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Acero - Jovita Idár

Mr. Ryan D. Johnson » About Me

About Me

Mr. Johnson was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and now lives on the far south side with his lovely wife, two dogs Xena and Gare, cat Lucy Chef Meowly, and a variety of scaled friends that crawl, slither, and swim. He likes to read, play video games, run, ride his bike, and swim (badly).  Science has been his favorite subject since he dissected his first owl pellet in 4th grade...which his wife thinks is gross.

El Sr. Johnson nació en el área de Chicago y ahora vive en el extremo sur con su encantadora esposa, dos perros Xena y Gare, la gata Lucy Chef Meowly y una variedad de amigos con escamas que gatean, deslizan y nadan. Le gusta leer, jugar videojuegos, correr, andar en bicicleta y nadar (mal). Ciencias Naturales ha sido su materia favorita desde que diseccionó su primera bolita de búho en cuarto grado...que su esposa piensa que es asqueroso.


April 2013 – Present: 7th- 8th Science Teacher Jovita Idár Elementary, 5050 S. Homan Avenue,  Chicago, IL

  •      School Science Lead dedicated to­­­­­­­­­­­­­ an inquiry-based, culturally sustainable, hands-on approach to learning. Firm advocate for an interdisciplinary approach to science, storytelling, authentic and community-based lab, student-driven exploration, and a focus on writing in STEM. I hold a highly-qualified professional educator license with over 36 hours of specialized and certified training in school environment, health, and culture. Enthusiastic about education strategy and stewardship for English Learners in the sciences, leveraging technology, community, and relationships to build strong science identities in students, families, and staff.
  •      Created, wrote, designed, and instituted science curriculum aligned with NGSS, WIDA, and the CCSS, revised and revamped to be used for remote or hybrid learning experiences. Led multiple PDs on NGSS.
  •      Drove significant growth in Chicago Public Schools REACH Science Performance Tasks (83% attainment). and ACERO standardized assessments (20.3% above District). Lessons designed on culturally relevant UbD
  •      Organized, wrote, and developed live high school admissions guide for 8th grade families:
  •      Strict observance of data driven decisions for formation of units, lessons, accommodations, interventions, and differentiation. Used Excel, SPSS, G*Power, NVivo, and other statistical tools for meaningful data analysis.
  •      Partnered with ELA, Math, Social Studies, P.E., and Music teachers for interdisciplinary study and projects.
  •      Constant and consistent use of researched based instructional strategies for English Language Learners, leveraging WIDA standards. Balanced use of technology and online tools with hands-on instruction.
  •      Created a multiple building toolkits to facilitate science instruction with labs, lessons, and field trips.
  •      Formed and sustained multiple points of contact and partnerships to build relationships and foster positive learning environments in and around Chicago and surrounding area including Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, Morton Arboretum, Fermi Lab, Camp EcoLogic, and more.

May 2010 – April 2013: Substitute Teacher (K-12): School District 303, 201 S. 7th Street, St. Charles, IL

  •      Substitute teacher across all core subject areas as well as P.E., Music, Technology, and Art, and grades (K-12) while pursuing master’s degree. Honed skills by putting theory into practice and teaching a variety of abilities and grades.
  •      Requested for long-term assignments in 7th grade science (2 weeks), and 6-8 Special Education (two 1 month assignments). Worked closely with teachers to implement rigorous, high quality lessons.
  •      High priority first call list. Had chances to work with many different ages and content areas.

January 2008 – April 2010: English/Science Teacher and 6-12 School Manager Surat Thani, Thailand

  •      Taught English and Science at Suratthani English Language School (Super English) and Thidamaepra Intermediate School as an international visiting instructor. Promoted to Thai-School Manager overseeing ten teachers at four schools, providing a communication bridge between English and Thai speaking staff.
  •      Trained and observed new teachers in the standards, expectations, and gave sample lessons for observation.
  •      Developed an orientation guide to lead new teachers to effective practices.
  •      Co-organized social opportunity groups for cultural and language understanding and appreciation.
  •      Co-developed the curriculum for Prathom 1 (Kindergarten) – Prathom 6 (5th grade).

September 2007 – December 2007: Substitute Teacher (K-12): School Districts 303 and 304, IL

  •      Taught all grades K-12 in two districts. Many opportunities to work with Diverse Learners across multiple grades.


