From Executive Director Nicole Gillespie
As they continue their teaching careers (which the majority of Knowles Fellows do) or transition to new roles in education and other fields, we’ve seen Knowles Fellows apply, adapt and amplify what they learned from the Fellowship program in ways we never anticipated.

February 14, 2018

Dear Friends of Knowles,

Each year when I sit down to write this letter, I find myself in awe at what this organization has accomplished and how it has evolved. Even so, this past year ending May 31, 2017 (FY17) included some of the most exciting and meaningful changes I’ve seen in the 13 years since I was hired, and I am excited to share them with you in this annual report.

The most obvious change, of course, has been our name. In May 2017, our Board of Trustees, with input from a wide range of stakeholders, unanimously voted to change our “doing business as” name to the Knowles Teacher Initiative, and to formally adopt the tagline Transforming Mathematics & Science Education. What has not changed is our commitment to supporting teachers; we feel our new name puts teachers front and center and better reflects this commitment. Although it wasn’t obvious from our name when we referred to ourselves as the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, we have been supporting both mathematics and science teachers since 2005. Our new tagline helps to reinforce the message that we focus on both of these critical disciplines. But perhaps most importantly, we feel our new name and tagline captures our deep and unwavering trust in teachers to lead educational transformation.

The timing of this name change is also significant. After years of reflection, planning and dreaming, in FY17, we embarked on a new phase of our work in which we will serve a larger pool of teachers than we can through our Fellows Programs alone. In June of 2016, we piloted our first professional development course—Engaging Math and Science Students in Engineering Design—developed and led by Knowles Senior Fellows. This program consisted of a five-day, in-person workshop for seven teachers, followed by a full year of community interaction and virtual support for the participants. This professional development program was the inspiration for the newly-launched Knowles Academy, which will house a variety of professional development programs in the coming years. All of these programs will be aligned with what we know constitutes meaningful professional development for teachers: sustained, supported, contextually relevant, informed by teacher knowledge gained from practice and research, and facilitated by leaders with extensive teaching experience.

Fellow Programs
Teaching Fellows Program

The Knowles Teaching Fellowship is an intensive and cohesive, five-year program that supports early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers in their efforts to develop teaching expertise and lead from the classroom. In fiscal year 2017, Knowles supported 116 Teaching Fellows in 33 states.

Senior Fellows Program

After completing the fifth year, Teaching Fellows become Senior Fellows who have the opportunity to receive support from Knowles for leadership efforts. In fiscal year 2017, the Knowles community included 193 Senior Fellows, 75% of whom are still high school teachers and another 14% who are working in education in other roles.

New Initiatives

New Initiatives

Teachers as Leaders and Change Agents

The Knowles Teacher Initiative is committed to supporting a national network of mathematics and science teachers who are collaborative, innovative leaders improving education for all students in the United States.
We support the growth of our Fellows as teacher leaders who are improving education in their classrooms and beyond. Over the last year, we launched three initiatives that provide opportunities for teachers to grow as leaders and change agents—the Coaching Partnership, Seed Project Grants, and the Knowles Academy.

New Initiatives

Coaching Partnership

Introduced in 2014, the Knowles Coaching Institute was designed to increase the use of peer coaching among Fellows and in broader educational contexts, and enhance the climate of shared and reflective professional practice in the community. Since its inception, 38 Senior Fellows have been trained as peer coaches in three Coaching Institutes. After the first two years of the institute, participants expressed a desire for longer-term partnerships in coaching, allowing for multiple cycles of coaching to occur. To meet this need, returning coaches developed a Coaching Partnership Program that partners Teaching Fellows with Senior Fellow coaches for one school year. During the year, the pair will go through at least two cycles of planning, observation, and reflection. The Coaching Partnership Program was launched in 2016 with 12 participants, six coaches and six coachees.

