Irving ISD Fellows
Maria Soto is a 3rd grade bilingual, GT, Math and Science teacher for the Irving Independent School District (ISD). Maria has been teaching for 7 years. She graduated from Tarrant County College and Mountain View Community College with an Associate’s degree in Arts and Elementary Education. Mario then went on to the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies EC-4 Education. Maria loves being a Science teacher because she enjoys watching her students ask and answer questions about their world. She gets to experience anew all of the mind-blowing discoveries she made as a child and discovers new things as a teacher almost every day.
Raino Bhatti has been an educator for the past 10 years. She currently teaches Chemistry and GT Chemistry at Irving High School. Previously, she has taught Chemistry and Biology for the Dallas Independent School District (ISD). Before entering education, she worked in the finance industry. Raino loves positively influencing young minds. She is looking forward to growing professionally throughout the course of this program
Courtney is originally from Santa Barbara, California. Her experience working with children started when she volunteered for a youth special education program as a way to show support for her younger little sister who was attending the program. After spending time with the community and the amazing individuals that were involved, she pursued a position at the Santa Barbara County of Education department as a Special Education Preschool Paraprofessional. In that position, she traveled and partnered with several schools within the county. As her passion and confidence grew, she decided to continue her education and enrolled at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. There she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Courtney moved to Texas in the spring of 2013 and was hired as a Fourth-grade Monolingual teacher the following fall semester at Barton Elementary in Irving, Texas. She has finished her fourth year as a Barton Buffalo and hopes for many more years there. In Courtney’s free time, she can easily bounce from spending the entire day reading at leisure or getting ready to go for a 4:00 AM camping/backpacking trip. Courtney says, “As long as I get to explore and learn something new, it's a great day!”.
Angela has been teaching 2nd grade for the Irving Independent School District (ISD) for 3 years. She is a born and raised Florida native. Angela graduated from the University of Central Florida with an Interdisciplinary degree in Biology and Education. Angela notes that she is a Mom to three wonderful children. Another fun fact about Angela is that she completed an internship at Sea World with the Killer Whales studying their nursing habits in captivity. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, watersport activities, and has two large salt-water aquariums at her home.
Kelly graduated from Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, making her the first person in her family to receive a college degree. Kelly earned her Bachelors of Science in Marketing and immediately jumped into a career as a Media Buyer for an advertising agency. After working in that industry for several years, Kelly was not quite satisfied with her career. She realized more than ever that she was meant to teach. Kelly decided to get her alternative teaching certificate through A+ Texas Teachers program. While working through the alternative certification program, Kelly began working in early childcare and eventually became a substitute teacher for the Irving Independent School District (ISD). Kelly has now taught in Irving ISD for 3 years at John Haley Elementary as a 4th grade GT Math and Science teacher. She is looking forward to her 4th year teaching 5th grade Math and Science! Kelly is very passionate about her students and works hard to help each one succeed. Kelly comes to work every day with a smile on her face knowing that she’s making a positive impact on our future leaders!
Melissa did not always want to be a teacher. Back in Nebraska, Melissa had a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and was working as a Behavior Specialist at the Nebraska Humane Society while also interning at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. There she worked mostly with Lemurs. Melissa has a love for the outdoors and animals, so she thought she was pretty happy with her career at that point. A part of both those positions was to educate the public; whether it be about how to change their dog’s behavior, wildlife conservation, or about how lemurs have “stink fights.” This is when Melissa fell in love with teaching. So back to school she went! Melissa received her Master’s degree in teaching two and a half years ago and moved from Omaha to Dallas. Melissa was lucky enough to find a job right away at Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving and has been there ever since. When not teaching, she is trying to convince her boyfriend that they need another pet, spending time outdoors, cheering on the Huskers, and searching for the best cheese fries in Dallas. Melissa is excited about this opportunity to get involved with an informal science education program here in Dallas because it’s exactly where her love for teaching began.
