Our Instructors

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station’s staff is composed of highly-qualified, award-winning science educators and administrative staff who bring with them professional experience, in-depth knowledge, and a broad range of skillsets.

Our instructors are highly passionate about marine biology and the study of coastal ecosystems. We love sharing this passion with curious children who have also discovered both the excitement and importance of marine life.

Charlene Mauro - Director

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Charlene Mauro is the Director of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. Through Pensacola State College, she teaches Marine Biology and Oceanography to area dual enrollment students who in turn educate young children that attend programs on site. In addition to serving as the Director of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, she serves as the first ever Science Specialist for the Santa Rosa County School District. Mrs. Mauro has successfully written grants to completely transform a vacant ranger station into a fully functional science field station. Since its official opening in August 2009, the station has been host to over 8,000 students and community members for programs concerning the local marine environments.

The award winning programs provide hands-on, feet-wet curriculum that educates and challenges participants of all ages how to be stewards of our marine environment. Knowing the immense positive impact that scientific research and teacher professional development has made on her career, Mrs. Mauro makes at least two professional presentations annually at local, state, and national levels. Past honors include National Marine Educator of the Year, Outstanding Florida High School Science Teacher of the Year, University of Florida Distinguished Educator, EPA’s Presidential Award, Gulf Guardian Award, Navarre area Citizen of the Year, University of West Florida Outstanding Young Alumnus, 2016 Johnette D. Bosarge Memorial Award, and a finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Mauro is an active member in professional and community groups including the Gulf Coast Ocean Observation Systems (GCOOS), Florida Association of Science Supervisors, National Marine Educators Association, National Science Teachers Association, and Rotary. By example, Charlene encourages her students to find their passion, seek opportunities, make a difference, and always continue to learn.

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Anne Laurenzi - Program Coordinator

Mrs. Laurenzi has been a Florida science teacher for over 10 years and was an Escambia County teacher of year in 2018. She has her Bachelor of Science in biology with a chemistry minor from Simmons University in Boston, MA and a Master of Science in Ecology from Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL. Her graduate coursework and research focused on global climate change and long-term human environmental impact and took her to biodiversity hotspots such as the Andes Mountains in Peru and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. 

In addition to traditional classroom teaching, she has educated students in marine science in the Bahamas and in rainforest ecology in Costa Rica. With a passion for the environment, she feels she can have the most positive impact on the world through education. She especially enjoys teaching students in natural settings “where their textbooks come alive.” “There is simply no substitute for teaching students about the environment than in a natural setting,” she says. Through environmental outreach and education, she desires to inspire others to make positive, ecologically-minded changes in their lives. Her mission is to create the next generation of environmental stewards and problem-solvers that will find solutions to our most pressing environmental concerns. 

Sam Griffin - Outreach Coordinator

Sam Griffin - Outreach Coordinator

Sam is an incredible example of the transformation from student to teacher, getting his start as a student in Mrs. Mauro’s dual enrollment Marine Biology course in 2015 and since then becoming a volunteer superstar: racking in over 300 volunteer hours doing outreach programs, summer camps, festivals, tours, and his favorite, Autism OdysSea. Throughout these events, Sam is a fabulous teacher and role model for students, sharing his appreciation and passion for the ocean as he reaches multiple ages from kids to adults alike. As the Outreach Coordinator, he can be found leading private tours, working with the Discovery Depot, and most community programs.  

Having graduated from Navarre High School in 2017 (while simultaneously earning his Associate of Arts degree from Pensacola State College), Sam spends his free time working as a substitute teacher for Santa Rosa County. Sam is pursuing a degree from the University of Central Florida in Civil Engineering, stemming from his passion for design and innovation.

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Rhonda Smith - Shop Manager

Ronda has been volunteering as the Station's gift shop manager since 2011. She loves to see the visiting students get excited about the ocean - and shopping in the gift shop! She also loves to see the NBMSS high school students grow into amazing teachers over the course of a year.

