Board of Directors Election - 2019-2021 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 2019-2021 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 February 19, 2019 voting for the 2019-2021 elections began. Most members received their ballots via email. Some will receive paper ballots in the mail. Per CSTA elections procedures, only members who are a member on the date of record are eligible to vote. For the 2019 elections, the record date is January 31, 2019. If you were a member on January 31 and didn't receive a ballot, please contact the office at 916-979-7004 or election(at)cascience.org.

President-Elect (Two Candidates)

Peter A'Hearn

Peter A’Hearn has been a classroom high school science teacher, district level curriculum coach, and science education consultant working for districts and publishers. He has taught science at levels Kindergarten through graduate school. He was a project director on statewide projects and has worked with teachers, administrators, informal science educators, parents, and business leaders. He has served three terms on the CSTA Board and written numerous articles in California Classroom Science, served on several committees, presented at conferences and led many field trips. In a prior life, he was the co-founder and brewmaster of Ballast Point Brewing Company.

Every student needs a quality science education. An understanding of science gives people access to the ability to reason about problems based on evidence as well as the wonder and curiosity that science can open up. The greatest triumphs of the modern world, as well as many of the global problems we face, are the result of science. To keep up the progress that we have achieved and solve the challenges we need to raise kids who understand and value science. This needs to begin early in elementary school when children are most curious about the natural world.

CSTA is the voice of California teachers of science and needs to represent the broad diversity of those who do this important work. CSTA needs to represent what is best for the students of California while hearing the concerns and voices of many stakeholders. Every teacher of science in California should find a professional home with CSTA where they find value and support. We need to keep our annual conference the best science education conference in the world and expand the opportunities for science teachers to interact, learn, and find their professional community.

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky
Jeff Orlinsky has been teaching science at Warren High School for the last thirty years. He has been a curriculum leader in science education, providing in-service training and professional development. He has presented at CSTA conferences and volunteered on several CSTA committees. He was the High School Director from 2012-14. Recently, Jeff has presented at the NGSS state rollouts and has worked with K-8 teachers to bring NGSS lessons into the classroom.

I love teaching science. It is my goal to make science fun, entertaining and attainable for my students. Science is more than the vocabulary found in textbooks or tests. It is how we progress in society. Every day we learn a little more about our world and how it fits in the universe. I want to make that information understandable to my students so that when they grow up, they can make better-informed decisions. Along the way, I hope to inspire students to enter the field of science.

I believe my view of science and science education aligns very nicely with CSTA’s vision and goals. Every day in my classroom, I encourage my students’ curiosity. I offer hands-on experiences, so my students can ask questions and learn how science works. Scientific literacy is very important to me as I know it is to CSTA. An educated population can make more informed decisions regarding medicine, the environment, and the value of learning. I feel CSTA should be a critical player in the approval and development of science curriculum in the state of California, especially in Kindergarten through eighth grade.

Secretary (Two Candidates)

Leena Bakshi

Leena Bakshi
Leena Bakshi is passionate about science education for all students. She founded the educational nonprofit, STEM 4 Real, that provides teacher professional learning and socially just instructional materials that promote diversity and access in the STEM classrooms. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in integrative biology. She received her master’s degree in math and science teaching from Claremont Graduate University and her doctoral degree in educational leadership from USC. As a former teacher and county office employee, Leena has worked with all levels of leadership to institute systemic science reform.

My “Students First” motto drives my passion for equity and social justice in science. I have always used this philosophy as a teacher, administrator, and now founder of a nonprofit that is dedicated to making a positive impact on students in STEM education. We need “all hands on deck” and as the CSTA Board Secretary, I will ensure that the minutes are fully documented and communicated to our constituents. Our CSTA meetings have transformed into action and advocacy and as a CSTA Board Member, I will be committed to continuing the mission of promoting high-quality science education for all students.

CSTA has incredible influence stemming from the classroom level all the way to the state capitol. I believe that as a growing organization, we can continue to foster partnerships with the entire education community, including informal educators, so that we can truly reach all students. I also see CSTA as the universal connector that bridges science educators across the state and even nation to highlight the progress we have made when it comes to NGSS implementation and policy initiatives. Our strength in numbers allows us to reach all grade levels, especially elementary education, thus setting the foundation for a comprehensive and equitable K-16 science education.

Brennan Brockbank

Brennan Brockbank
Dr. Brennan Brockbank teaches Physics and Chemistry at Burlingame High School. Brennan is excited to be back in the classroom after working as a K-8 district Science Specialist and as a Content Developer at a local science curriculum publisher. Prior to that, he taught middle school science. In addition to teaching, Brennan works at the San Mateo County Fair overseeing the STEAM competitions. Brennan grew up in Sonoma County but now calls San Mateo County home.

I believe that public schools are the backbone of a democracy. Science plays a critically important role in schools because it builds and organizes knowledge about the world around us. Students study science to make sense of their world. Science teachers help students explore the universe, from the insides of a cell to exoplanets. Science and engineering hold the answers and solutions to a changing world. Educating our children to be literate in science is the key to a prosperous future.

The CSTA plays an important role in shaping the landscape for science teachers in California. As a professional association, the CSTA is highly effective at supporting the networking and professional development needs of science teachers in our state. Strong leadership in science education is essential for fostering an environment that fosters innovation and growth. The CSTA is important for growing the leadership capacity of science educators in California. Recent research on how students learn science has shifted our thinking about teaching science. The CSTA has a public interest in promoting quality science education to create a science-literate population.