Teaching elementary science was not James’ first choice. Always seeking to understand the world, he explored many academic areas. James started college as an English Major. Later he studied history and religion, and earned degrees in both. After almost 10 years seeing what the business world had to offer, James turned a volunteer Math tutoring opportunity at an elementary school into a decade long career teaching Fifth grade Science. Finally, James found his niche. James’ wife Katie is a talented teacher herself. They met as partner teachers; James remarks “She of course, was the better half.” James is also proud of two intelligent and always sarcastic high schoolers, who keep him very busy. James loves teaching, and daily seeks to bring a high level of thinking and engagement to his classroom.
Grand Prarie ISD Fellows
Lisa has been an educator for a total of 4 years. Over those years, she has been blessed to teach students about the Wonderful World of Science to both 6th and 7th grade level pupils at Fannin Middle School in the Grand Prairie Independent School District. In addition to this, Lisa is currently serves as the Science Department Chair. She is a proud graduate of the University of North Texas. She has a great family support system that consist of her children, Alexis (20) and Joshua (18) and her husband of over 20 years, Alex. Lisa is excited to be a part of the Wipro program. She feels it will help her fulfill her lifelong dream of achieving a Master's Degree.
Valerie Thomas is a Texas licensed Professional Teacher. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at Cuttington University in 1999. Her Composite Science (8-12) teaching certificate in 2007. She also earned the M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction (Science Education) at Texas A&M University in 2013 accompanying the ESL Supplemental certification (K-12) in 2016. She is an experienced and seasoned classroom teacher who shares her passion for science with her students at Grand Prairie Independent School District (ISD) and is dedicated to her profession by teaching and engaging in professional development.
Tamara Butler has taught seventh grade Science for 11 years. She loves teaching her students about the natural world around them, the interconnectedness of systems, how living things "work," and why it is so important to respect and take care of our natural resources. Tamara enjoys collaborating with coworkers and community members to develop ever more relevant, real-world learning experiences. She collaborated with the Grand Prairie fire department to conduct a controlled burn on her campus to show her students how ecosystems recover through ecological succession. Tamara regularly works with the TPWD Texas Outdoor Families program as she leads her students on camping trips in Texas State Parks throughout the school year. She and her students join the Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful initiative for regular stream and park clean-up events in her effort to lead her students into a life of environmental stewardship and a love of the outdoors.
Cynthia Capocci Bauter
Cynthia Capocci Bauter moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She studied history, political science and education at the University of Texas-Arlington. Her career in education began and continues in her residential city of Grand Prairie. Ever passionate about environmental education, she found it an easy fit, living in the "city of trees". She also continues that passion in her facilitation of the Green and Clean Team on her campus. Cynthia is married to a “Computer Guru”, Ryan Bauter and has one amazing son, Zackery LeMere; who currently is attending college. In her free time, she loves traveling with her husband, son, 3 dogs and 2 dragons. Cynthia has been to Perth and Sydney, Australia; Senegal and Gambia, Africa; Cancun, Mexico and continental states. She is also an avid reader and lifelong learner.
Lindsay Reeves, was born in Irving, Texas in November of 1980. She was raised in Southern Illinois. She lived briefly in Macon, Georgia as a child for a very short time, then moved back to Carbondale, Illinois. Lindsay is an alternative certified teacher, which she feels is an asset. Lindsay has a very strong work ethic and always finishes each task, no matter it's difficultly. Lindsay never backs down from a challenge. Her background and Bachelor’s was primarily in Business Administration. She worked in sales then quickly moved into a supervisory role and created a 6-8 week curriculum. Lindsay has also designed marketing ads and slogans. She currently teaches elementary to feisty Fifth graders, teaching Math and Science. This is an SSI year, so her students have to pass to go on to sixth grade. She has a high passing rate, and all her students are successful. Lindsay’s other accomplishments include her marriage of over 11 years to her husband and being blessed with two healthy kids. All things being said, Lindsay keeps very busy.
