Board of Directors Election - 2018-2020 Term

The Nominations Committee of the California Science Teachers Association presents the following information regarding candidates for election of directors to the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2018-2020 term.

Your vote is in the selection of the leadership of CSTA is critically important. It is through your elected leaders that the direction of the association is determined. These next few years in California will be critical for science teachers as we continue our transition to the California Next Generation Science Standards, the new curriculum framework, new instructional materials, new assessment, and new accountability system. We encourage you to be proactive in exercising your voting rights and select the board that will lead CSTA.

On March 30, 2018 voting for the 2018-2020 elections began. Most members received their ballots via email. Some will receive paper ballots in the mail. If you were a member on March 26, 2018 and didn't receive a ballot, please contact the office at 916-979-7004 or admin(at)cascience.org.

Upper Elementary Director

Alyssa Nemeckova-Fairfield

Alyssa Nemeckova-Fairfield

Alyssa is an upper elementary classroom teacher in Palm Springs. She has spent the past four years teaching fourth grade. This year she is teaching a combination of fourth and fifth graders. Alyssa is on the Core Leadership team for the NGSS Early Implementers. She is a co-author of the 4th grade Learning Sequence: Rube Goldberg. Alyssa has been appointed to the Instructional Materials Review Committee for the state adoption of science materials.

Science education is something that needs to be taught at all grade levels from pre-K through the universities. Science drives us forward. We need to nurture wonder, curiosity and a love of science to move forward as a society. We also we to understand the workings of the world around us to be able to make informed decisions about legislation and its impacts.Teaching of science is more than teaching content. Students need to experience science in the way it is done and in their thinking. To build upon their innate sense of curiosity to explore the world around them. They should build upon their current understandings of the world to explain new experiences.

The role of CSTA is to promote high quality science education. In this manner CSTA ensures that science continues to be a part of our society. CSTA is the first supporter of science teachers across all grade levels. CSTA and its collective members provide a community for teachers to come together to collaborate on the best ways to deliver science instruction, and address issue of equity within science education. They support California science teachers by advocating for science education with the California Department of Education and through Legislation.

Sherrie Starkie

Sherrie Starkie

Sherrie Starkie has been teaching science to students in 1st through 8th grade for the last thirteen years. She had been active in the science community attending many Professional Development opportunities, educating and mentoring her fellow science teachers, as well as presenting the EEI (Education and the Environment) curriculum to formal as well as informal educators. She has been a union representative for the last two years helping to make positive changes for the education community. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, First Night Monterey, and the Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter.

Science education deserves more – it’s critical thinking and problem solving regarding the world around us. Our students need to feel empowered to do science and make positive changes. Science is not a separate subject, it is embedded in everything we do. Science educators need to make sure our students understand this and move forward acquiring more knowledge and conquering new horizons. The next generation of students need to understand and repair the damage of the past, discover the answers to the questions that still persist, and make new breakthroughs.

CSTA is a critical organization for getting science education into the spotlight. We should not be the forgotten stepchild but an integral part of education as a whole. CSTA needs to provide the much needed practical and useful professional development to our classroom teachers. So many of them feel overwhelmed with yet another new set of "standards". It's our job to provide them the resources and confidence they need to ignite a passion for, and an understanding of, science in our students.

High School Director

Gail Atley

Gail Atley

Gail began her teaching career in 2002 in high school chemistry (General, Honors and AP) and engineering. She has served as Science Department Chair, Professional Development Curriculum and Workshop Leader (including NGSS trainings), MESA Advisor, Activities Director, Accreditation (WASC) Chairman. Gail was a semi-finalist for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program and is a candidate for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). She is committed to providing high-quality science education for all California K-12 students. Prior to teaching she worked in aerospace as a Materials and Process Engineer, then as a Marketing Director in the telecommunications industry.

I had an exciting career in aerospace and telecommunications. As a science teacher, I set out to create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation in STEM. I want all of my students to be scientifically literate. They are the future policy makers and inventors and world citizens. I’ve worked primarily with African-American and Hispanic/Latino students from low and middle income families. There are many challenges to overcome, but I am excited to go to work every day to offer my students the best that I have. Every student deserves a quality science education that is diverse, rigorous and relevant.

