The mission of The NEED Project is to promote an energy conscious and educated society by creating effective networks of students, educators, business, government and community leaders to design and deliver objective, multi-sided energy education programs. NEED works with energy companies, agencies and organizations to bring balanced energy programs to the nation’s schools with a focus on strong teacher professional development, timely and balanced curriculum materials, signature program capabilities and turn-key program management.


NEED Board of Directors


Margaret Downey, Barnstable County, MA/Cape Light Compact, Chairman
Randall Luthi, National Ocean Industries Association, Treasurer
John Weiner, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Secretary (ret)


Claudia Kreisle, Phillips 66
Cristina Jorge Schwarz, Professional Geologist
Diane Lear, National Hydropower Association
Michael Perna, ConEdison Solutions
H. Alfred Ryan, Exelon
Wayne Yonkelowitz, Fayetteville Middle School, Fayetteville, WV
Richard Zuercher, Dominion

Honorary Board Members and Former Chairmen

Paula Barnett, BP
Constance Beatty, Kennedy Middle Grade School, Kankakee, IL
Guy Caruso, U.S. Energy Information Administration (ret)
Phil Cochrane, BP
Leslie Eden, PennWell
Tom Fry, National Ocean Industries Association
Kevin Galligan, Cape Light Compact
Paul Loeffelman, American Electric Power
Maurice Royster, Equitable Resources
Barry Russell, Independent Petroleum Association of America
Bob Stewart, National Ocean Industries Association
Henry Sullivan, American Electric Power
Wendy Wiedenbeck, Encana

National Staff

Mary Spruill – Executive Director
Amy Constant – Program Associate
Yvonne Cramer - Creative Director
Cindy Foster – NEED Distribution Center
Rick Hall – NEED Distribution Center
Sandy Harben - Accounting and Office Administration
Melanie Harper – Program Associate
Emily Hawbaker – Curriculum Director
David Keene – General Counsel
Vernon Kimball – Curriculum and Training Associate
Rebecca Lamb – Program Director
Kim Moats Barnes – Program Associate
Wendi Moss – Program and Training Coordinator
Karen Reagor – Regional Director, Southeast
Todd Rogers – Regional Director, Northeast
Barry Scott – State Program Director, California
Melissa Spencer – NEED Distribution Center
Bonny Spruill – NEED Distribution Center
Kimberly Swan - Program Assistant
Caryn Turrel – Curriculum and Training Associate
Cindy Welchko – Curriculum Associate

Kentucky Regional Coordinators

Mitch Shirrell
Sue Parrent
Tyler Cvitkovic
Whit Pennington


Thanks to all NEED students, educators, business and community leaders, 2016 year was another successful year. NEED continues to deliver valuable programs to our schools that enable students, teachers and the general public to understand energy – all forms of energy. The energy industry values NEED’s comprehensive and objective programs and educators find that NEED curriculum is easy to use, accurate and timely for their classrooms.

We are a national leader in energy education due to the dedication and commitment of NEED’s staff, educators and students. It was the combined efforts of the NEED team that made this past year a success. Not only were our workshops well attended and highly rated, but the team has worked very hard to improve and innovate all areas of NEED programming for the coming year. Continuous improvement is a hallmark of NEED, and it makes our organization stand out as one dedicated to assisting teachers and students at all grade levels as they explore energy and it’s importance in our lives.

On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, thank you for your outstanding energy education efforts and support of NEED. It is an honor and pleasure to work with our extended NEED family to teach, to learn and to explore. 2017 promises to be another great year for NEED. What are your plans with NEED this year?

Maggie Downey


As anyone involved in education knows, there are many kinds of years. Some are calendar years, some are fiscal years and some are school years. Here at NEED we work in all three years and when it comes time to do our Year in Review, it is hard to decide which “year” to review. So, we’re starting something new this year and are proud to share with you our 2016 Year in Review. This online Annual Report shares the highlights and successes of 2016 and gives our partners and friends an opportunity to see what success and challenges are ahead of us in 2017 and beyond. NEED’s team is ready for a 2017 filled with teacher and student trainings, curriculum development and delivery, our great NEED Energy Conference for Educators to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this July and so much more.

