Teacher Engagement

Kansas Corn STEM is possible because of the teachers who help create the lessons and facilitate the workshops and other professional development events. Learn more about the Seed to STEM Lead teachers, the Inquiry Ambassadors and the guest speaker you can request for your classroom.

Seed to STEM Lead Teachers

Eight Kansas teachers have been selected to lead the Seed to STEM summer workshops and to conduct mini workshops during the school year. Dedicated to training middle school and high school science teachers, these lead teachers will provide hands-on instruction teaching labs related to ethanol, biotechnology and corn production.

  • James Burk, Wakeeney
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    James Burk grew up in a farming family and has taught biology, chemistry and physics in Kansas for 20 years. He received both his Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master of Science Education from Fort Hays State University 2014. His focus is engaging students in doing science, and he is currently a high school science teacher at Trego Community High School in WaKeeney.

  • Brent Conner, Salina
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    Brent Conner has taught middle school science for five years. He received his undergraduate degrees at Kansas Wesleyan University and earned a Doctor of Chiropractic
    degree from Logan College of Chiropractic. After spending over eight years as a practicing chiropractor, he earned his Alternate Route to Teaching Certificate from Emporia
    State University. Brent is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade science at South Middle School in Salina.

  • Lacie Fair Newton
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    Lacie Fair has taught biology in Kansas for 11 years. She received her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Secondary Education from K-State and her master’s degree in Special Education from Fort Hays State University. Her focus is bringing authentic hands-on science experiences to students of all ability levels. She currently teaches biology at Newton High School and is working with an interdisciplinary team of teachers to create and teach in an agriculture career academy.

  • Brian Nelson, Hadley
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    Brian Nelson has been teaching in the Wichita Public Schools for 19 years. He teaches 8th grade science at Hadley Middle School where he also coaches the Science Olympiad team and girls’ basketball. Brian has a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Curriculum and Instruction from Wichita State University. He believes in giving back to the profession and conducts workshops throughout the state. Brian believes strongly in a highly engaging labbased approach to teaching science and hands-on project-based learning.

  • Kansas Corn STEM Lead Teachers Headshot RemmichWEB
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    Chris Remmich has been teaching science in Kansas for six years. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemistry education from Pittsburg State University. Chris is currently teaching chemistry, zoology and biotechnology at Garden City High School. He loves using current technology and hands-on labs to prepare students for their future careers.

  • Kansas Corn STEM Lead Teachers RobinsonWEB
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    Shelly Robinson has taught science for 28 years and teaches at Santa Fe Trail High School in Carbondale. She taught for 20 years at the middle school level and the last eight years she has taught high school biology, energy science and earth science. Shelly earned her Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Southwestern College and a Master’s in curriculum and instruction from St. Mary College. Her passion is working with students to help them find their niche inlife to pursue a career path that will enable them to be successful and accomplished.

  • Jessica Sadler
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    Jessica Sadler has been a teacher in Kansas for the last seven years. She spent one year teaching 3rd grade and four years teaching 5th grade before moving to the middle school level. Jessica now teaches 6th grade science and facilitates the STEM Connection program at Oregon Trail Middle School in Olathe. Jessica attended the University of Kansas and holds a Master’s Degree in special education. Jessica’s goal in teaching is to provide authentic and engaging learning opportunities that push students to new heights.

  • Kansas Corn STEM Lead TeachersWelchWEB
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    Bill Welch has taught biology for 29 years at Derby High School, Mulvane High School, and Wichita North High School. He currently teaches biology and AP biology at Derby High School. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Newman University and a Master of Science in Biology from Emporia State University. He has a passion for student-generated research and has had numerous students present and publish research. Bill teaches science with the premise that students only really learn science by doing science.

Inquiry Ambassadors

Inquiry Ambassadors are a select group of elementary teachers who have been trained to share their excitement and experiences using inquiry-based learning in the classroom. The Kansas Corn Commission supports their efforts in traveling across the state training other teachers at professional development workshops about inquiry-based instruction using corn and soybeans as the models.