Lancaster ISD Fellows
La’Tanya Spragin is an 8th grade Science teacher at Elise Robertson Middle School in Lancaster, Texas. La’Tanya graduated from Shannon High School in Shannon, Mississippi. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Mississippi University for Women. La’Tanya later continued her education at Concordia University Texas and received a Master of Education in Educational Administration. La’Tanya started her teaching journey in 2008. She has taught Biology, Pre AP Biology, AP Biology, and Biology intervention. Her favorite saying to her students is “You can do it now or do it later!” Her favorite quotes are: “Nothing will work unless you do” from Dr. Maya Angelou and “A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don’t see what it takes to get there.” from Dawn Staley
Miesha Y. Medford
Ever since she started in education, Miesha has been passionate in her commitment to three things: maximizing individual student performance and growth, instilling a sense of self-worth among all students, and inspiring students to develop a growth mindset. Miesha’s educational background includes a Masters of Education in Educational Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, a Texas Principal Certification in Early Childhood through 12th grade, and a Texas Teacher Certification in Early Childhood through 4th grade. Miesha has been an elementary educator for 10 years. She has taught at Gateway Charter Academy; and currently is teaching in Lancaster Independent School District at Rolling Hills Engineering Academy. Miesha serves as a member on various committees at the campus, in the community, and at the district level; such as an Instructional Resource Guide Writer for Math and Science, Co-leader of the STEM Advisory Committee and in local area organizations such as The Best Southwest Alliance of Black Educators. Miesha’s educational philosophy is, "If I can change how students believe in themselves, this will impact them to change their behaviors and words; thus, they begin to develop a growth mindset that will change their lives."
Cedar Hill ISD Fellows
Jenny Morales graduated from the University of North Texas at Dallas in May 2014. She started working for Cedar Hill Independent School District (ISD) in 2008 as an Attendance Clerk for Joe Wilson Intermediate. In 2012, she became a receptionist for Permenter Middle School in Cedar Hill. Jenny completed her student teaching with Cedar Hill at Highlands Elementary where she now proudly serves as a 2nd grade Dual Language teacher. Jenny is a born and raised Texas girl from a little town about 45 minutes east of Cedar Hills called Wills Point. It was there that Jenny was taught to love learning by some of the best teachers, coaches and staff. Jenny’s teachers always pushed her to do her best and encouraged her when she thought things were impossible. They instilled in her a passion for education that she knew she wanted to pass to others. Jenny is thankful to have the opportunity to teach our children and hopes that she can have that same impact on them. Jenny has been married to her wonderful husband for the past 11 years and has lived in the community the past 10 years. She and her husband LOVE supporting the Cedar Hill Longhorns. She loves cooking, scrapbooking, reading and spending all the time she can with her family. The couple do not have children of their own but have beautiful nieces and nephews to who keep them active. Also, Jenny and her husband have hosted exchange students from abroad and have lovely daughters “in the heart” in Bangladesh, Thailand and Brazil.
Monica Denise Buckner was born and raised in Philadelphia in a loving two parent home. As a little girl in Philadelphia, she grew up with curiosity in Science and how it works in the real world. Monica’s love for Science grew when she was in the 8th grade. Today, she still has her 8th grade Science journal. Monica’s parents believed and instilled in her the value of education and the important asset it has in order for her to have a better life. As a little girl, Monica watched her dad complete his undergraduate and graduate degree while working hard to provide for our family. My dad worked as a manager in the computer room in the beginning stages of the computer era. Monica knew her father’s hard work was going to teach her character. Monica’s passion for Science grew in her adult life and she wanted to learn how to mix color for hair in beauty culture school. She went to cosmetology school for her operator’s license to be a hair stylist. She completed the hours needed become a teacher in cosmetology as well. While working as a hair stylist she decided to go to college for business. Monica has a Business Administration Degree from Northwood University and a Masters of Arts Organizational Management Degree from the University of Phoenix.