One of the “more” things this year is the redesign and launch of the NEED Youth Energy Conference and Awards. Building on the decades-long success of the NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement, the decision was made (thanks to brilliant feedback from our teachers and students and hard work from NEED’s Program Director, Rebecca Lamb) to make the culminating event hosted each June in Washington, D.C. a deeper Energy and STEM experience for participating students. New at the conference will be workshops for teachers, students, and parents and an Energy Challenge for students to work together to design answers to some of society’s most vexing energy challenges.

Students will engineer, teachers will explore, parents will engage, all while networking with others and showing off the award-winning energy education efforts each school has accomplished during the year. The Youth Energy Conference and Awards showcases many of the best of NEED’s school programs and we know that teachers, students and parents will be excited and engaged during the entire event! We are lucky to have American Electric Power, The National Hydropower Association and the Cape Light Compact among the first sponsors to support the new program. We hope to see other sponsors join them soon.

We are an energy organization, so it’s appropriate to think of how powerful NEED curriculum and teacher training are. Teachers and students train to use NEED in the classroom or in the extracurricular setting. They plan their energy units and think about what energy topics students most want to learn about during the year. They engage local energy companies and organizations to share knowledge, and they are powerful. NEED kids change ideas and attitudes by teaching about energy. NEED teachers provide the classroom support to help students explore, learn and form their ideas and opinions about energy. NEED students and teachers are powerful because of their knowledge and the skills they gain through NEED and other activities.

2016 also allowed us the opportunity to try a few new things. Emily Hawbaker, our Curriculum Director, worked with her team to author Energy Lab for Kids coming out soon in partnership with Quarto Publishing. The Energizing Student Potential Program (ESP) In Illinois and Indiana is supported by the Exelon Foundation, ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and BP. This program allowed us to roll out a program-wide ESP Energy Fair in a Box that gave all participating schools the tools and a cash grant to host a community energy fair that includes carnival games, energy efficiency demos, energy safety lessons and more. Over 8,000 people toured the Energizing Student Potential Energy Fairs in 2016. We can’t forget the birth of NEED’s Energy Sidekicks this year too. You’ll find these fun characters (created by NEED’s Creative Director Yvonne Cramer) throughout NEED’s publications and communication tools. They are fun and have been met with great love from our teachers, students and partners.

In 2017, you’ll see a redesign of our Energy Efficiency and Conservation curriculum, new sections of the website designated for NEED’s oldies and goodies, and some great new additions to our transportation curriculum. We’ll also be hosting webinars about various NEED efforts and showcasing our evaluation tools and results with you throughout the year. There is a LOT of energy and excitement ahead of us and we are thankful to have our teachers, students, sponsors and friends with us as we continue to seek even bigger success in 2017.


Mary E. Spruill
Executive Director



Grants, Contracts, and Contributions     $4,175,102
Conferences and Youth Awards     $438,407
Curriculum and Kit Sales     $194,372
In-Kind Contributions     $42,150
Interest Income     $3,686
Other Income     $47,030
TOTAL REVENUES    $4,900,747

Net Assets, Beginning of Year     $1,336,916
Net Assets, End of the Year     $1,884,628


Workshops and Conferences     $1,184,252
Kits and Materials         $891,346
Program Administration     $940,713
Curriculum Development     $248,490
Youth Awards Program    $505,313
Training Conferences     $324,626
Program Development     $96,404
Total Program Services    $4,191,144

General and Administrative     $117,025
Fundraising     $44,866
Total Supporting Services    $161,891

TOTAL EXPENSES     $4,353,035


Cash and Cash Equivalents     $443,004
Certificates of Deposit     $409,069
Grants and Contributions Receivable     $1,114,795
Inventory     $147,198
Prepaid Expenses     $15,573
Property and Equipment, Net     $9,124
TOTAL ASSETS     $2,138,763


Accounts Payable and Accrued Expenses     $220,145
Refundable Advances     $25,747
Deferred Rent     $8,243

NET ASSETS     $1,884,628



Over 35 years ago, The NEED Project began as a one-day celebration of energy education when National Energy Education Day was recognized by a Joint Congressional Resolution. In the same year, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation stressing the need for comprehensive energy education in our schools, a reduction of our dependence of fossil fuels, and increasing use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. Since its founding, NEED has kept its Kids Teaching Kids philosophy as a fundamental principle of NEED programming – encouraging students to explore, experiment, and engage while encouraging teachers to embrace student leadership in the classroom. NEED trains and assists teachers in harnessing the energy of the classroom – the energy of students.