New Initiatives

Seed Projects

Knowles Teacher Initiative founder Janet H. Knowles generously gave $100,000 in 2016 to fund Seed Projects—initiatives that are designed to improve education beyond a Senior Fellow’s own classroom. Six Seed Project Grants totaling $49,519 were awarded during the 2016–2017 school year. These projects will improve education in a variety of ways, including establishing formal procedures for two teacher observation groups; establishing a peer coaching program; developing a writing community for teachers; teaching science to Tibetan monks in India; and identifying best practices related to engineering, entrepreneurship, collaboration, and audio-visual production for inclusion in a state-of-the art center designed to advance student learning.

New Initiatives

Services for School Districts

During fiscal year 2017, Fairfax (Virginia) County Public Schools contracted Knowles to help support the launch of their Global STEM Challenges Program. From July 2016 to June 2017, five Knowles Senior Fellows helped co-write curriculum with district staff for the program’s ninth grade integrated STEM course. Through monthly virtual meetings and quarterly site visits, a Knowles Senior Fellow coached three Fairfax County STEM teachers as they taught the curriculum to 90 students. Additionally, Knowles Senior Fellows developed and presented a five-day course on engineering design integration, backed by a full year of coaching, for seven teachers in June 2016. Services like the ones described here will be offered through the Knowles Academy in the future.

Knowles Academy: Key Features

Seeing a need for high quality, sustained professional development for teachers, we launched the Knowles Academy in spring 2017. Through the Academy, the Knowles Teacher Initiative provides professional development services for teachers and customized services for schools and districts that are designed and facilitated by experienced teachers. Key features of Knowles Academy offerings include:

Teachers Supporting Teachers

Teachers learn best from other teachers. All professional development that we provide includes experienced teachers as instructors and coaches.
Professional Community Development

Teaching can be isolating. All of our professional development services are designed to build teacher community so that participants can continue to support each other’s learning and professional growth long after the professional development experience ends.
Long-term Support for Sustainable Change

Effective teacher professional development must be sustained and tied to classroom practice. All Knowles Academy courses include long-term support from coaches, opportunities for teachers to ground their learning in current practice, and engage with other Knowles Academy participants over an extended period.
Professional Expertise & Leadership

Designing and implementing effective professional development requires a diverse range of expertise and experience. All of our professional development services draw and build on the expertise developed within the Knowles community over the last 15 years.
Fellow Stories

The Knowles Teacher Initiative supports our Fellows in their efforts to develop teaching expertise and lead from the classroom. Knowles Fellows have access to grants for expenses associated with purchasing classroom materials, engaging in additional professional development beyond what the Fellowship program offers, and spearheading leadership activities that have an impact beyond their own classrooms. Fellows also benefit from access to stipends, mentoring and coaching from experienced teachers and teacher educators, and membership in a nationwide community of more than 300 teachers who are committed to improving education. See how Knowles Fellows are leveraging these benefits to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in their classrooms and beyond.

Zenas Lee

2012 Knowles Teaching Fellow
Fifth-year Biology Teacher
Homestead High School
Cupertino, California

In an effort to ensure that each student at her school is connected with a caring adult, 2012 Knowles Teaching Fellow Zenas Lee successfully spearheaded an effort to launch an advisory program called Homeroom. In the fall of 2016, each of the 600 incoming freshmen were assigned to one of 30 groups that were run by a volunteer adviser. Throughout the year, Homeroom advisors met with their groups on a weekly basis, getting to know their students as individuals through group activities and one-on-one meetings. On the end-of-year survey, 78.4% of freshmen reported agreeing with the following statement: “My Homeroom adviser cares about me.” The Homeroom pilot was also responsible for beginning to shift the culture of the school towards recognizing the importance of supporting students’ socio-emotional health through an intervention program that equitably distributes the efforts of staff to make stronger connections with students. Based on the positive results of the pilot, a modified form of the advisory program with increased staff participation will be implemented during the 2017–2018 academic year. Members of the Knowles community, along with school colleagues, assisted Zenas with this effort. At the 2016 Spring Meeting for the 2012 Cohort of Knowles Teaching Fellows, she started an unconference-style discussion on “How to Effect Systemic Change in Large Schools.” Through the unconference, Zenas was able to gain insight from other Fellows on how advisory programs operate in different contexts. Additionally, Zenas received funding from Knowles for eight colleagues to attend a two-day training on how to design an advisory program to meet the needs of their students. Last, she participated in the Knowles Coaching Partnership, which provided her with one year of coaching from Knowles Senior Fellow Jessica Uy, who teaches in the same district. The focus of their coaching relationship was the Homeroom pilot.

