Alexis Ryder

Administrative Assistant

Alexis grew up in the Capital Region, living in Rotterdam, NY and attending Schalmont High School. She earned her B.S. in Economics from SUNY Oneonta while being a member of the Varsity Soccer and Track & Field teams. Following graduation she worked as an Office Manager for the New York State Assembly before joining the Rise High @ Clarkson team.

Alexis has always had a passion for working with children. She was a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor for five years throughout high school and college as well as a Teacher Assistant at the Schenectady Day Nursery. Alexis is very energetic and charismatic and likes to work hands-on while taking the opportunity to learn alongside the students. With a career aspiration of becoming an Academic Advisor, Alexis loves to help children find their passions and purpose, no matter what they may be.

In her free time, Alexis likes to remain active by playing in a recreational soccer league as well as running in local 5k races. Her other hobbies include playing video-games and watching YouTube videos as well as spending time with her family, friends, cat, and leopard gecko.

Nichole Mantas

Curriculum Lead, Grades 10 & 11

Nichole earned her B.A. in biology from The College of Saint Rose, followed by her M.A. in Teaching (Biology 7-12) from Union Graduate College. This fall, she will proudly enter her tenth year as a classroom teacher at Saratoga Springs High School. Nichole currently teaches Honors Biology, PLTW Medical Interventions, co-facilitates a book club for untenured science teachers, and is a mentor teacher. Her journey in education has allowed her to learn with students in a variety of districts, including Schenectady, Lansingburgh, Troy, and Mohonasen in addition to Saratoga. Nichole is eager to apply what she has learned within her classroom, community, and coursework to the Rise High program, helping students delve into their STEM curiosities.

Excited about science herself, she strives to help others find joy in STEM. She has been an active participant and presenter with STANYS, an adjunct professor for Instructional Theory and Practice in Biology at Siena College, and a Summer Science Research Fellow with Questar III BOCES.

Outside the classroom and science community, Nichole is happiest with her dog, family, and friends. She is an avid reader, yoga enthusiast, and furniture flipper.

Jillian Baird

Curriculum Lead, Grades 8 & 9

Jill grew up in the Capital Region and moved away from the area for ten years. During that time, she did work towards her undergraduate degree at both Paul Smith’s College and SUNY Potsdam. At Paul Smith’s College, she studied Wildlife Conservation but then transferred to SUNY Potsdam after discovering a passion for teaching. Jill transferred to SUNY Potsdam to pursue a degree in Physics, Biology, and Adolescent Education. At SUNY Potsdam, she continued to earn her Master’s degree in Science Teaching. Jill is a certified (NYS) teacher in Physics and Biology, with an extension for General Science.

Jill has taught in various public schools since graduation in the Rochester area and is now back in the Capital Region. Her teaching experience includes working with various K-12 Science Curriculum to make engaging hands-on learning experiences for students, focusing on NYSSLS standards. She has also worked with students previously as a STEM Teacher for the 21st Century Grant Program at her previous school district. Currently, Jill is a Physics teacher at Schalmont High School, but has taught grades 7th through 12th in her career so far.

In her free time Jill enjoys going Geocaching and doing needlepoint crafts!

Staff and Volunteers

We have an amazing team that keeps things rolling! This group includes local scientists, educators, college students and professionals in various fields of science, and dedicated volunteers that simply love children! Our people engage in various roles that include, but are not limited to…

  • managing all technical planning that supports computer-aided curricula
  • guiding curriculum development alongside local experts who deliver current and highly relevant content
  • supporting student engagement
  • weekly mentoring of students assigned to each grade cohort represented (currently 9th, 10th, and 11th grades)
  • planning and distribution of weekly meals for our students during session

We could not do it without them!

If you are interested in volunteering with Rise High @ Clarkson, contact RiseHigh@Clarkson.edu.