September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Kathy DiRanna Honored with Outstanding Leadership In Science Education Award

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Kathy DiRanna

Kathy DiRanna

The Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award is a prestigious award that recognizes and honors a National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA) member, who through their professional work, has demonstrated outstanding leadership in science education at the school, district, county, regional, and/or national level.

This award was presented at the NSELA breakfast, held during the annual NSTA National Conference in Chicago on March 12, 2015. The award is accompanied by a check for $1,000 and a plaque donated by Pearson. 

Kathy DiRanna is a lifetime member of CSTA and is well known in the science education community both here in California and nationwide. She has educated and inspired many science teachers throughout her career. CSTA is very pleased to share the news of this honor bestowed upon one of the great minds in science education in this state. The following was provided by NSELA announcing Kathy as the 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award.

Kathy DiRanna, Statewide Director, K-12 Alliance, WestEd, has demonstrated exemplary leadership in science education for nearly thirty years. Throughout her long-term work, Kathy continues to inspire others by both providing leadership and “growing” leaders. She is actively engaged with her team in planning and implementing a professional development model focused on content, pedagogy, and leadership. Since 1987, many of the leadership development strategies spearheaded by Kathy and her team have been implemented via the K-12 Alliance and are not only used in California but across the nation. One specific example is the WestEd National Academy for Science and Mathematics Education Leadership where Kathy, as a founding member of the team, provided professional development for leaders from many states. Some of these participants have become leaders for NSELA, NSTA, CSSS and other organizations in tandem with leadership at their state, regional, or local level. Kathy has directed many grants in California and co-developed grants with partners at the national level. Kathy is directing a new project, California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, which employs successful K-12 Alliance strategies.



Kathy and her K-12 Alliance colleagues have worked with more than 6,000 schools, resulting in impacting thousands of teachers and millions of students for access to more effective science education. Evaluation results demonstrate that both student achievement on classroom assessments and state achievement tests in mathematics and science for grades 5 and 8 have increased, most notably in schools with high proportions of disadvantaged children.

A quote from Kathy’s nominator states “It is the day-to-day work that she pursues that continues to impress me. Whether it’s presenting at the 2014 NSELA PDI and annually at the California Science Education Conference and NSTA conferences, influencing policy by working with the California Department of Education and California County Science Supervisors, or pulling new-to-leadership teachers aside to provide mentoring and advice, Kathy is that leader we all strive to emulate.”

In 2011, Kathy was awarded the Susan Loucks-Horsley Award for Building Communities of Learners from Learning Forward.  She also received the California Science Teachers Association Margaret Nicholson for Distinguished Service to Science Education Award (in 1998).

Other notable accomplishments include co-authoring the Data Coaches Guide and the lead or a contributing author to other publications. She served as Program Chair for an NSTA National Conference and a Learning Forward Conference.

NSELA and Pearson are proud to honor Kathy’s incredible leadership and her passion for nurturing other science education leaders. Kathy is a great role model for education leaders on how to sustain projects after grant money is gone.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

8 Responses

  1. A WELL DESERVED award! Kathy’s tireless and thoughtful work supporting teachers and her leadership in the state advocating for high quality classroom instruction leave me humbled. I am a better teacher because of her influence.

  2. If there is anyone in the state who is more capable of herding cats, I have not met them. Kathy is a leadership genius, the states number one science education promoter, and one of the most generous people you will ever meet.

  3. Congrats to Kathy on this National recognition, California science classrooms have truly been changed for the better during the past 2+ decades of Kathy DiRanna’s thoughtful, purposeful and tireless leadership of the K-12 Alliance!

  4. Congratulations! You deserve all the awards that you received. I certainly would not be the educator that I am without you.

  5. Congratulations, Kathy! Your leadership style and care about all of the students and their future makes our future all the stronger. Thank YOU for all you accomplish every day helping teachers help their students. Well done!

  6. And i would say a WELL-EARNED recognition. Congratulations, Kathy!

  7. To those who have commented here and those who have sent direct emails:
    This award was a total surprise and I accepted it in honor of all of you for your willingness to be the best you can for the children of this state. Thank you for grabbing the dream and making it real. I am humbled to be your colleague and friend.

  8. Well deserved, Kathy. You were a great influence on my teaching. It’s great to see you are still on the forefront of science teaching and learning.

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Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Is This a First: Young Female Teens Propose California Water Conservation Legislation?

Posted: Monday, August 28th, 2017

Meet the La Habra Water Guardians from the Optics of their Teacher Moderator, Dr. P.

by Susan M. Pritchard, Ph.D.

You have just won the 2016 Lexus Eco Challenge as one of four First Place Winners in the Middle School Category across the nation! Now, what are you going to do … go to Disneyland? No, not for four of the six La Habra Water Guardians, Disneyland is not in their future at this time. Although I think they would love a trip to Disneyland, (are you listening Mickey Mouse?), at this moment they are focused big time on one major thing … celebrating the passage of their proposed legislation: Assembly Bill 1343 Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership Bill and now promoting the enactment of this legislation. Learn More…

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: