, and national levels. Tammy is an AFT K-2 Thinking Math presenter. She has been part of a science team instrumental in examining grade-level benchmarks, realigning the district’s science curriculum, evaluating grade-level science materials, providing professional development, and designing science assessments for district and state use. Tammy is a curator of NGSS resources for NSTA. For nearly six years, she has worked with the AFT to review and provide professional development for the Next Generation Science Standards. She also serves on the school improvement team, student assistance team, and district leadership teams for math and science. Tammy and her husband, Ken, have been married for 29 years and have six children ranging in age from 9-25. She enjoys traveling with her family to the Gulf Shores.

Maura Graham-Vecellio (CT) Local: Meriden Federation of Teachers

Maura Graham-Vecellio has taught over 25 years for the Meriden Board of Education as a second grade teacher, math specialist/coach, kindergarten teacher, science specialist and is currently teaching fourth grade.

She is currently working on a NGSS team for the State of Connecticut developing alternative testing tasks. She is the lead organizer for the grant funded Schoolyard Habitat project at Casimir Pulaski School. She is a graduate of the Leadership Academy and an active member of the Peer Coaching initiative in Meriden. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2016. Maura has been a mentor, cooperating teacher and scorer for the State of CT BEST and TEAM new teacher programs for the past 15 years. She was involved in the NGSS performance task review team for the State of CT. She has facilitated NGSS and CCSS math professional development for the CT AFT and the Meriden Board of Education. She is a facilitator of Project Wet, Project Wild, Project Learning Tree and Project Food, Land and People for the CT Department of Environmental Protection. She served as an adjunct for St. Joseph College teaching Foundations of Education for the Urban Education Program.

Her background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of CT. She has a MS in Early Childhood Education and Environmental Education from Southern Connecticut State University.  She earned a MS in Science Education from the Graduate Institute. She has a special subject certification for science in addition to her professional teaching certification in Connecticut.

Maura and her husband, Richard, have five adult children and a small farm in Wallingford, CT. When she is not at school or outdoors, Maura is the chief instructor of TheKarateWay, a Japanese Shotokon martial art club at the local YMCA where she has taught various courses for the past 30 years.

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Julie Campbell (OH) Local: Toledo Federation of Teachers

Julie Campbell has served six years as an elementary school teacher and seventeen years, in her current position, as a science support teacher. Supporting kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers for Toledo Public Schools in Toledo, Ohio is her primary responsibility and has been a very rewarding experience. In her current position, Julie has many roles in the district, one of which is to support the Ohio Improvement Process as a District Leadership Team member. She has also worked on a variety of district projects including selecting textbooks, aligning district curriculum to Ohio’s Learning Standards, supporting teachers in designing quality lessons and assessments to monitor student growth, as well as, developing and delivering professional development.

Additionally, Julie was involved with the NSF TAPESTRIES grant and most recently was a Teacher Leader in the nationally awarded NURTURES grant through the University of Toledo which planned and implemented professional development that focused on integrating math, science and literacy education for preschool through third grade and connects teachers, parents and community partners.

As a member of American Federation of Teachers NGSS science team, she has participated in the review of the Next Generation of Science Standards, the creation of NGSS resource materials and participated as a presenter in the Teaching and Learning 2015 Conference.

Julie holds a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Toledo.


Kelly Gibson (MN) Local: St. Paul Federation of Teachers

My name is Kelly Gibson. I currently teach third grade at Garlough Environmental Magnet School in ISD 197 of Minnesota. Prior to moving to Garlough, I had the great honor of teaching elementary science for 10 years in St. Paul Public Schools. I will always be passionate about science as part of our education and our society.

My goal as a teacher is to inspire and empower my students to learn the skills needed to be thinkers, readers, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and empathetic community members in order for them to be successful and to better understand our world.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. I still go back every year to visit my family. Before moving to MN in 2001, I taught environmental education in various environmental learning centers in the Northeast U.S. I earned my Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Education at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and my Master's of Arts in Teaching at Hamline University with a 5-8 specialty in Science. When I am not having fun teaching, I love spending time outdoors, reading, gardening, and playing with my dog Barley.


Linda Johnson (OH) Local: Cincinnati Federation of Teachers

Linda Horsley Johnson came to the teaching profession after nearly fifteen years as a paralegal. She obtained her BSBA in Marketing from Xavier University (Cincinnati) in 1986, and her MEd from Xavier University (Cincinnati) in 2002. Linda began teaching first grade under an emergency certificate in Covington, Kentucky before coming to Cincinnati Public Schools (Cincinnati, Ohio) in 2001.

