The teachers

Meet the teachers whose classrooms are participating in Letters to a Pre-Scientist during the 2017-18 school year!


Samantha Farmer

Samantha FarmerMy name is Samantha Farmer. I work as a 6th grade Science Teacher at Career Academy in South Bend, IN. Our school focuses on getting students prepared for the real world through using Project Lead the Way programs as well as hands on learning opportunities. My own personal background includes a degree from Michigan State University and a passion for science, students, and learning. In my classroom, I try to push students to develop their own understanding of the topic and get them to see how it relates to the real world. I hope my students will have a better understanding of all the opportunities science careers will offer through this program! I can’t wait to get started!


Amanda Haney

Amanda HaneyMy name is Amanda Haney, and I teach 5th grade gifted students in Euclid, OH. As a self-contained classroom teacher, I teach all the academic subjects, but science is by far my favorite! This is my 8th year teaching and 5th year working with gifted students. Gifted students have their own unique brand of fun, and are the reason I love my job each and every day! I originally heard about Letters to a Pre-Scientist from a scientist friend who was participating, and I am thrilled to be able to join this year from the teacher side. My students have a lot of potential, but don’t always come from homes that facilitate travel or contact with professional scientists. I feel very fortunate my students can have this pen pal opportunity, and I can’t wait to see what questions my students will have for their scientist pen pals!

Bridget Heneghan
My name is Bridget Heneghan and I teach sixth grade math and science at Hibbard Elementary school, a public school in Chicago. Hibbard is located in the diverse and dynamic Albany Park neighborhood, which is reflected in our student population. I earned my degree in elementary education from Illinois State University in 2012 and have been a part of opportunities such as attending Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy and participating in the Museum of Science and Industry’s School Leadership program. I love to learn about science just as much as I love to teach it. I am so excited to be a part of a program that will allow my students to see the wonder of science through a the eyes of a scientist!


Calypso Harmon

Calypso Harmon


Calypso Harmon is a 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Shoreline Middle School in Santa Cruz, CA. She enjoys curriculum development and the satisfaction that comes with improving on her designs to better serve the needs of her students. She sees herself as a naturalist, with a curiosity that crosses disciplines, and a lifelong desire to be in the wild with the rocks, plants, animals and clouds. She also has an interest in the emerging research about how the regular exposure to nature (or deprivation) affects child development. She is working to shift her classroom toward one where students have more agency and ownership: with the students taking an active role in asking questions, designing experiments, creating explanations, and arguing from evidence.


Tara Kawalec
Tara Kawalec headshotMy name is Tara Kawalec (think koala!) For the past 11 years I taught 8th grade science at Scott Carpenter Middle School in Denver. I am in my second year at Northglenn Middle School. I love teaching 8th grade science, and am almost finished with my Master of Arts in Middle School Science. Our planet and all of its inhabitants need us to take our understanding and appreciation to the next level to make sure we get Earth back on a healthy cycle. I have an 8 year old son, Sawyer, who is a pretty awesome person, and loves to do multiplication problems in his head on road trips. My best friend is my husband, Nick. He is also a middle school teacher. He teaches Literacy, and never leaves the house without two books. He is an amazing step-father, husband, friend, and educator. We have a rough coat Jack Russell Terrier named Rocky. My dad called him ‘Scrub Brush’ and it stuck. I love taking him for long walks along the creek, camping, and hanging out with my family, and cooking food. I have Celiac Disease, so no gluten for me. I am also diary, quinoa, buckwheat, and sesame free. I accepted this challenge and love knowing I can eat healthy and delicious food even with all my allergies. I am looking forward to helping my students connect with real scientists in the world and creating relationships that can empower them to realize their potential in this world and start preparing themselves for it.


Paige Norberg
Paige Norberg
My name is Paige Norberg and I am a 6th grade math/science teacher and 7th grade science teacher at Denman Middle School in San Francisco. While the Bay Area is a leader in science, technology, and engineering, most of my students have not had much exposure to these fields nor do they see themselves represented. I’m excited for the opportunity to be involved with Letters to a Pre-Scientist so that my students can build a personal connection with a scientist and expand their idea of what it means to be a scientist. I hope that by the end of the year more of my students have aspirations to study science or have new ideas about future careers. My students are looking forward to an exciting year!


Kevin Omaha
Kevin Ohama teaches 6th grade at Marion Mix Elementary School in Elk Grove, CA. Originally from Chicago, IL and by way of the SF Bay Area, Mr. Ohama has been teaching in Sacramento and Elk Grove for the last 15 years. And, yes, he is a long-suffering, but recently-redeemed Cubs fan. Active in his profession, Mr. Ohama is a member of professional organizations such as ISTE and NSTA. You may run into him at a conference or two. He’ll be the quiet one in the front row taking notes. He values divergent thinking, equity, exploration, grit, and the practice of questioning everything. His continual goal: to make this the greatest year that his students ever have in education. Being in the Letters to a Pre-Scientist should help fulfill that goal. Follow Mr. Ohama on Twitter, remembering that he is a Twitter neophyte: @KevinOhama.


Julie Wojnar
Julie WojnarMy name is Julie Wojnar. I am currently a fifth grade Science and Social Studies teacher in Euclid, Ohio, married, and with five daughters. I have been in education for over 18 years, with many of those years teaching science. I frequently work to develop creative ways to further engage my students in new learning opportunities. I am so thrilled to be involved in Letters to a Pre-Scientist for my second year! Last year my students loved the LPS program! I look forward to the new opportunities my new students will have. Participating in the program will increase the connections between their classroom learning and real world science experiences and science careers. My students are super excited too!


Joyce Yoon
Joyce YoonMy name is Joyce Yoon, and I teach 5th grade science and composition at Equitas Academy, Los Angeles. This is my third year working with Equitas, and I’m excited to continue LPS with the new students. Many of my students will be the first in their family to go to college. My hope is that through LPS, my students will break traditional views of what it means to look and sound like a scientist. I’m excited for what they will discover and learn through this program, and how this will push their love and curiosity for science.