The Alabama School of Math and Science (ASMS) celebrates its 30th anniversary this August. In 1989 the school was inaugurated and has been producing leaders across the state and the world ever since. The faculty at ASMS are a key factor in the success of its students. During Women’s History Month, ASMS would like to celebrate the role female faculty have played in the lives of current and past students.
ASMS is known for its unique set of classes, especially classes such as Physics, a graduation requirement for seniors. Dr. Pamela Quintana and Dr. Jessica Alexander are two of three of our Physics instructors who are cultivating our student’s love for how the universe behaves.
Dr. Quintana (pictured right) has been teaching physics at ASMS for 19 years and has served as an American Institute of Physics Science History Education Ambassador and a panel presenter for Physics in Academia at the APS Conference for Women in Physics. Dr. Quintana has the highest consideration for her students and has aspirations that will benefit their futures.
“I would like to continue updating the Physics Department’s labs and provide our students with more opportunities for experimentation and research,” Dr. Quintana says.
Dr. Alexander (pictured right), who earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State, is new to the ASMS community and has been mentoring the ASMS Robotics Team as they prepared for and competed in the FTC Alabama State Competition. She too has aspirations for the Physics Department, by introducing a variety of classes next year.
“I am working towards adding more physics electives for the students to take,” Dr. Alexander says. “Next year, I plan to teach Mechanical Engineering, in addition to continuing the successful Robotics course. This will help students earn their concentrations in Physics, as well as introduce them to more fun and cool applications of Physics.”
Health is an important factor at a residential high school. Physical education is a required course at ASMS, not only to provide students with constructive physical activity, but also for students to use an outlet from stress.
“I created a Fitness Instructor directed research course to prepare interested students with the necessary information and skills to become a group fitness instructor,” PE Instructor Angel Jackson says. “The course resulted in a student fitness showcase and a weekly student-led yoga course on Wednesday nights.”
Coach Jackson (pictured above) has been creating and fostering a positive environment that motivates students to engage in physical activity for a lifetime.
The Humanities, such as English and History, are as important as the STEM programs at ASMS. Dr. Karen Smith (pictured right), who recently had her chapter proposal accepted for upcoming book Approaches to Teaching Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishmentto be published by the Modern Language Association, directs her focus on helping ASMS “students prepare for writing, research, and critical thinking tasks in college.” She achieves this through the teaching of literature and rhetorical texts.
Diane Gerard (pictured left) is one of the long-time ASMS instructors, teaching progressive History classes such as Western Thought, a class that interprets dominant strands of western thought and allows students to understand world-views and intellectual constructs shared by contemporaries across Europe and over centuries before the Scientific Revolution.
Fine Arts are essential to the development of cultural and social skills in our youth. ASMS Fine Arts Instructor Martha Mozer (pictured left) cultivates our students in the understanding of music, choir, and theatre. Mozer has managed a touring opera company and holds a master’s in both Voice and Opera Theatre Direction from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has been a member of the Alabama Vocal Association (AVA), who sponsors the All-State Choir, for 17 years now. She has been taking students from ASMS to the auditions since first coming to the school in 2007.
The Biology Department at ASMS has a variety of classes, allowing students to have a diverse way of learning and a better understanding of the study of life. ASMS Marine Biology instructor Alison Rellinger (pictured left) was awarded a grant from The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to create a curriculum for sea level rise. Along with Rellinger’s grant, she created a Directed Studies course this year, Oceanography, which she hopes to teach next year as well.
Dr. Natalie Ortell (pictured above, right) teaches a variety of Biology classes and also has taken part in the 2019 Special Projects week, where she took 31 students to Costa Rica.
“It was incredible to see how much the students fell in love with the experience, culture, people, and environment of Costa Rica,” Dr. Ortell says.
Dr. Ortell plans to integrate what her students learn from her classes into their everyday reality.
“My plans for the classroom are to keep integrating real-life data and analysis everyone I can,” Ortell says. “My goal is to give students the tools they need to be science literate citizens. Maybe they don’t go into a STEM field, but hopefully they will have a interest in all the cool and exciting science happening today.”
Mathematics at ASMS holds a high standard, one which the instructors uphold gracefully.
