About Us

UChicago STEM Education, a center in the University of Chicago’s Physical Science Division, continues the University’s long-standing commitment to improving precollege education and aims to support high quality instruction and learning for all students.

UChicago STEM Education is a center devoted to research and development that resides within the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) of the University of Chicago. Formerly the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, UChicago STEM Ed continues the University of Chicago’s long-standing commitment to improving precollege education and aims to support high quality mathematics and science instruction and learning for all students. Through the sharing of knowledge and the creation of useful products and programs, UChicago STEM Education seeks to make a positive difference for mathematics, science, computer science, and financial education instruction throughout the nation.

UChicago STEM Education’s work comprises three components: (1) Tool Development, (2) Research & Evaluation, and (3) School Support Services. Separately, each of these components is a necessary part of educational improvement. Together, they constitute a rigorous, comprehensive approach to supporting high quality education.

Our Commitments to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • We will be intentional, systematic, proactive, and transparent about prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our portfolio of work, including planning and decision-making around projects, partnerships, and funders.
  • We will use asset- rather than deficit-based approaches in our language and actions. We will identify and challenge racist, discriminatory, and exclusionary language and practices in all aspects of our work, including our work in schools, within the University, and with other partner organizations.
  • We will educate ourselves about institutionalized systems of discrimination and oppression, and identify how these systems affect our work.
  • We will make concerted and systematic efforts to improve our intellectual power by increasing the diversity of our staff and partnering with others who broaden our perspective, with a special focus on building those relationships for long-term durability.

Meet the Staff

Abner Bardeguez

School Support Manager


Jorge Abner Bardeguez-Delgado began his career as a middle grades math bilingual teacher in Cicero, Illinois where he taught for twelve years in its bilingual program. During that time, he received the Jaime Escalante Award from the Festival Latino del Libro y la Familia, and served as Mathematics Teacher Leader, contributing to the West Cook Mathematics Initiative. Abner joined UChicago STEM Education as Teacher-In-Residence in 2013 to form part of the Grade 6 author team as one of its lead contributors on the fourth edition of Everyday Mathematics.

Abner is currently a member of UChicago STEM Education School Support Services team. He serves as a coach for the Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative, supporting teachers in the implementation of Everyday Mathematics. He also develops and provides professional development for teachers, teacher leaders, administrators and parents. Abner holds bachelor’s degrees from Oklahoma State University, and master’s degrees from Indiana University and Northern Illinois University.

Janet Beissinger

School Development Director

Janet is a School Development Director at UChicago STEM Education and an emerita professor in the Mathematics Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She has been the Principal Investigator of a series of NSF grants that have funded the CryptoClub project to develop materials to teach cryptography and mathematics, including two middle-grade texts, the website cryptoclub.org, and related digital games. She has taught graduate and undergraduate mathematics courses at UIC, seventh grade in the National Teacher Corps, and numerous teacher workshops. In addition to the CryptoClub books and website, she is a senior author of the NSF-funded K-5 Math Trailblazers curriculum. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B. A. from Cornell University.

Sarah Burns

Senior Curriculum Developer


Sarah is a Senior Curriculum Developer and School Development Manager at UChicago STEM Education. Since joining the Center in 2007, Sarah has contributed to a wide variety of projects, on topics ranging from elementary mathematics to financial literacy to teacher interventions for improving the quality of classroom conversations. Sarah is an Everyday Mathematics author, and led the development and writing of the Grade 6 Common Core State Standards edition of Everyday Mathematics and the Grade 5 Everyday Mathematics 4 student and teacher materials. Sarah is a member of the leadership team for CryptoClub, a project that develops materials to teach cryptography and mathematics to middle school students. Sarah has also had the opportunity to teach, coach, and design and deliver professional development in a wide variety of schools and settings. Sarah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, both from the University of Pennsylvania.

Becky Criollo

School Support Manager, Curriculum Developer


Becky Criollo joined the UChicago STEM Education team in 2020 after ten years of teaching dual language Kindergarten and 1st grade in Chicago Public Schools. She has provided professional development for teachers on a variety of math topics in schools around Chicago and across the country.