  •      2022 – present: Organizer and project lead for Pumas on the Third Coast, a collaborative effort between the US Department of Commerce, the NOAA, and the school community to propose and implementing community conservation projects to protect local watersheds. Projects included plastic bag recycling program, letter writing, an environmental action committee, native wildlife habitat construction, and multiple resource saving projects.
  •      2022 – present: Organizer and project lead for the K-8 PUMAS V.O.C.A. School Garden (Ver, Oler, Comer y Aprender | See, Smell, Eat, and Learn). Organized teams of community stakeholders to construct, manage, and sustain school garden stressing vertical alignment K-8 in NGSS engagement in phenomena.
  •      2021 – present: SmART Hallway ScienceDesigned, built, and managed K-8 STEAM learning challenges including Grab-and-Go kits, vertical non-permanent learning structures, interactive curiosity boards, and more.
  •      2021 – present: Mentor teacher to incoming science teachers and new staff on curriculum, policy, and procedures.
  •      2020 – present: Developed writing program in the Middle School Science classroom to foster growth and achievement of the NGSS standards and goals. Created the ‘A.D.E Approach’ for writing that is A² D² E² (Accessible & Appropriate | Diverse & Differentiated | Engaging & Enjoyable) to facilitate efficacy and engagement.
  •      2020 – present: Monthly Science(y) Books book club engaging professional school community in past-and-present advances and issues in science. Book reviews archived at:
  •      2020 – present: Founded and facilitated a network-wide professional learning community of 6-8 science teachers geared towards adjusting teaching and learning for the distance learning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  •      2020: Co-created, wrote, and presented bilingual information to families about Individualized Education Programs.
  •      2019 – present: Created Middle School Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Model focused around the whole child and the importance of prioritizing mental, social, and physical health for optimal learning potential.
  •      2018 – present: 2x unanimously elected a representative on the school-level Professional Solutions Committee.
  •      2015 – 2020: 6th-8th grade Boys Soccer coach: two division championships and two second place finishes.
  •      2014 – present: Created and established more than ten after school clubs including Middle School Science Fair (6-8), Elementary S.T.E.M. club (3-5), Science of Running (4-6), Edible Science (K-3), and Science is Awesome (K-3)
  •      2014 – present Led annual bilingual Family Book Club and Science clubs as well as quarterly community events.
  •      2014 – present: Lead network Professional Development sessions including: SEL Benefits of Pets in the Classroom; Essential Practices: Attaining Fluency Through Mental Math; Writing in STEM: It’s Not (All) Rocket Science.



  •    2023: ASTE: Selected to co-present at the American for Science Teacher Education International Conference on work in progress: Science Teacher Disequilibrium and the Impact on Science Teacher Identity – Salt Lake City, Utah.
  •    2022 – 2023: NOAA: Designated as the lead teacher of an Ocean Guardian School by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association with programming designed to strengthen youth involvement in local water conservation.
  •      2022-2023: Upstream Education: Selected for a Mental Health Changemaker Fellowship to implement and use targeted Social Emotional Learning (SEL) with students in the classroom and equip them with SEL tools and strategies to navigate the world and become part of a community committed to supporting the whole self.
  •     2022: MSI: chosen for the Understanding Energy Through Engineering program with the Museum of Science and Industry to explore the concept of energy from an engineering perspective and gain insights into how to use an engineering experience driven by a real-world engineering problem to motivate the science learning
  •     2022: DePaul University: Consultant on Las Wavys, a stage play about four students from the South Side of Chicago band together to become a quartet of crime-fighting superheroes to fight villainous aliens.
  •     2022: Pilot Light: Feed Your Mind Gala – Chosen as a presenter, spokesperson, and representative for the organization to promote food education, the value of urban growing systems, and equity in schools.
  •     2022: USDA & ISBE: Selected as a banner school to integrate culturally relevant and sustainable food and ecological education systems into middle school classrooms. Presented a lesson to representatives from US Department of Agriculture, Illinois State Board of Education, various Chicago chefs, and small business owners.
  •     2021-2022: CPS: worked as a collaborative partner in the STEM PLC: Strength in Numbers with teachers from Chicago Public Schools and UChicago Lab School to implement novel modes of science and math instruction.
  •     2021-2022: Pilot Light: Selected as an Education Fellow to support students as they learn to advocate for informed choices by bridging lessons in the classrooms to the foods on their lunch trays, at home, and in their communities to create a world of knowledgeable and engaged citizens for an equitable, sustainable, and accessible food future.
  •     2021: The Chicago Scots: Invited to present to dignitaries and representatives of the Scottish and US government as well as Chicago philanthropists about the ecological impact of school lunches and community food programming.
  •     2019-2021: PBS & NASA: Selected to the Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms Advisory Board in collaboration with PBS Learning Media and NASA. Edited, revised, and presented recommendations about materials and technological science/engineering resources, particularly for English Language Learners to ‘rewire’ STEM for learners in the digital age. Worked nationally with teachers, scientists, researchers, and technology professionals.
  •     2020: Fermilab: Chosen for a partnership with Fermilab and the University of St. Francis, on improving teaching and understanding of the Standard Model of Elementary Particles in Particle Physics, especially studying quarks and neutrinos through inquiry. Facilitation benefited both remote and in-person instruction.
  •     2019-2020: CPS: Selected to the Chicago Teacher Advisory Council to research in multilevel groups to analyze and provide insight around social justice and growth for all of Chicago Public Schools, presenting targeting MTSS practices and implementation. Worked closely with interdisciplinary staff and administrators across the city.
  •     2020: NOVA: Selected to provide feedback for ‘Making North America’ curriculum and course map for synchronous and asynchronous lessons that explore scientific discoveries on the acclaimed science documentary series.
  •     2013: Shedd: Partnered with the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for a 120 hour Freshwater Ecology research task and professional development in developing Science Education with the Great Lakes.


