Professional Development

Quality professional development is crucial for the success of IQWST because the program invites teachers to rethink previous practices, construct new expectations for student outcomes, and teach in ways they may not have taught before as classroom discourse and pushing student thinking take center stage.

IQWST professional development is fully customized to meet the needs of the district or school. The initial professional development is designed to support teachers by modeling lessons in order to demonstrate pacing, investigation procedures, and discussion of the sort that students will experience every day. Teachers engage in the experience of IQWST (its pedagogy and practices) as both a learner and a teacher as questioning strategies; literacy and vocabulary building strategies that include reading, writing, speaking, and listening; and use of embedded assessments all prepare teachers to implement lessons successfully. Active use of investigation materials during PD enables teachers to experience the phenomena first-hand, as well as to see how to organize and confidently create a classroom culture for optimal learning.

While the initial professional development is delivered in person in a one-day or two-day model, by Educational Resource Specialists who are content specialists and award-winning teachers, we also support a train-the-trainers model so that a district or school can build its capacity to maintain the program using its own qualified educators as teacher leaders.


Meet Our PD Team

Heather Milo

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Heather Milo is a former middle school science teacher with nearly 10 years of experience in both formal and informal science education spaces. She has worked in public and private middle school classrooms, serviced urban and rural school communities, and taught advanced science classes at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth summer program. Heather earned her Master of Science in Science Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, during which she mentored preservice teachers and researched practicing teachers in IQWST classrooms. Her research on teacher learning, and authentic and meaningful science pedagogy continues to drive her work at Activate Learning as the Professional Development Manager and Curriculum and Instruction Specialist.

Christine "Chris" Gleason

For 44 years, Chris taught high school and middle school science, and in June 2016, retired after 30 years at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, MI. Upon her retirement, the Greenhills Renewable Energy Display was formally renamed the Gleason Renewable Energy Display, “in appreciation for the countless hours Chris and Jim Gleason dedicated to its development to promote sustainability….” Throughout her career, Chris has been a frequent presenter and workshop leader at NSTA and other conferences, including as an invited participant in the International Energy Summit in Boston (2013) and as a participant selected for the Japan Teacher Exchange Program: Education for Sustainable Development (2010). Chris has also received several awards including a “Teacher of the Year award for Math/Science” from the University of Michigan chapter of Sigma Xi (2010), co-recipient of a Greenhills School “Teacher of the Year” award (2002), and a Vernier Technology Award (2014). Chris was one of the original pilot teachers during the development of IQWST, and is excited to share her passion for IQWST as part of the Activate Learning team!


Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson has twenty-two years of experience teaching science to 6-9 grade students, focusing much of her time with 7th graders. Although she spent most of her time in science she started her career teaching student with behavioral disorders and learning disabilities and has taught math, social studies, and English Language Arts. For most of her career Wendy served as the science department chair and 7th grade team leader. She also lead the middle school science monthly professional development for her school district and has been nominated by her district for the Science Teacher of the Year for the state of Wisconsin on two occasions.  Wendy enjoys working and collaborating with other teachers - both new and experienced - as she served as a district mentor and cooperating teacher.  Wendy holds a MS in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and a MS in Teaching Geoscience.

Karin Klein, PhD

Karin Klein has been a middle school educator for 10 years, teaching in a private school outside Chicago. Prior to embarking on her career as a middle school teacher, Karin was on the research faculty in Northwestern University's Department of Preventive Medicine (starting 1995), and worked as a Senior Scientist and Project Manager at a successful biotech start-up company (starting 2001). Karin has been using the IQWST curriculum in her classroom since 2009. As a career scientist and as an educator, she is delighted to be able to help bring the IQWST teaching and learning model into more classrooms. In addition to her teaching degree, Karin holds a PhD in Microbiology/Immunology from Northwestern University.

Leigh Kohlmann

Leigh Kohlmann brings 30 years of dynamic teaching experience to the IQWST Professional Development Team. Her passion and pedagogical strength is teaching science to middle school students, because she thrives on their energy, renewed sense of curiosity, and quirkiness. Leigh has earned a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in educational technology, developed effective and balanced assessment programs with the Wisconsin Assessment Consortium, and participated in several vetted state-level Next Generations Science Standards (NGSS) leadership programs, including Next Generation Science for Wisconsin. She is a member of Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) conference board and is an active WSST presenter. Leigh has also led workshops for National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA), Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and Wisconsin Association for Middle Level Education, and has served her colleagues as a science coach. She has been recognized for her educational excellence and innovation as a 2004 Kohl Fellow and is currently a state finalist for the 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education.

