Christine Duke

Christine DukeConn

Hello! Christine Duke here. You might know me as the editor of the Connection Newsletter. Well, I am pleased to announce that the former Science Connection Newsletter has found a new home and a new look as part of Kentucky Teacher.

Now science information, strategies, resources and classroom experiences will be shared with a wider audience! My Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) science colleagues – Mindy Curless and Rae McEntyre – and I look forward to sharing your experiences and expertise through this new venue!

Now a bit about me. I am a native Buckeye! I grew up fishing and swimming in Lake Erie. I spent a great deal of my youth exploring creek beds, building forts and wondering about the world around me, hence my passion for science education. My husband, Michael, and I have five awesome sons and two precious granddaughters. We love traveling, University of Louisville sports, our church and time with family.

As a high school student, I learned quickly that I was called to be an educator. I spent many afternoons working with special needs students at a nearby elementary school throughout those formative years. I saw firsthand how dedicated, passionate teachers made a difference in the lives of their students. I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in special education and elementary education from Bowling Green University and a master’s degree in learning disabilities from the University of Louisville.

Prior to my current position with KDE, I spent a total of 23 years in the classroom, learning alongside of my students. Eight of the later years were spent at Painted Stone Elementary School in Shelby County teaching 4th-grade science. I call these years the “Wonder Years,” since they were filled with inquisitive students asking questions in order to make sense of the world around them.

Not to mention I, myself, often wondered why I was the only teacher who received such gifts as lizards, snake skins (too many  to count), snapping turtles, insects of all types, random rocks (and geodes too!), arrays of colorful leaves, random books about the oddest critters on the planet and question after question about the science behind each and every treasure I received. I loved – and still love – fostering curiosity, engaging students in science practices and problem-solving skills, as well as posing questions that make kids say “hmmm.” All of which I feel are essential components of every classroom.

My focus has shifted a bit as I now support science teachers across the state, learning together with the best teachers I have had the privilege of knowing. I look forward to our continued journey as we seek to provide quality science instruction for all Kentucky students and share our experiences with fellow colleagues through Kentucky Teacher.

Please feel free to contact me at


Mindy Curless

Mindy Curless

Hello Kentucky educators! I am Mindy Curless and I serve as the STEM consultant for KDE.

My background helps explain my passion for education and STEM education, in particular. I began my professional life as an engineer, working over 20 years in the fields of aerospace, environmental and forensic engineering, while working in the government, large corporate and small business sectors. I have a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, and a master’s in environmental engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

I became interested in education when my own children entered Kentucky schools, and became an education advocate through involvement with the Prichard Committee’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, and as a member of (former Education) Commissioner Gene Wilhoit’s Parent Advisory Council.

During this time, a pivotal moment for me was reading Thomas Freidman’s “The World is Flat” and hearing him advise young people not to choose courses based on content, but to choose courses based on the reputation and quality of the teacher. It seemed that he was saying that it’s about learning to learn rather than learning a marketable subject, and that a person learns how to learn most effectively from a passionate, engaged and thoughtful teacher. Not only did I want those kinds of teachers for my own children, I felt driven to become that kind of teacher myself. I believed, and still believe, that people who love to learn have happier and more fulfilled lives, and I wanted to help children learn how to love learning.

So after a little career redirection and much engagement with education literature, courses and classroom experiences, I received my master’s in teaching from Eastern Kentucky University, taught middle school science and math in Fayette County, and then took my current position with KDE. I am continually finding ways to make advantageous connections between my engineering and education backgrounds in the interest of STEM education. I look forward to helping with our new science page. Please feel free to contact me at


Hello! I’m Rae McEntyre. I have 30 years of experience in education, starting as a biology teacher in the Kingdom of Lesotho as a Peace Corps volunteer. I spent eight years with the Peace Corps before returning to the United States.

After returning home, I went on to earn my certification in secondary science education to later teach in Knox County, Gallatin County and Grant County before arriving at KDE as a high school science consultant. With degrees in both biology and geoscience, I have taught both the biological and earth sciences at the high school level.

Opportunities to work with NASA Education & Public Outreach for high-energy space missions such as Swift and Fermi, as well as my ongoing work with environmental education, keep me engaged and help as I seek to support teachers. In my spare time, I enjoy — you guessed it — being outdoors, observing nature and my faithful furry friend, Oscar. You can reach me at