ASMS Alumna Sarah Brewer (pictured left) is one such mathematics instructor at ASMS who has taken the study of mathematics to a whole new level. She has recently decided to go back to school to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science.
“I have already started translating some of my experiences as a student into my teaching, and I look forward to being able to continue to share my newfound knowledge with my students,” Brewer says.
Brewer also embraces the beauty that mathematics can offer and has been chosen to present her work at various galleries.
“I have been chosen as one of the featured presenters for this year’s Alabama Arts Alliance SAIL conference in June, where I will be teaching artful mathematics,” Brewer says. “I am also featured in two art exhibits during the month of April: the group ceramics exhibit currently on display in the ASMS gallery, and a solo geometric drawing exhibit at the Artists’ Place Gallery in West Mobile.”
Another mathematics instructor to note is Meoshe Williams (pictured right). Williams is also an alumna of ASMS, who mainly teaches our incoming students, preparing them for the mathematically paved road ahead.
“Since the majority of my students are new to ASMS this year, I hope to encourage them to move forward in taking additional upper-level math courses/electives,” Williams says. “My goal is to prepare them for success in those courses by making sure they understand the material in their prerequisite courses.”
Natalya Prokhorova (pictured left) is another one of ASMS’s long-time and inspiring mathematics instructors. She, along with Brewer, started the ASMS Math Festival inviting students to come to campus and enjoy a day of mathematical fun!
Chemistry is another Science field that ASMS holds to a high standard. Dr. Elisa Rambo (pictured below) is not only trained as an instructor but in industry. For 18 years, Dr. Rambo worked as a research and development chemist, 10 of which she owned and operated a small research and formulation company.
“Having had that experience in Applied Chemistry, I make it a priority to provide my students with a complete academic experience that includes not just college preparation, but career expectations,” Rambo says. “My teaching philosophy is to support the intellectual and personal growth of my students by providing them with a challenging academic environment interwoven with positive reinforcement. I tell my students that my classroom is a safe place to fail and that we really only learn when we fail. So I will continue to develop a Confucian approach to education, ‘glory is never failing, but in rising every time we fail’, and to encourage students to realize their own potential and path.”
Dr. Rambo keeps the students of ASMS’s future in mind by helping provide the means to update lab equipment.
“Recently I helped the Development Office obtain a donation from Crampton Trust to purchase a research-grade Fourier Transform Infrared spectrophotometer (FTIR), an instrument utilized by graduate students and research companies,” Rambo says. “It is important that our students receive not only an elevated academic experience but also experience with an insight into the expectations of a STEM career.”
The Computer Science department is a developing and necessary part of the Alabama School of Math and Science’s repertoire. The department’s future looks bright, because of the dedication of the instructors. One such instructor is Deborah Gray (pictured right). Grey, new to ASMS this year, is a 2019 NCWIT Educator Award winner, the ASMS CyberDragons coach and has a reputable background, in education and industry.
Grey’s aspirations for her classroom are to generate excitement learning and problem-solving, “to encourage students with little to no computer science knowledge that programming and understanding the science of computing is relevant to all industries, to create engaging, interactive, student-centered lessons and projects, and to encourage students that have more experience to use their knowledge to extend beyond what is assigned with creativity and to collaborate with students that need extra help.”
Foreign Languages at ASMS are an intricate and culturally-enriching part of the curriculum. Two of our instructors Muriel Hoequist (right) and Heather Summey (left) are making sure that our students become well-rounded individuals before they leave ASMS.
Heather Summey is new to the ASMS Foreign Languages Department and has already made a huge impact. This year Summey has assisted in the Spanish Exchange program, changing the lives of students from Seville, Spain and ASMS.
Hoequist is the ASMS German instructor and Coordinator for our German exchange program on campus. Her goal with the exchange program is to cultivate the “classroom environment and social life on campus for all ASMS students.”
“My German program has grown and almost doubled at the entry levels at ASMS, so my goal is to keep an ever-growing group of learners motivated and energized, while they can also enjoy the satisfaction of excelling in the state- and national comparison (Most students test in the 90th percentile nationally on National Exams every year and therefore consistently rank first, second or third in Alabama. This often qualifies them for a free study trip to Germany),” Hoequist says.