May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

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:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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