AFS-USA Logo and AFS Youth Assembly Logo

AFS-USA is proud to have ten young educators traveling to New York City on full scholarships (sponsored by BP) to attend the annual AFS Youth Assembly from August 15-18, 2024. They will join 40 international educators for a hands-on program designed to engage them in interactive learning and skill-building around global citizenship education. In their special full-day workshop preceding the AFS Youth Assembly, these global educators will develop their own intercultural and global competencies as they explore how to foster them in their learners and communities. Additionally, these young educators will join 600+ other global participants who will have an opening ceremony at the United Nations, attend interactive learning sessions, and mingle with organizations at an opportunities fair. They will be prepared to return home and forge our shared future with global impact at their core of their actions in their local communities!

These educators were nominated by teachers, administrators, and volunteers in our AFS community, so we know they are capable of great things. Please see the list of educators and the areas where they live. Don’t see your area of the U.S. represented? Start thinking now about an educator you want to nominate next spring, so you have a young changemaker who works in a school near you next year. Complete this interest form and we’ll notify you when it’s time to nominate them!

Yara Barbosa headshot
Yara Barbosa
East Kentwood High School (MI)

Yara Barbosa is a High School English and ESL teacher at East Kentwood High School. Coming from Brazil at the age of nine and learning English as her second language, Yara is proud to teach at the most diverse district in the state of Michigan and seventh in the nation where she gets to teach and support Multilingual Learners like herself. Yara has earned her Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership from Mount Holyoke College and hopes to inspire other leaders to make positive global change. Outside of school, Yara is passionate about getting others outdoors by leading backpacking trips through her group and volunteering for community cleanup projects.

Taylor Bonnette
Manhattan High School (KS)
Taylor Bonnette headshot

Taylor Bonnette is from Manhattan, Kansas, home of the Kansas State Wildcats, where she works as a high school counselor. She received her Bachelors of Science in Health Science/Administration from Washburn University and is currently finishing a Master of Science in School Counseling from Walden University. Her path to working in education was very unexpected. She worked almost 10 years as a medical assistant and then an EMT and Firefighter. Throughout her life, she experienced a lot of adversity that led her to the mental health side of healthcare and a passion to help high school students socially, emotionally, and academically. Taylor spends most of her time meeting with students to provide counseling techniques and tools, help with their future academic plans, and provide a safe and empowering place they can go to. She looks forward to expanding her network and knowledge surrounding global education at the AFS Youth Assembly.

Jaclynn Connors
Maple Grove Middle School (MN)
Jaclynn Connors

Jaclynn Connors is an English teacher at Maple Grove Middle School. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in English and Teaching Communication Arts and Literature. Since graduating, she has strived to make her classroom an equitable environment for all students to receive opportunities for recognition and growth. Jaclynn understands that as an educator, she also has to continuously be learning. She endeavors to always be there for her students and provide them with the best learning experience. Her favorite part about teaching is playing a role in the growth and development of her students and seeing it happen in real time.


Samantha Netterman
Riley County High School (KS)
Samantha Netterman headshot

Samantha Netterman is an English teacher in Riley, Kansas. She is a New Jersey native, who traded in the beach for the rolling hills and small-town life in Kansas. Sam graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, specializing in Shakespearean Studies, and minoring in psychology. Upon moving to Kansas, Sam received her Master’s degree in Education at Fort Hays State University, through a transition to teaching pathway. At Riley County, Sam serves as an assistant softball coach and the Key Club sponsor. Her ELA classroom aims to be a doorway for students, expanding their perspectives and worldview. Along with literacy and communication skills, Sam feels strongly that students need to learn to become strong leaders, motivators, and change-makers in the world.

