PEER Physics Leadership Team
The people working hard behind the scene.
Valerie Otero is a Professor of Science Education, specializing in Physics Education Research. She is co-founder and executive director of the Colorado Learning Assistant program, the International Learning Assistant Alliance, and CU Boulder’s Center for STEM Learning. Dr. Otero has advised the National Academy of Sciences and NASA on issues in undergraduate physics education and physics teacher preparation. Her innovative instructional models have spread throughout the world, reaching hundreds of universities throughout the U.S. and in China, India, Ireland, Singapore, and Turkey. Dr. Otero has been recognized by the American Physical Society for her contributions to physics education and she has published in Physical Review, Physics Today, and the American Journal of Physics. As a Chicana, first generation college student, she grew up working after school at her parent’s grocery store in Albuquerque, New Mexico and at her family’s booth at the New Mexico State Fair. As an undergraduate student, she began to see physics as a means for establishing empowerment and agency. She has since co-authored the college-level Physics and Everyday Thinking curriculum and the high school curriculum entitled Physics through Evidence: Empowerment through Reasoning for engaging students, especially those who might not otherwise have learned to love themselves through science. Otero also leads a software development group for managing and assessing innovative educational programs at colleges and universities throughout the globe.
Shelly Belleau is passionate about empowering students through the discipline of physics and inviting all students into an inclusive learning community. She uses teaching methods that engage students in scientific inductive reasoning and has published on how this pedagogical approach empowers students from groups that are underrepresented in the field of science. Shelly has taught high school physics, chemistry, and astronomy. She holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Education through the University of Denver and is a NSF Master Teaching Fellow. She served as the chair of the American Chemical Society’s Policy Board for ChemMatters and has worked on other ACS committees including the task force for forming the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). She is passionate about teacher leaderships and dedicates time to facilitating teacher workshops about scientific inquiry, collaborative discourse, and consensus building. Shelly leads the PEER Physics curriculum revision project and is intentional about using data and teacher feedback to guide the development and revision of PEER Physics materials. She is currently leading the collaborative effort to develop, evaluate, and revise of the PEER Physics three-dimensional assessments and engineering design challenges.
Emily Quinty cares deeply about inviting all students to participate in the process of inducing scientific principles from evidence and engaging in science practices, especially students who are traditionally underrepresented in science. She has experience teaching high school physics, earth science, biology, chemistry, computer programming and math in schools that serve culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse learners. She earned her undergraduate degree in Astrophysics from CU Boulder, became a Boettcher Teacher Resident, and graduated from the University of Denver with a Masters in Urban Education. As a NSF Master Teaching Fellow, Emily researched the impacts of explicit reflection prompts on learning and teaching, as well as identifying and analyzing actions of effective groups. Through her work as a staff developer at the Public Education and Business Coalition, Emily engages K-12 educators of all content areas across the country in discussions about our roles as stewards of transformative educational experiences. She facilitates workshops and professional development about math, science, literacy and numeracy. She supports teachers in transforming their instruction by utilizing the Cognitive Coaching® strategies. For PEER Physics, Emily leads the professional learning design and facilitation. She provides ongoing training for the PEER Physics facilitators and coaches. She also leads the development of the PEER Physics teacher’s guide and supporting resources.
Jon has worked for 30 years in education in Colorado. He was a founding teacher, and eventual Executive Director, of the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, one of the first Expeditionary Learning Schools in the country. Jon arrived on the PEER Physics team in 2019 after 10 years of building school and district partnerships as the Regional Director for EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning). As a former Physics teacher, Jon believes that learning occurs through a process that is inseparable from the world around us and true understanding is built by the accidental and purposeful experiences that we have. The PEER Physics suite aligns well by offering to teachers and students the learning space to make sense of new information, and challenges students to use evidence as a basis for concept development.
Jon’s career experiences also include working as the Director of Welby New Technology High School, Program Director for College Summit Colorado, Principal Leadership Facilitator with the Public Education and Business Coalition, Director of Education for Colorado Ocean Journey, teaching science, math and technology at various schools in the US and in India, and establishing a local chain of restaurants in the Denver area. For PEER Physics, Jon will be responsible for growing PEER Physics school and district partnerships and supporting PEER teachers and facilitators.