Teacher Leaders



Darby Feldwinn

Chemistry and SciTrek; UCSB


Darby is one of the co-directors of the SCSP and director and founder of SciTrek. At UCSB she teaches classes in both the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as well as Education. As director of SciTrek she is often seen in local 2nd - 5th grade classrooms helping carry out long-term science investigations. In her free time she can be found hanging out with her dogs, gardening, or corralling her chickens, turkeys, and geese.

Mandi de Witte

AP Biology, Honors Biology, Environmental Science; Carpinteria High School, Carpinteria


Mandi is a proud UCSB Gaucho alumni with her B.S. in Microbiology and M.Ed. in Science Education. Mandi is the 2019 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, and she currently serves as Science Department Chair at Carpinteria High School, where she teaches AP Biology, Environmental Science, and Honors Biology. She LOVES working with high school students! Before joining the CUSD team, she taught for 6 years in Ventura Unified, splitting her time between teaching Biology at Buena High School and Will Rogers Elementary as the K-5 Science Specialist. Working with the Will Rogers K-5 teacher team to design and implement NGSS-aligned, inquiry-based, and hands-on science lessons led to her involvement in the South Coast Science Project. She joined SCSP in 2014 as a teacher leader and life science content specialist, and has served as co-director since 2016. Mandi loves living in Santa Barbara and enjoys the beach, sports, and using her creative side to paint and cook. You can follow her Instagram @mrsdewittebio to see a glimpse inside her classroom.

Teacher Leaders for 2019 Summer Institute


Janis Spracher

5th and 6th Grade STEM; Monte Vista Elementary School, Santa Barbara


Janis has taught for 21 years in the Hope School District and is currently the 5th/6th grade STEM teacher at Monte Vista. Her work with the Teacher Induction Program, PASC, and the UCSB Teacher Education Program has given her the opportunity to mentor and learn from many other teachers. When she is not in the classroom or thinking and talking about teaching and learning, Janis is usually devouring a book, relaxing with her family, or pampering her cats.


Kim Castagna

6th Grade Math and Science; Carpinteria Middle School, Carpinteria


Kim has been teaching for over 33 years (yikes!) and LOVES teaching science. She is a national trainer for JASON Learning and has presented science lessons at many local, state and national conferences with Jennifer. Kim used to be a cowgirl, competing in rodeos and showing livestock at fairs.

Lauri Dahlin

4th Grade; Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara


Lauri has been teaching elementary students for more than twenty years. Science has always been her favorite subject, leading to her involvement with the South Coast Science Project. Lauri came to Santa Barbara to study Aquatic Biology at UCSB. She had always dreamed of living by the ocean, so she believes that dreams really do come true!

Lisa Lisle

5th Grade; Brandon Elementary School, Goleta


Lisa Lisle is in her 21st year in GUSD and is currently teaching 5th grade at Brandon School. Ecology has been a life-long passion of Lisa's, and while at UCSB she earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies and focused her M.Ed. on environmental education. She is a member of her district's NGSS Steering Committee and is also part of SBCEO's NGSS Leadership Consortium which has provided professional development for educators across Santa Barbara County. Lisa lives on two acres in the Ojai valley with her husband and their two teenage children. In her free time, she enjoys gardening or heading to the beach to play volleyball and search for sea glass.

Nichole Hughes

5th Grade; Summerland Elementary School, Summerland


Nichole first attended the South Coast Science Project in 2016, and enjoyed it so much she jumped right in to being a teacher leader in 2017! She loves the hands-on lesson plan ideas and found two grants to purchase all of the materials needed for all 4th and 5th grade lessons. She can't wait to share her science and grant writing knowledge with so many other teachers!


SciTrek Coordinator and UCSB Graduate Student


Sammi graduated with her B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Secondary Science and Math Education from UCSB in 2018. This past year she has taught science in over 40 elementary school classrooms as the Education Program Coordinator for SciTrek. This summer she will begin her Masters program at UCSB working towards an M.A. in Chemistry with an emphasis in chemical education and a secondary science teaching credential under her advisor, Darby Feldwinn. In her  small amount of spare time, she likes to make Instagram videos of her guinea pigs and watch Parks and Rec on Netflix.

Rodney Lee

3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Science Teacher; Marymount, Santa Barbara


Rodney has been teaching at the elementary & middle school levels for the past 20 years, and is also an instructor for CSET test prep courses in the LAUSD since 2002, specializing in Math & Science.


Former Teacher Leaders