Melissa Mercer-Tachick, M.A.T, M.Ed., Ph.D.
President, Lead Consultant
Melissa earned her first degree in physics at The University of Michigan, where she trained to be a secondary physics and math teacher. However, after her first experience in formative evaluation of exhibitions, she chose to go directly into museum education. She spent about eight years working or consulting for various museums and other settings, doing outreach, evaluation, exhibit design, and program development. She earned her M.A.T. in museum education from The George Washington University and then her M. Ed. in informal science education at The University of Florida. Her Ph.D. was in science education at The University of Michigan, where her dissertation work investigated the impact of exploring "free choice" learning environments (museums, galleries, zoos, parks, etc.) on developing prospective teachers' conceptions of "teaching" and "learning."
Dr. Mercer-Tachick spent about twelve years supporting prospective teachers' growth in the areas of science and math. She has worked with elementary and secondary preservice teachers at three colleges/universities in two states and has supervised innumerable student teachers. At one institution, Melissa worked collaboratively with other faculty and local teachers and school administrators to completely revamp a teacher preparation program so that it would be mutually beneficial to prospective teachers, K-12 students, public school faculty and administrators, the school system, and the college while still fulfilling state mandates. Melissa's research has examined meaning-making and visitors' identities within varied Free Choice Learning Environments (FCLEs), such as museums, parks, and historic sites. She looks forward to continuing to support and evaluate exciting projects and programs and foster mutually beneficial, sincere, reciprocal relationships that can transform learning experiences and the organizations and communities that build them.
In her spare time, Melissa loves to dog sled, and she is a gardener, chicken and duck owner, and proud mother of two beautiful and clever children. She is a fitness instructor and personal trainer specializing in POUND, Pilates, and Barre Above.
The word "muse" refers to the majority of our consultants' professional beginnings as museum educators. We use the term "educational" to signal our belief that all parties--consultants included--are in a position to learn from the expertise of others in the collaborative execution of any project or program.
Our senior consultants have collectively spent more than 125 years doing research, evaluation, programming, and projects for a wide range of institutions across the United States, from museums and zoos to schools. As educators in STEM, social sciences and humanities, arts, and beyond, we have supported teaching and learning in schools; universities and colleges; hands-on, natural history, cultural, and historical museums; and many other settings.
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Committed to expanding educators' conceptions of "learning" and learners' experiences with objects, ideas, and events.
Selena holds a BA in English from Rice University and an MAT in Museum Education from The George Washington University. In 2005, she completed a Certificate in Informal Learning from the Center for Learning and Schools at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She has over 20 years experience with project management in educational and cultural organizations, and expertise in public programming and education in both formal and informal settings.
Selena began her educational career as a middle school teacher and coach at a small private school in San Antonio where she taught English, reading, social studies, and algebra. She also flirted with educational policy as a Project Associate at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in Washington, DC, working on authentic assessment projects. The majority of her career to date was with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, serving three years as a program manager, then five years as the Chief of Education.
Selena’s professional interests include science inquiry, teacher professional development, science-based environmental education, and data literacy. Selena’s professional service includes five years on the board of the New Mexico Association of Museums (2006-2011), six years on the board of the Science Education Institute of the Southwest (2005 to present) and six years on the board of the New Mexico Partnership for Mathematics and Science Education (2005 to present). Additionally, she served on the panel that developed the New Mexico Science Education Standards and is currently active in the effort to promote environmental literacy in New Mexico.
In her spare time, Selena plays volleyball, bakes pies and entertains her dogs. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband Randall and daughter Cate.
Selena Connealy, B.A., M.A.T
Mary Beth McCormack B.A., M.A.T, AMI Diploma- Association of Montessori Internationale
As a museum educator and Montessori teacher, Mary Beth has used her collaborative skills to develop, implement, and evaluate educational programming in a wide variety of environments, including natural history museums, science and nature centers, and schools. Exhibit planning, development, research, and writing have enhanced Mary Beth’s abilities to communicate effectively to diverse audiences about a wide variety of scientific and natural history topics, ranging from histories of Native American tribes, to biology of prairie grasses, to the business of farming. Her innovative approaches to hands-on, collaborative learning have received recognition and awards.
Mia Angara B.A., M.A.T.
Mia has spent more than 20 years working in educational settings, including museums and classrooms. Her programs have been utilized in array of cultural and educational institutions including The Sackler Gallery and Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX, DC Public Schools, the Archdioceses of Dallas and The Chicago Public schools. For the past 6 years Mia served as an Education Developer and Student and Educator Programs Workshop Facilitator at the Chicago Children’s Museum where she honed her skills in curriculum/program development, and community outreach.
Eric Fretz, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Dr. Eric Fretz earned bachelors degrees from The University of Michigan and Southern Illinois University during a career with the United States Navy, with coursework and assignments focused on education and training. In addition to running a large military training school, he supervised the first major implementation of a fully digital learning classroom in 1994.
Returning to the University of Michigan in 1998, Eric completed a second masters degree in Psychology, followed by a dual PhD in Psychology in Education. For almost 10 years, he worked as a research assistant with the Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education (Hi-ce) as part of a massive investigation of middle school science curriculum and technology intervention in Detroit Public Schools, serving as qualitative & quantitative data collector, analyst, tech support and team leader. His dissertation work employed qualitative methods to investigate middle school science learners’ use of cognitive scaffolds designed into dynamic modeling software. He has put his research experience to work with a variety of consulting projects, including a mobilization to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in the Persian Gulf to lead a data collection (survey and interview) and analysis of lessons learned and best practices following the U.S. relief effort during the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.
In his spare time, Eric monitors the adventures his three children. He actively invests volunteer time in the local community as a Troop Leader and District VP for Membership in the Boy Scouts of America, as a mentor for the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Faculty member to the University of Michigan’s Military Officer Education Program Committee, Director of the Mentor program for the Washtenaw County Veteran’s Treatment Court, Assistant Director of the Warrior-Scholar academic readiness program in Michigan, Faculty mentor for the Michigan chapter of the Student Veterans of America, and Volunteer Instructor for the Washtenaw service center of the American Red Cross for CPR and First Aid.
We have consultants conveniently located throughout the United States, including: Cleveland, Ann Arbor and Grass Lake, Chicago, Albuquerque, and San Francisco. We are available to travel internationally.