NEED is expanding and evolving to best meet the needs of today’s teachers and students – in the classroom and beyond. In just the last decade, The NEED Project has grown to encompass a curriculum portfolio of over 130 teacher and student guides designed to teach teachers and students about energy. At the same time, the training opportunities offered by NEED expanded to include over 20 varieties of teacher professional development and training for school district energy personnel as well. NEED’s work in afterschool programs, student clubs, scouting groups, and home school networks continues to grow.

NEED students and teachers understand energy. They are local experts and leaders in community discussions on energy use, energy efficiency, and new energy technologies. They reach out to the public to actively teach about energy and energy decisions and they practice smart energy decision making with their own families and in their own homes. NEED’s reach, program, and portfolio are very different than they were in the early years, but they still focus on the important student leadership development that sets NEED apart from being just another curriculum organization. A balanced approach to a discussion of energy is fundamental to how NEED curriculum is written, delivered, and shared.

NEED designs and delivers curriculum and support for virtually any classroom and at any grade level– from Kindergarten to High School and beyond– from Science and pre-engineering labs to Language Arts and afterschool clubs. Students use hands-on, inquiry based lessons to explore the physics and chemistry of energy. They engineer turbines and generators, testing their models for maximum electricity output. Students write and perform plays about energy in drama class, calculate payback periods of energy efficient appliances in math class and discuss the history and human impact of energy use in social studies. We work hard to help teachers meet the requirements of state standards, Common Core, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Evaluation is a high priority for all of NEED’s programming areas. Teachers and students participate in pre and post knowledge assessments during training workshops and in the classroom. Teachers complete evaluations at local energy workshops and at all training events. Longitudinal evaluations are completed three months and one year after a teacher is introduced to NEED, and continue after that to determine maximum impact of NEED programming. See below for some stats we've collected.


Check out our smugmug page to see photos and videos from our recent workshops and events!

And don't forget about our blog!
It is jam packed with NEED news and great teacher resources. Check out what we've been posting!


Educators know that participating in NEED workshops provides them an opportunity to improve their personal energy knowledge while receiving valuable training and ideas to use in their classrooms – no matter what grade level they teach. Educators report that the curriculum is appropriate for individual grade levels and that the training provided allows them to return to their classrooms and use the materials immediately. It is an honor to know that 100% of teachers attending NEED workshops report that they would recommend the workshop to their peers and that they will use the materials in their classrooms. Word of mouth is our best marketing effort!

NEED sponsors and partners know that supporting NEED programming provides teachers with the best in energy education and teacher support. Teachers continue to report that they do not receive adequate energy instruction in their college and university courses, yet state and national standards have significant sections devoted to the science of energy and to the energy resources used to provide electricity, transportation, and products. Working with education and energy advisors, NEED designs and delivers professional development opportunities for teachers that not only educate, but also energize and remind teachers of the fun that is possible in the classroom.

Whether attending a one-day workshop or the five-day National Energy Conference for Educators, teachers interact and share ideas with their peers. Speakers from local and national energy organizations share information about careers in the energy industry and the exciting energy technologies in development today. In addition, as school districts continue to seek ways to reduce budgets – many turn to energy conservation as a way to reduce overall costs. NEED hosts High Performance Schools Conferences for school district facilities personnel.

Whether delivered to teachers, students, or energy professionals, NEED makes training fun, engaging, and worthwhile. People participating in NEED training share that the experience is a good use of their time and that their expectations are met and exceeded. These are factors of success NEED works to achieve each day.


