STAT Teacher Spotlight

STAT is the association that inspires and equips you to be an impactful science educator through connections with other passionate science teachers across the state. From Beaumont to Amarillo and El Paso to Texarkana (and everywhere in between), the STAT community is made up of thousands of dedicated science teachers who inspire discovery of the world through science every day.

To showcase some of the amazing talent in Texas science classrooms, outstanding teachers and their inspiring stories will be featured through the STAT Teacher Spotlight. This video Q&A series gives a voice to and celebrates teachers from all backgrounds who are influencing the lives of Texas students.

If you know a colleague with an amazing story, nominate them to be featured in a future Teacher Spotlight by emailing STAT at [email protected] with the subject line Teacher Spotlight.

The STAT Teacher Spotlight is an initiative of the STAT Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. To learn more or get involved with this effort, contact STAT at [email protected].

Watch the STAT Teacher Spotlight on STAT STUDIO

STAT STUDIO is the new home of the STAT Teacher Spotlight. Watch all episodes of the STAT Teacher Spotlight and learn about our inspiring featured educators on STAT STUDIO. 


In the June 2022 Spotlight: Farkhunda Yasmin Azeem, Spring Branch ISD

Farkhunda Yasmin Azeem began her teaching career in August 2003 at Iman Academy School. After teaching for one year, she moved to Spring Branch ISD. She is currently teaching seventh-grade science at Spring Forest Middle School (SFMS). She has held several leadership positions, including serving as an Active Board Trainer for the district, a member of the Curriculum Team, an NJHS sponsor, and organizer of the multicultural festival. She has been a mentor for student teachers. She is currently working as the Science Department Head at SFMS. She has received the Teacher of the Year Award twice. In addition to her role as a teacher, she is also a mother to two children. She graduated from Bombay University with a master’s degree in textile chemistry. She spends her free time enjoying cooking, crafting, making jewelry, and other DIYs.

About the Host

As Project WILD Coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Kiki Corry trains and supports the Project WILD facilitators across Texas. She has teaching experience both in and outside the classroom. Certified to teach secondary biology, she taught fifth- to eighth-grade science in the classroom. Kiki rose from volunteer trail guide to education coordinator at WILD Basin Wilderness Preserve, refining skills with volunteers and educational programs for a range of audiences. She chairs the Texas Environmental Education Advisory Committee, sits on the board of the Texas Association for Environmental Education, and is 2022–2023 President of the Science Teachers Association of Texas. 

In the April 2022 Spotlight: Dennis Johnson, Port Arthur ISD 

Dennis Johnson has been a part of the Port Arthur Independent School District since 2011. He currently teaches fifth-grade science and social studies. Dennis has served in several leadership positions on his campus and in his district, including as a member of the Campus Professional Development Committee, as a New Teacher Mentor, as a District Curriculum Writer, and as the 2021–2022 Port Acres Elementary and Port Arthur ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year. Dennis also served as a trainer for the JASON Alliance of Southeast Texas. He is a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and devotes time to serving his community. In addition to teaching and volunteering, Dennis is married to Dana, and they have a handsome son named Daniel.

About the Host

Kenric Davies is a high school AP Physics 1 and astronomy teacher in Frisco. He has a master’s degree in science education from the University of Texas at Dallas and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Texas A&M University. Kenric began working with educators at CAST and fell in love with working with inservice teachers to help them teach physics. Kenric also teaches preservice K–8 teachers as an adjunct faculty member at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Prior to serving as a Member-at-Large on the 2021–2022 STAT Executive Board, Kenric served on numerous committees for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Follow him on Twitter.

In the January 2022 Spotlight: McKinzie Sanders, Lubbock ISD 

McKinzie Sanders began her teaching career in August 2008 at Atkins Middle School in Lubbock, Texas, after graduating from Texas Tech University. She is currently teaching sixth- and seventh-grade advanced science and AVID Excel, an AVID class designed to accelerate the progress of English language learners. McKinzie has held several leadership positions on her campus, including serving on CPOC, on the literacy team, on the Curriculum Team, on the AVID site team, and as a Campus Academic Leader. She has been a mentor during New Teacher Academy and for teacher candidates in the Tech Teach program at Texas Tech. She is currently working as a staff developer and coach for AVID Excel. She is also the recipient of STAT's 2021 Outstanding Middle School Science Teacher of the Year Award. In addition to her role as a teacher, she is also a mother to four children with ages ranging from 3 to 11.

About the Host

Christina Hotchkin is a high school chemistry teacher in the Austin area. She has a master’s degree in secondary education and a B.S. in chemistry from Texas Tech. It is there that she started working with educators and found her drive: making science fun and relevant for students and empowering preservice teachers to teach science. Christina is also a Member-at-Large on the 2021–2022 STAT Executive Board. When she isn’t chasing around her three kids you can find her curled up with a good book!

In the December 2021 Spotlight: Kimberly Glover, Sheldon ISD

 Kimberly Glover, a fifth-grade science teacher in Sheldon ISD, has always loved science. She graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Soon after she enrolled in an ACP program and has been teaching science ever since. She likes to teach using discrepant events or science mysteries to keep students engaged. Kimberly loves participating in field trips where students get exposure to real-world science. She’s currently a Noyce Master Teacher Fellow at Rice University where she’s developing her leadership capacity in the classroom.

About the Host

Matthew Cushing serves as the Executive Director for the Office of STEM Engagement at Rice University (R-STEM) who’s mission is to build STEM knowledge, skills, and leadership by providing innovative high-quality Pre-K through career STEM learning experiences and enhancing the broader impacts of Rice University’s research. R-STEM accomplishes this mission through various professional development programs for educators, research internships for community college students, summer enrichment camps for K–12 students, and STEM outreach events held throughout the year. Matthew holds a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston. Matthew is also Secretary of the 2021–2022 STAT Executive Board. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

In the September 2021 Spotlight: Brittany Schwartz, Katy ISD

Brittany Schwartz’s interest in science education was sparked while participating in CISER (Center for the Integration of STEM Education and Research) at Texas Tech University. After graduation, she joined Teach for America to teach high school science in Chicago and New Orleans. After 6 years, she returned to her home state of Texas and currently teaches eighth-grade science and coaches Science Olympiad at Adams Junior High in Katy ISD. She is passionate about modeling how professional scientists “do science” in the classroom. Follow her on Twitter.

About the Host

Shane Woods serves as the Senior Director of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence, which is a 92-acre living laboratory where kids of all ages can explore and develop their competence and confidence in science, technology, engineering, and math—all while cultivating essential skills, such as confidence, resilience, leadership, risk-taking, and problem solving. Shane holds a Master of Science in Education from Walden University and a Bachelor of Science, Biological Science from Xavier University of Louisiana. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

In the July 2021 Spotlight: Ramon Benavides, El Paso

Ramon Benavides has been passionately teaching about the fascinating world of biology for the last 12 years at Del Valle High School and El Paso Community College. Through his work, he hopes to produce future STEM leaders from the El Paso Border Region. He enjoys serving as a role model for youth with socioeconomic backgrounds and educational attainment obstacles similar to those he encountered growing up in South Texas. He also enjoys fishing, hiking, and camping with his wife and son. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

About the Host

Uchenna Emenaha is a former public school science teacher having taught at both the middle school and high school level. She is currently an assistant professor at The University of Texas at San Antonio in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching. Her research informs and is informed by culturally responsive teaching practices. When she is not teaching you can find her working out or attending a live music event. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.