Becky provides long-term coaching support for elementary math teachers and works with math leadership teams to develop and achieve goals to improve mathematics teaching and learning. She works with the Everyday Mathematics author team and previously collaborated on state editions of Kindergarten Everyday Mathematics.

Becky holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry-Biology and Spanish from Ripon College and a Master of Arts in Reading from Concordia University Chicago. She holds ESL and bilingual endorsements.

Nikki Devens

School Support Manager


Nikki Devens is a member of the University of Chicago STEM Education School Support Services Team. She previously taught for five years in the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she taught third and fourth grade and worked on the school leadership team. While on the leadership team, she provided instructional support to teachers, mentored new staff members and created data-based PLC’s. She also served as a Professional Development Leader for the Everyday Math curriculum for third grade teachers for three years, providing support on content and implementation for teachers across the Archdiocese of Chicago. Nikki has a MEd in Elementary Education and a BA in History from Loyola University of Chicago.

Jeanne Di Domenico

School Support Manager
Curriculum Developer


Jeanne Di Domenico joined UChicago STEM Education in 2013 after teaching for 12 years in Chicago elementary schools. She works on a range of projects in both curriculum development and school support services for mathematics, science and engineering.

Jeanne creates and facilitates professional development and provides coaching support for elementary school teachers across the STEM disciplines. She works closely with school-based leadership teams to help them develop goals and implement plans to improve teaching and learning. Jeanne also teaches math content and pedagogy courses for teachers as a part of the Elementary Math Specialist project and has taught Elementary Science Methods for preservice teachers through the UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program. Jeanne is trained to lead professional development for the Engineering is Elementary curriculum and CryptoClub. She has taught both Engineering and Cryptography at the UChicago STEM Education South Side STEM Camp.

Jeanne has worked on the author teams for both the Everyday Mathematics 4 and Science Companion curricula. She has also worked to develop curriculum for the UChicago STEM Education summer camps and to develop interdisciplinary units integrating computer science for elementary schools in Broward County Public Schools.

Jeanne holds a BA in Mathematics from Carleton College and a MS in Elementary Education from Northwestern University. She holds endorsements for Middle Grades Mathematics and Science.

Amy Dillard

Senior Curriculum Developer

Amy L. Dillard received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. She taught elementary school for four years at Hoffman School in Glenview, Illinois. In 1994, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics Education from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

Ms. Dillard worked as a Teacher-in-Residence with the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) from 1994 to 1997. She was involved in the development of the commercial publication of the first edition of Fourth Grade Everyday Mathematics, as well as the field testing and commercial publication of the first editions of Fifth Grade Everyday Mathematics and Sixth Grade Everyday Mathematics. Ms. Dillard worked from 1997 to 2001 as one of the authors of the second editions of Everyday Mathematics K–6 and then served as the Associate Director of Everyday Mathematics, Third Edition. She recently completed work on the fourth edition of Fourth Grade Everyday Mathematics. Ms. Dillard is currently a Curriculum Developer for the Magnetar Capital UChicago Financial Education Initiative.

Donna Eatinger

School Development Specialist


Meri Fohran

Human Resources and Financial Manager


Diana Franklin

Director of Computer Science Education


Martin Gartzman

Senior Associate


Martin Gartzman recently retired as Executive Director of UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago. At UC STEM Ed, Gartzman participated in a range of projects involving professional development for teachers and administrators, and curriculum development. He also served on the author team for development of the Everyday Mathematics.

From 2006 through 2010, he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director for High School Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he coordinated the university's work with UIC College Prep, a charter high school established in 2008 in partnership with the Noble Street Charter School. As a Faculty Associate at UIC's Learning Sciences Research Institute since 2006, Gartzman established several funded projects. In 2007, he brought together a team of leading researchers, developers, and practitioners to establish the Algebra Intensification Project, which led to the development of Agile Mind's Intensified Algebra I; from 2007 through 2010, Gartzman served as the project's principal investigator. In 2009, he founded and served as principal investigator for two "sister initiatives"—the West Cook Mathematics Initiative and the South Cook Mathematics Initiative—that are working with 33 school districts in west and south Cook County to develop regionally based mathematics improvement strategies.