Michelle Vanhala

2014 Knowles Teaching Fellow
Third-year Biology and Chemistry Teacher
Tecumseh High School
Tecumseh, Michigan

Seeing a need for a deeper understanding of the new Michigan Science Standards amongst the six teachers in her department, 2014 Knowles Teaching Fellow Michelle Vanhala was awarded a Knowles grant to fund a three-day summer institute that she designed and implemented in June 2016. The participants used their learnings from the institute as they collaborated to create lessons that are aligned to the new standards and were enacted during the 2016–2017 academic year. All of the participants indicated an increased understanding of the new science standards and an increased confidence in their ability to enact aligned lessons via a post-institute survey. During the 2016–2017 academic year, the physics teachers integrated engineering design in several lessons while the biology and chemistry teachers focused on engaging students through inquiry. Based on the success of the institute, Michelle presented a similar session to the K–6 teachers in her district.

Kaitie O’Bryan

2012 Knowles Teaching Fellow
Fifth-year Algebra and Computer Science Teacher
Mounds View High School
Arden Hills, Minnesota

In an effort to provide colleagues with opportunities to learn about teaching strategies used by school peers, 2012 Knowles Teaching Fellow Kaitie O’Bryan started a “Lunch and Learn” series. During the 2016–2017 academic year, eight monthly sessions were held. At each “Lunch and Learn” session, which took place during the school’s three lunch periods, a lead teacher presented about teaching strategies and routines that are relevant across varying content areas. Knowles supported this effort by providing a grant that funded the purchase of lunch for session attendees. Beyond organizing the sessions and soliciting teacher participation, Kaitie served as a thinking partner for presenters. Over the course of the year, 53 English, math, science, business and foreign language teachers who taught approximately 800 students participated in the “Lunch and Learn” series. Session topics included reading strategies shared by a science teacher, vocabulary building strategies shared by a French teacher, and strategies for building relationships between students shared by a math teacher. Approximately 95% of participants reported that they would use something presented in a session in their own classroom. Kaitie plans to apply for Knowles Seed Grant to support the next iteration of this program during the 2017–2018 academic year.

Kirsten Waldrop

2013 Knowles Teaching Fellow
Fifth-year Chemistry Teacher
YES Prep Southeast
Houston, Texas

As the leader of her science department’s professional learning community, 2013 Knowles Teaching Fellow Kirsten Waldrop identified the use of practitioner inquiry as a means to increase opportunities for students to learn. She was awarded a Knowles grant to fund the purchase of supplies needed to improve the ease of collecting classroom data, including an Apple TV and a Bluetooth speaker, as well as food for monthly meetings to discuss the data that was collected. In the previous school year, none of the teachers brought data from their classrooms. During the fall semester of the 2016–2017 academic year, 100% of the eight teachers in the department brought classroom data to their meetings, which were focused on increasing students’ ability to interpret data. The teachers from the science department were also successful in administering their first common assessment to students across all grade levels, which provided meaningful data for them to examine. Kirsten looks forward to the opportunity to strengthen trust amongst the members of the professional learning community to produce gains for the 1,000 students at her school, as she moves into the third year of leading the group.

Scott Murphy

Knowles Senior Fellow
Ninth-year Physics and Chemistry Teacher
St. Joseph’s Preparatory Academy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In an effort to promote collaborative reflection on classroom practices, Knowles Senior Fellow Scott Murphy engaged nine teachers at his school in a peer coaching program during the 2016–2017 academic year. Scott and his planning partner trained the participants on cognitive coaching, which they practiced in four coaching cycles with two different partners. At the conclusion of the program, 100% of participating teachers rated the peer observations included in the program as valuable or extremely valuable with regard to increasing their awareness and adjusting their approach in the classroom. Additionally, 70% of respondents reported reflecting on their lessons on a daily basis by the end of the year. A Seed Grant from Knowles funded $400 stipends that were given to the 10 participants as honorarium for their participation.