I see CSTA’s mission as bringing together California’s science education community to hear more voices and share an array of resources and perspectives to advocate for science education and promote science as a vehicle for lifelong learning. In the years to come, CSTA can strengthen the science education community by considering, for example, “How we work strategically to leverage collaborations among schools, universities, and informal science education programs?” and “How we bring pre-service teachers into the CSTA community and support them during those first critical years?” I am committed to pursuing these questions in service to the science education community.

Melissa Marcucci

Melissa Marcucci

Melissa Marcucci is a Science Teacher at Ceres High School in the Ceres Unified School District. She has presented at CSTA’s California Science Education Conference, NSTA's National Conference, and the CA NGSS Roll Out as well as local and regional professional development workshops. She has also written for California Classroom Science and served as a member of CSTA’S E-Communication and Outreach Committee. Additionally, Melissa provides content support for the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative and is involved in implementing Physics of the Universe at the 9th grade level for her district.

Vast educational inequities exist for children in California, especially within science education. I want to end these inequities by increasing educational opportunities in science where students experience what being a scientist and engineer is like and are able to use the tools of these domains. Building a child's curiosity and interest from the earliest of ages and presenting real-world problems to students will allow them to take ownership over their ideas and find ways to feel like productive contributors to the world at school, at home, and in society. NGSS requires a great transformation in how science is viewed and learned. Advances in technology has prompted massive updating of technology in classrooms. Providing students with access to the same technologies that scientists and engineers use to solve problems and figure out how things work will require professional development for teachers. CSTA’s most important mission is to promote professional development and find ways to revolutionize our 21st Century classrooms into centers promoting curiosity and innovation. Science profoundly impacts mankind and creating dynamic thinkers in our classrooms will forever change our world. I advocate for more resources that create intimate professional development at district, site, and classroom levels and increased communication among members, making our work smarter not harder.

In alignment with CSTA’s mission, I want to support the promotion of high quality education for all students beyond my classroom and district. As the High School Director for CSTA, I will promote leadership in science education by providing that leadership model myself. I will continue to be involved in opportunities for state advisory committees, writing for CSTA’s monthly publication in regards to the experiences I have had in my classroom implementing NGSS, and developing model lessons in all subject areas for High School to be presented at local, regional, state, and national level workshops/conferences. My greatest goal, however, as High School Director will be communication among our members. I will listen to the membership as there are concerns, trials, tribulations, and stories of success and share these among the membership in order to recognize that this association is more than a means of promoting science education but also a place for current members to connect and collaborate and a safe place for new members to join. I will also act upon concerns and pass them on to appropriate parties as the journey of implementing NGSS in every classroom across the State continues and work tirelessly to see that the NGSS vision of all students receiving an equitable science education in grades TK-12 becomes our reality.

4 Year College Director

Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at Sonoma State University. A former high school biology and chemistry teacher, Dr. Lyon teaches secondary science candidates and conducts research on how science instruction and formative assessment can support English Learners, often collaborating with local science teachers. In collaboration with other science teacher educators, he has redesigned science method courses and analyzed how candidates are prepared to teach science to ELs through NGSS and Common Core. Dr. Lyon has published 15 articles/book chapters, published a book on teaching science to ELs, and given 40 presentations, including at CSTA and NSTA.

Beyond equipping individuals with the knowledge and tools to pursue science, science education provides students of all classes, genders, and races with opportunities to think, foster dialogue, and consider community and real world issues, which in turn can address educational inequities and transform lives. I draw heavily on the notion that science teaching should engage students in interacting and participating in authentic science and literacy practices, not just help students “know” a concept. As students participate in science practices, they benefit when supported in using language to collaborate with others, talk, read, and write about science.

I see CSTA’s mission as bringing together California’s science education community to hear more voices and share an array of resources and perspectives to advocate for science education and promote science as a vehicle for lifelong learning. In the years to come, CSTA can strengthen the science education community by considering, for example, “How we work strategically to leverage collaborations among schools, universities, and informal science education programs?” and “How we bring pre-service teachers into the CSTA community and support them during those first critical years?” I am committed to pursuing these questions in service to the science education community.