Jessica Kron

Jessica Kron graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in elementary education and a concentration in science education.  For the past several years, she has taught 7th and 8th grade science in the far northern suburbs of Chicago.  While continuing to teach full time, Jessica is currently pursing a master's degree in educational leadership at Northeastern Illinois University. She was chosen by her district-level administrator to be an IQWST trainer for new teachers being hired in the district, and that train-the-trainer experience was her initial start as an IQWST professional development facilitator. Jessica says that she loves being an IQWST facilitator as, "It allows me to share my passion for science education" with teachers in her own school and across the country.

Alexandra Krucas

Alexandra Krucas began her adventure in education in 2008 after receiving a Bachelors of Science in Geosciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the field coordinator for Colorado Museum of the West’s Dinosaur Journey program, where teaching participants about paleontological field work sparked her interest in education. Alex then traveled to Tanzania with an educational outreach group that focused on National Park conservation, and following that, she spent a year teaching outdoor education in the field for the Houston School District in Texas. After completing her teaching degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alex began her career teaching high school and middle school science in Alaska, in a district north of the arctic circle. She currently teaches middle school science, using the IQWST curriculum, in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Chanel Maloney, M.Ed

Chanel Maloney earned an M.Ed in Educational Leadership and Administration From Wayne State University in 2009, with a focus on curriculum and instruction.  She began her career as a high school science teacher, but has taught middle school science since. For 12 years, she has served as Lead Science Teacher and Professional Learning Community Leader in her school in Detroit, Michigan. She is the school coordinator for Project Healthy Schools at the University of Michigan, and is a mentor with the Teacher Preparation Program at Wayne State University. Chanel is an often-requested pilot teacher, piloting lessons, for example, from the IDE version of IQWST, and lessons from the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA). 

Chanel has earned "Academic Excellence" awards from 2010-2016 for her students' outstanding performance on MAP Science, with over 87% of her students meeting or exceed target growth goals in science every year. In 2012, she earned the "ACT Explore Science Achievement" award for having the highest science scores in the district. Chanel describes her students' success, given rising test scores across all 7 years that she has used IQWST, as a key reason that while she still teaches every day, she has joined the Activate Learning team to help more teachers and their students have a successful IQWST experience!

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Karen Mesmer, PhD

Dr. Karen Mesmer has a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction-Science Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has 33 years of classroom experience. She has also been a science coach, working with implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in grades K-12 in the Baraboo School District in Wisconsin. As a National Science Teachers Association NGSS curator who evaluates resources, she has gained insight into the NGSS. She is the author of many articles for science teacher magazines, two book chapters and has presented at over 20 state and national science teacher conventions. Her awards include the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Education, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Kohl Fellowship and the Ohaus award for innovation in science education.

Scott Sander, PhD

Scott Sander is a Clinical Faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he teaches courses in science education. Scott looks to prepare teachers who are able to engage in the exploration of phenomena with students and to help them make meaning of their surroundings.  It's these key aspects of scientific literacy that Scott sees in the IQWST curriculum and that attracted him to the Activate Learning team.  Scott holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Miami University. 

Marilyn Schmidt

Marilyn Schmidt is an award-winning instructor with over 30 years of teaching experience in grades 6-12. She is Past President of the Colorado Biology Teachers Association, a recipient of Colorado’s Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Biology Teachers Association. Marilyn focuses on helping teachers to develop their students into learners who gather and analyze data,think critically, and build understanding. In addition to facilitating PD with teachers implementing IQWST and Active Science, Marilyn leads inquiry-based workshops and presentations at national and local conferences, including NSTA and NABT.

Diane Wright


Diane Wright has been an educator for over 40 years. She has Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Education, and began her career teaching learning disabled and emotionally impaired middle school students. She then transitioned into teaching elementary and then middle school students in language arts and science. She was active in her school’s school improvement team, was a professional development facilitator in her districts, and was trained in cognitive coaching. In 2010, she was named district Teacher of the Year. During the summer, Diane has taught university graduate courses in collaborative learning and multiple intelligences.

Diane believes in inspiring others to become critical thinkers, active learners, and engaged achievers. Her career has been, and continues to be, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, character, and creativity through collaboration and inquiry.