Author Archives: Robin Mara

CTI Presents Evening for Educators Oct. 9 at Discovery Place Education Studio

CTI Fellows and teacher researchers will share new curricula they created for their students at CTI’s Evening for Educators event on Tuesday, October 9, 6:00-8:00 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 and summer research experiences — and to find out about new CTI seminars for CMS teachers in 2019!

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. Refreshments will be served. Discovery Place Education Studio is located at 300 N. Poplar St. in uptown Charlotte. Register and get more info here.

Sept. 6 CTI Reception Features Teacher Researchers

2018 CTI Summer Research Experience for Teachers Reception & Poster Session

  • Thursday, Sept. 6, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

  • New Science Building, Johnson C. Smith University

CTI will showcase CMS teachers’ work on university research projects at a special event on Thursday, Sept. 6, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Johnson C. Smith University’s New Science Building. This 2018 Summer Research Experience for Teachers Reception & Poster Session is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to learn about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers’ summer research in the sciences and humanities with professors at JCSU, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte.

Seventeen CMS teachers worked in eight different laboratories and research settings led by university professors. During the Sept. 6 reception, the SRET teachers, professors and graduate assistants will share poster presentations and discuss their unique collaborations and how this research experience translates to their classrooms and their students. Refreshments will be served.

University research faculty leading these collaborative summer research projects included:

  • UNC Charlotte — Dr. Susan Trammell, physics and optical science; David Wilson, computer science; and Janaka Lewis and Alan Rauch, English.
  • JCSU — Dr. Todd Coolbaugh and Dr. Tracy Fox-Brown, chemistry.
  • Queens University — Dr. Aaron Socha, chemistry; and Dr. Scott Weir, biology.

Details about all eight research experiences — spanning areas from cancer detection prototypes, biofuels, toxicology and nanomaterials to digital design, Black girlhood in literature, and Victorians and the natural world – are featured at 2018 SRET.

Doing Science by Inquiry-Based Learning

Geneva D. Bell, science, James Martin MS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

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Monuments and Memorials of the Marginalized “Off the Beaten Path”

Eboné Lockett, English, CATO Middle College HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

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CMS Teachers Journey to Face Legacy of Racial Injustice

“Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin

Twenty-six CMS teachers traveled far, together, to face America’s legacy of racial injustice revealed through the Equal Justice Initiative’s new Legacy Museum and national memorial to victims of lynching, in Montgomery, AL. Their transformative expedition April 26-28, 2018, to the opening ceremonies of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, was supported by Charlotte Teachers Institute, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte.

The teachers joined in discussions about the book White Rage by Carol Anderson; visited the EJI memorial and museum and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial; participated in a two-day Peace and Justice Summit; attended the Concert for Peace and Justice (featuring Common and Stevie Wonder); and also visited a lynching memorial in Georgia during their bus ride back to Charlotte.

The teachers’ trip, conceived and organized by former CTI Fellow and East Mecklenburg High History Teacher Larry Bosc, was an outgrowth of an equal justice workshop last summer with EJI, hosted by CTI and the Greenspon Center. Teachers at that workshop heard about plans for the new memorial and museum and were motivated to participate in the opening ceremonies, as well as develop new lessons for their students, based on EJI research and curricula.

EJI’s memorial features over 800 monumental structures, with each one representing a U.S. county where a racial terror lynching occurred, with victims’ names engraved on the columns. The memorial also includes a park hosting a field of identical monuments, with the intention that each one be claimed by their home county to be installed publicly. EJI notes: “Over time, the national memorial will serve as a report on which parts of the country have confronted the truth of this terror and which have not.”

Upon returning to Charlotte, the CMS teacher group committed to begin work to bring to Charlotte the memorial recognizing the two Mecklenburg County lynching victims: Willie McDaniel and Joseph McNeely.

CMS Teachers’ Reflections on their historic journey

Teachers Reflections on Their Historic Journey

 “The Memorial for Peace and Justice was, by far, the most emotional part of our visit. Like many in our group, I began by taking pictures of the lynching memorials of victims in North Carolina, but quickly found that there were so many that it became overwhelming. Getting through that memorial required multiple stops to collect myself. As Selma director Ava DuVerney said after her visit, ‘Every American that believes in justice and dignity must come here.’”

— Larry Bosc, retired history teacher, East Mecklenburg HS

 “‘The assumption of guilt and dangerousness has been assigned to African Americans.’  This was from The Legacy Museum. It made me weep because I have lived this. Not because of me, but through others’ assumptions of me because I am an African American.”

— DeNise Gerst, science teacher, Barringer Academic Center

“‘Ordinary people do extraordinary things,’  from Dr. Shirley Cherry. I’ve made this a mantra for one of my 4th grade girls! The following poem is from the Peace and Justice Memorial. I keep rereading this because it just calls to me. There is an absolute faith that we can and will all learn to speak the truth of what happened to African Americans in our country and what still happens every day.”

— Tracy Kennedy, 4th/5th grade teacher, E.E. Waddell Language Academy

“For the hanged and beaten.

For the shot, drowned and burned.

For the tortured, tormented and terrorized.

For those abandoned by the rule of law.

