Author Archives: Robin Mara

Cheers to Our 2017 CTI Evening for Educators Presenters!

Cheers to all our great presenters at CTI’s Evening for Educators event Oct. 17 at Discovery Place Education Studio. Presenters included current and former CTI Fellows from CTI Seminars, and CTI Fellows, Seminar Leaders and UNCC graduate assistants who participated in our Summer Research Experience for Teachers.
          Our guests — CMS teachers, CTI supporters and local community members — were very impressed with the excellent curriculum ideas provided, and got lots of great ideas to take back to their students and schools. Many thanks to these presenters for sharing their super engaging, innovative work!

CTI Fellows Curricula

  • Justine Busto, English as a Second Language teacher, East Mecklenburg High School: Using Graphic Novels and Picture Books in the High School and Middle School Classroom
  • Matthew Kelly, Spanish teacher, Independence High School:  Una imagen vale mil palabras: Using Hispanic Art with Novice Learners of Spanish
  • Jennifer Ladanyi, language arts teacher, Bailey Middle School:  Graphic Novels: Reading Critically from Texts to Images
  • Pam Shembo, fifth grade French immersion teacher, E.E. Waddell Academy:  Words of African Wisdom through Leuk the Hare in a French Immersion Classroom
  • Amy Thomas, math teacher, Reedy Creek Elementary School:  Number Awareness and Place Value
  • Janet Raybon, forensic science teacher, Myers Park High School:  The Rest of the Story: A Study of Death, Decomposition and Metamorphosis
  • Tyler Godensky, forensic science student, Myers Park High School:  Decomposition and the Life Cycle of the Blow Fly

CTI Summer Research Experience for Teachers (SRET)

Silver Nanoparticles for Enhanced Efficiency in Solar Applications

  • Wendy Potter, apparel and textile production teacher, Butler High School
  • Kari Rhoades, biomedical science teacher, Mallard Creek High School
  • Kathleen Dipple, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte
  • Meesha Kaushal, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte

How You Can Use Fluorescence and Light to Demonstrate Chemistry Concepts in Your Classroom

  • Phil Carver, science teacher, James Martin Middle School
  • Margaret Kocherga, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Tom Schmedake, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Examining the Effects of Freeze/Thaw Cycles on Porcine Skin Using Spectral Analysis

  • Curtis Overton, technology & design teacher, West Mecklenburg High School

SRET Graduate Student Research

Studying the effects of Peripheral Alkyl Chains on Exciton Diffusion Parameters in Porphyrin-PCBM Thin Films for OPV Applications

  • Meesha Kaushal, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Fabrication of Tunable Silver Nanorod Films for Solar Applications

  • Kathleen Dipple, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte


CTI Presents Evening for Educators Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CTI Fellows will share new curricula they created for their students at CTI’s Evening for Educators event on Tuesday, October 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Discovery Place Education Studio. Teachers and the general public are invited to learn about engaging new teaching ideas created by CMS teachers in their CTI seminars. Experience a night of fun and innovative curricula for grades preK-12 in math, science, social studies, the arts and more. Refreshments will be served. Hosted by CTI and Discovery Place Education Studio, it’s all free and open to the public. Register to attend HERE.

CTI Fellows Shared Collaborative Laboratory Research at 2017 SRET Reception Sept. 7

Story and photos by Grayson Hollowell, CTI Communications & Administrative Assistant


Fascinating research, our awesome CTI Fellows, and many attentive guests all came together for CTI’s Summer Research Experience for Teachers (SRET) Reception on Thursday, September 7, at UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library.

Eight teams comprised of CTI Fellows, graduate assistants and professors, from UNC Charlotte and Davidson College, collaborated in physics and chemistry research labs during June and July. At the SRET Reception, they displayed posters illustrating their findings and discussed them with reception attendees. CTI Fellows’ posters and research information can be found on CTI’s SRET webpage.

Deans, faculty, staff and and our other CTI Fellows joined us to commend and learn from the great research gleaned from the SRET projects. The public did the same, creating a wonderful, intellectual and casual atmosphere, accompanied by pizzas and drinks.

Thank you to everyone who attended and to all who participated in SRET. Congratulations on your marvelous hard work!


