STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders

We are at a critical juncture for improving the STEM pipeline - the gap between available high-paying careers in STEM fields is far outpacing the number of viable candidates. Through the generosity of the Texas Instruments Foundation and a committed partnership between Dallas ISD and SMU, Dallas middle school teachers and administrators have the opportunity to advance their careers, become leaders in STEM integration, and ultimately develop the next generation of STEM professionals in the classroom. This collaboration is a three-year project that has been designed for the needs of Dallas ISD teachers and administrators and is a systems-level initiative with recruitment at the school and science department level. 

Outcomes of the Project

Our focus is on supporting students' success in science and STEM in school and beyond. Through this project, we focus on increasing student achievement in science, increasing student interest in STEM, and increasing students' persistence in STEM coursework. 

We achieve these goals by supporting teachers' professional knowledge and skills, and supporting campus administrators' instructional leadership skills. 


Components of the Project

We focus on three main groups of people: leaders, teachers, and students. 

With leaders, we focus on building their academic leadership in science skills to support teachers' professional development and organizational behaviors to support teachers and students. 

For teachers, we support their development of scientific content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge focused on inquiry-based practices and aim to increase teachers' confidence and competence. 

For the students impacted by this project, we will hone in on their achievement in science, their persistence in STEM courses, and their interest in science and STEM. 


Learn More

This project has begun considering schools for the Summer of 2018 and 2018-19 academic year. To find out more information, click here.


Our Team



The STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders was generously funded through a lead gift from the Texas Instruments Foundation. A key objective for the TI Foundation is to advance student interest and teacher development in STEM, and we look forward to working together on this project to improve the trajectory of STEM education for science educators and their students. 

The O'Donnell Foundation also supports the STEM Academy for Science Teachers & Leaders. The Foundation, started by Peter O'Donnell and his wife Edith, is one of the largest independent foundations in Dallas, and they have contributed generously to support science, math, and engineering programs among a variety of education initiatives. 

This collaboration of vested partners is committed to broadly improve educational opportunities for teachers, leaders, and students in Dallas. 



From Kayaks on the Trinity, Teachers Learn About Human Impact on North Texas Nature (KERA News)


SMU STEM Academy Launches DISD Teachers to New Heights (Dallas Innovates)


Teachers Kayak the Trinity River for Hands-on Learning (NBC 5 Video) 


DISD Teachers Learn to Engage Kids in Hands-on Science at SMU STEM Academy


Simmons, RME, Caruth Partnering with DISD and Texas Instruments Foundation to Invest in STEM Teachers


Contact Us

For more information about the project or how to participate, you can contact us at


Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller – Executive Director

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Dr. Annie Wright – Director of Evaluations

Annie is a Clinical Community psychologist and a program evaluator. Her content expertise covers community-based initiatives, out of school time settings, social and emotional learning, and systems for supporting large-scale social change interventions.

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Hiba Rahim – Assistant Director

Hiba has many years of experience working in the education sector, both internationally and domestically. Her other research interests include international education, pre and in-service teacher professional development, early literacy, and community involvement.

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Kathryn Canterbury – Assistant Dean for Grants and Research

Kathryn worked at SMU for 8 years before moving into the role of Assistant Dean for Grants and Research in 2011. She works with Principal Investigators in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education to manage pre and post-award activities while working closely with the Grant Accounting Office to ensure accurate fiscal accountability for the grants.

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Sitara Joseph – Evaluation Coordinator

Before joining CORE, Sitara worked for the Texas Obesity Research Center through a Centers for Disease Control funded grant dealing with childhood obesity research. Sitara currently performs data collection, management and analysis of different data including survey items, student-level data, observations, and interviews.

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Dr. Yetunde Zannou – Evaluation Project Manager

Yetunde conducts evaluations for education programs that promote equitable opportunities for underserved students. Before joining CORE, she was a postdoctoral fellow in math education and K-20 educator. Her interests include educational context and delivery systems’ impact on program success and technical assistance.

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Dr. Karen Bembry - Evaluation Project Manager

Prior to joining CORE, Karen spent 28 years in public education, with over 20 years in educational research and program evaluation. In her current role, Karen conducts program evaluations, creates qualitative instruments to collect data, and creates comprehensive reports to help clients evaluate the success of their programs.

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Dylan Farmer – Project Coordinator

Since earning a M.Ed. from SMU, Dylan has developed a strong interest in leveraging information collection and management processes for informed decision-making and helping students in underserved communities gain access to quality education and program services.

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Elisa Gallegos – Program Coordinator

Elisa has over 10 years of experience managing research projects, coordinating project activities, and creating and managing databases. Her interests include studying child development and learning through a neuropsychological lens and examining the systems involving children (e.g., schools, CPS).

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Pamela J. Bailey – Administrative Assistant

Pamela is responsible for CORE’s administrative and marketing functions. She has spent many years in the business sector as an executive-level corporate recruiter. Pamela is an experienced adjunct professor, teaching English and World Literature. She is a published author.

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Evelyn Day – Librarian

Evelyn Day is a research librarian at Fondren Library Center, Southern Methodist University’s main library. Day is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Common Reading Committee. She is one of the organizers for SMU’s Living Library.

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Dr. Scott Baker

Dr. Baker joined SMU’s Center on Research and Evaluation in 2013. He has been a Principal Investigator on 30 federally funded grants totaling over 57 million dollars. Dr. Baker is interested in the impact of interventions on child outcomes, mechanisms that underlie effective interventions, and how intervention impact varies by factors intrinsic and extrinsic to the child.

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