  • KS CORN SeedtoSTEM2EickhoffWEB E1578489897418
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    Dennis Eickhoff currently teaches 6th grade and has for the past 14 years at Frank Bergman Elementary in Manhattan. Eickhoff earned his Associates in arts engineering at Mount San Antonio Junior College; Bachelor of Science in liberal studies and elementary education from Oregon State University and a Master of Science from Kansas State University. Eickhoff takes part in the education industry serving on the professional development committee, member of the building leadership team and multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) mentor. His focus is on developing students who are thinkers, inquiry-based problem solvers, who can communicate to solve world problems and make improvements for all. He feels it is exciting to watch students learn something new.

  • ShaneFairchild
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    Shane Fairchild has taught mostly 5th grade for the past seven years at Milford Elementary and this year he is teaching sixth grade social studies at Junction City Middle School. Fairchild is a graduate of Kansas State University. He is involved in the education community as he serves on the building leadership team and on the 5th grade district curriculum and technology committees. Fairchild’s favorite part of teaching is the impact he is making on his students. He enjoys learning how he has impacted students’ lives. His goal as a teacher is to maximize student learning; as inquiry-based learning is the most motivating way to foster engagement and curiosity.

  • CIndy Norris
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    Cindy Norris brings 34 years of teaching experience and has spent most of that time teaching 6th grade with eight years instructing 3rd grade. She currently teaches 6th grade at Lee Elementary School in Manhattan. Norris earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Kansas State University. She enjoys working with kids and helping them build their confidence. She loves seeing the pride students show in their accomplishments. Norris is active in her local Kansas National Education Association (KNEA). Her passion for inquiry-based learning comes from her success with student centered engagement and watching students act on their curiosities.

  • Josh Runyan
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    Josh Runyan has taught at Spring Valley Elementary in Junction City for the past five years and taught one year in special education. Runyan earned his Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Kansas State University. He serves as the director who leads the club Code Ninjas; which focuses on building tech literacy. Runyan says science is his favorite subject to teach, he enjoys proving student’s misconceptions wrong with experiment they create. He supports inquiry-based learning because it is authentic, student led, and teacher supported. Through his own teaching he has found that inquiry-based teaching takes practice and sometimes failing, but the result is worth it.

Kansas Corn STEM Teacher Advisory Board

Kansas Corn Commission strives to provide high quality and useful resources and programs to support teachers. Educators from across the state of Kansas serve on the Teacher Advisory Board providing guidance and expertise to assist the Kansas Corn Commission’s in developing and achieving our educational initiatives.

  • Wendy Calderwood 2019web
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    Wendy Calderwood teaches science at Sterling High School. She has been teaching for 17 years currently she teaches 9th through 12th grade students but has taught 7th and 8th grade students. She also serves as the coach for high school volleyball and junior high basketball. Along with being on the KATS (Kansas Association of Teachers of Science) board, she is the science department chair at Sterling High School. Her favorite part about teaching is building relationships with the youth and getting them to realize that science is awesome, this gets them excited about what is happening in class.

  • KS CORN SeedtoSTEM2EickhoffWEB E1578489897418
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    Dennis Eickhoff currently teaches 6th grade and has for the past 14 years at Frank Bergman Elementary in Manhattan. Eickhoff earned his Associates in arts engineering at Mount San Antonio Junior College; Bachelor of Science in liberal studies and elementary education from Oregon State University and a Master of Science from Kansas State University. Eickhoff takes part in the education industry serving on the professional development committee, member of the building leadership team and multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) mentor. His focus is on developing students who are thinkers, inquiry-based problem solvers, who can communicate to solve world problems and make improvements for all. He feels it is exciting to watch students learn something new.

  • Lacie Fair Newton
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    Lacie Fair has taught biology in Kansas for 11 years. She received her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Secondary Education from K-State and her master’s degree in Special Education from Fort Hays State University. Her focus is bringing authentic hands-on science experiences to students of all ability levels. She currently teaches biology at Newton High School and is working with an interdisciplinary team of teachers to create and teach in an agriculture career academy.

  • Shawn Fiscus 2019web
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    Shawn Fiscuss teaches 3rd grade at Black Bob Elementary School in Olathe. She is finishing up her 35th year of teaching and has taught grade levels 2nd, 3rd and 5th. Fiscuss serves as a member of the building leadership team and regularly attends professional development opportunities within and outside of her district. During the school year she teaches reading, writing and math skills to families within the Olathe School District who participate in Families Learning in Partnership (FLIP) program. Her favorite part of teaching is connecting with kids, encouraging them to love to read and most importantly is always seeking new learning opportunities to challenge herself as a teacher.

