Science Leadership Fellows Program

The North Carolina Leadership Association (NCSLA) is proud to lead an initiative to foster the development of science education leaders in North Carolina. The purpose of the NCSLA Science Leadership Fellows Program is to enhance professional competence and develop the leadership abilities necessary for science smtlogoleaders to operate effectively in various leadership positions in science education. This newly revised program is supported by the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center.

Download a SLFP Brochure (pdf)

Download the presentation by SLFP alumni at the 2013 NSTA Conference in Charlotte (pdf)

slfp202022-2023 Science Leadership Fellow Cohort

Read comments from previous Science Leadership Fellows.

NCSLA PromoPoster Fellows Program

About the Program

The NCSLA Science Leadership Fellows Program

• Fosters the development of science education leaders
• Enhances professional competence
• Develops leadership abilities

05slfp3Science Leadership and Professional Development Activities

  • Tailored to the needs of each cohort
  • Instructional and assessment strategies
  • Facilitating reform and change
  • Building leadership capacity
  • Conflict resolution and consensus building
  • Networking and building partnerships
  • Effective use of technology
  • Processes for text/materials selection
  • Grant writing

Who Can Become a Fellow?

  • Classroom teachers and science lead teachers/department chairs
  • LEA science supervisors 
  • LEA general supervisors whose duties include science 
  • Informal and out-of-school educators
  • Other administrators 
  • Individuals in business and industry who work in science education  
  • Anyone who is in or may be in science leadership in NC

What Does the Program Involve?

  • Cohorts of 12 to 15 members formed every two years
  • Cohort meets four times per year including attendance at the NCSLA/
    NCSTA professional development institutes held in November

How is the Program Funded?

  • North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education
  • Applicant’s LEA, university or business must commit to financially
    support attendance at the NCSLA/NCSTA professional development
    institutes in November
  • NCSLA covers other expenses

What it means to be a Science Leadership Fellow

In February 2012 the new cohort of Science Leadership Fellows (SLF) met at the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence (CCEE) in Chapel Hill to facilitate professional development in fostering effective change in educational policy and identifying key concerns in science support for teaching professionals within the cohort.  In addition, we utilized team building activities to construct norms for communication and promote a sense of community among the members of the cohort.

Upon completion of the weekend, the fellows wanted to articulate their appreciation to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund that was possible through their generous support.

Thank you for your support of the NCSLA Fellowship Program, I'm looking forward to learning so much about how to become a more focused science leader in my school, district and the state. Your continued support of this is much appreciated.


Carla Billups

I really enjoyed the NCSLA Fellows meeting/session.  Due to the generosity of the sponsors, we were able to come together and network and brainstorm the various ways we could go back to our schools and counties and impact science education.  This group consists of extremely gifted and talented leaders in science education and I am excited to be a part of this group and look forward to future events.  I am sharing with my colleagues the impact that participation has had on me as well as encouraging them to participate as members of NCSLA and to support the businesses and efforts of our generous sponsor.


Lesley Brickhouse

The thing  from our last meeting that will help me more than anything in the immediate (and already has) future is the collaboration for some of our materials.  I have been able to help give guidance to two people how to use the calendar program more effectively to complete follow through.  Making sure others do what they do in a group setting to get tasks done on time.  I have also benefitted in gaining a mentor for my national boards! In one session, I have been blessed and have been able to be a blessing to others,

Mark Case

I would really like to thank the sponsors for providing the location and resources for us to begin this process. I’ve already used some of the ideas from the “Change” game when I taught a PD session on a potentially stressful concept to science teachers (including literacy).

Melanie Rickard

What I liked the most was the Change Game.  I learned about looking at change from different perspectives and how it can affect  individuals in ways that you had not previously considered.  This reminds me to try to look at the big picture when making decisions that affect many people.
Thanks for doing this for us,

Tonya German

Thank you so much for funding the NCSLA Fellows Program.  I am a new fellow this year and have already been positively affected just by the first weekend session.  NCSLA helped me discover some of my leadership potential and where I may be lagging.  With this information I have already taken action steps to be a positive leader in the NC science community.  And for that I just wanted to say thank you.  Without you this experience and learning could not have happened.


Marty Creech

Being a part of the NCSLA Fellowship Program is already helping me connect with other leaders in science education, while giving me the skills and experience to become a leader myself. Thank you for sponsoring this wonderful opportunity,


Nicolette Cagle

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work with this leadership team. I look forward to developing a strong working relationship with all of these people over the next two years. They have several different strengths to offer. I really enjoyed working with them this past weekend, particularly in the "Making Change" game. I began to truly understand the process we need to use to accomplish our goals.