We will remember.

With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice.

With courage because peace requires bravery.

With persistence because justice is a constant struggle.

With faith because we shall overcome.”

26 CMS Teachers Journey to Montgomery, AL

Twenty-six teachers attended the Equal Justice Initiative’s opening ceremonies for the The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The trip was conceived and organized by former East Mecklenburg High School Teacher Larry Bosc. The teachers included:

  • Auset Ari, Reading/Social Studies, Newell Elementary
  • Franchone Bey, English, West Charlotte High
  • Eli Davis, Special Education High School, Lincoln Heights Academy
  • Taylor Elkins, English Language Arts, Ranson Middle
  • Erika Flanagan, Civics/Economics, Independence High
  • Yasmin Forbes, African American Studies/American History II, West Mecklenburg High
  • DeNise Gerst, Science, Barringer Academic Center
  • Mayako Hamrick, Japanese, E.E. Waddell Language Academy
  • Stacey Jarvis, American History, East Mecklenburg High
  • Tracy Kennedy, English/Social Studies, EE Waddell Language Academy
  • Shanique Lee, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • Ebone Lockett, English Language Arts, CATO Middle College High
  • Marielle Matheus, PreK, Pre-K Department
  • Megan McGee, English Language Arts, McClintock Middle
  • Latonda Mitchell, English Language Arts/Social Studies, Mountain Island Lake Academy
  • Lynn Roach, World History, Harding University High
  • Lecia Shockley, 3rd Grade, Selwyn Elementary
  • Nicole Sparrow, AP Language & Composition/English IV, Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences
  • Annette Teasdell, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • Roshan Varghese, American History II/World History, David W. Butler High
  • Robert Walton, EC General Curriculum, Merry Oaks International Academy
  • Torie Wheatley, English, North Mecklenburg High
  • May Winarski, Art, East Mecklenburg High
  • Kathryn Kisner, Social Studies, East Mecklenburg High
  • Paul Arnold, Social Studies, EE Waddell Language Academy
  • Kheiston Tilford, Math and Science, Newell Elementary

New JCSU Partnership Deepens, Diversifies CTI Work with CMS Teachers

In a move designed to deepen and diversify its engagement in professional development for teachers, Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) has formed a new educational partnership with Johnson C. Smith University to support classroom teachers in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“Our collaboration with Johnson C. Smith University will add exciting new ideas and expertise to our existing partnership with CMS and with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte,” said CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan. “We will be able to welcome CMS teachers and UNC Charlotte professors to JCSU’s historic West End campus, building on our strong foundation of transforming teachers and students from pre-kindergarten through college by focusing on content knowledge, creativity, collaboration and leadership.”

Through CTI seminars led by UNC Charlotte and JCSU faculty, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other teachers and develop new curricula for their students. Teachers serve as leaders in the institute, working collaboratively with university faculty. To date, more than 450 CMS teachers have participated in 68 CTI seminars, producing more than 700 original curriculum units and enriching more than 103,000 students.

“We join this partnership with enthusiasm and with an eagerness to learn and to share our strengths,” said JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. “As a historic urban university located in the heart of Charlotte, we are uniquely situated to work with the other partners to better the lives of CMS teachers and students and to contribute to the transformation of public education.”

CTI and its partners provide activities on active learning and leadership opportunities for teachers. Through intensive, seven-month seminars, led by faculty from UNC Charlotte and JCSU, CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other district teachers and develop curriculum units for their own classrooms. The Charlotte Teachers Institute is housed in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte. This fall, JCSU will lead seminars for the first time; CMS teachers are currently applying for spots in the seminars.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools looks forward to continuing the collaborative spirit of our partnership with Charlotte Teachers Institute and UNC Charlotte in the framework of preparing and strengthening the opportunities for teachers,” said CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox. “The reach stretches even farther with the addition of Johnson C. Smith University, providing another level of access to quality preparation for our educators.”

CTI is founded on four pillars of strong professional development: content knowledge, creativity, leadership and collaboration. The new partnership will broaden the partnership’s capacity within each of the areas of emphasis.

“We are very pleased to welcome Johnson C. Smith University to this dynamic partnership with UNC Charlotte and CMS to support the Charlotte Teachers Institute,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “CTI has served an important role in strengthening Charlotte’s public education system by providing teachers with high quality professional development opportunities.”

CTI’s focus on building social capital among teachers, faculty and graduate students addresses the community-based Leading on Opportunity initiative’s priorities to tackle the community’s upward mobility, stated Gartlan.

“Our work aims at strengthening Charlotte’s education system through early education and college and career readiness,” Gartlan said. “Adding JSCU as a collaborator brings important relationships and knowledge that can help move us forward in a strategic way.”

Photo: Margaret Kocherga, Ph.D. nanoscale science graduate student, UNC Charlotte; Phil Carver, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; Tom Schmedake, associate professor of chemistry, UNC Charlotte; Geneva Bell, eighth grade science teacher, James Martin Middle School; participated in a CTI summer research experience.

Facts and Figures by Graphic Design

Antowanna Carpenter, CTE/Business, Butler HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)

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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 Share Collaborative Science Research

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