The 2017 Energy Conference for Educators brings together educators that are passionate about bringing energy education to their classrooms. In five interactive days in Milwaukee, July 16-20 2017, the conference provides teachers with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of energy including the science of energy, sources of energy, transportation, electricity, efficiency and environmental and economic impacts.

Participants receive the training and materials to implement innovative hands-on energy units in their classrooms, multi-disciplinary teams, and after-school programs. They also receive the materials, training and support to conduct in-services in their areas to introduce the NEED program to others. NEED leaders at the conference help participants develop specialized units that meet state standards and can be utilized with students of all learning styles.

Find Out More About the Conference Here


NEED updates most of its curriculum each year to reflect the most current, available energy data and technologies on all topics. NEED's curriculum team has also been working hard in 2016-2017 on some new items coming for this school year. NEED expects to roll out its new and improved transportation suite in early 2017. These two guides will be wonderful for students who take an interest in transportation and help students to one day become educated consumers. These guides will introduce students to modes of transportation, fuels used for transportation, impacts of the various fuels, and emerging technologies in transportation through background information, vocabulary and math activities, and hands-on lab activities.

Many classrooms have students and teachers who regularly infuse technology into their learning. In an effort to make our materials more exciting and tech-friendly, NEED has taken its Energy Infobook Activities and converted them into digital, interactive versions for students to use. Students can access these activities by heading to the student page on the website. NEED also rolled out a new activity for understanding how electricity is generated from nuclear power plants. This fun, kinesthetic simulation allows students to assume the roles of the various parts of a nuclear power plant in order to understand its operation and energy transformations. This exciting activity can be found within NEED’s nuclear guides, Exploring Nuclear Energy and Energy from Uranium. Finally, we were pleased to add two new games to one our cornerstone pieces, Energy Games and Icebreakers. "Candy Collector" and "See, Run, Do" will make great additions to any energy unit.

As we look to 2017-2018, the curriculum team will be tasked with overhauling and updating its efficiency and conservation curriculum and kits to reflect many changes in the residential and commercial energy consumption sector. Keep your eyes peeled for other exciting curriculum news, and updated materials in early fall of 2017.


NEED curriculum and training focuses on several steps in energy education. Those steps, when followed together, make up a comprehensive energy education program in a classroom, an afterschool program, or a technical school or college.



Students at all grade levels learn about the forms of energy—heat, light, motion, sound, nuclear energy, and electrical energy—with age-appropriate, hands-on explorations that emphasize the scientific process and an application of newly gained energy knowledge to understanding energy sources, electricity generation and more.


The curriculum provides comprehensive, objective information and activities on the energy sources that fuel our country, including economic and environmental impacts. Students explore the history of energy, energy in current events, and consider future energy development opportunities and challenges. They understand that certain energy sources may be better choices for specific energy needs, and they discuss and debate the energy sources we use today and will use in the future. NEED believes in teaching about all energy sources and helping students understand that there are many things to consider when making decisions about resource use.


NEED students learn about the atom and the particles that make up the atom. They understand electricity as an energy carrier. They learn about electrons and how they move; they build batteries and electromagnets. They explore circuits and learn how electricity is generated and measured. They research fusion and fission, photovoltaics and superconductors, electricity regulation, and politics and policy. Students consider cleaner-coal technologies, renewable electricity, and natural gas fired electricity generation. They research nuclear energy as a growing option for generating the nation’s electricity.


NEED’s transportation materials cover the transportation fuels and vehicles in use today and the fuels and vehicles of the future. Students learn about gasoline, diesel, hybrid electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids. Coming in 2015-2016 is an expanded Transportation section in NEED curriculum. From playing Pretzel Power to learning about hybrid technologies, students learn more about what it takes to move people and goods from place to place.


Learning to use energy wisely is the capstone component of the NEED program. Students learn to read utility meters, use light meters, investigate phantom loads, and evaluate information from EnergyGuide labels and make the most use of the SmartMeter installed on their home. They learn about caulking, weather-stripping, and programmable thermostats. They monitor energy consumption and explore ways to reduce it—like using ENERGY STAR® products at home and at school.