During her tenure at Cincinnati Public Schools, Linda has held many teaching assignments, as well as District positions outside the classroom.  She has taught grades two, three, and four in self-contained classrooms; fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science, fifth and sixth grade social studies, and technology in grades Kindergarten through eighth. She is currently teaching seventh and eighth grade science at Gilbert A. Dater High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her capacity as a Lead Teacher in CPS, Linda has also served the District as an instructional coach, helping teachers transition to Ohio’s New Learning Standards in all content areas K-8, a member of LSDMC (Local School Decision Making Committee) at three separate schools (including Dater), a member of the District Leadership Team which helps guide District initiatives, and is an Ohio Resident Educator Mentor. She also is currently serving her second term as the district curriculum council chair for science.

Linda is very passionate about teaching and her students’ opportunity for success, and has testified both in person and in writing before the Ohio Education Committee in support of best practices for teachers and students. She has also served as the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Educational Issues chair, and is a current member of the Ohio Federation of Teachers Educational Policies standing committee. She is also part of the American Federation of Teachers NGSS cadre and has presented professional development at the TEACH conference in 2013, and participated in development of sessions for the 2017 TEACH conference.

Linda currently resides in Hamilton, Ohio and is proudly mentoring her son as he completes his degree in secondary education.

Patricia Paradiso (NJ) Local: Perth Amboy Federation

Dolores Samson (OH) Local: Toledo Federation of Teachers

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Matthew Hinckley (CA) Local: Berkeley Federation of Teachers

Matt Hinckley, a member of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, has been teaching for 13 years, and has taught science every grade level from 7th to 12th grades. In 2008, he introduced an Environmental Science program to the Seattle Public Schools, where he attended high school, and is currently spearheading the creation of the first Makerspace in Berkeley (California) Public Schools at Longfellow Middle School. Matt enjoys teaching about and being in nature, is a National Board Certified Teacher, and was recognized by the Berkeley Public Schools Fund as their 2017 Distinguished Educator of the Year.


Rochelle Petre (NY) Local: Bayport Blue Point Teachers Association

Rochelle Petre is an active member of the Bayport-Blue Point School District with more than 30 years of practical teaching experience who currently teaches middle school reading and science to sixth graders. She earned her Bachelor of Science in K-6 Elementary Education at SUNY College at Buffalo and her Masters in Liberal Studies with a specialization in teaching science to elementary students at Stony Brook University. She is a member of AFT’s Next Generation Science Standards National Teacher Review Team and committee co-chairperson for NYSUT’s Math, Science, Technology Subject Area Committee. She has provided workshops for the New York State Teacher Center’s Spring Symposium, the Suffolk County’s teacher center, MESTRACT, and AFT’s TEACH Conference to demonstrate practical ways to implement the new science standards in the classroom as well as how to incorporate literacy strategies in the science classroom. At the district level, she is currently assisting with the writing of their new middle level science curriculum based on the New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards and has been involved with the district’s literacy training helping to form their middle school grade 6 reading curriculum. She has been named Bayport-Blue Point Teachers’ Association Teacher of the Year (2012) and the Suffolk Section Science Teachers’ Association of New York State Middle School Teacher of the year (2015).

Rochelle is married to her husband, Michael, for 30 years. They have three children, two sons and one daughter, and reside in Ronkonkoma, NY.

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High School

Mark Avery (FL) Local: Marion Education Association

John Clark (FL) Local: Volusia United Educators

A second career teacher of eleven years, John Clark teaches physics and chemistry at Deltona High School in Florida. He is an alumnus of the AFT teacher-leader program and serves as a union Steward at his school. He is also a long serving member of the AFT national NGSS workgroup. John has completed two other national Teacher Leader fellowship programs with America Achieves and The Hope Street Group. Through the latter he was part of the first study of the state of teacher preparation developed by teachers with teachers. The study, On Deck, Preparing the Next Generation of Teachers, was released in the Spring of 2016. He was appointed to the CAEP accreditation team in 2017. He has also worked with the U.S. State Department completing a Fulbright Fellowship to India and a Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowship to Colombia, S.A. John coaches the Science Olympiad, Science Fair, and Physics Olympics teams. He is an educational ambassador for both NOAA and NASA. Mr. Clark received the 2014 Governor’s SHINE award for inspirational teaching and was a 2013 State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. John holds a B.A. from Rollins College and an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University.