From 2006 through 2010, with Susan Hull and Uri Treisman of the Charles A. Dana Center of the University of Texas at Austin, he co-directed the Dana Center's Urban Mathematics Leadership Network, a network of the mathematics directors from 22 of the country's largest school districts.

From 2002 through 2006, Gartzman served as the Chicago Public Schools Chief Mathematics and Science Officer, where he developed and directed the Chicago Math and Science Initiative (CMSI), the district's highly respected program for mathematics and science improvement.

From 1986 through 2002, he served in several capacities at UIC, including 12 years as Associate Director of UIC's Institute for Mathematics and Science Education, which Gartzman co-founded with mathematician Philip Wagreich and physicist Howard Goldberg in 1990.

Gartzman has developed and served in senior leadership capacities with many grant-funded projects involving mathematics and science curriculum development and teacher professional development and has served in advisory roles with many projects and organizations. From 1978 through 1986, Gartzman taught biology and directed the bilingual program at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago.

Andy Isaacs

Director 2002-2021,
UCSMP Director 2019-2021


Andy Isaacs received a BA in classical Greek from Northwestern University in 1974, an MST in elementary education from the University of Chicago in 1977, and a DA in mathematics (with concentrations in abstract algebra and theoretical computer science) from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 1994. From 1977 until 1985, Isaacs taught fourth and fifth grades in Chicago-area public schools. In 1985, he joined the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at UIC as a lecturer in mathematics education. Beginning in 1986, Isaacs worked on the NSF-funded Teaching Integrated Mathematics and Science Project (TIMS) at UIC, which was directed by Philip Wagreich and Howard Goldberg. In 1989 and 1990, he worked with Wagreich and David Page on UIC's Maneuvers with Mathematics Project, another NSF-funded curriculum development effort. From 1990 to 1995, he was a full time writer for Math Trailblazers, a comprehensive curriculum for grades K-5 based on TIMS and funded by NSF.

In 1995, Isaacs joined the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project to work on the Bridges to Classroom Mathematics Project, which was directed by Sheila Sconiers. Isaacs was an author on the second edition of Everyday Mathematics (© 2000 and 2001). Since the late 1990s, Isaacs has directed a series of teacher development projects funded by grants and contracts from the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Chicago Public Schools, and school districts across the nation. He has also led the development of all recent editions of Everyday Mathematics, including the third edition (© 2007), the California and Texas editions (© 2008), and the Common Core State Standards edition (© 2012). He is co-director of UChicago STEM Education at the University of Chicago and a Senior Research Associate in the University's Physical Sciences Division.

Susan Krause

School Development Specialist


Debbie Leslie

Director of Education Outreach, Curriculum Development, and Early Childhood Initiatives


Debbie Leslie has been connected with UChicago STEM Education since 1992, when she worked on a longitudinal study of Everyday Mathematics while a graduate student at the University of Chicago. After spending 11 years as a classroom teacher, she returned to UC STEM Ed full time in 2004. At the Center, Debbie draws on her math and science background, as well as her interests and expertise in early childhood education, professional development, curriculum development, and organizational leadership to work on a wide range of projects. In recent years, Debbie’s work has included teaching math and science methods courses to pre-service teachers in the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program, leading the Everyday Mathematics early childhood team for the 3rd and 4th editions, developing early childhood STEM curriculum materials and programs for teachers and families, collaborating with UChicago faculty on multiple research and development projects, and designing and leading several long-term partnerships with schools focused on improving mathematics teaching and learning school-wide. These partnerships have included support and mentoring for administrators and leadership teams, as well as coaching and other professional development for teachers.

In partnership with colleagues at Erikson University and UChicago STEM Education, Debbie was part of the group that convened the Early Childhood STEM Working Group from 2014–16 and produced the Working Group’s Early STEM Matters report. She has also co-written published multiple chapters and articles on leadership for mathematics reforms in elementary schools and a chapter on innovations in elementary-school science curriculum development.

