The Science Seed

planting a love of science

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Allegra Jabo, Founder

Ms. Allegra was not a fan of science until high school, when one teacher changed her outlook.  A new-found lover of science, she received her B.S. in Biology from Mary Washington College and M.S. in Coral Geochemistry from the University of Maryland. Throughout the years she has tutored in math and science, including SAT prep.  She also spent time teaching marine science to elementary students in the Florida Keys and as a Teaching Assistant to undergrads in Environmental Geology at UMD.  While teaching at UMD, she won several teaching awards, including the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001.  The bulk of her career she has been involved in marine and environmental research at the Smithsonian Institution’s Marine Systems Lab and Paleobiology Department.

In 2004, Ms. Allegra took a break from research to stay home with her daughter, who was followed by a baby sister in 2005.  When her eldest daughter entered preschool in 2007, she wanted her to have a positive first experience to start her love of science early.  Ms. Allegra started teaching science to her daughter’s preschool class and the birth of The Science Seed™ concept began.

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Kate Schneider

Ms. Kate has always known that she wanted to be a teacher. Her first teaching “job” was in high school where she took a class that allowed her and her classmates to teach and run a preschool.  She went off to college in Marietta, Ohio and graduated with a degree in elementary education and psychology and came back home to Northern Virginia. Ms. Kate began her official teaching career at The Congressional Schools of Virginia and, after a few years teaching art and second grade, switched to teaching for Fairfax County Public Schools.  During that time, Ms. Kate earned her Masters degree from George Mason University. She taught 4th grade for 2 years at Groveton Elementary and then for 8 years at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences (where she learned to love teaching science!) before deciding to stay at home with her newborn twin daughters in 2010.  Now that her girls are heading off to preschool in the fall, Ms. Kate is excited to get back in a classroom, share a love of learning, and do what she was born to do-teach!

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Vesta Nelson

Ms. Vesta has been teaching children from preschool to middle school since 1996.  She received her BS in Elementary/Early Childhood at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pa. While attending Kutztown University, she played field hockey and volunteered at a juvenile detention center. She enjoyed helping children and decided to become a teacher. After graduating, she moved to Virginia to live closer to her family and to start teaching. Her first job was a first grade teacher in Prince George’s County, MD.   In 2000, Ms. Vesta moved to Maryland and starting teaching in Virginia. That’s where her love for teaching science began. She became the Visiting Science Teacher for three schools in Alexandria City Public Schools. She taught students from preschool through sixth grade hands-on science experiments using the scientific method.  She also loves to spend time with her nieces and nephews from Pennsylvania and Texas and can’t wait to start her journey at The Science Seed.

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Cindy Bragg

Ms. Cindy enjoys sharing her love of scientific inquiry with young scientists! She has a Masters in Teaching from UVA, is certified to teach preK-6th grade in Virginia, and achieved National Board Certification in 2012. She taught 4th grade at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in Falls Church City for 5 years before going on leave to spend more time with her two daughters (eager young scientists themselves!). She has been teaching since 1992, when she began working as a dance instructor. Ms. Cindy is passionate about the field of education in general and, after becoming a mom in 2010, became particularly interested in early childhood learning. She’s thrilled to have discovered The Science Seed, both as a parent and as a teacher who cares about sharing the thrill of exploration and the joy of discovery with the next generation. She enjoys incorporating acting, music, movement, and American Sign Language into her science lessons. Ms. Cindy lives in Old Town Alexandria with her family of humans, 2 cats, and pet slug named Petunia.

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Alison Acker

Alison studied Speech & Language Pathology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earning her Master’s Degree.  She worked for four years with Prince George’s County Public Schools as an SLP and then earned her Post-Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership at The George Washington University in Washington, DC which allowed her to serve as an Autism Specialist for PGCPS for another two years.  She worked for one year with the District of Columbia Public Schools as a Master Educator and then moved to Costa Rica for two years where she worked as a General and Special Education Teacher at SEAS International School.  Upon returning to the United States, she worked for two years as the Special Education Coordinator at Briya Public Charter School in Washington, DC.  She now stays home full-time with her two baby girls and is delighted to be able to continue working with young children with The Science Seed.

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Suzette McGrann

Ms. Suzette has taught children of all ages from preschool to middle school as well as adults since 1995. After graduating from James Madison University with a BS in Psychology and a Middle Grades Education certification, her first job was teaching sixth grade in Fairfax County Public Schools. She took a break from teaching kids to be a technical trainer and train adults in the government. Ultimately she missed working with children as well as their natural curiosity and inquisitive nature and returned to teaching once again in Fairfax County Public Schools; this time teaching grades ranging from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Her favorite subject to teach during this time was science because it was always exciting to do hands on lessons and watch her student make discoveries and connections about the world around them. When her youngest daughter was born in 2010, she left the classroom to focus on spending time with her own children. It wasn’t long before the itch to teach came back, this time working at her daughter’s preschool. Even more exciting, she’s thrilled to be part of The Science Seed and can’t wait to inspire more young learners with fascinating discoveries and experiments and watch their love of science bloom.