New Ring Systems for New Drugs

CTI Fellows Josh Trujillo and Kassie Stevens, chemistry teachers at W.A. Hough High School, conducted research in Dr. Erland Steven’s pharmaceutical laboratory at Davidson College this summer.  View their poster synopsis below.

Research Team:

  • Kassie Calvo, chemistry teacher, Hough High School
  • Josh Trujillo, chemistry teacher, Hough High School
  • Dr. Erland Stevens, professor of chemistry, Davidson College

CTI Fellows Present at CMS Science Curriculum Day

Six CTI Fellows presented lessons from their CTI Summer Research Experience for Teachers with teaching colleagues at the CMS Science Curriculum Day Aug. 17 at South Mecklenburg High School. SRET Fellows shared what distinguishes CTI’s professional development from other PD, how they became involved in CTI’s SRET, research methods and concepts they explored in university laboratories, and their plans to implement research in their classrooms this fall, with the help of UNC Charlotte graduate students.

CTI presenters included Michelle Faggert (Martin Luther King MS), Namrata Gupta (Nations Ford ES) and Curtis Overton (West Mecklenburg HS) from Dr. Susan’s Trammell’s physics lab; Geneva Bell and Phil Carver (both at James Martin MS) from Dr. Tom Schmedake’s chemistry lab; and Kari Rhoades from Dr. Marcus Jones’ chemistry lab. Each of the three groups presented two 50-minute sessions for other CMS science teachers.
Cheers to these dedicated Fellows for sharing their SRET learning with other teachers!

Investigation of Optical Properties of Silver Nanorod Films


Research Team:

  • Marielle Matheus, third grade teacher, Vaughan Academy of Technology
  • Jackie Smith, forensics teacher, Hough High School
  • Kathleen Dipple, chemistry graduate student, UNC Charlotte
  • Meesha Kaushal, chemistry graduate student, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Marcus Jones, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Examining the Effects of Freeze/Thaw Cycles on Porcine Skin Using Spectral Analysis

Research Team:

  • Michelle Faggert, science teacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School
  • Namrata Gupta, science teacher, Nations Ford Elementary School
  • Curtis Overton, science teacher, West Mecklenburg High School
  • Joseph Peller, graduate assistant in physics, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Susan Trammell, associate professor of physical and optical science, UNC Charlotte

Light Assisted Drying (LAD) of Chlorophyll

Research Team:

  • NaKreshia Cox, science teacher, Sedgefield Middle School
  • Audrey Dorante, history teacher, East Mecklenburg High School
  • Heather Nash, science teacher, East Mecklenburg High School
  • Madison Young, graduate assistant in physics, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Susan Trammell, associate professor of physical and optical science, UNC Charlotte

How You Can Use Fluorescence and Light to Demonstrate Chemistry Concepts in Your Classroom

Geneva Bell SRET 2017


Phil Carver SRET 2017


Bell Carver Overview SRET 2017

Research Team:

  • Geneva Bell, science teacher, James Martin Middle School
  • Phil Carver, science teacher, James Martin Middle School
  • Margaret Kocherga, graduate assistant in chemistry, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Tom Schmedake, associate of chemistry, UNC Charlotte

Silver Nanoparticles for Enhanced Efficiency in Solar Applications

Research Team:

  • Wendy Potter, apparel and textile production teacher, Butler High School
  • Kari Rhoades, biomedical science teacher, Mallard Creek High School
  • Kathleen Dipple, chemistry graduate student, UNC Charlotte
  • Meesha Kaushal, chemistry graduate student, UNC Charlotte
  • Dr. Marcus Jones, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte



2017 CTI Science Research Reception

SRET Showcase & Reception: Thursday, Sept. 7, 5:00-5:50 p.m.                  Halton Reading Room in Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte

CTI will host the Science Research Experience for Teachers (SRET) Showcase and Reception on Thursday, Sept. 7, 5:00-5:50 p.m. at the Halton Reading Room at UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library. This event is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to learn about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers’ work with professors in research laboratories at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College this summer.

Fourteen CMS teachers collaborated with professors and graduate assistants, as part of CTI’s 2017 SRET during June and July. These CTI Fellows worked in four different laboratories led by university and college professors: Dr. Susan Trammell, physics and optical science, UNCC; Marcus Jones, chemistry, UNCC; Dr. Tom Schmedake, chemistry, UNCC; and Dr. Erland Stevens, chemistry, Davidson College.