2017 Teaching Fellows

2017 Cohort of Knowles Teaching Fellows

This year, 37 early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers were awarded Knowles Teaching Fellowships. Their Fellowships began on June 1, 2017 and will continue through the summer of 2022. Read more about our newest cohort of Teaching Fellows.

Ishrat Ahmet

Math Teacher
Deer Park High School
Deer Park, New York

Taught English in Turkey for two months

Cassie Bennett

Biology Teacher
John W. North High School
Riverside, California

Conducted research on water quality at the University of California, Riverside as a student research intern

Diana Bonilla

Biology Teacher
Back of the Yards College Prep
Chicago, Illinois

Uncovered interest in teaching science while volunteering at an after school program

Michelle Caine

Biology Teacher
Excel High School
Boston, Massachusetts

Supervised a multi-community beach cleanup and helped run a marine turtle rescue center as a coordinator for Mackay Coastal Cleanup in Australia

Erin Capra

Biology Teacher
Blackstone Academy Charter School
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Assisted with several local re-introduction projects, including the re-introduction of the New England cottontail and timber rattlesnake, as an intern at the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Jazmine Castañon

Math Teacher
Manor New Technology High School
Manor, Texas

Participated in the NASCENT Research Experience for Teachers program at the University of Texas at Austin

Cristian Chacon

Physics Teacher
Golden View Classical Academy
Golden, Colorado

Constructed and analyzed a meta-database on mold spore concentrations in water mitigated homes as an intern at Droplet Measurement Technologies

Manju Connolly

Math Teacher
Park Center High School
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Spearheaded the development of a mentoring program for college students at the local YMCA

Jody DeAraujo

Earth Science Teacher
Balboa High School
San Francisco, California

Studied different forms of arsenic in the soil as an intern at the United States Geological Survey

Emily Fitzgerald

Chemistry and Physics Teacher
Monta Vista High School
Cupertino, California

Worked as a teaching assistant for an Introduction to Experimentation chemistry class at Rutgers University for one semester and taught Physics for the Sciences as a part-time lecturer for three semesters

Amy Fligor

Math Teacher
Germantown Friends School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Volunteered as a teaching assistant at the Milestone Institute, an advanced after-school program for Hungarian students

Suzanne Garcia

Biology and Integrated Science Teacher
Tamalpais High School
Mill Valley, California

Worked as an Education Park Ranger for the National Park Service and a Seasonal Biological Field Technician for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Courtney Gough

Math Teacher
Another Course to College
Hyde Park, Massachusetts

Taught in her elementary school as a participant in a future educators program for high school students

Kristina Harkins

Chemistry Teacher
Science Leadership Academy at Beeber
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Volunteered for one year as a full-time reading tutor with Reading Corps, an Americorps program

William Harnica

Math Teacher
Okemos High School
Okemos, Michigan

Volunteered for four consecutive summers as a camp chaperone for his hometown’s eighth grade camping trip to Camp Frontier in Pioneer, Ohio

Tyler Hill

Chemistry Teacher
Sandra Day O’Connor High School
Phoenix, Arizona

Spent a summer teaching a chemistry course for a program at Northern Arizona University for low-income students from the surrounding Native American reservations to introduce them to science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Helen Huang-Hobbs

Chemistry Teacher
The Pingry School
Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Worked full time as a technician at the University of British Columbia’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy facility in Vancouver

Allison Kerr

Biology Teacher
Westlake High School
Thousand Oaks, California

Maintained animal exhibits and life support systems, and provided care and enrichment for cownose and southern stingrays, and nurse, bonnethead, and leopard sharks as an exhibit supervisor for Living Exhibits, Inc.