NEED’s curriculum incorporates activities to help synthesize energy information and create valuable connections between science and social science and the application of knowledge to decision making. Students undertake problem based learning activities and explore possible opportunities and challenges for many energy decisions.


NEED’s Teacher Advisory Board of outstanding educators and subject matter experts review NEED materials for scientific accuracy, comprehensiveness, objectivity, educational soundness and effectiveness. NEED participants—students, educators, sponsors, and partners—evaluate materials and training programs, as well as new activities. Using evaluation tools included with every unit, teachers evaluate individual activities and the entire NEED program. NEED believes in producing the highest quality curriculum and training possible. With annual updates as a core principle of NEED’s work, teacher feedback is immediately reviewed and alterations and course corrections are made if needed each year.


NEED encourages and rewards student leadership and innovation by sponsoring a Youth Awards Program for Energy Achievement. Schools participating in NEED’s programs are invited to submit digital portfolios of their energy activities. Exceptional teachers and students are recognized for their efforts at the state and national level and are invited to attend NEED’s Youth Energy Conference and Awards held each June in Washington, DC. At the conference students work with their peers to explore new energy activities while NEED teachers have the opportunity to network and re-energize for the coming school year.

Find out more about our curriculum and our eight-step model in our catalog and access all of our guides at!


Teachers across the country have been reviewing and integrating new standards into their classrooms. The Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards are new to teachers and provide both challenges and opportunities in the classroom. NEED is already ready with great content, classroom management techniques, student development skills, and the teacher training needed for schools to achieve success with these new standards.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted in forty-five states, four territories, the District of Columbia, and by the Department of Defense Education Activity. CCSS are divided into two main areas: English and Language Arts; and Mathematics. Because NEED curriculum guides already have a cross-curricular approach, many of them align well with CCSS standards, especially at the intermediate level with respect to developing and defending a position. The CCSS do not indicate specific titles for teaching specific skills. As a result, teachers can include more energy-related activities and reading within their classrooms. NEED can help teachers meet standards in reading, writing, and math while providing relevant lessons in energy and sustainability. All NEED curriculum materials have been correlated to the CCSS and these correlation spreadsheets are available to educators on our website.

The final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released to the public in early April 2013; the adoption process within states and territories is ongoing. The major difference between NGSS and the National Science Education Standards that preceded them is the integration of spiraling concepts and engineering practices. Another important distinction of NGSS is the strong emphasis on modeling concepts. Modeling begins as early as first grade, with the heaviest emphasis on modeling at the high school level. NEED curriculum guides provide many opportunities for teachers and students to model the energy standards. Tracing a carbon atom through the carbon cycle, or watching breakfast syrup “hydraulically fracture” a gelatinous material allows students to understand things they cannot physically see for themselves.

Designing a solar home or analyzing weather data to site a wind turbine allows students to develop models while showing how engineers work every day. The ability of teachers to use NEED materials across grade levels will also allow teachers to bridge any learning gaps in their classrooms as they adopt the more rigorous NGSS. NEED’s content and recommended classroom processes engage and excite kids. What a great way to meet the standards and help teachers keep students active and engaged in the classroom!


All NEED schools have outstanding classroom-based programs in which students learn about energy. Some schools have student leaders who extend these activities into their communities. To recognize outstanding achievement and reward student leadership, The NEED Project conducts the National Youth Awards Program for Energy Achievement.

This program combines academic competition with recognition to acknowledge everyone involved in NEED during the year - and to recognize those who achieve excellence in energy education in their schools and communities. The students and teachers set goals and objectives, and keep a record of their activities. In April, the students combine their materials into presentations and submit them online.

Below are the 2016 National Youth Award Winners.
To view the Finalists, State Winners, and all the other fantastic projects submitted visit The YAP page or the individual State pages.

