July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2012 State Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Posted: Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has named six outstanding teachers as 2012 California State Finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The science nominees are Nathan Richard Fairchild, a science teacher at North Woods Discovery Charter School in the Gateway Unified School District, Shasta County; Michelle French, a first grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School in the Tulare City Elementary School District, Tulare County (and CSTA’s Primary Director!); and Alma Suney Park, a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, a private school in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County.

The mathematics nominees are: Jamie Garner, a sixth grade mathematics teacher at the Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District, Stanislaus County; Andrew Ivan Kotko, a primary grades teacher at Mather Heights Elementary School, Folsom-Cordova Unified School District, Sacramento County; and Sara Teressa Norris, the head primary teacher at Mills College Children’s School, an independent laboratory school affiliated with Mills College in Oakland, Alameda County.

“I congratulate these remarkably talented teachers who are among the most creative and effective in California,” said Torlakson, himself a science teacher-on-leave from Contra Costa County’s Mount Diablo Unified School District. “Math and science educators are essential to the future success of students and the future of our state. I greatly appreciate their efforts to make these subjects exciting and inspiring.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partnered with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program. Each applicant had to demonstrate a mastery of math or science, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, effective use of assessment strategies, employ lifelong learning, and show leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate also was required to submit a 45-minute video lesson in support of their application.

Science Finalists

Nathan Richard Fairchild has been a teacher for the last eight years. Previously, he was a wildlife naturalist and interpretative ranger in the Wind Caves National Park. He serves as a mentor and facilitator for the Electronic Mentoring for Student Success program, an online forum for new science teachers developed jointly by the University of California, Santa Cruz; and Montana State University. He holds degrees from Michigan State University and Montana State University. Mr. Fairchild was a previous state finalist for this award. The National Science Foundation, which sponsors the award for the White House, encourages candidates to reapply in subsequent cycles. He was nominated by his school’s principal and his video lesson was an inquiry where a local volcanic eruption is possible in the Redding area.

Michelle French teaches first grade at Wilson Elementary School, where she has worked for 16 years. She is the co-director for the Improving Teacher Quality Grant—Bringing Language and Science Together project and serves as a professional learning community facilitator for her district. She has held many leadership positions in several professional associations and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fresno. She was nominated by a member of her school community. Her video lesson was focused on integrating language arts and science to learn about living things. Students learned about plant structures and functions.

Alma Suney Park is a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, where she has worked since 2005. Originally from Illinois, Ms. Park has 13 years of prior teaching, eight of which have been in California. She possesses credentials from Illinois, California, and Michigan. She has a strong background in the biological sciences and focuses her teaching strategies around problem solving, conceptual understanding, and addressing real-world problems. She has worked with the Teaching Channel to create demonstration lessons for the Common Core Standards. She has piloted a youth philanthropy project (Project Give) focused on environmental science and climate change. She holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. Her video lesson featured an investigation on climate-change that culminated a unit of study on global warming.

Mathematics Finalists

Jamie Garner teaches at a mathematics and science magnet school where all subjects are taught through the lens of those disciplines. Her classroom features hands-on, project-based learning activities. She leads a special elective class on “future cities,” where students are given the opportunity to generate model cities that could exist 150 years in the future. Mrs. Garner also provides intensive, after-school instruction for students who may be struggling in mathematics. She is a regional coordinator for PI Day (a day to celebrate the value and contributions of mathematics to our society). Her video focused on a geometry lesson determining the surface area of three-dimensional solids.

Andrew Ivan Kotko is a primary grades teacher and a member of a district-wide team designing project and inquiry-based mathematics lessons. A National Board Certified Teacher, Mr. Kotko has taught in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District for 10 years and is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento, with a major in physics. He was nominated for the award by a parent of one of his previous students. His video lesson focused on Place Value (Base 10 number systems).

Sara Teressa Norris is the head primary teacher at Mills College Children’s School as well as a mentor to college students who are at various stages of their own professional development, working toward either initial certification or an advanced graduate degree. Ms. Norris is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has earned a Master of Arts degree from Mills College. Prior to her current position, she taught in a first grade Spanish bilingual classroom in the San Leandro Unified School District. She has a California Multiple Subject Credential with a Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD) certificate and Bilingual CLAD certification in Spanish. Her video lesson featured regrouping strategies within addition.

The National Science Foundation administers the PAEMST program on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It represents the highest recognition that a kindergarten through twelfth grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. The program was enacted by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year.

Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions including Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories. Since the program’s inception, 84 California teachers have been named PAEMST recipients. Teachers are recognized for their outstanding contributions to teaching and learning and their ability to help students make progress in mathematics and science and are given expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, gifts from program sponsors from around the country, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

For more information about PAEMST and a link to the National PAEMST Web site, please visit the CDE’s Presidential Awards for Math & Science Teaching Web page. For contact information for the national finalists and the state nominees, please contact the CDE Communications Division at 916-319-0818 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              916-319-0818      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or communications@cde.ca.gov.

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.

One Response

  1. If a vote is in order, I wholeheartedly cast my vote for Nate Fairchild. I have worked with him (e-mentoring and curriculum development, and online testing), watched him at work (at conferences and e-mentoring), and have enjoyed his generous friendship for about 10 years.
    Larry Flammer
    ENSI Webmaster

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.

Eligibility:

Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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.

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 zi@cascience.org.)

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.