During the Sept. 7 reception, the SRET teacher fellows, professors and graduate assistants will provide poster presentations and discuss their unique collaborations and how this research experience translates to their classrooms and their students. Pizza and soft drinks will be served. Parking details here.

For an overview of each research team and their research topics, see SRET.



CTI Hosted Equal Justice Workshop for CMS Teachers

CTI and the Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice hosted a curriculum planning workshop for CMS teachers on Aug. 15 at Queens University of Charlotte, presented by the Equal Justice Initiative (Montgomery, AL). Committed to changing the narrative about race in America, EJI produces groundbreaking reports, discussion guides, teacher education workshops, lesson plans and other educational materials, as well as short films that explore our nation’s history of racial injustice. EJI recently launched a national effort to create new spaces, markers, and memorials that address the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, which shapes many issues today.

Long-time and greatly admired East Mecklenburg High School teacher Larry Bosc, now retired, coordinated the workshop. Larry is a former CTI Fellow who participated in CTI’s African American Literature of the Civil Rights Movement at Davidson College in 2012. (See civil rights-related curriculum units from that seminar HERE.) Following the day-long workshop with the EJI and his CMS teaching colleagues, Larry provided this report on the day:

Given recent events in Charlottesville, last Tuesday’s seminar delivered by EJI staff Kiara Boone and Jonathan Kubakundimana couldn’t have been more appropriate. Although EJI’s work in criminal justice reform has righted many wrongs, their focus in this seminar was on their stated message that “we cannot reach reconciliation without first acknowledging the truth about our past, and until we confront this history and its legacy, we will remain challenged by extremism and racial bias.” The event, sponsored by the Charlotte Teachers Institute and the Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University, was attended by 27 CMS teachers. It began in the morning with presentations by Boone and Kubakundimana featuring their research into racial violence in American and their plans for a museum and memorial to victims of the over 4,000 lynchings in the South from 1877-1955. Additionally, they made available to all participants numerous pamphlets containing this information and exposed teachers to their curriculum guide available on their website. The afternoon session featured small group work as teachers processed the information given to them in the morning and began work on their lesson plans. Judging by teacher comments, the morning presentation had given them some great energy as they prepare to meet their students in the weeks to come.

CMS teacher Kheiston Tilford had this to say about the workshop: One of the best PD’s I’ve ever been to. I left feeling honored to tell my history, empowered and compelled to do more research and ask more questions about my family history and resources….Great resources to help us facilitate discussion inside and outside of our classrooms! 🙌🏾❤️📚 Thank you!

Math, Paper, Pencil, Graphene, Carbon Nanotubes, and Buckyballs


Joanne Rowe, Math, Northwest School of the Arts

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

read more »

CTI Fellows Start Their Research Engines at the Prospectus Writing & Research Jam May 20

About 25 of our dedicated Fellows rose early on a Saturday morning (May 20) to start their curriculum unit work at the CTI Prospectus Writing & Research Jam at UNC Charlotte Center City. They fueled up with a full breakfast buffet and then got down to energetic planning with UNC Charlotte Librarians Abby Moore and Jenna Rinalducci, CTI teacher leaders and staff, and each other. It was a great collaborative effort to set up Fellows with technology, clear goals and creative ideas for moving forward with their research.

Abby and Jenna shared detailed research support websites they developed for CTI Fellows, designed to explore specific content areas related to each seminar:

Davidson College Librarian James Sponsel also organized a Davidson research support site for Fellows and an easy to use guide to the Zotero citation and bibliography management tool.

Many thanks to Abby, Jenna and James for their generous dedication to CTI Fellows, and to these experienced teacher leaders who provided valuable feedback to our new and returning Fellows at the Writing Jam:  Steering Committee Members Miesha Gadsden, Deb Jung, Deb Semmler and Connie Wood; and Seminar Coordinators Amethyst Klein,Wendy Potter, Rima Sohl and Amy Thomas.

CTI Fellows will have the summer to research their topic areas in depth and refine their objectives and content focus. All Fellows are charged to bring their seminar learning back to their classrooms through the original CTI Curriculum Units they create, specifically for their own students.