National Primary School of the Year
North Scituate Elementary School - RI

National Primary School of the Year
Lipscomb Academy Elementary School - TN

National Elementary School of the Year
A.K. Suter Elementary School - FL

National Junior School of the Year
Woodlawn Middle School - IL

National Senior School of the Year
Lloyd Memorial High School - KY

National Senior School of the Year
Fayette Academy - TN

National District of the Year
Westerville Energy Education Partnership - OH

NEW! Youth Energy Conference and Awards

New in 2017, the 37th Annual NEED Youth Energy Conference and Awards is expanding to give students and teachers more opportunities to learn about energy and to explore energy in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The annual June conference will have students from across the country working in groups on an Energy Challenge designed to stretch their minds and energy knowledge. Want to stretch your mind even more? A limited number of spaces are available for a special two-day, pre-conference event which will allow students access to additional hands-on energy sessions, time to discuss energy with their peers, and access to industry professionals to learn about energy careers.


Alton Gayton and Laurel Hughes

NEED congratulates Alton Gayton of William G Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina and Laurel Hughes of Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Georgia on receiving two prestigious awards: The Youth Energy Leadership Award and the Student of the Year award.
The Youth Leadership Award was created by NEED’s Board of Directors to recognize students who go above and beyond in their pursuit of energy knowledge and in the teaching of others. And these students are among the best.

From an early age, Alton admits to be enthralled by energy. From working in an “Energy Savers” club in elementary school to starting on the Youth Staff at 14, he has earned his thorough understanding of technical concepts. In school, he designed an innovative car that ran on wind-powered. The project did so well, the teacher assigned the challenge to the rest of the class, modeling after Alton’s concept. Last year, Alton earned a spot as a Student Facilitator for NEED and attends conferences and conventions around the country. From the moment he arrives, he brings enthusiasm, professionalism, and that perfected energy knowledge. He’s proven to be thorough and meticulous about his work and is a friendly face we have come to count on again and again.

Laurel admits to being a shy little girl from Tennessee before her experiences with NEED. Seven years, two states, and many Youth Awards later, she leads a middle school NEED team, makes presentations about energy conservation, and generously acts as a role model to younger students, exemplifying the concept that you can be into energy and still be cool. When she moved to a new school district, she fought to bring energy to the classroom, independently setting up recycling bins and making announcements about local sustainability events. In addition to singing the National Anthem at the past two NEED Recognition Ceremonies, Laurel has consistently brought a positive outlook to the youth staff team each June. She can talk the energy talk, but has also stepped up to walk the walk.

These two students think big ideas and they make them happen.

This award includes a $1,500 scholarship to be used for their post-high school educational plans. Alton has been accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he intends to pursue a degree in chemistry and explore its role in renewable energy. Laurel has been accepted to Georgia College and State University where she aspires to design energy-efficient homes. They will both receive an all-expenses paid trip to the 36th Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement where the award will be given at NEED’s National Recognition Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 2016.

Alton’s nomination from his teacher Amber Martinez said, “Alton is organized, efficient, extremely competent, and has an excellent rapport with people of all ages. In my classroom, Alton uses his prior knowledge of the world’s energy needs when designing assigned projects, always trying to take in consideration “real world” situations when applicable. He has shared his summer experiences (energy conferences and camps) with the engineering class, providing a variety of ideas for them to contemplate.”

Laurel’s nomination, from the parent of one of her program participants, said, “Laurel exemplifies a NEED student and plans to use her energy knowledge in her future career. She wants and will use her energy knowledge to make things better for the planet and for people. She is the embodiment of a NEED kid.”

In Laurel’s own words, “NEED has prepared me to be a leader more than anything else ever has. Being on the Youth Staff has taught me how to be an independent thinker, take control, and lead a group while still being thoughtful of others. The leadership skills and knowledge about energy awareness will help me in my future plans to build eco-friendly homes.”

In Alton’s own words, “NEED has not only molded me into a leader, but they also equipped me with the tools to make a difference in the field of study that I choose. The thought of being a part of something much bigger than you is exciting. The thought of being able to make a difference is enthralling.”

Congratulations to these extraordinary young adults. They’re the ones to watch!


