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 first decade 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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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 has enjoyed teaching for The Science Seed for several years. (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2013)

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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. (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2016)

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Sarah Goldstein

Sarah traces her love of science and nature back to her earliest days of childhood, where she felt most at home in the woods, examining insects, frogs or leaves, or with her hands in the dirt.  After graduating from James Madison University with a BS in Biology, she earned her MS in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Biology from the Medical University of South Carolina and College of Charleston (joint MS program).  Sarah discovered a love of teaching while in graduate school, where for two years, she taught biology laboratories covering a wide range of general biology topics to freshmen students at the College of Charleston. Following graduate school, she moved to the DC area to work as an Environmental Scientist for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Here, her consulting work focused on the field of global climate change and carbon sequestration.  After seven years working as a consultant, Sarah became a mom to two girls (now ages 10 and 13) and decided to leave the workplace to devote her time to raising her daughters. Science was never far from the picture however, as the hours at home were filled with countless creative science experiments, nature walks and outdoor biology lessons. Sarah also devoted much of this time to volunteering in her daughters’ preschool and elementary classrooms, Girl Scout troops, and Sunday school classes. Teaching for The Science Seed feels like coming full circle, and she is delighted to work with children, inspiring wonder and igniting a desire to fully engage with and care for the natural world. (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2017)

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Calli Harris

A native of Brazil, Ms Calli moved to the United States at a young age, where she pursued her love of science. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry from North Carolina State University, with Minors in Genetics and Psychology, and began her science career at RTI International in the Research Triangle Park. While working for RTI, Ms Calli continued her education, ultimately obtaining a Master’s degree in Biochemistry. She moved to California in 2003, conducting research in the Nutrition Department at the University of California, Davis. After her two daughters were born, the Harris family decided to return to the East Coast. Ms Calli focused on raising her daughters, volunteering in their schools, and giving language lessons to small children. Ms Calli’s home is filled with science books and projects for the whole family, and teaching with The Science Seed is a natural – and exciting – extension of that.  (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2018)

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Amanda Broadhurst

Ms Amanda studied occupational therapy at The University of Scranton and has enjoyed working as an occupational therapist in Delaware for the past 19 years. While she initially specialized in adult acute care and outpatient brain injury, her true passion has always been working with children, which started as a swim coach/instructor. This love resulted in a career specialization in pediatric occupational therapy. She has worked with all ages, across many settings, including the neonatal intensive care unit, outpatient clinics, various hospitals, daycares/homes, and state eligibility assessment clinics. She recently moved from Avondale, Pennsylvania to Arlington, Virginia and has been enjoying time at home with her four year old daughter. She does continue to work per diem as an occupational therapist in Delaware but is excited to also work more locally with the preschoolers, enhancing their natural love for science through The Science Seed program. (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2018)

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Valerie Steenstra

Valerie Steenstra is an Arlington native and a strong proponent of life-long learning. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Marymount University. After spending time in the legal field, she made the decision to stay at home with her first child and continued at home with her second child. She enjoyed sharing the worlds of science, history, and all kinds of learning with her children through museum visits, books, nature study, home experiments and art projects. Restless when her children were both in preschool, Valerie began to volunteer and substitute teach at their school and taught a CCD class at St. Charles Borromeo in Arlington. Finding that working with children and sharing their exploration of the world is her true vocation, Valerie became an Assistant Teacher at Mount Olivet Preschool in 2007, and she continues there today as the Lead Teacher in the Infant/Toddler classroom. She has also enjoyed teaching multiple pre-school S.T.E.A.M., Art, and Lego enrichment classes as well as Big and Little Kid summer camps in Arlington and Falls Church. She is very excited to continue to share the world of science with more children through The Science Seed program! (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2019)

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Aly Anderson

Ms. Aly grew up in Northern Virginia and loves exploring and learning outdoors. She enjoys teaching through discovery and delights in helping children experience the world around them. Always excited to learn something new, she spends her free time with her kids out in nature hiking, exploring museums and national parks, playing in streams and getting dirty. Ms. Aly received her BS in Family Childhood Development: Early Childhood Education from Virginia Tech. She has taught students from preschool through 5th grade and is excited to bring the world of science to children with The Science Seed.  (Teaching with The Science Seed since 2021)