Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Learning about Singapore, meeting the Scholars

The 12 Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Scholars traveling together to Singapore in one month have at least one thing in common:

They are all in their first four years of teaching math or science in the public schools across North Carolina.


On a Friday in April, they had a chance to get to know each other. A couple have been to several continents, but one has never been on an airplane. Some are from North Carolina, some are not. One grew up in Mayberry. Another has handwriting that could be a font. One meditates by watching cows. Another rescued a pit bull. One used to have gauged ears. They love different things: sweet potatoes, crock pot cooking, hip hop, and spiders. One plays the clarinet, another plays the ukulele. Some are married, one is a grandparent, another is becoming an aunt, and one is single mom.

Getting to know Singapore

Kim Chin spoke with the Scholars about the Singaporean culture. He started by teaching us how to say hello. We learned to stick with our English but add a la, and we will fit right in.

From Singapore to North Carolina

Education in Singapore: Yesterday and Today

Exchange students from Singapore

Meet the Scholars

Megan Alford

Megan Alvord is a native of Pittsboro. She attended North Carolina State University where she earned degrees in physics and science education. Megan is a complete physics nerd and loves to laugh. She also loves to travel. Megan has been to six different countries, including China where she taught physics at a private school in Beijing. She is always planning her next adventure! Follow her on Twitter @mrsalvord.

Michael Baker

Michael Baker teaches Math 2 and AP Calculus at Holly Springs High School in Wake County. Michael coached the FIRST Robotics Team #3229 for the past three years. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the UNC‐BEST program and plans pursue a graduate degree in International Education Policy and Management at Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @mbaker7998.

Shane Castevens

Shane Castevens is a mathematics education facilitator at Stokes Early College High School in Walnut Cove. He is the sponsor of the Stokes Early College High School Debate Team. Shane received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his teacher certification from the UNC‐Chapel Hill School of Education. He enjoys eating spicy food, running, riding horses, dancing, and reading. He is on Instagram @castswaggens.

Andromeda Crowell

Andromeda Crowell has been teaching biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology at Orange High School for the past four years. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2012 with a BS in biology and is currently completing her graduate degree at Clemson University. Andromeda is a member of the literacy and technology teams at her school and is passionate about authentic, inquiry‐based science education. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @abcruel.

Nancy Epley

Nancy Epley teaches biology at Freedom High School in Morganton in the Burke County Schools. Nancy moderates the Science Fiction Book Club. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a degree in biology and later from Western Governors University with a graduate degree in science education. Nancy is the mother of two awesome teenagers, a caretaker of five wily cats, and fiancée of an amazingly talented sword polisher. Follow her on Twitter @msnoepley.

Stephanie Evans

Stephanie Evans has been teaching 8th grade science at Roxboro Community School since January 2013. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a BA in biology through the UNC‐BEST teaching program. In addition to teaching, Stephanie coaches teams for the Envirothon competition. In her spare time, Stephanie stays active by running, hiking, and dog training. Follow her on Twitter @Starheel191.

Emily Felker

Emily Felker is a science teacher at Holly Springs High School in the Wake County Public Schools, where she teaches biology, AP biology, and astronomy. She is an advisor for the National Honor Society, a
Science Olympiad coach, and a member of the School Improvement Team. Emily received her BA in biology from UNC‐Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing a graduate degree with the Global Field Program at Miami University. In her free time Emily enjoys traveling with her husband, reading, being outdoors, and taking care of her myriad collection of pets, including rats, cats, and a rescued greyhound. Follow her on Twitter @FelkerSci.

Stefanie Joyner

Stefanie Joyner has taught biology at Hillside High School in the Durham Public Schools for four years. She currently teaches the following courses: MYP biology, honors biology, and academic biology. Stefanie is the Science department chair and serves as a beginning teacher mentor. She is an alumna of Hillside High School, followed by North Carolina Central University. Stefanie decided to teach at Hillside as a way of giving back to her community and impacting the lives of students at her alma mater. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside former teachers who have influenced her becoming a teacher. Stefanie enjoys traveling, shopping, and most importantly the art of teaching! Her goal is to further her education by obtaining her graduate degree in the area of science education. She aspires to become a “master” teacher. Follow her on Twitter @crownedxxvii.

Brittany Krasutsky

Brittany Krasutsky is a 7th grade science teacher at Charles D. Owen Middle School (OMS), where she has taught for four years. Teaching has been a part of Brittany’s career since the early nineties after a prior career in sales and marketing. Brittany traveled the world working with business owners and was an integral part of two successful startup companies. Now she focuses on her love of teaching middle school students and promoting environmental stewardship as the Chairperson of OMS’s Natural Impact Inititative (NII). Brittany’s goal is to inspire curiosity and a love of science in each of her students. She does this in the classroom by using technology and hands‐on activities that engage students and encourage higher levels of understanding and learning. As the Chairperson of NII, Brittany focuses on providing students experiences in nature and opportunities to learn about Appalachian heritage, while incorporating science into their lives. Students have been involved in preparing soil, planting native pollinator plants and American Chestnut saplings, and so much more.

Dustin Nichols

Dustin Nichols is in his third year of teaching mathematics at East Burke High. He is a native of Burke County and graduated from UNC Asheville in 2013. Dustin emphasizes research beyond the classroom curriculum and advocates the use of technology to enhance comprehension. His students regularly complete projects using software tools like Desmos, Geogebra, and Wolfram Demonstrations. Dustin’s favorite classes to teach are discrete math and calculus. In the fall of 2016, he will attend graduate school at Wake Forest University to earn his graduate degree in mathematics. Dustin plans to obtain a PhD and continue to teach at the college level or to design software tools for educators. Dustin’s other areas of interest include weather forecasting, physics, and psychology.

Gabrielle Rice

Gabrielle Rice teaches science at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School in the Wake County Public School. This is her second year in the classroom. Gabby graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a BA in biology. Gabby’s favorite hobbies include running, gardening, and trying new recipes.

Kayleigh Willis

Kayleigh Willis currently teaches math at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. She is joining the mathematics team at Broughton High School in the Wake County Public School System. She is in her third year of teaching. Kayleigh is a graduate of Grayson County Community College with an AS in Mathematics and of UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Mathematics. When she is not shaping young minds in the classroom, Kayleigh can be found at Lake Johnson or enjoying a Netflix binge!

Looking forward to the trip

“I want to see how things are done differently.” – Gabby

“I want to come back more excited about teaching in the fall.” – Andromeda

“This is the farthest I have ever gone outside the US.” – Kayleigh

“I am looking forward to gaining experience in classrooms outside the US.” – Nancy

“I am excited to see a new place and how education is similar and different.” – Emily

“I am curious about how to integrate culture into a physics class.” – Megan

“I am interested in comparative education.” – Mike

“Playing the role of the student again is exciting.” – Justin

“I can’t wait to see the students.” – Stephanie

“I like doing fun things for PD.” – Shane

Stay tuned for our stories from Singapore coming July 15-24, 2016.

The Series: From Singapore to North Carolina

Bringing the best practices in Singapore to North Carolina

Editor’s Note: Nancy Epley was not able to go on the trip.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.