Shannon Donovan

Shannon Donovan serves as an active participant on NEED’s Teacher Advisory Board – writing curriculum, reviewing curriculum, and more. She has taken personal responsibility for growing NEED’s Rhode Island effort and the results are clear today. More schools, more energy, more excitement than ever before. By hosting Rhode Island workshops and sharing her passion for energy education with students and teachers, Shannon has personally taught and mentored hundreds of kids and teachers to be smarter energy consumers. She thinks about the big picture – what each person can do to make a difference each day, and she lives what she teaches – with sustainable farming, eco-friendly living and local efforts to improve sustainability. She is on the go for NEED too, facilitating NEED workshops across Rhode Island. She is dedicated, supportive and fun. NEED is very lucky to have her in our extraordinary family of educators.

As her Principal, now Assistant Superintendent, Mike Sollitto said, “Of all Shannon’s qualities, the one that is most striking is her commitment to her students. For the past 11 years, she has served as the advisor for the Scituate National Energy Education Development (NEED) Club. The club has been named NEED senior high school club of the year for Rhode Island for 11 consecutive years. For 4 of those years, the NEED club was the National Club of the year! Her commitment and dedication inspire her students to go above and beyond expectations. Further evidence of this is Ms. Donovan’s work in her classroom on a daily basis. Shannon runs our Robotics program and is currently teaching a Robotics II course that offers students college credit through the Community College of Rhode Island. She also taught her classes this year from the mid-Atlantic via Skype and Twitter. She was aboard the research vessel The Endeavor and communicated with student digitally. These types of connections are examples of what makes Ms. Donovan an extraordinary educator.”

Renee Roddick

Renee Roddick retires from teaching this year after many years inspiring her students and fellow teachers to love teaching and learning and to be passionate about energy and the environment. Renee’s long-time participate in NEED began over 15 years ago. She has taught NEED in the classroom and also hosted the Forestville Road Energy STARS. Hundreds of students later, her work has helped Wake County Public Schools meet its energy goals and has inspired students and teachers to do great things. Always game for a challenge, Renee and her students led Wake County’s EnergySavers efforts throughout the district, teaching hundreds of teachers how to incorporate energy into their classrooms and how to reduce energy use in school buildings. She helped make Power Dude, the mascot for the EnergySavers Program a household name in the county. Renee took her teaching and learning on the road too – taking student teams across the state to help teach others. Jeri Preddy, former manager of the EnergySavers program, said “Renee is the best. Always ready to help. Always ready to teach. Always dedicated to inspiring kids to learn and teach others. She is a big part of why our EnergySavers program was successful.”

Kelly Ann Couch

Kelly Ann Couch joined NEED’s sponsors and partners when she launched the Children’s Energy Efficiency Program for Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities. NEED is honored to be LG&E/KU’s partner for this program by providing regional energy education and energy efficiency programming throughout the LG&E/KU service area. Kelly Ann saw an opportunity to really take energy education to a higher level by providing curriculum, training, and support to local classroom teachers. The LG&E/KU NEED team reached thousands of students since its beginning in 2008. Teachers are treated like rock stars, receiving hands-on NEED kits, training via workshops and classroom visits from the LG&E/KU-NEED team and more. Kelly Ann is a friend to educators everywhere. When her teachers see a specific need she works tirelessly to make it happen. She is thorough and reads and responds to all reports, questions, and inquiries about the program. Kelly Ann’s program is a shining example of what students and teachers can do when given the tools and support needed to make energy a fundamental theme in their school. Just looking at the list of exceptional Kentucky award winners shows the depth and success of the LG&E/KU program. Without Kelly Ann’s passion for education and energy the program would not be possible.


Right after Thanksgiving 2012, NEED received word that, Bob Thompson, one of our former teachers and staff members died suddenly. For the NEED family, this loss reminded us of the great times we had with Bob and his wife Debbie and all the fun we had as a team at teacher workshops, NEED Energy Conferences for Educators and our BP Solar Schools, BP A+ for Energy Program workshops and many others. Bob was a key part of our H2 Educate and Wind for Schools programming early on and delivered workshops for us in Illinois and all across the country for several years. When I think of Bob, I think of all the gee whiz moments that happen in science. I also think of Bob's childlike wonder about science, and specifically about energy. We're an organization of Energy Nerds. Big ones. We think of energy as a unifying theme in science. We think of energy as cool. Bob loved energy and loved teaching about energy. He also loved taking care of people. I can attest that I never picked up my own luggage, never had to carry my own laptop bag or open a door when Bob was around. He was a gentleman, a great teacher, and an explorer. As an ultralight pilot he would fly near wind turbines installed in Illinois. As a huge fan of aerospace, he would stand with me in the Avis parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport and stare into the heavens at the jet planes coming in to land. Then there was the time he shoved my ice cream cone in my face. That was funny. It was also cooling since we were in La Quinta, California

It was all science. All the time. Bob explored. Bob taught exploration. Bob energized workshops of teachers and classrooms of kids.

