Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Rivers to Reefs 2014
Mission Information
 

Participants in this Expedition

Brandy Chastain

Brandy Chastain
Challenge Teacher,
Upson-Lee South Elementary,
   Thomaston, GA

I've been a teacher for the past 14 years. Twelve years of that time, I spent with my sweet Kindergarten students. I am currently teaching first, second, and third grade gifted and talented students in Thomaston-Upson County Schools at Upson-Lee South Elementary. I have been married to my husband, Clint, for the past twelve years. We have two children, Hudson (age 8) and Hadley (age 4). I stay busy teaching, being a mom, as well as helping with our church, coaching soccer, and taking our kids to all their many after school activities. I'm so excited about participating in the Rivers to Reef Cohort this year. I look forward to learning more about keeping our watershed healthy for generations to come. I want to be able to instill this knowledge in my students as well.


Heather Davison

Heather Davison
Lamar County Middle School,
   Barnesville, GA

I have been teaching science at Lamar County Middle School for 8 years. My undergraduate degree is in Exercise Science and I received my teaching certificate from Mercer University. I coach the LCMS Academic team, coordinate the annual science fair and I am ESL and Gifted certified. I love to spend time doing anything outside, read, and watch baseball. I am a die-hard Tennessee Volunteer fan and I have a 4 year old Chocolate Lab named Brodie who goes almost everywhere I go. My dream retirement plan would include a chair on the beach somewhere near the Gulf of Mexico! I have a niece, a nephew, and 2 older brothers.


Monique L. Duggins

Monique L. Duggins
Special Education,
Evoline C. West Elementary,
Fairburn, GA

Monique L. Duggins is a single mother of a wonderful 15 year old baseball player. Monique has a B.A. degree in Theater from Albany State University (Georgia) and a M.E. in Special Education from Augusta State University (Georgia). She is a certified Special Education Teacher of 12 years. Two of the 12 years were spent in the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi and Dubai. She is an "Army Brat" and grew up in Europe. She loves to travel. While in the UAE, she and her son traveled all through Europe and visited Kenya twice. Monique has also checked off two items on her bucket list: swimming with dolphins and going on an African safari in Masai Mara. She has a great love and interest in marine life and large bodies of water and is hoping that Rivers to Reefs is her first stepping stone to a new continuous adventure studying and/or working with marine life.


Kaitlin Dunn

Kaitlin Dunn
Seventh Grade Science,
Autrey Mill Middle School,
   Johns Creek, GA

I'm entering my third year as a public educator and am pleased to be in a position to foster knowledge and appreciation of the natural world in young people. Having moved to Georgia last summer, I am excited to be learning about and exploring the water systems of my new state of residence through the Rivers to Reef program. I plan on incorporating my experiences from the workshop into problem-based investigations that emphasize inquiry, interdisciplinary learning, and the connections between humans and the ecosystems in which we live. Before moving to Georgia, I lived in Colorado (where I got my Masters of Education from Colorado State), Wisconsin (where I got my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Wisconsin), and South Dakota. In my free time I garden, cook, hike, and read.


Kevin Faircloth

Kevin Faircloth
5th Grade Social Studies ,
Reidsville Elementary School,
   Reidsville, GA

Hi my name is Kevin Faircloth. I am a retired veteran having served in the United States Army for 20 years and 4 months. I have a son Kristopher who will be in the 10th grade next year at Tattnall County High School.
I attended Georgia Southern University after retiring and now I am a 5th grade social studies teacher at Reidsville Elementary School in Reidsville, GA. I really do enjoy teaching and working with my students. When I see students that struggle understand something I have taught, that is a wonderful sense of accomplishment knowing I am making a difference in a young life.


Brian Nicholas

Brian Nicholas
6th grade - Earth Science,
Lamar County Middle School,
   Barnesville, GA

I have been teaching in Barnesville for 12 years and it just happens to be my home town. Before becoming a teacher, I earned a Geology degree from the University of West Georgia. After graduating, I spent time studying at both Washington State and Baylor Universities specializing in environmental geochemistry. I enjoy bringing my real life experiences into my classroom as much as possible.