Rowan Pelfrey headshot
Rowan Pelfrey
Seminole Ridge High School (FL)

Rowan Pelfrey is an English and classics teacher from South Florida. Rowan earned her associate degree the same year she graduated as valedictorian in 2017, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of West Florida in 2021. Rowan has a passion for the arts and humanities and chairs the GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance) and Social Studies Academic Games chapter at her school. She is active in local theatre and assists in most productions at Seminole Ridge. In 2025, Rowan will be taking her classical studies students on a trip to Athens and Rome in order to get a hands-on experience with everything they learn in the class. In 2019, Rowan had the privilege of studying Irish folklore, history, and theatre as a part of a project at her university. Her experiences have stayed with her and inspired her to have a more global cultural approach to her practice in education.

Rachel Pigg headshot
Rachel Pigg
Winton Woods High School (OH)

Rachel Pigg is a teacher at Winton Woods High School in Cincinnati, OH. She adores teaching American History and AP Human Geography and is a part of a unique international program that allows students to experience the world through investigating the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Students participate in simulations like Model United Nations, which exposes them to world issues and problem solving techniques. She also leads trips to Chicago and New York City, on which students visit the United Nations. Rachel is so excited to take part in the AFS Youth Assembly and gain invaluable tools for her students.


Tylar Searcy headshot
Tylar Searcy
Vashon High School (MO)

Tylar Searcy’s passion for community service and fostering student success has driven a unique career path in education. After completing h undergraduate degree in Communication Science & Disorders from Fontbonne University, Tylar began her love for education at College Bound. There, she began as a recruiter and rose to manage a team of coaches who supported students academically and during college exploration. Seeking direct classroom experience, she transitioned to KIPP Saint Louis High School as a Chemistry teacher before joining Vashon High School as a Biology teacher. Her commitment to student growth extends beyond the classroom curriculum. Tylar leads ACT prep sessions, serves as an adjunct professor for the UMSL-Bridge Program, and co-leads the Show Me the World Project at Vashon, all intending to ignite student curiosity in STEM fields and demonstrate the real-world applications of science. Having recently completed her Master’s Degree in Teaching & Learning from Washington University-St. Louis (May 2024), Tylar is poised to make an even greater impact on her student’s lives.

Brian-Shimer headshot

Brian Shimer
Joseph Lane Middle School (OR)

Brian Shimer teaches Social Studies at Joseph Lane Middle School in Roseburg, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and German studies and his master’s degree in education. He began volunteering for the ASPIRE program, which supported students navigating scholarships, college admissions, and financial aid on their path to college. Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are at the heart of what he focuses on in his Social Studies classes. In his personal life, he’s a proud father of two and spends his weekends and summers happily growing their hearts and minds with his lovely wife in the outskirts of Roseburg.

Kayli Smith headshot
Kayli Smith
Greendale Middle and High Schools (WI)

Kayli Smith is a certified French and Spanish teacher and has taught in the Milwaukee area for two years. She splits her time between both the middle and the high schools in Greendale, Wisconsin. She is highly dedicated to ensuring her students have bright futures and she enjoys seeing their passion grow. Kayli’s path to becoming an educator is one she describes as typical as she knew from a young age that she wanted to inspire and connect with the next generation in a fast-paced educational environment. Kayli works hard to engage and motivate her students while creating a learning environment where students can explore language and culture. Kayli is eager to connect with educators from around the world during the AFS Youth Assembly.

Bailey Willis Headshot
Bailey Willis
Safety Harbor Middle School (FL)

Bailey is a middle school math teacher who has a calling for education. She believes public education should be a priority in government funding being that it provides equal access to food, opportunity knowledge, and social programs to support student growth and development. She strives to make the world a better place by helping students develop critical thinking skills and build self-regulating habits. Math can be a frustrating subject for some students and helping them overcome that frustration and build skills to help themselves is something Bailey is passionate about. Coaching the school’s math team and tutoring before school helps her lift students up to achieve their fullest potential. She hopes this conference will expose her to current best practices in education, help her infuse a global perspective into her lessons, and deepen her understanding of the world around her.