He was special. Special to all of us at NEED and to the teachers and students he worked with over time. Because of this, NEED has established the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award that will be given each year to a teacher who exemplifies Bob's childlike wonder of science and energy. The award includes a $1,000 cash grant to the teacher to use as he/she chooses in the classroom and an all-expenses paid trip to the NEED Energy Conference for Educators hosted each July. This year, the award will be given at the Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement in Washington, D.C. and the teacher will attend the NEED Energy Conference for Educators.

- Mary Spruill, Executive Director

Joseph Paris

Joseph’s nomination by his colleague David Kelly (West Chester Area School District) detailed all the reasons that Joseph deserves the Bob Thompson Excellence in Energy Award including his commitment and dedication to students and his encouragement of students to work harder, think deeper, and collaborate to find solutions. He has taken career and technology education to a new level – bringing engineering to the forefront and bringing real-world applications of science and technology to his students and his peers. He is always looking for an opportunity to learn and to teach and he always is willing to answer a question, encourage exploration, and assist students and fellow teachers alike.

Joseph develops relationships that bring good things to his students and his school and the West Chester School District. As a key leader in NEED’s partnership in the PECO Energizing Education Program in Philadelphia, Joseph has mentored teachers new to the program and helped them find ways to bring energy to life in the classroom. He encourages and engages in learning at all levels, at all times. As his colleague David Kelly said, “We enter our office in the morning and rather than say hello, we say ‘As I was saying…’ and head back into a thoughtful discussion of how to make technology education real and authentic for students.”

Paul Joyce, West Chester Area School District’s Supervisor of Science, Technology Education, Family and Consumer Science described Joseph this way, “Joe Paris is a fine gentleman and an excellent educator. His dedication to energy education for the students of WCASD in teaching and learning along with his own professional growth have been instrumental in changing the direction of Technology Education in WCASD and in many other districts too.”

Congratulations to this great energy educator and wonderful friend of NEED.


The NEED Teacher Advisory Board was created to assist NEED's staff, Board of Directors, and participants in planning, evaluating and implementing curriculum, programs, and special projects. The group meets one-two times a year and works to maintain the objectivity and comprehensiveness of NEED curriculum and programs. The Teacher Advisory Board members are available to assist NEED teachers nationwide with questions, comments, and suggestions.

Shelly Baumann, Rockford, MI
Constance Beatty, Kankakee, IL
James M. Brown, Saratoga Springs, NY
Amy Constant-Schott, Raleigh, NC
Nina Corley, Galveston, TX
Regina Donour, Whitesburg, KY
Linda Fonner, New Martinsville, WV
Samantha Forbes, Vienna, VA
Michelle Garlick, Long Grove, IL
Erin Gockel, Farmington, NY Robert Griegoliet, Naperville, IL
Bob Hodash, Bakersfield, CA
DaNel Hogan, Tucson, AZ
Greg Holman, Paradise, CA
Matthew Inman, Spokane, WA
Barbara Lazar, Albuquerque, NM
Robert Lazar, Albuquerque, NM
Leslie Lively, Porters Falls, WV
Mollie Mukhamedov, Port St. Lucie, FL
Don Pruett Jr., Sumner, WA
Joanne Spaziano, Cranston, RI
Tom Spencer, Chesapeake, VA
Jennifer Trochez MacLean, Los Angeles, CA
Jen Varrella, Fort Collins, CO
Jennifer Mitchell-Winterbottom, Pottstown, PA
Wayne Yonkelowitz, Fayetteville, WV