CTI Welcomes 104 CMS Teachers as 2017 CTI Fellows

CHARLOTTE – May 2017 – Charlotte Teachers Institute welcomed its new cohort of 104 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers into its innovative, interdisciplinary seminars for 2017.

“This year’s CTI Fellows represent a wide range of CMS teachers, from pre-kindergarten to high school, they teach courses from physics to French and literacy to special education,” said CTI Director Scott Gartlan. “We continue to create significant growth opportunities for teacher leaders looking to deepen their knowledge base and impact the lives of their students.”

CTI’s eight concurrent seminars began with an orientation at Discovery Place Science in April and will run through November. CTI seminars are led by faculty experts in the arts and sciences, including five from UNC Charlotte and three from Davidson College.

In each seminar, 13 CMS teachers (CTI Fellows) and a faculty leader work closely together in exploring a topic in depth, with each teacher creating a new curriculum designed for his or her own students. CTI Fellows receive full access to both Davidson College and UNC Charlotte resources, as well as memberships to Discovery Place and the Charlotte Museum of History, and complimentary tickets to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture and the Levine Museum. Each Fellow is awarded a $1,500 stipend and continuing education credits upon completion of the seminar.

The 2017 Seminars, Leaders, Coordinators and Fellows include:

Using Mathematics to Understand Social Issues

Seminar Leader: Anthony Fernandes, Mathematics and Statistics, UNC Charlotte

Seminar Coordinator: Rima Solh, Math, Southwest Middle School

Jeffrey Barnes, Math, Rocky River HS

Antowanna Carpenter, CTE/Business, Butler HS

Javier Cely, Math, Collinswood Language

Emiko Furuya, Fifth Grade, Waddell Language Academy

Katelyn Gardepe, Fifth Grade            , Selwyn ES

Mary Catherine Grant, Third Grade, McAlpine ES

Camay Hunter, Math, West Charlotte HS

Gwendalyn Iversen, Second Grade, Winding Springs ES

Paige Laurain, Math, West Charlotte HS

Kelly McManus, Math, Martin Luther King, Jr. MS

Vertina Rhim, Math, Whitewater MS

Jimi’ E. Rogers, Kindergarten, Nations Ford ES

Media and Minorities: Unpacking Stereotypes

Seminar Leader: Debra C. Smith, Africana Studies, UNC Charlotte

Seminar Coordinator: Franchone Bey, English, West Charlotte High School

Eli Davis, Special Education, Lincoln Heights Academy

Audrey Dorante, History, East Mecklenburg HS

DeNise Gerst, Science, Barringer Academic Center

Mic Hamrick, Kindergarten, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

Shanique Lee, English, North Mecklenburg HS

Marielle Matheus, Third Grade, Irwin Academic Center

Latonda Mitchell, 2nd Grade, Mountain Island Lake Academy

Chrisana Paul, Literacy, Coulwood STEM Academy

Liza Quinn, Literacy, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

Kim Scouller  Second Grade Barringer Academic Center

Annette Teasdell, English/ History, North Mecklenburg HS

Torie Wheatley, English, North Mecklenburg HS

Chemical Interactions in the Body

Seminar Leader: Erland Stevens, Chemistry, Davidson College

Seminar Coordinator: Kassie Woodard, Chemistry, W.A. Hough High School

Morgan Andrews, Psychology, W.A. Hough HS

Kathleen Butler, Dance, South Charlotte MS

Phil Carver, Science, Coulwood STEM Academy

NaKreshia Cox, Science, Sedgefield MS

Mariella Duarte, ESL, Whitewater MS

Monica High, Science, Hawthorne Academy

Christie Johnson, Science/Social Studies, Northeast MS

Kari Rhoades, Biomedical Sciences, Mallard Creek HS

Jackie Smith, Forensic Science, W.A. Hough HS

Nicole Sparrow, English, Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences

Joshua Trujillo, Science, W.A. Hough HS

Erika Williams, Biomedical Science, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology

Memorials, Memories, and American Identity  (meets at the Levine Museum of the New South)

Seminar Leader:  Emily Makas, Architectural and Urban History, UNC Charlotte

Seminar Coordinator: Wendy Potter, Apparel Production, Butler High School

Nicole Boyd, Fifth Grade, Dilworth ES

Rhonda Doe, Kindergarten, Barringer Academic Center

Yasmin Forbes, African American Studies, West Mecklenburg HS

Tracy Kennedy, Fourth Grade/Japanese, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