Jennifer Okiyama

Jennifer Okiyama
7th Grade English Language Arts Talented & Gifted,
Elkins Points Middle School,
   Roswell, GA

I received my Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Alabama in 1991 and taught elementary school in Guam, Texas, Marietta City, and Fulton County for 16 years before moving up to Elkins Pointe Middle School 6 years ago. Three years ago, I attended Walden University to achieve my Master's Degree in Middle Grades Education. I am a Tennessee farm girl by heart so the outdoors have always called my name.
In my spare time, I enjoy sewing uniforms for Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps, touring with them in the summer as a volunteer, working on the family farm with my mom and dad in the summer, and spending time with my family. My husband Paul and I have been married for 22 years and we have an amazing 19 year old son, Quentin, who just finished his freshman year at Georgia Southern.
After these summer's experiences, I plan to further water studies in my classroom on a much more in-depth level. My classes have participated in the River of Words poetry and art contest, Fulton County's water essay contest, and Roswell City's water poster contest. I have had many winners in these contests on the local and state levels. This opportunity will increase my knowledge base in order to provide my students with an even higher quality of learning.


Laura Payne

Laura Payne
3rd Grade,
Jackson Elementary School,
   Jackson, GA

My initial degree was from Valdosta State University in Middle Grades Education, with a primary concentration in science. I have a master's degree in middle grades math and science from the University of North Georgia. I am presently a third grade teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Butts County.
Next year, my school is piloting the departmentalization of third grade classes. I am scheduled to teach the 100+ students their science curriculum. Participation in the River to Reefs Educator's Workshop 2014 will enhance my abilities to plan lessons that will increase the students' science knowledge and understanding of how humans can protect our environment. I look forward to developing more hands on activities for my students based on the Rivers to Reefs experience.
Last year I started a Science Club at Jackson Elementary School. I hope to use what I learn in this workshop to develop activities for my Science Club members that will increase their knowledge of ecosystems and boost their interest in safe-guarding their environment.
I live in Fayetteville, Georgia with my husband Cory and our two year old twins, Alex and Jenna. Most of my spare time is consumed by family activities with my twins and working out at the gym.


Lisa Schwenk

Lisa Schwenk
2nd Grade
Kennesaw Charter Science & Math Academy,
   Kennesaw, GA

I was born in Orlando, Florida but have spent most of my life in Georgia. I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a teacher. I attended Kennesaw State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (P-5). After college I worked at a private Montessori preschool in the Atlanta area. Throughout my year there I really got the urge to travel. I went to South Korea and taught abroad for a year. It was an amazing experience that pulled me out of my comfort zone and I was able to not only immerse myself in another culture but to teach in a country where they hold education to such a high standard. After my year teaching in South Korea, I traveled for 3 months throughout Southeast Asia including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Learning about the history of these countries and experiencing their cultures was an experience I will never forget. Since my return I have been teaching 2nd grade at Kennesaw Charter Science & Math Academy in Cobb County. In 2nd grade we teach about Georgia's regions and rivers so I am really looking forward to traveling throughout Georgia and bringing my experiences into my classroom to share with my students.


Michelle Rodabaugh

Michelle Rodabaugh
2nd Grade,
Cogburn Woods Elementary School,
   Alpharetta, GA

I have been teaching over 15 years in Fulton County and have taught all elementary grade levels and subject areas. My favorite subjects to teach are Science and Math. As a teacher, I devote a lot of time to learning as much as possible in order to develop hands-on experiences my kids will enjoy as they are learning.
I obtained my BSED from the University of Georgia. Having grown up on the beaches of South Florida, I have always had a love and appreciation of our water resources. The beaches and water color can change daily based on the tides and weather bringing pollution from all over to our shores. It has made me think very carefully about our environmental choices, even when we think there may not be an impact, there really can be. To help my students appreciate this, I created an Environmental Club at my school and have been running it for over ten years. My hope is that my knowledge and what we do in class and in club, will instill in them a lifelong sense of responsibility because they understand the impact they have on their environment.


Ashley Scott

Ashley Scott
Science & Social Studies,
Henderson Middle School
   Jackson, GA

I taught science and social studies at Henderson Middle School in Jackson, GA for five years. I recently resigned and am looking to use my skills in another area of education. I look forward to this workshop and learning new information!