Once again, thank you,

Nancy D Clark/Gaston

2022-2024 Cohort

Kayla Boykin is a North Carolina native from Pine Level. Kayla completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in education at East Carolina University. The bulk of her research was focused on the importance of experience-based learning within the science classroom. She has also studied global climate change in the Appalachian Mountains and the Costa Rican Cloud Forest. She has presented at the North Carolina Science Teachers Association and the National Science Teachers Association Conferences. Kayla’s authentic experiences have made her a passionate advocate for providing students with opportunities to interact with real-world science. During her career she has served her community in Johnston County as a science teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Recently, she has stepped into a leadership role as the county’s science specialist for kindergarten through 8th grade. Her goal is to excite and support both teachers and students within the district about science and exploring our natural world! In addition to being a science educator, Kayla is a dance instructor at Baker School of Dance. She enjoys spending her free time traveling to new places and antique hunting with her husband Tyler.


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Kirsta Brinchek has served as the Science Specialist for K-5th grade at Abbotts Creek Elementary School since its opening. She believes in the Wake County Public Schools Core belief that every student deserves to be challenged in meaningful learning each day. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from North Carolina State University. Prior to her teaching career, she was a licensed Environmental Geologist working in the environmental consulting field. She received her Environmental Science undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont. Krista combines environmental science, citizen science projects, project-based learning, and community service to make learning authentic, meaningful, and relevant. Her time as an Environmental Geologist helped her form the core belief that students must be trusted with meaningful work (e.g. Collection and transmission of data to scientists through citizen science programs). She developed the innovative Green STEM program at Abbotts Creek ES where each grade level is responsible for a different Citizen Science program each year. She frequently collaborates and brings into the classroom local STEM professionals, knowing that students are most likely to view themselves positively pursuing STEM careers if they are introduced to successful scientists and engineer career paths at an early age. When not in the classroom you will find Krista out enjoying nature with her family and her fluffy golden retriever Willow. Ms. Brinchek has also received recognition for her work in the classroom through receiving the North Carolina Environmental Educator of the Year Award, the North Carolina Outstanding Earth Science Educator Award, North Carolina Science Teacher Association District 3 Outstanding Elementary Science Teacher Award and the North Carolina Entomological Society Outstanding Teacher Award. KristaHeadshot 1
Morgan Carney is the STEM Coordinator at Brogden Middle School in Durham, North Carolina. She attended Duke University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biology prior to obtaining her initial teaching license and pursuing add-on
licensure in Academically/Intellectually Gifted Education. She also holds a Masters in Teacher Education with a concentration in Learning Sciences from UNC Greensboro. Morgan enjoys traveling in her personal and professional life, and has been privileged to be able to teach in DC, California, China, Nicaragua, India, and the Philippines. She has worked with the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh to help facilitate Project-Based Learning with teachers from around the Triangle, and has taught and worked with student teachers at both Duke and UNCG. When not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her fiancé, gardening, cooking, and dancing.

Elizabeth Carney

My name is Emmaleigh Carpenter and I am a 4th year teacher at Foothills Community School in McDowell County, North Carolina. I began as a lateral entry teacher for my first 3 years and am now looking to broaden my horizons as I learn to take on
a stronger leadership role at my school. Teaching has always been a career path, oddly enough, that I refused whole-heartedly. Growing up, I was determined to be a biologist and received my Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology and Wildlife Rehabilitation from Lee's McRae College. While awaiting a job opening in an upcoming summer, I took a temporary teaching job to
make ends meet. It was then I fell in love with my job and never turned back. I now teach 6th-8th grade science and have never been more passionate or excited about my job. I have a daughter, Mayleigh, who is the light of my life. During our free time we enjoy rock climbing and paddle boarding.


Emmaleigh Carpenter
Leanne Daughtry is the Director of K-12 Math and Science Curriculum in Johnston County Public Schools. She was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow at the University of NC at Wilmington, where she earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education with
a concentration in psychology. She earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Supervision from North Carolina State University, and has additional licenses as a Curriculum Specialist and in K-12 Academically and Intellectually Gifted Education. She taught second and fourth grades in Johnston County before leaving the classroom to work with teachers and the district's Academically and Intellectually Gifted program. Prior to getting married and returning to Johnston County, Leanne was an elementary mathematics consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She is passionate about helping teachers and creating powerful learning experiences for students. She has led professional development sessions for the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the NC Department of Public Instruction, the NC Collaborative for Mathematics Learning, Partners for Mathematics Learning and TAP Math Mathematics-Science Partnerships, and the Meredith Math and Science Institutes. Leanne and her husband Kevin have two sons, Luke (11) and Thad (10). When not at baseball fields, they enjoy traveling and spending time at the beach.
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Adam Haas is the STEM teacher at Rocky River Elementary School in Monroe, North Carolina. He has taught for years and has had the pleasure of teaching his entire career at Rocky River. He teaches all 500 students at my school and also runs a STEM club and a STEM fair.

