From 2001 to 2004 she taught 4th-12th grade English and Science at a private Buddhist school in Union City, California. In 2004, she returned to South Carolina and joined Richland School District 2 at Kelly Mill Middle School. During 2004-2013 she taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science courses. In that time, she held a grant from the EPA/South Carolina Department of Education for environmental education under EIC (Environment as an Integrating Context) and later Project INDIGO, which also partnered with Clemson University. As part of this she collaborated with a number of organizations including Riverbanks Zoo, South Carolina Aquarium, and USC’s Baruch Institute to create environmental educational opportunities for students.. From 2010-2013 she served as the science department chair for Kelly Mill Middle School. In 2014, she joined Dent Middle School. Outside of Richland 2, she has also served as a coaching teacher for the University of South Carolina, an adjunct professor for Midlands Technical College and the University of Phoenix, and a National Board Scorer for ETS. In 2007, she has presented at the National Science Teacher’s Association conference on the conceptual change model. As part of a program between NOAA, AME, and Navy she became certified to teach conduct physical oceanography training for teachers through the Maury Project. Additionally, she has also volunteered her time to serve as a reviewer for Middle Level Teacher certification programs for the South Carolina Department of Education.
Unconventional and often rebellious.
In 2016 she was honored as the South Carolina Aquarium STEM Educator of the Year, and Richland County Conservation Teacher of the Year (Honorable Mention). In 2015 she was honored as Gills Creek Watershed Association's Watershed Heroes Award.
After meeting the legendary oceanographer Dr. Bob Ballard with her grandfather, she decided to pursue marine science. Dr. Tustin earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina in 1999. As part of that program of study, she completed a fellowship at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric at the University of Miami in 1997. She also participated in a number of environmental education programs in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2003, she earned a Masters of Arts in English from California State East Bay, where she also worked with disabled students at the university. She also holds a PhD in Educational Technology from Walden, and in 2007 she became National Board Certified in Adolescent Science.
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