From Osteoarchaeologist to Curriculum Manager at Apex Learning

May 30, 2019
Charlotte Luongo

If you ask Charlotte Luongo what she does for a living, she might tell you that she is creating young scientists. As the Science Curriculum Manager for the Apex Learning Content Development team, Charlotte wants to rekindle the curiosity and interest students had for exploring the world when they were very young.

“All humans are born little scientists, questioning the world around them, wondering ‘why is the sky blue or the grass green,’” said Charlotte. “Scientists have the same interest, but are more focused and strategic in how they investigate their questions.”

This investment in stirring curiosity in the minds of young students is what Charlotte says drives the Content Development team every day. She leads a team of Instructional Designers, who share her love of science. Together, they work with Apex Learning product teams to create and execute the pedagogical vision of Apex Learning science curriculum.

She completed graduate school, training, and research to become an osteoarcheologist in 1998, specializing in paleopathology where she studied human disease throughout history with a focus on leprosy. Charlotte had the opportunity to conduct research at one of the last remaining hospitals dedicated to leprosy patients before earning her Master of Science degree. After grad school, she planned to take a break when an academic science publishing position opened up, and she first took the leap into curriculum development.

“I fell in love with the whole process of creating curriculum and the challenge of providing students with a foundational knowledge of science,” she said. “I enjoyed the various ways you could teach students and get them excited about the world around them. Suddenly, instead of it being all up to me as a teacher to help students learn about science, I had a team of really energetic, creative, smart people who worked together with me to make the curriculum blossom. I was able to switch from research scientist to someone who was able to make a difference in the education industry.”  

When Charlotte began working for Apex Learning years later in 2011, she reconnected with many of her former colleagues from her first publishing position.

“When I began with Apex Learning, it was so refreshing to work with many of the people from my original content development team again,” she said. “When you work with people for that long, you understand how they think, and you develop a richly collaborative team that cannot be replicated. It’s unique, and frankly I don’t think I could find a team flourishing with such creativity at any other company. Apex Learning provides an environment that allows us to do what we love while working together with people we respect, which is very fulfilling.”  

But the main reason Charlotte loves what she does is the opportunity to help struggling students succeed.

“There are so many struggling learners in school districts today,” she said. “These students might have family challenges that make it difficult for them to focus, or learning disabilities and life situations beyond their control, or they may just need a little more help. We want students to be successful, and our goal is to provide them with a science education so they can make informed decisions about anything related to science.”

Charlotte’s love of science also extends beyond Apex Learning. A few years into her career, she had an opportunity to move to Morocco where she was able to continue her work in publishing while working with a team of archeologists to conduct a skeletal analysis. Since that experience, Charlotte has visited and photographed countless places all over the world. Her extensive travel has almost always revolved around a scientific topic—whether it’s viewing a solar eclipse, visiting a bat cave, or experiencing the night sky in the Painted Desert.

She attributes her deep interest and knowledge of photography to her vast travel experiences. And recently, she has been fascinated by the night sky and the impact of light pollution on nocturnal life and astronomy, leading to her latest passion project: astrophotography. Others have taken notice as one of her photos was selected for the International Dark Sky Association’s 2019 calendar. In recognition of that honor, Charlotte has been invited to be one of the guides for a star party this summer at Crater Lake National Park.

Check out Charlotte’s latest photos here:

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