Headshot Adam Haas

Pepper Hill is the owner and founder of Science Alliance of Eastern NC and has over 20 years training and experience in informal education program development and implementation. She began her science education journey accidentally! As a history and education major at UNC-Wilmington, she thought she was headed into a social studies classroom, but stumbled upon a teaching job at a museum of history AND science. There she learned that science is, in fact, for everyone and she fell in love with it. With a mission to reach underserved students and families in rural southeastern NC, Pepper launched Science Alliance in April 2021. For schools and families that are challenged to travel to museums or science centers, she takes the field trip fun to them! She works to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to be curious about the natural and human-made world around them, instill confidence in exploration, and promote excitement about our historic and scientific position in the wider world. Pepper has researched, developed, and delivered all types of informal science education during her career—school field trips, large-scale family events, and preschool programs. She is an active Franklin Institute Leap into Science educator, regular presenter at the UNCW CESTEM regional science teacher’s conference, Project Learning Tree facilitator, longtime Science Olympiad and NC Science and Engineering Fair judge, and former National History Day regional coordinator. She was a 2019 Smart Start Children's Champion honoree and a 2019 YWCA Women of Achievement nominee. Pepper and her husband Jerry spend their down time riding their Harleys, boating on the Cape Fear River, and enjoying their quiet empty nest.


Pepper Hill

Emily Lahr is a native of North Carolina. She is an avid sports fan, varsity volleyball coach, assistant varsity girls soccer coach, amateur astronomer, and lifelong learner. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Art in Teaching Science Education from East Carolina University and is currently working toward obtaining her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in curriculum studies and teacher education through Texas Tech University. Her research interests have focused on pre- service and early career teacher science understanding- science content knowledge, teacher science misconceptions, and pre-service science teacher preparation. Mrs. Lahr teaches STEM Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, Physical Science, and Student Research at Greene Central High School in eastern North Carolina. Some of her leadership roles include coaching other educators in the Greene County Schools STEM academy, being a district trainer for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, and being a member of the School Improvement Team as well as the inaugural cohort of the Rural Teacher Leader Network through the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Her goal in teaching is to break down the walls of her classroom and build an immersive and exciting environment where her students can genuinely experience science. She wants to help foster students' love of science and perpetuate their curiosity in all their endeavors. She is an advocate of student science research and encourages students to follow their science passions. She sits on the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Regional Director’s Advisory Committee as the teacher advisor and volunteers with North Carolina Science Olympiad and other competitions. Mrs. Lahr is passionate about science literacy and supporting teachers in their daily practice to engage students in an authentic learning experience.


Emily Lahr
Alexis Moore is a native of Greensboro, NC with over 9 years of elementary teaching experience. She is currently the Elementary STEM Teacher for Durham Public School's Ignite Online Academy. She has a Master's inElementary Education from Liberty University. Mrs. Moore has served in many capacities with Discovery Education Network, UNCG STEM Teacher-Leader Collaborative, NCAE Instructional Leader, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, and more. Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Moore has a non-profit foundation called
"Moore's maSTErMinds" aimed to shine a light on STEM education.
Betty Jo Moore teaches 6th grade science at a STEAM magnet middle school in Winston-Salem. She is a lifelong learner and loves seeking out opportunities for learning and for ideas to bring back to the classroom. She has participated in the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, Honeywell Space Academy for Educators, the STEM Guitar Institute (she built an electric guitar), Advanced Space Academy for Educators, NASA LiftOff2016, workshops in Belize and California, the Wallops Rocketry Program for Teachers and most recently the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the AGI/Geoscience & STEM Teacher Leadership Academy. During the summer months, Betty Jo teaches in China for a STEAM program. Betty Jo is a National Geographic Certified Educator, a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, a member of the SEEC crew, a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, and a Nearpod PioNear. Betty Jo serves as Robotics coach, Science Olympiad coach and advisor for the Programming Club. In 2000, she was the recipient of the NCSTA Ann Watkins Middle School Distinguished Service Award. When not in the classroom, she enjoys music and plays the string bass with the Winston-Salem Civic Orchestra. Her hobbies include travel, scrapbooking, hiking, SCUBA and gardening. Betty Jo Moore
My name is Jessica Parker and I have taught science in Cabarrus County since 2003. My experience includes Honors and Standard Level Biology and Earth/Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Physical Science, Marine Science, Forensic Science, Honors and Standard Chemistry and AP Chemistry. Since 2014, I have served the students of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the Life Sciences Department as an Adjunct Instructor. I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from UNC-Charlotte, a Master's Degree from East Carolina University, and have my NC Administrator Certification from Appalachian State University. I also hold my National Board
Certification in Adult/Young Adult Life Science Education. Additionally, I have served in various leadership roles within my school, district, and community to promote science education for NC students.