Deanna Kurtz, Civics/Economics, South Mecklenburg HS

Megan McGee, Language Arts, McClintock MS

Ted Miracle, Fourth Grade, Endhaven ES

Alicia Olmeda, ESL , Coulwood STEM Academy

Beth Owens, Visual Art, Reedy Creek ES

Jaclyn Peterson, Fifth Grade, David Cox Road ES

Lecia Shockley, Third Grade, Selwyn ES

Don Winborne, Physical Education , Elon Park ES

Doing Science: Hands-On Learning in the Laboratory

Seminar Leader: Susan Trammell, Physics and Optical Science, UNC Charlotte

Seminar Coordinator: Amy Thomas, First Grade, Reedy Creek Elementary School

Scott Balay, Science, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

Geneva Bell, Science, Druid Hills Academy

Tracie Cooper, Science, Hidden Valley ES

Michelle Faggert, Science, Martin Luther King, Jr. MS

Katrina Gordon, Second Grade, Selwyn ES

Namrata Gupta, Science, Nations Ford ES

Ryan Neesam, K-5 Science, Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis

Curtis Overton, Technology/Design, West Mecklenburg HS

Zachary Sanford, Science, W.A. Hough HS

Meg Shuman, Fourth Grade, Barringer Academic Center

Jessica Silva, Science Lab, Rama Road ES

Victoria Woods, Science, Independence HS

Cultivating Visual Literacy

Seminar Leader: Maggie McCarthy, German Studies and Film, Davidson College

Seminar Coordinator: Deena Aglialoro, Language Arts, Ranson Middle School

Janae Aiken, English , East Mecklenburg HS

Kate Allen, Visual Art, W.A. Hough HS

Lora Davis, French, South Mecklenburg HS

Jacci Fizet, Pre-Kindergarten, David Cox Road ES

Michele Lemere, English, Garinger HS

Kim Mayes, Science, Cochrane Collegiate Academy

Erin Murray, Kindergarten, Barringer Academic Center

Justin Pierce, Visual Art, W.A. Hough HS

Alejandro Rangel, Spanish, Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis

Emily Woods, Fourth Grade, Barringer Academic Center

Amanda Soesbee, English, North Mecklenburg HS

Jessica Young, Second Grade, Davidson ES

The Rise (and Fall) of Democracies around the World

Seminar Leader: Shelley Rigger, Political Science, Davidson College

Seminar Coordinator: Amy Strong Pasko, World History, North Mecklenburg High School

Brad Baker , U.S. History, W.A. Hough HS

Raymond Beamon, World History, West Mecklenburg HS

Arianna Bonner, Social Studies, Martin Luther King, Jr. MS

Mayra Garcia, Spanish, W.A. Hough HS

Bassam Halaweh, Arabic, Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis

Cheryl Hanly, Language Arts, McClintock MS

Ron King, History, West Charlotte HS

Lisa Modrow, Social Studies, Bailey MS

Christa Rawald, Social Studies, Ranson MS

Michael Richards, World History, Bailey MS

Lynn Roach, Economics, Harding University HS

Roshan Varghese, History, Butler HS

From Self to Students: Canvassing Art to Explore Identity  (meets at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art)

Seminar Leaders: Adriana L. Medina, Reading and Elementary Education, UNC Charlotte, and Christopher Lawing, Vice President, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Seminar Coordinator: Amethyst Klein, STEAM, University Park Creative Arts School

Carla Aaron-Lopez, Visual Art, Whitewater MS

Liz Allard, Science, Cochrane Collegiate Academy

Emily Burrell, Math, Piedmont Open IB MS

Nicholas Gattis, Band, Carmel MS

Mary Draper Hager, Second Grade, Selwyn ES

Natalie Jones, Visual Art, West Charlotte HS

Jaianna McCants, Visual Art, North Mecklenburg HS

Marjorie O’Shea, Visual Art, W.A. Hough HS

Mindy Passe, Fifth Grade, Barringer Academic Center

Laura Steffy, Visual Art, North Mecklenburg HS

Andy Wertz, English/Film, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology

Amy Whealdon, Visual Art, Reid Park ES