NICERC Behind the Scenes

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NICERC Behind the Scenes

When I was in college, I would peruse job posting sites once or twice a week searching for that dream job. You know, that dream teaching job or that dream administration job. I looked through thousands of postings, job titles, and job descriptions. Never once did I find, “Director of Academic Outreach.” But fast forward, here we are today in that dream administration job, in that dream teaching job—yes, in that dream job.

You’ve heard from many of the NICERC team members about what they do and the impact they are making across the country. I’m truly proud of how they are empowering many thousands of teachers and impacting, to date, over a half million students through new and innovative curricula and classroom resources.

Whether it was at a professional development workshop, over the phone, or via email, many of you have interacted with one, two, or maybe three of our team members. Did you know: we have 12 folks who are on the NICERC team and one word describes them all—AMAZING!

Allow me to make the formal introduction (or as formal as a blog introduction gets) to the team—the “A-Team”; the “Dreamteam”; the “Magic” of NICERC.

Crystal Almond, M.A.T. – Crystal serves as one of NICERC’s Curriculum Development Specialists. Crystal brings a wealth of knowledge and teaching experience to the team and spends her time developing our Math Essentials and Algebra I courses as well as flying the friendly skies, border to border, ocean to ocean, leading professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers. Crystal’s claim to fame in the office is the saying: “It’s got to make sense, guys!” We all need that person in our offices.

Valeria Carey – Valeria serves as NICERC’s Business Administrator. She tracks every penny, ensures expense reports are signed, time-sheets are accurate and that we are properly reporting to DHS. A true behind the scenes hero! Valeria, unbeknownst to many, loves the great American pastime – baseball! Hearing the latest scoop in her son’s league on Monday morning is far better than the 8 a.m. SportsCenter broadcast.

Josh Coriell, M.A.T. (Ph.D Candidate) – Josh serves as one of NICERC’s Curriculum Development Specialists and specializes in mathematics. Josh’s art-of-the-possible attitude brings creativity, innovation, and inspiration to everything we do. Josh has developed curricula such as NICERC’s Advanced Math, Algebra I and Math Essentials courses and a number of modules within the STEM: Explore, Discover, Apply curricula, as well as a plethora of supplemental classroom resources and videos available to teachers. In the office, Josh is known for finding GIFs and memes as a response to an email.  I invite our network of teachers to send Josh an email… you’ll see what I mean!

Claire Floyd – Claire serves as NICERC’s  Director of Marketing and Graphic Design. In short, she makes us look good! Every piece of material that comes out of the office has been touched and finely tweaked by Claire. Claire also brings to the office a passion for birds! I must say that we could all be certified ornithologists!

Chuck Gardner, Ed.D – Chuck serves as NICERC’s Director of Curricula and is the type of teacher everyone wanted in the classroom. When he was teaching, I’m sure the registrar or counselor had to deliver the bad “Dr. Gardner’s class is full” news to students multiple times each semester. Chuck, along with a team of contributors wrote NICERC’s Cyber Literacy (while teaching it) and Cyber Literacy 2. In the office, we like to call Chuck the ‘Cyber Guy’.

Tommy Gober, M.S.  (Ed.D Candidate) – Tommy serves as one of NICERC’s Curriculum Development Specialists and specializes in Computer Science (CS). Coming from a high school CS classroom, Tommy brings a wealth of knowledge in CS to NICERC and was instrumental in the development of our Computer Science Curriculum. Tommy has served on a number of state department of education computer science framework and standards committees. In addition to CS, his knowledge of cyber, and everything else, makes him a great team member both at work and at trivia night!

Vickie Hedrick – I would guess that everyone has gotten an email from Vickie, our Curriculum Success Specialist. Each and every day, Vickie enrolls new teachers into Canvas, our learning management system. In addition to teacher support, Vickie also edits newly developed content and performs her grammar wizardry on every document that leaves our office.

JoyBeth Lyons – Have you ever called our office? Odds are she’s the one you’ve talked to. She is ‘the gatekeeper’ and has a pulse on everything going on in the office. In addition to serving as our receptionist, JoyBeth is also one of our curriculum editors. Her keen eye for grammatical errors, sentence structure, dangling participles, and missing commas is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’d put her up against my 7th grade literature teacher any day! One hidden talent that JoyBeth just revealed to us is that she bakes cookies as a hobby. In addition to putting her up against my 7th grade teacher, I’d put her up against Betty Crocker. She’d win.

Joe MacAdam, M.A.T. – Joe is the newest Curriculum Development Specialist on the NICERC team and is jumping in the deep end! Joe taught our Cyber courses before leaving the classroom and is facilitating workshops around the county. Good thing he likes to travel! In addition to workshops, Joe is one of the leads on the Math Essentials and Algebra I Curricula development team. In the office, there’s always a little friendly football bantering about our alma maters… Just need to remind him that my alma mater beat his in the 2008 National Championship…

JoAnn Marshall – JoAnn is a household name within the NICERC network. If you have attended one of our Education Discovery Forums, participated in Jr. Cyber Discovery, Cyber Discovery, AICS, or RARC, odds are you are best friends with JoAnn. JoAnn serves as NICERC’s RARC and Logistics Coordinator. She is the one who is making sure every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. The best part of JoAnn: she is constantly watching out for my dislike of anything with chocolate. A true saint if you ask me!

Jon Ownby – Jon serves as one of NICERC’s Curriculum Development Specialists. Jon came to NICERC from the classroom where he taught elementary and middle school science. Fun fact: Jon was one of the pilot teachers when STEM EDA was released. Since joining NICERC, Jon has also undertaken the development of our Elementary STEAM Fundamentals course. Jon (more commonly known as Mr. O) is giving Bill Nye the Science Guy some friendly competition. Whether it’s through air cannons, stomp rockets, toilet paper throwers, or even a hovercraft, Mr. O always adds an interesting twist to a professional development!

John Queen – John serves as one of NICERC’s Curriculum Support Specialists. John brings a unique perspective to an office full of math and science folks – he’s a liberal arts guy! John’s attention to detail and support for just about all of our curricula (especially Cyber Society) is pivotal for making sure our curricula maintains its cross-curricular foundations. In the office, John keeps us on our toes by making sure we know where we’re going to lunch – it’s the most important meal in the day.

This dream job is just that, a dream, because of the work these folks do day in and day out. I’ll say it again, I’m proud of the achievements of this team and the curricula and resources they develop. Together, we are creating 21st century degree and career opportunities for our students.


Happy Teaching!


Kevin Nolten

Director of Academic Outreach

Cyber Innovation Center