Copy of JParker Jessi

My name is Ashley Randolph and I am a physical science teacher at McDowell Academy for Innovation in Marion, NC. This will be my tenth year of teaching science. I am originally from Dayton, Ohio where I attended Wright State University. I look forward to the opportunities of networking and exchanging ideas that this fellowship will provide. I hope to better understand how to support and encourage my fellow teachers as they work to integrate STEM into their lessons. In my free time I enjoy cooking, hiking, and kayaking with friends and family.

Ashley Randolph
Suzanne Raxter is an 18 year teaching veteran who is currently serving as the K-5 STEAM Teacher at Hawks Nest STEM Academy in Gaston County. Suzanne holds a Specialist's Degree in Technology from Northwestern State University, Louisiana. She is the STEM leader on the STEM Model School Committee for Hawks Nest STEAM Academy. In the Spring of 2020, Hawks Nest STEAM Academy was awarded the NC Model STEM School of Distinction, which was a first for Gaston County Schools. She is the coordinator and coach for HNSA’s Science Olympiad Varsity and Junior Varsity Teams, First Lego League Robotics Coach, as well as the Math Master’s Coach. Suzanne has assumed many leadership roles in her career as Instructional Lead Teacher, Academic Coach, School Leadership and Improvement Committees, and Cobb County Committee 100 Leadership Academy. She has presented on a variety of teaching methods across different grade levels and subject areas at local, state, and national levels. Her passion for education is evident whether she is teaching students or educators. Suzanne grew up in West Virginia and was always curious how things worked as well as loved the great outdoors. Suzanne spent all day exploring all the while looking for answers to her many questions and curiosity. She had several science teachers during her education that kept her curiosity alive and therefore, believes deeply all students deserve quality science instruction to develop critical thinking and scientific literacy. Suzanne is the mother to an awesome son, three dogs and a cat. She enjoys the beach, traveling, spending time with family, friends, and her students. SuzanneRaxter 1 Suzanne Raxter
Jennifer Redfearn is a Durham, North Carolina native who moved to Greensboro to attend North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Upon completion of her undergraduate and graduate work at A&T, she entered the high school classroom where she taught science for seven years. Through trial and error, Jennifer worked to learn and implement best practices as they relate to
science education pedagogy. She currently serves as the STEM Coordinator for Guilford County Schools. In this role, Jennifer collaborates with STEM and education professionals to provide a wide variety of resources and supports to Guilford County Schools students and teachers.
Jen Redfearn
 Emma Refvem, NBCT, MAT is the K-12 STEM Literacy Facilitator for Durham Public Schools and a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator. She is working on a PhD in Science Education at NC State University, researching how informal science experiences can influence career motivations in science and science teaching. In her time in the classroom at Riverside High School in Durham from 2010 to 2018, she taught Earth & Environmental Science and AP Environmental Science and served as the swim coach, National Honor Society advisor, and advisor for myriad other clubs as requested by students. Her classroom style could probably be described as silly; for example, her class’s Harlem Shake video went viral in 2013. She has worked closely with the Institute for the Environment at UNC Chapel Hill, serving as a program teacher for the Climate and Energy LEAP summer programs, participating as a NC Climate Fellow in 2012 and Energy Literacy Fellow in 2017, and serving on the NC Energy Literacy Fellowship Teacher Advisory Committee since 2020. She now works in the office of Curriculum and Instruction for Durham Public Schools, supporting secondary science teachers and helping integrate literacy best practices into science instruction. Her passions include using spreadsheets to manage people and projects and getting to witness the joy and genius of high school students. A student once told her she was “chill, but not overly nice.” She lives in Durham with her husband, son, and four cats, and spends her non-working time being outside, reading novels, and doing various crafts like knitting, sewing, and crocheting. Emma Refvem 
Ahura Webb is an up-and-coming educational rock star! She is currently the 7th and 8th-grade science teacher and the Science Coordinator at Reaching All Minds STEM Academy. Ahura is originally from Columbia, South Carolina; however, she now claims North Carolina as her new home. Ahura obtained her Bachelors of Science degree at Claflin University. Her major was Biology, and her minor was Chemistry. While in university, she became a proud member of AlphaKappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. After matriculating through university, Ahura became a microbiologist at a pharmaceutical plant. However, dissatisfied with the inequitable state of education in America, Ahura decided to make a career change to teaching. In 2017 Ahura applied for Teach For America and got accepted for the 2017 cohort. She gained her teaching license in 2019 via East Carolina University Teaching program. Currently, with five years of teaching under her belt, she is eager to continue to be a positive role model and an agent of change for her students and her community. IMG 0361 Ahura Webb