Bethany Todd

Bethany Todd
6th Grade Science, 7th Grade Social Studies,
Lamar County Middle School,
   Barnesville, GA

I teach 6th and 7th grade Science at Lamar County Middle School. I have been teaching for 6 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. Middle school students are my passion. In 2007, I graduated from Valdosta State University with my Bachelor's in Middle grades education with a focus in Math and Science. I also obtained my Master's from Valdosta State University in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012. After graduating from Valdosta, I immediately jumped into my Specialist's degree at Lincoln Memorial University and completed in December of 2013. Teaching is such a wonderful profession. Although I am technically the teacher, my students teach me so much about life each and every day. I hope to inspire my students to chase their dreams and be the best that they can be. I am married to a fantastic man, Jacob, who is a student in Gordon State College's Nursing program. We have a vibrant 2 1/2 year old who keeps us on our toes. I have truly been blessed and thank God daily for my blessings.


Melanie Vaughn

Melanie Vaughn
7th Grade Life Science; 6th & 8th Grade Resource
   Language Arts,
Lamar County Middle School,
   Barnesville, GA

I have been teaching 7 years. I teach Special Education as a co-teacher and as a resource teacher. I also teach a regular education and a Gifted Science class. I received my A.A. in Education from Gordon College, my B.S in Communication and Information Technology from Macon State College, and my M.A.T in Middle Grades Education from Lagrange College. My husband and I have a 10 year old son and a dachshund. My hobbies include traveling, reading, and shopping. I love teaching Life Science! I am looking forward to taking these real world experiences back to my classroom to increase understanding in different areas of Life Science that we cover.


Ben Wells

Ben Wells
Middle School Math,
Oglethorpe Charter School,
   Savannah, GA

I am in my 16th year as a middle school math teacher in Savannah. During that time, I have had many opportunities for professional development. Some were great content courses, some were great experiences. None were as meaningful to me as a trip to nearby Ossabaw Island with several students. We took this trip through a course sponsored by the Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics (P.R.I.S.M.). While on that trip, I got to see first-hand how meaningful field work can be for students. The enthusiasm and energy from the students on that trip was like nothing I had ever experienced in a classroom. Since then, I have tried to make sure that my students get to not only see why they learn the math content that they do in the classroom, but also experience the beauty of our natural world and how necessary it is to protect it. In the past three years I have done this through marine debris surveys through the University of Georgia's Marine Extension service.
In addition to participating in the Rivers to Reefs class this summer, I am working with University of Georgia and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researchers on ways to bring AUV technology into local classrooms. Our goal is to not only expose students to the technology and relate it to content, but to get them excited about marine education as well. I am certain that both experiences will bring many exciting ideas into my middle school math classroom.


Nakeshia Williams

Nakeshia Williams
8th Grade,
Henderson Middle School,
   Jackson, GA

I have taught middle grades social studies in the Butts County School System for the past 6 years. I am a graduate of Georgia State University where I received a B.A. in Political Science as well as Grand Canyon University where I received an M.Ed. Originally from California but I have lived in Georgia for many years with my son. My personal and professional goals are to attain an Ed.S. and utilize my formal education by providing instructional services to adults and students from diverse populations. My passion is teaching history but I am fortunate enough to attend this workshop where I will be able to share my experiences with students for years to come.


Sarah Willis

Sarah Willis
6th Grade - Earth Science ,
Reidsville Middle School,
   Reidsville, GA

I graduated from Armstrong Atlantic State University in spring 2012 with a B.S. degree in Middle Grades Education. The next fall I began teaching 6th Grade Earth Science in Reidsville, GA. I am completely fascinated with Earth Science, and I absolutely love teaching. I consider myself really lucky to have a job I enjoy so much. Nothing makes me happier than sharing in my students' discovery and wonder, and I hope they leave my classroom with both greater respect and understanding for the environment.
When I'm not working I enjoy hiking, canoeing, photography, and spending time with my dog Raybon. She and I can usually be found wandering the trails at our local state park in the afternoons. I spend my summers traveling, exploring new landscapes, and, most importantly, learning new things. I love visiting an unfamiliar place and then learning all about the geology behind it. My students really enjoy all the stories and pictures I come back with. I am very excited about being a part of the 2014 Rivers to Reefs workshop, and I cannot wait to get back and share my experiences with my students next year.



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