  •     2022: International Academic Competitions – 65% of students qualified for Nationals – 87% for Regionals
  •     2021: Loyola University Chicago Ratner Teaching Scholarship
  •     2021: NYLP to STEM Honorary Member for mentoring efforts to assist advance educational opportunities in STEM.
  •     2020: US Department of Energy – Teacher Award for particle physics – Beauty and Charm
  •     2020: Featured and highlighted in the Network Academic Round Up for Science(y) Book Club
  •     2019: ACERO Network Teacher of the Year Award for student attainment, teacher care, and community support.
  •     2018: 2nd highest standardized test growth scores in the network.
  •     2014-2016: Elected to Union Executive Board with 87% of the vote; Strike Captain; bridge between Local and CTU.
  •     2008 & 2009: Back-to-back Most Supportive Teacher Awards – Surat Thani, Thailand


  •      2023: All Kids Bike – Collaborative multi-departmental grant led by the Strider Education Foundation to place Kindergarten Learn-To-Ride programs into public schools with the mission to teach every child in America how to ride a bike. $7,372. IN PROGRESS
  •      2022-2023 – Emerson Collective Grant – Project G.R.O.W. (Garden, Reflect, Organize, Wonder). Project G.R.O.W. (Garden, Reflect, Organize, and Wonder) Civic Action Project designed for urban environments to promote food awareness, healthy eating, and community investment while creating beautiful and nurturing spaces rooted in Illinois State Social Emotional teaching and learning standards, ELA CCSS, and the NGSS. $4975. FUNDED
  •      2022: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation – Student-driven project designed and organized to engage the school community in watershed/local waterway stewardship activities such as campus cleanup, watershed restoration, school garden/habitat activities, a school Zero Waste Day and more. $345. FUNDED
  •      2022: National Fluid Power Association Challenge Grant - Designed curriculum project around the construction of community-focused hydraulic machines and discover how forces in fluids focus are used in society. $492. FUNDED
  •      2022: Herb Society of America Samull Grant – Established a mobile indoor/outdoor herb harden to widen experiences and values of urban agriculture, healthy eating, and sustainable agricultural practices. $300. FUNDED
  •      2021: AFCEA Gravely Grant for STEM Teachers – B.I.O.P.I.L.L. Project (Bringing In Opportunities to Participate in Inquiry Learning Lessons) to promote STEM innovation in the classroom with an emphasis on culturally relevant teaching in science around the human experience. $1,000. FUNDED
  •      2021: Toshiba America Foundation for self-developed C.R.A.B.S. Project: Combining Robotics And Biology in Schools blending robotics with neuroscience for students and community in school and home. $3,125. FUNDED
  •      2021: Motorola Solutions Foundation Leading Latinas To Terminate Gender Gaps (L²T²G² ) is a technology and engineering focused after-school 3D printing club for girls. $6,598.98. NOT FUNDED
  •      2020: ComEd energy sustainability grant providing products, tools, and education towards energy savings with a focus on helping students implement classroom lessons at home. Approximate value ~ $5,000. FUNDED
  •      2020: Donors Choose – Big Explorations of the Very Small: Microscopes and equipment for class. $997. FUNDED
  •      2015 – present: Pets in the Classroom – Initial and sustaining grant for reptile habitat $125 | $50. FUNDED


  •     Highly Qualified Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL)
  •     Elementary Education K-9
  •     General Science 5-8
  •     English as a Second Language pK-12
  •     Language Arts 5-8
  •     Social Science 5-8
  •     Instructional Coach (expected 2023)
  •     American National Standards Institute: Illinois Food Safety Handler with Honors
  •     Vaccine Ambassador: Certified by City Colleges of Chicago, emphasis on COVID-19 vaccine education.
  •     Eat What You Grow Certification – authorized to safely grow, harvest, and serve vegetables from school gardens
  •     Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Scientific Research and Collection Permit



  •     Doctor of Education (EdD): Curriculum, Culture, and Communities. Loyola University, Chicago, IL: Expected 2025
  •     English as a Second Language Endorsement (ESL): Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL: June 2017
  •     Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT): Elementary Education. Aurora University, Aurora, IL: December 2012
  •     Bachelor of Arts (BA): Liberal Arts and Sciences. The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL: August 2007