Debbie has a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics from Yale University, a Master of Science in Teaching from the University of Chicago, and is a doctoral candidate in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Rebecca Maxcy

Director and Principal Investigator, UChicago Financial Education Initiative


Rebecca Maxcy is the Director and Co-Principal Investigator for the Magnetar Capital UChicago Financial Education Initiative at UChicago STEM Education. In addition, she is one of the authors of Everyday Mathematics and led a team that developed the fourth edition and Common Core State Standards edition. She was part of a team that developed the Everyday Mathematics third edition and various state specific editions. Maxcy provides professional development and consultation to support the implementation of Everyday Mathematics. Prior to joining UChicago STEM Education, Maxcy taught in Chicago Public Schools, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Poland Springs, Maine. Maxcy trained resident teachers at the Chicago Academy, in addition to being adjunct faculty at National Louis University. Maxcy earned a Master’s in Education from Lesley University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bates College.

Cheryl Moran

Senior Curriculum Developer


As a senior curriculum developer, Cheryl Moran is an author of Grade 2 fourth edition, the Common Core State Standards edition and the third edition Everyday Mathematics and co-author of Everyday Mathematics My Reference Book. She has also written after-school materials aligned to Everyday Mathematics, developed and implemented workshops for in-service teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators at both the local and national levels. She is a member of the CryptoClub leadership team and has trained club trainers, led CryptoClubs in both after-school and online settings and contributed to the development and revision of the current online CryptoClub training modules. She is a senior leader of a NSF project to build a virtual learning community for elementary mathematics teachers. This project has resulted in a community of over 62,000 educators networking and reflecting on their practice in a digital space. She is currently the Co-PI for an NSF-funded project to investigate the design and practice of effective online video-based learning communities (VLCs) for teachers and the Co-PI for a James Smith McDonnell Foundation funded project that supports teachers in implementing effective classroom communication. Previously, she was a staff member on an NSF-funded project to develop computer science learning trajectories for elementary mathematics and an NSF-funded project to bring AP Computer Science Principles to students with learning disabilities and/or an ADHD. Cheryl has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master's degree in teaching from National College in Evanston, Illinois. She began her career with 8 years as an elementary school teacher in both public and private schools.

Breanne Novak

School Support Manager


Breanne Novak is a member of the UChicago STEM Education School Support Services team. Before joining the team, Breanne taught for six years in the Archdiocese of Chicago, during which time she taught both first and second grade. She has also served as a math leader for her schools and supported teachers through coaching cycles and monthly professional development and collaboration. Since 2018, Breanne has also helped lead professional development sessions for the Everyday Mathematics curriculum for first and second grade teachers across schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Breanne holds an MEd in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago, a BA in Psychology from Rockhurst University, and has completed coursework for a certification as an Elementary Mathematics Specialist at the University of Chicago.

Elizabeth Olin

Curriculum Developer

Jen Palmer

Curriculum Developer


Jen works as a School Development Associate doing computer science and science curriculum development for elementary-aged students. She also loves working with teachers to improve teaching and learning through professional development and classroom coaching. She holds a Master's Degree in Elementary Education from Northwestern University, as well as an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Linguistics and Computer Science.

Denise Porter

Director of Education Outreach


Denise Porter has worked at UChicago STEM Education Since 2004. She works with students, teachers, principals and district leaders to strive for high-quality teaching and learning of mathematics. She is the PI for the Big Shoulders Fund Mathematics Initiative. The initiative involves working with over 20 Chicago Catholic Schools with the end goal of developing sustainable structures in order to build capacity for school-based math leadership teams comprised of administrators and teacher leaders. Porter is also the Co-PI for an MSP grant partnership with Champaign Unit 4 Schools. Porter has also served as PI for the 2018 Southside Summer STEM Camp, which provide a platform for children to build passion and confidence in STEM fields through a deep dive into targeted content and foster growth mindset ideals.

Porter provides extensive mathematics professional development and coaching in Chicagoland area and throughout the United States. She works with district leaders to build a comprehensive professional development and coaching plans that best meet the needs of the district. She has also taught pre-service math methods courses in the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) and also teaches courses for inservice teachers in the Elementary Mathematics Specialist masters degree program.

Denise holds a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Iowa State University and a Masters of Education from the University of Houston.