Kathy Dorman (CO) Local: Douglas County Federation

Katherine Dorman currently teaches science at Ponderosa High School where she began her career in 1984. She is an adjunct faculty member of CU Denver where she instructs an Introduction to Environmental Science class. She also has coached cross-country and track for 25+ years. Kathy has been a National Trainer for the AFT since 2006.  In addition, Kathy is a member of the AFT’s NGSS team. She has presented at TEACH, participated in Share My Lesson, attended the Green School Initiative and was a Critical Friend at the Teach to Lead Summits in Denver and Boston. Kathy spends her spare time gardening and hiking Colorado’s mountain trails. Her pride and joy are her twin daughters, Ellie and Katie, who both will be graduating from the University of Northern Colorado.



Georgia Everett: (IN) Local: AFT Indiana

Georgia Everett has been a teacher in public schools since 2002. She earned a both a Bachelor and Master of Science in Education from IUPUI, and has also received a Master of Business Administration in Education Leadership from University of Indianapolis.

Georgia has served as a high school teacher for over 15 years and spent 3 of those years also teaching middle school science. Georgia specializes in advanced life science classes such as dual credit Anatomy & Physiology and AP Biology but also has almost 10 years of experience in Earth & Space Science. Georgia has also been an adjunct faculty member at Ivy Tech Community College where she helped to redesign the curriculum for the online Anatomy & Physiology courses.

Georgia’s curriculum expertise has been used by textbook companies when developing and revising textbooks, online lab materials and supplemental materials. She has worked with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Macmillan Publishing within the last 5 years on various projects. Her content knowledge and experience has also allowed her to serve on the Science content team with the American Federation of Teachers reviewing the Next Generation Science Standards and creating science resources for teachers.

In Georgia’s current role, she serves as a PLC facilitator for her department and is a leader in her corporation with aspects of the PLC processes. Her knowledge and experience in this process has allowed her the ability to serve in various leadership capacities within the school and community.

Georgia has been married for 12 years, is actively involved in the local robotics programs, and currently resides in Russiaville, Indiana.

Wynell Gilbert (AL) Local: Jefferson County AFT

Wynell K Gilbert has been working as an Educational Consultant since May 2015.  She is Founder and CEO of WKG Educational Consulting, LLC. Wynell has written curriculum for Character Development, Financial Literacy and Parental Engagement.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Alabama A&M University, a Master’s degree in Biology Education from Alabama State University, Certification in Educational Leadership from Samford University and is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Young Adult and Adolescent Science.

Wynell provided 17 years of services as a high school and middle school science teacher (Jefferson County and Hoover City School District). She taught Biology and Human Anatomy & Physiology on a collegiate level for Lawson State Community College and Jefferson State Community College. She represents the state of Alabama as a national review team member for the Next Generation Science Standards based in Washington, DC. She is currently working as an Online Evaluator for Penn Foster University and a Blogging Contributor for Protective Life Insurance Company.

She serves as a national professional development trainer for the TEACH program sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers.

She specializes in working with parents who would like to provide a stronger and more rigorous enrichment learning plan for their children to get ahead,  whether the child is in public, private and/or home schooled.

Wynell K Gilbert, has been married for 13 years, is the mother of 3 sons and currently resides in Hoover, Alabama.

Lauren Levites (IL) Local: Chicago Teachers Union

Lauren Levites is a Biology and AP Environmental Science teacher as Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago. She has facilitated professional development related to NGSS and helped write the NGSS Biology Framework and Environmental performance tasks for Chicago Public Schools. She is a member of the Teaching Channel’s Next Gen Science Squad







Denise Pfeiffer: (OH) Local: Cincinnati Federation of Teachers

Denise Pfeiffer is in her 20th year teaching science in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). She earned her B.S. in chemistry and masters in secondary education from University of Cincinnati. Over the past 20 years, she has taught chemistry and physics in 3 different schools and has served in a variety of leadership roles. She has served as a grade level team leader and science department chair, professional development provider, and instructional coach for the middle school and high school science for several schools in the district. Lastly within CPS, she has served as a project manager for improving mathematics and science education with a grant from the General Electric Foundation.