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Tara Colgan

Ms. Tara first heard about The Science Seed when her older daughter came home from preschool with a sheet of paper excitedly talking about how she was searching for dinosaurs bones at school.  Ms. Tara was thrilled as her daughter’s interest in science grew.  In her own career, teaching math in MD and DC for 7 years, this is just what she hoped to create, an understanding and love of a discipline.  Ms. Tara has a BA in Psychology from Haverford College and an MS in Counseling with a school focus.  Ms. Tara worked as a school counselor for 5 years in VA, before having her second child and tutoring.  Soon after, her family had the opportunity to move to New Delhi, India for a couple of years.  It was an enriching experience which highlighted the strengths of the US educational system. Now that she has moved back to Arlington VA, Ms Tara is happy to be involved in teaching little ones and inspiring the same wonder and curiosity that her children had.

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Debbie McCrery

Originally from New Hampshire, Debbie McCrery graduated from American University with an elementary education degree in 1992 and has been working in the education field ever since. She taught Kindergarten for 3 years in Arizona before returning the DC area, then taught Kindergarten and second grade at Arlington Science Focus School for 7 years. While at ASFS,not only was she facilitating students in the hands on, science-infused curriculum, she was also the math lead teacher and instructed science workshops to other Arlington Kindergarten teachers. Pausing her career for a few years when her 3 children were born, Debbie returned to teaching more recently as the lead teacher for the 5 day 4’s program at Westover Baptist Preschool. Finding more of a balance between her family and teaching opportunities, Debbie currently substitutes in Arlington Public Schools, Westover Baptist preschool and now is one of the new instructors with The Science Seed. Whether at home or in the classroom, Debbie has found the excitement working with children with hands on science experiences. The journey while discovering scientific topics is truly a joy for her and she looks forward to the new adventures with The Science Seed students.

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Brooke Dunbar

Ms. Brooke has always enjoyed working with kids and sharing her love of learning. She is certified to teach PreK-6th grade and taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. While teaching, Ms. Brooke earned a Masters in Reading Education from UVA and became a licensed Reading Specialist. After nine years as a classroom teacher, Ms. Brooke became an Instructional Coach. While she loved coaching teachers for the last four years, she has decided to take some time off to be home with her boys, ages 5 and 2, while they are still young. Ms. Brooke is thrilled to get back into teaching through The Science Seed!

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Erinn Brogren

Ms. Erinn has always been an animal lover and biologist at heart. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her Master of Science degree in Biology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. Since receiving her graduate degree, Ms. Erinn has worked as a wildlife biologist and environmental scientist for engineering firms, government agencies, and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Meeting her husband has led to all sorts of adventures, including two young children and lots of moving and travel. She loves to share her love of science and nature (especially birds!) with her kids and with other curious young minds, and she is excited to be teaching with The Science Seed!

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Jen Healey

Jen loves making discoveries and getting messy with young children! She received a BS in Geology with a Minor in Environmental Studies from James Madison University and enjoyed a career in the field of environmental consulting before taking time off to raise her two children. While her children were in preschool, Jen began to develop a deep interest in early childhood development.  She began teaching preschool music classes across the Northern Virginia area in 2001 and then moved into the classroom where she has worked as a lead preschool teacher since 2011. Now that her own children are all grown up, she is enjoying the opportunity to enrich her days further by sharing her love of science with children through The Science Seed program.

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Melissa Holmes

Ms. Melissa grew up watching and helping her mom teach low-income elementary kids in Ohio. She thought she was choosing a different path by majoring in environmental studies at Bowling Green State University, but it all led back to education. Ms. Melissa started working with kids soon after college, dressing up as a six-foot worm to teach about composting and recycling. She developed a love for many areas of science through her work at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Before earning a masters degree in Education from George Mason University, she trained teachers in environmental education. When her son came along in 2010, Ms. Melissa took a break from teaching seventh grade biology and environmental science for Fairfax County Public Schools. She volunteered extensively at her son’s preschool, learning how to bring science into the lives of preschoolers in ways they can understand. As her son entered kindergarten, Ms. Melissa wanted to get back to teaching science, and she is so happy to be at The Science Seed!

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Mimi Minnick

Ms. Minnick was trained as a historian and archivist, earning a BA from George Washington University and an MA/MLS from the University of Maryland. She worked for 15 years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where her two oldest children were fortunate to attend a preschool program that drew on the outstanding science resources of the Smithsonian, including hands-on study of fossilized dinosaur poop, and sleepovers in the Insect Zoo!  After the birth of her fourth child, she took a right turn to children’s librarianship, where she discovered the joy of presenting early literacy programs to preschoolers.  That decision led her to Pinecrest School in Annandale, where she worked as both school librarian and preschool teacher for many years.  Ms. Minnick believes children are natural-born scientists, with inquiring minds and a passion for discovery and experimentation. Currently living in Port St Joe, Florida, Ms. Minnick is planting The Science Seed in the hearts and minds of your young scientists along The Forgotten Coast!  More Information on The Forgotten Coast program.