  • Kacee Jamesweb
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    KaCee James recently finished her tenth year of teaching. She currently teaches 7th grade through 12th grade at Jayhawk-Linn in Mound City. She enjoys being involved with the school farm. Students there have purchased and show pigs at the fair for several years, but recently added sheep and farrowing sows to the farm. Thompson loves being a teacher and watching students learn about food production while they grow as leaders.

  • Jandee Kruse 2018web
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    Jandee Kruse teaches 2nd grade at William Allen White Elementary school in Emporia. She has been teaching for eight years. Kruse serves on the vertical alignment team for her district and the redesign team for the school. Her favorite part of teaching is engaging students in new experiences and connecting them to the world around us.

  • Dale Jessup 2019web2 1
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    Dale Jessup teaches ag education at Scott Community High School, Scott City. There he teaches 9th through 12 grade students and has taught for the past eight years. He also serves as an FFA advisor, 4-H volunteer and a youth leader at Scott City First United Methodist Church. His favorite part of teaching is getting to see students experience something new and seeing them understand all the opportunities that are out there for them.

  • Mark Meyer 2019web
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    Mark Meyer is an ag education instructor at Marion High School in Marion. He has been teaching for 30 years and coached football for 27 years. He serves on the Marion County Fair Board and on various church committees. Meyer is also involved with the FFA Chapters community garden which was started three years ago. His favorite part of teaching is getting to work with high school age students. “I especially enjoy getting to teach applied classes that feature “hands-on” activities in my welding and CASE (Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education) classes,” says Meyer. He adds, “I enjoy working with students in FFA activities and seeing them succeed in the FFA organization.”

  • Jake Rutledge 2019web
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    Jake Rutledge teaches ag education at Beloit High School in Beloit. He has been teaching for two years and has taught all high school grade levels. Rutledge serves as an advisor for the Beloit FFA chapter, committee chair for the school redesign, a mentor in the Beloit High School mentoring program, Mitchell County Fair Board member, Local Summer Kids Café Program member and on the advisory committee for Kansas State University Agricultural Education Department. His favorite part of teaching is the students, he enjoys building relationships with them and helping them grow into educated leaders.

  • Blake Smith Maize
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    Blake Smith has been teaching earth science, biology and emerging technologies at Maize South High School for the past eight years. He holds a Master of Art in Teaching degree from Wichita State University and a Master of Educational Administration degree from Emporia State University. Before becoming a teacher, Blake was a broadcast meterologist for ten years. He is passionate about showing students real world applications in science.

  • Nancy Smith 2019web
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    Nancy Smith teaches 1st grade at Bentwood Elementary in Olathe. She is starting her 9th year at Bentwood, but has been involved in education for the past 17 years. She serves on the several committees at Bentwood, she provides professional development sessions at the district level for science and STEM education. She serves on the National Education Association committee for teachers as leading learners, the Kansas Department of Education as Kansas exemplary educators’ networks, President of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science and Farm Bureau education presenter. Smith loves teaching because she gets a chance to make a difference in her students’ lives every day. “Teaching gives me the opportunity to bring the outside world into our classroom and expose my students to all of the opportunities that are available to them as they prepare for their futures,” says Smith.

  • Elizabeth Tackett 2019web
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    Elizabeth Tackett teaches STEM disciplines and library skills for grade levels K-5 at Gardiner Elementary in Wichita. She has been teaching for six years and involved in education for 15 years total. Tackett is involved in her district’s elementary science work group, serves as an executive board member of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science and a member of the National Association of Science Teaching. Her favorite part of education is that she is given the opportunity to open the world up to the next generation and to provide them with the foundational skills they need to make new discoveries within their own communities as well as beyond.

Educational Guest Speaker

Bill Johnston

Guest Speaker [BIO]

Bill Johnston is a retired agricultural education teacher, farmer and crop adjuster. His 33 years of expertise in both education and farming make him the perfect speaker to kick off or finish up one of our lessons. He engages students from kindergarten to 12th grade, customizing the presentation for their grade level.

Request a Guest Speaker