Region 4 Director

Cheryl Frye

Cheryl Frye

She has experiences in genetics research, elementary and middle school teaching and implementing a strategic plan for the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, including a system to provide every students with the laboratory supplies necessary to reach the 3-dimensions. She has focused professional development on engagement for all students through NGSS and the correspondence of ELD Standards for English Learners and to reach the social-emotional learning called upon by LCAP by merging cognitive, relational and behavioral engagement. She has integrated STEM learning with the NGSS so all students have access to STEM during school hours.

Science education is leading the way in multidisciplinary instruction. Science education has the potential to encapsulate the goals of the Math and ELA/ELD Frameworks and EEI curriculum in integrating subject matter for improved outcomes for student learning. There are visible connections between science and engagement, and science and language development. Science education and teaching needs to be visible at all levels. The instructional shifts in teaching science will increase the number of students continuing in STEM fields and ignite the creativity and passion of our students. Scientific literacy is critical in times when information validity and reliability are threatened.

CSTA represents the science education community and leads initiatives at the state level, furthering the scope and impact of science education in our communities. The role of CSTA is to bring the scientific community together to collaborate and share various experiences with a larger population. My philosophy aligns with these goals as evidenced by collaborating with peers at the local and state level, sharing our school community experiences through journal articles and being innovative during implementation of NGSS. I support science education as a means of purpose, engagement and success for all students.

Debbie Gordon

Debbie Gordon

Debbie Gordon is invested in quality science education for all students at the classroom, district, region, and state level. She has been a classroom teacher and is currently a district TOSA specifically focused on science. An avid proponent of the NGSS shifts to a more student driven paradigm, Ms. Gordon has presented short courses and workshops at CSTA conventions; collaborated with regional and state-wide professionals as a co-project director for CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, as a member of the Community of Practice for Science, and on CSTA’s Convention Planning Committee; written and presented assessment sessions for CA NGSS Rollout 4.

I believe that science education, and specifically NGSS, has the potential of being a major equalizer for society as a whole. When all students are given the opportunity by their teachers to learn science by doing, to ask questions about what they see or wonder about in the world, and to communicate their thoughts and ideas intelligently with evidence and reasoning, many of the challenges of today might stand a chance of being met. My philosophy is simple: Make science core, value personal connections, and include everyone in the process.

I believe that CSTA is a powerful and influential voice for science educators and the education community as a whole. As Region 4 Director, my hope is to have the voices of all the counties in my region heard so that the needs of our teachers and students are met by facilitating networking at local and state levels. Regardless of the grade level, CSTA supports and encourages a vision for California students to grow up to answer the needs of society as scientifically literate, environmentally aware, politicians, scientists, artists, writers, builders, and cupcake makers. We are all in it together and I want to help.


Virgina (Gini) Vandergon

Dr. Virgina (Gini) Vandergon

Dr. Virginia (Gini) Vandergon is a full professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. Her research is in Plant Genetics. Before becoming a College professor she was a High School Biology Teacher. At CSUN she is also a K-12 science education liaison. In that role she is the San Fernando Valley Science Project director and PI, the PI for the CSU Noyce grant and has been involved in many grants involving science teacher professional development. She also was one of the writers of the High School Frameworks for NGSS in California. She is currently serving as the Treasurer for CSTA.

We are at an important juncture in science education with the adoption of NGSS. Focusing on student-centered science learning and the processes of science opens doors for ALL students to engage. My priority is to show students and teachers that science is a process of discovery where one finds beauty in the interconnectedness of math, engineering, and science. My approach begins with natural phenomena that catches the interest of everyone. I strive to show students and teachers the critical importance of public science literacy. I also feel that NGSS exposes students to the wide variety of career opportunities in STEM.

Currently, I am the treasurer of CSTA and I have supported its mission and goals by helping to create a community that supports passionate life-long learning in science, and I have been active, working with others to push for more effective science teaching to improve student learning outcomes. The primary challenge for CSTA will be to continue to advocate for quality materials and assessment that aligns with NGSS. It is an exciting time for CSTA to be involved in policy around framework, curriculum, and assessment development, especially as the nation looks to California as a leader in NGSS education.

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