Toi Smith

School Support Manager, Curriculum Developer


Toi Smith joined the UChicago STEM Education team in 2020 after thirteen years of teaching at the UChicago Charter School- North Kenwood Oakland Campus where she taught fourth and fifth grades. Prior to joining UChicago STEM Education, Toi participated in the Principal and Teacher Leadership Institute to support North Kenwood Oakland in the development of school goals and plans around high-quality mathematics teaching and learning. While working as math coach, she also led the Cross-Campuses Math Collaborative and supported PK through 5th grade teachers within the UChicago network in developing and facilitating tasks that promote productive struggle in mathematics.

Toi provides long-term coaching support and professional development for elementary math teachers and school administrators to help them develop goals, implement plans and recognize effective classroom practices that promote and support high-quality teaching and learning. She is also a member of the Everyday Mathematics team and recently authored several Grade 4 Independent-Non Routine problems that support rich tasks and mathematical reasoning.

Toi holds a BA in Science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, an MS in Elementary Education from Concordia University-Riverforest and has completed coursework as an Elementary Math Specialist at the University of Chicago.

Carla Strickland

Digital Development Manager


Carla Strickland is a Digital Curriculum Developer at UChicago STEM Education. She led the author-side digital team for Fourth Edition Everyday Mathematics, incorporating dynamic geometry and mathematics software into the curriculum and managing all issues related to technology use, classroom implementation, and the design, development, and testing of the EM4 digital platform. Carla joined the UChicago STEM Education group (formerly CEMSE) in 2011, after wrapping up her work on the third edition of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) secondary textbooks.

Her current NSF-funded STEM+C project, Learning Trajectories for Everyday Computing (LTEC) aims to develop learning trajectories, illustrative activities, and curriculum for integrating computer science and computational thinking into K–5 mathematics. She has co-presented results for this and EM4 digital development work at several research and practitioner-oriented conferences, including (NCTM, ICTM, SIGCSE, AERA, and ICMT 2).

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Carla spent several years teaching and developing mathematics curriculum at the primary, secondary, and tertiary level in Trinidad, as head instructor of The School of Mathematics. She is proud to bring an international perspective and Caribbean flavor to her work at UChicago STEM Education.

Denisse Thompson

Director of Evaluation

Zalman Usiskin

UCSMP Director, 1987-2019

Alison Whittington

Executive Director


Alison Whittington has been a part of the UChicago STEM Education team since 2011 and has worked extensively on a range of projects to support teachers, administrators, and other leaders to improve teaching and learning.

Alison collaborates with school and district leaders to develop and execute customized professional development and coaching plans that best meet the needs of the school or district. She provides instructional coaching to PreK through 8th grade teachers and has developed many professional development programs including the Coaching Academy, Professional Development Leadership Academy, and Teacher University.

Alison has co-designed and taught mathematics and pedagogy courses to current elementary teachers seeking to develop their content expertise in elementary mathematics. She has also taught pre-service math methods through the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program.

Alison joined the UChicago STEM Education team with more than ten years of experience as a bilingual teacher, elementary mathematics specialist, and mathematics facilitator in the Chicago Public Schools. Alison holds an EdD in educational leadership from National-Louis University, an MEd in instructional leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BA in mathematics and elementary education from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Amanda Zimolzak

School Support Manager


Amanda Zimolzak joined the UChicago STEM Education team in 2011. Amanda works to create and facilitate school and district based mathematics professional development. She has developed and facilitated a coaching academy aimed at increasing instructional coaches’ abilities to support high-quality mathematics instruction. Amanda has also worked with the UChicago STEM Education team to develop and implement Summer Math Camps and Teacher University.

Amanda has worked with individual schools to support pre-kindergarten through sixth grade teachers in their mathematics implementation through classroom coaching cycles. Within this school based development, she has also worked to identify, develop and support teacher leaders, as well as math leadership teams. Amanda also serves as a project manager for a Chicago based cohort of 25 parochial schools working together to improve math instruction in their schools.

Prior to joining the UChicago STEM Education team, Amanda taught elementary grades 3-5 for 11 years, worked as her school’s math lead teacher, and as a facilitator of Everyday Mathematics professional development for teachers in Chicago Public Schools. Amanda holds a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Arts in Special Education/Learning Behavior Specialist degree from Northeastern Illinois University, and a Middle Grades Math Endorsement from the Boeing Scholars Program at Loyola University.