Ronda came to Navarre in 2008 from Okinawa, Japan after her husband Scott retired from the Air Force. She is also retired AF and has been stationed all around the world. She and Scott have a blended family of eight kids (six are married) and seven grandkids that always make them smile. The youngest three, Kaiti, Tim, and Kim graduated from Navarre High School. Kaiti and Tim both took the Station classes and worked summer camps. Kaiti went on to UWF for a degree in marine biology, Tim is at UWF studying biology, and Kim is just starting at FSU.

 When Ronda's not crocheting jellyfish, stamping tile coasters, or making sea life jewelry for the gift shop, she likes to read, scrapbook, make cards, sew, quilt, and make just about any crafty thing you can imagine! We appreciate the creativity, dedication, and warm personality that Ronda brings to the Station. We are lucky to have her!

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Emily Simon - Lead Teacher, Grades K -2

Emily Simon is a Kindergarten teacher at West Navarre Primary School. She attended North Carolina Wesleyan College and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a certification in Education K-6. Emily is a member of the Florida Marine Science Educator Association and the Florida Geographic Alliance. She was Santa Rosa County Rookie of the year in 2013 and was awarded West Navarre Primary’s 2017 Teacher of The Year. 

She was born in Milton and raised in Fort Walton Beach. Her parents and grandparents instilled the love of our local waters and the importance of taking care of it while enjoying it. Emily has been married for 18 years to Rob Simon and they have three children- Bobby 15, Emma 13, and Elijah 10. In her spare time Emily enjoys paddle boarding and hiking.

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Danna Chatwell - Lead Teacher, Grades 3-8

Outdoors and animals have always been a fascination to Danna Chatwell. Studying every detail from why it moves like it does to how it acquires its food. Danna graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Elementary Ed 1-6, General Special Education K-12 and received a Master of Education in Science 1-9. Of all the grades she has taught, 7th grade has been her favorite. 

Danna came to Woodlawn Beach Middle School 7 years ago and have loves every minute teaching science. Going to work is not only a joy but also her hobby. When the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station opened its doors another dream came true. To work out doors learning about the wonderful place we live and the wildlife that surrounds us was a summer job that was too good to be true. Not only does she enjoy working near the Gulf of Mexico, she LOVES surfing in it. Sitting on the outside waiting for a wave and watching the wildlife pass underneath completes her love for science.

Pete Della Ratta - FYCCN/Guy Harvey Fishing Camp

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Pete DellaRatta grew up in Gulf Breeze, Florida since he was 5 years old and after graduating from Gulf Breeze High he attended the University of South Alabama on a baseball scholarship. Pete went on the play Professional Baseball as well as Manage /Coach professional baseball for parts of 8 years for numerous teams. Fishing has become a lifelong passion that has transcended into his professional career. He began his teaching career in 2004 at Woodlawn Beach Middle and after 7 years transferred to Holley Navarre Middle as the Dean of Students where he is currently on staff.

He has managed to develop, finance and implement educational programs for the past 10 years which has taught thousands of middle school students the importance of fishing, boating and conservation. Students are able to learn various aspects of fishing, boating, and conservation during school time for all students in the 7th grade as well as receive a rod and reel of their own through Grants provided by Fish Florida. Through various grants/donations from other entities, Pete has helped maintain Kid’s Fishing Clinics for numerous organizations from the Optimist Club, Sertoma, Rotary, Boy/Girl Scouts, Church Organizations, Local Fishing Clubs, the Navarre Pier, Masonic Lodge Special Needs Clinic, Pensacola State College, as well as helped bring fishing, boating, & conservation clinics to numerous other schools in Santa Rosa County. Last year Pete was the Lead Instructor at the Guy Harvey Clinics and will resume that role with help from Mike Flowers and numerous other individuals. Pete’s love for the water and passion for teaching has helped students from around the area learn various aspects of fishing, boating, and conservation which will help to make a difference in our community and in the lives of our future stewards of the water.

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Kayak Dave - The ULTIMATE Kayak Guide

“Kayak Dave” Barker, returned to Navarre 1997 after working in sewing factory for 14 years, to pursue all things kayak. Kayak Eco-tour guide 17 yrs. IFAS FL Master Naturalist student/instructor. 

He is a volunteer for Santa Rosa Marine Extension, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center and Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary. Dave is also able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.