Robin Lam

Math Teacher
George Washington High School
Chicago, Illinois

Participated in field work at Relationship Empowerment Affirmation Leadership Skills, where she helped elementary school students develop academic skills and social values

Elese Lau

Chemistry Teacher
Harlem Children’s Zone
New York, New York

Worked in a neurosurgery ward and helped pioneer a research project on postoperative pain control while interning at a Cambodian hospital in Phnom Penh

Quan Le

Biology Teacher
College Coliseum Prep Academy
East Oakland, California

Taught and tutored with the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment Program for four years and with the Health Advocacy Program for three semesters while in college

Levi Miller

Physics and Engineering Teacher
Dos Pueblos High School
Goleta, California

Guided middle and high school students through the process of building microelectric devices and designing experiments for one year as a volunteer at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Nanofabrication Facility’s Chip Camp

Emily Mitchell

Math Teacher
Beacon Academy
Boston, Massachusetts

Coordinated partnerships between STEM faculty, university students, and local K–12 schools for one year while serving as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) member at the University of Southern Maine

Sean Moore

Chemistry Teacher
Rhinelander High School
Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Worked as a wilderness trip leader at Camp Manito-wish YMCA, an outdoor adventure summer camp

Emily Moreno

Chemistry Teacher
Santee Education Complex
Los Angeles, California

Worked as a teaching assistant in the Undergraduate Instrumentation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she taught other undergraduate students how to properly and safely use various instruments

Swetha Narasimhan

Math Teacher
The Workshop School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mentored first through fifth grade students from Belmont Charter School with a group of peers and later coordinated the mentoring team from Bryn Mawr College

LJ Neumann

Biology Teacher
Monona Grove High School
Madison, Wisconsin

Ran a science club and science night events in rural communities outside of Madison, Wisconsin as part of Biocore Outreach Ambassadors, an outreach group

Grace Noble

Biology Teacher
Chelsea High School
Chelsea, Massachusetts

Worked for one year as an outdoor education instructor at YMCA Camp Carter in Fort Worth, Texas

Nina Ozdemir

Math Teacher
Bayside STEM Academy
San Mateo, California

Tutored students in various levels of mathematics, taught SAT Prep, and worked in a special day class for students with moderate to severe disabilities

Anthony Reid

Math Teacher
Howard High School of Technology
Wilmington, Delaware

Taught mathematics at a summer enrichment camp, Upward Bound Math Science

Lucas Risinger

Biology and Physical Science Teacher
West Albany High School
Albany, Oregon

Worked as a scuba diving instructor in Hawaii and as a tutor

Mason Rocca

Math Teacher
Evanston Township High School
Evanston, Illinois

Played professional basketball for 15 years (14 of them in Italy)

Jaziel Salomón

Physics Teacher
Thurgood Marshall Academic High School
San Francisco, California

Taught biology, stop motion, and high school preparation as a Teaching Fellow for Breakthrough Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization based in San Jose, California

Mary Segreti

Physics and Earth & Space Science Teacher
John F. Kennedy High School
Chicago, Illinois

Served in the Peace Corps in Ghana from 2013–2015 as a secondary science teacher

Erin Smith

Biology Teacher
San Lorenzo High School
San Lorenzo, California

Studied transcription regulation in yeast as a research assistant for the Churchman Lab at Harvard Medical School

Mark Soo

Biology Teacher
Westford Academy
Westford, Massachusetts

Worked for two years in molecular biology research at Massachusetts General Hospital and at a research lab at Boston College

Sarah Timmler

Biology Teacher
Wauwatosa West High School
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Studied California Spotted Owls in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California as a University of Wisconsin-Madison field tech

Donor Acknowledgment

Thank You to All of Our 2016–2017 Donors

In November 2016, Knowles launched its first year-end giving campaign. All campaign funds, including a matching donation made by Knowles Trustees Harry Knowles and Lucy Rorke-Adams, were earmarked to be used to purchase classroom supplies for innovative math and science teachers who work tirelessly to improve education in their classrooms and beyond. We are truly thankful for the generosity of all donors who gave during fiscal year 2017.