Denise has also been a mentor teacher for several student teachers from the University of Cincinnati over the past 20 years, a member Helmsley Trust teacher cadre to review work on the CCSS and a member of NSTA.

Lastly Denise is a member of AFT’s NGSS team that provides professional development on science, supplies feedback on standards, and develops lessons that are aligned to the NGSS.

Wendy Tate (FL) Local: Volusia United Educators

Cheryl Vogler (IL) Local: Quincy Federation of Teachers

Cheryl Vogler came to teaching as a second career. Her degrees are a BS in Animal Science from the University of Illinois, a MS degree in Dairy Science from Virginia Tech and a MS in Education Secondary Administration from William Woods University. After working in industry as a cell culture production supervisor at Immuno Concepts in Sacramento, CA, she became a cheer coach in a Minnesota high school and went back to school to become a teacher. Cheryl has been teaching science (middle school life science to environmental science inclusion to AP biology) for 20 years (6 years in the state of Virginia and 14 years in Illinois). She currently teaches environmental science and honors biology at Quincy Senior High School in Quincy, IL. 

While in Virginia, Cheryl served on a team that created an Engineering and Technology Career Academy (school within a school) that worked with the community businesses to determine curriculum that would meet state standards while meeting the needs of the area workforce. She achieved National Board certification in 2003 and recertified in 2012. With her NBPTS certification, she chose to “give back” to the teaching community by becoming a Local Coordinator for NBPTS awareness, mentoring, and candidacy and coordinated an NBPTS candidate cohort. She co-coordinated a new teacher mentor program in the rural county districts when no program previously existed. From 2013-2016, she was the 21st Century Community Learning Center Coordinator of a federally grant funded after school program. Cheryl has served in many state and district level leadership roles including the ISBE NGSS Adoption Committee, IFT Illinois School Report Card Focus group, WC-4 Regional Office of Education Advisory Board for professional development, Regional NGSS Foundational Services Provider, Quincy Public School District Improvement Team, Science Leadership Team, and Curriculum Committee and the QHS Schoology Innovation Team. As a member of the AFT NGSS cadre, Cheryl has presented at the TEACH conference in 2013 and 2017, as well as the Achieve Conference in 2015.

Cheryl resides in Quincy, IL with her husband of 29 years and enjoys spending time with her son and daughter who are both going to college in a science field.

Amelia Wolfe (WV) Local: Wood County Federation of Teachers

Amelia Wolfe currently teaches biology and earth science at Parkersburg High School, Parkersburg, WV. She has been teaching since earning her Master’s degree in education from West Virginia University fourteen years ago. Amelia has taught middle school general science for ten years throughout Wood County.

As an active AFT member, Amelia currently serves as a member of AFT’s Next Generation Science Standards cadre and presented with her team at the TEACH conference in July 2017. Amelia is also a National Trainer in Managing Anti-social Behavior. As a trainer, she teaches MAB to teachers in her state yearly at AFT-WV summer school.

Locally, Amelia has presented NGSS training to science teachers in her school district. She has held anti-bullying workshops for teachers with her local President, Greg Merritt. Amelia has served as the local treasurer for the past eight years and currently serves as the building representative at Parkersburg High School. She has been the state’s recipient of the Apple Award for her dedication to the union. She serves as the science department representative on her school’s Leadership Team and she has served as the school’s Faculty Senate secretary for the past three years.

Amelia enjoys spending her time outside of school coaching cross country and track field at Parkersburg High School. She assists the local running club with road races and kids events. Amelia also enjoys training for triathlons and long walks with her dog, Gracie.

Joseph Zuniga (NY) Local: Rochester Teachers Association

Joe Zuniga has taught in the Rochester City School District for 37 years, and is currently the district Science Instructional Coach. He has degrees from the University of Rochester and SUNY Brockport, with certifications in Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Science. He is also obtained the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ Adolescent Young Adult / Secondary Science certification.

Joe is a director and the Central Western NY chairperson for the Science Teachers Association of NYS, a cohost for the NYS-PBS Homework Hotline television show, a member of the NYSUT MST committee and the AFT NGSS cadre. He is active in his local union as a building rep, the chairperson of their scholarship committee and as a delegate to NYSUT and AFT. He has presented multiple workshops at the local, state and national level and is involved in test development for the NYS Regents.

In addition to his teaching Joe has coached football, wrestling and track and officiates wrestling. He enjoys spending time outside of school with his family and participating in outdoor activities and sports.


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