Amy Gheysens

Andrew Gillespie

Andrew Wild

Anna Monteiro

Anne Watson

Ayanna Perry

Bradford Hill

C. Harry Knowles

Casey O’Hara

Cathy Cohn

Charley Sabatier

Cheryl Brown

Cindy Gillespie

Daniel Edelson

Dawn Y.

Dena Estell

Dina Portnoy

Ebony Freeman

Ed Viner

Elizabeth Tucker Keene

Emilie Cross

Emily Kennedy

Eric Eslinger

George M. Wohlreich

George Youngkin

Heather Buskirk

Heather Hotchkiss

Helen Snodgrass

Ian Caldwell

Janet H. Knowles

Jeanne Vissa

Jeff Rozelle

Jennifer Mossgrove

Jessica Rorke

Jodie Galosy

John Maddux

Jolie Glaser

Joshuah Thurbee

Joyce Lin

Karen Sass

Katey Shirey

Katherine Shaw Kloc

KD Davenport

Kelsey R.

Kimberly Conner

Kimberly Masloski

Kyalamboka Brown

Laura Wang

Lawrence Tint

Linda Abrams

Lucy Balian Rorke-Adams

Lynne Schill

Mr. & Mrs. Robert F. Morris, Jr.

Madison Miller

Mark Olson

Mary Chin

Meghan Scattaregia

Melanie Villanueva

Melissa Kagle

Michael C. Wittmann

Michele Cheyne

Monica Sircar

Nancy Vander Zwan

Nicole Gillespie

Nifemi Mabayoje

Paul Kuerbis

Rebecca Bradshaw

Rebecca Weber

Richard Staniec

Rick Caine

Roseanne Rostock

Sarah Ingraham

Shelly Maddux

Shira Helft

Stephanie Holm

Stephanie Woodruff

Steve Stevenoski

Troy Singleton

William & Helene Gillespie

William Rulon-Miller

Board of Trustees

Knowles Board of Trustees: Fiscal Year 2017

Heather Buskirk

Math and Physics Teacher, The Learning Project, Johnstown High School; Instructional Coach, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Counties Pathways in Technology Early College High School; Knowles Senior Fellow

Nicole M. Gillespie

Executive Director & CEO, Knowles Teacher Initiative

C. Harry Knowles

Retired, founder and former President, Metrologic Instruments; Founder and Chairman, Knowles Teacher Initiative Board of Trustees

Janet H. Knowles

Retired, former Vice President of Administration and Treasurer, Metrologic Instruments; Founder and Secretary, Knowles Teacher Initiative Board of Trustees

Paul Kuerbis

Retired, former Professor of Education, Colorado College

Robert F. Morris Jr.

Retired, former Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager, UBS Financial Services

Lucy Balian Rorke-Adams

Retired, former Senior Pathologist, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Clinical Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

William Rulon-Miller

Retired, former Director of Investment Banking, Janney Montgomery Scott; Treasurer, Knowles Teacher Initiative Board of Trustees

Lawrence Tint

Senior Managing Director, Cantor Comparative Advantage

Edward D. Viner

Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Senior Advisor to the Dean, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Michael C. Wittmann

Professor of Physics and Education, University of Maine

George M. Wohlreich

President and Chief Executive Officer of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry (Adjunct) at the Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine

The Future of Knowles
Looking Ahead 

The Knowles Teacher Initiative believes that teachers can and should be the primary agents of educational improvement. While maintaining our commitment to supporting our Teaching and Senior Fellows, we are also striving to support their colleagues and other teachers across the nation in their efforts to improve education. The launch of the Knowles Academy will aid in this effort by providing high quality, sustained professional development services that are developed for teachers, by teachers. In the coming years, we will introduce additional Knowles Academy courses, including ones that are adapted from the Teaching Fellows Program and led by Senior Fellows, and others developed entirely by Senior Fellows. Some of those offerings will evolve from Seed Projects that will be funded during the 2017–2018 academic year or expansions of successful Seed Projects that were funded and implemented during the 2016–2017 academic year. For more information, please visit

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