Informal Science Director (Two Candidates)

Sherry Burch

Sherry Burch
Sherry Burch has 7 years of experience teaching middle school science and 2 years of experience facilitating engineering education with adults. Sherry has served as a coach to other educators in her role as a TOSA and also as an Engineering Education Leader. Currently, a project manager at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Sherry is co-developing systems to help school districts and their community partners align and articulate STEM education opportunities K-12.

If I could do one thing for education, I would transform the thinking that science is something separate into the realization that life is integrated and just learning about the world is science. I have dedicated my career to teaching children and adults that science is a tool they already use in their daily lives and empowering them to delve deeper, to develop their scientific mind. Wherever science education is happening, the teacher and the student should be focused on the process and practicing critical thinking as apply their learning the real world.

It takes a village to raise the next generation of scientific thinkers, CSTA serves as the meeting place for this village. Whatever grade-level or setting science is being taught in, CSTA can support those educators with resources, recognition, and relationships. However, with educators facing new challenges every day, they need organizations like CSTA to serve as a beacon for the issues that matter, issues like science literacy, whether science is something they love or not. We may not be able to make everyone love science, but we can help to make sure they get the chance.

Sasha Stallard

Sasha Stallard
Sasha is the Education Manager at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She has worked in various positions in her 19 years with San Diego Zoo Global but has most enjoyed serving in an educational role. Sasha has experience working with field trip programs, summer camps, teen volunteers, and grant writing and delivery, with recent success leading a team that has connected formal and informal content to create a cohesive NGSS and Common Core-aligned interdisciplinary curricula that are currently being tested in an Escondido K-8 school. Sasha believes science learning is critical in helping students have a meaningful educational experience.

My philosophy regarding science education is that science is a critical part of our lives every day, and helping students connect their personal experiences or interests with scientific phenomena is the key to helping them excel in science. Furthermore, I believe that science does not stand on its own; math, literature, art, history, social studies, and many other subjects are all important aspects of science. This allows the possibility of teaching science in multidisciplinary lessons that encourage students to indulge their curiosity about the world, even those who believe they don’t “like” or aren’t “good” at science.

I believe that the role of CSTA is to serve as a resource for educators, both formal and informal, regarding best practices, new strategies and ideas, inspiration, and opportunities for both themselves and their students. CSTA also serves as a representative of science teachers and science education, helping to ensure that decision-makers understand the importance of science education. I envision CSTA as a leader in providing quality experiences, opportunities, resources, and representation for teachers, students, and all who believe in the importance of science as a lifelong pursuit.

Primary Director (One Candidate)

Michelle Baker

Michelle Baker
Michelle Baker is from Southern California and teaches 1st grade. She lives with her husband and sons in the high desert. Michelle received her Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University and her Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University. This is her 12th year of teaching. She has taught preschool, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Michelle worked for 3 years as an NGSS Early Implementer. Michelle field tested Physical Science learning sequences and provided feedback. She also serves on the Publications Committee for CSTA, writing and editing articles. Michelle has co-presented short courses on 1st grade Earth Science at the CSTA conference.

My philosophy of science education has evolved over the last 5 years, since being involved with the Early Implementer Project. I have come to recognize the absolute need for science education in the classroom, starting in Transitional Kindergarten. Students, especially primary students, have a natural curiosity about them that leads naturally to teaching science in primary grades. Providing engaging phenomena that students can connect with and experience in the world around them, will create lifelong learners. We work tirelessly to build a foundation for students who will be future leaders; they must be equipped to think critically and be able to solve real-world problems.

CSTA provides a professional environment where teachers across the state can go for research-based science instructional practices, ideas, and collaboration. With the adoption of NGSS and new curriculum, CSTA will play an important role in science development in California schools. The role of CSTA will be to encourage and support teachers in the next phase of science education. California teachers will know that CSTA has professional resources, events, and research, that will provide them with a solid foundation for teaching science in their own classrooms. Science is where teachers can begin their planning; reading, writing, math and language development are easily integrated.

Middle School/Jr. High Director (Two Candidates)

Sharon DeMers

Sharon DeMers
Sharon grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo for her BS in Soil Science. She worked as a Chemist for two years at an Ag Lab before going back to school to get her teaching credential. She has worked in classrooms K-12 but has spent most of her career in Middle School. She has been teaching for more than 20 years. She is the mother of two boys that are adults now. She brought dissection to her students at most of her Middle Schools. She works as a Mentor Teacher through the CalTeach program at UC Merced.

When I taught 2nd and 3rd grades it was expected of me to teach Science to my students. That is not true now and we have a generation of students coming to Middle School or Jr. High with 5th grade and maybe some 6th grade Science. It is very sad and not right or fair to those students. Science needs a foundation that should start in Kindergarten. Each year we should be adding to that foundation, and make it stronger. Teaching Science should start in Kindergarten where they should start learning about the Natural World around them. These students are going to be the Scientists and Engineers of the future. We need to give them the best possible foundation.

I have supported CSTA for many years. Making sure High-Quality Science is available to all teachers and all student is a goal I support. It is a high priority that I agree with. The conventions where Teachers Teach Teachers really allows the participants hands-on opportunities and information that they can bring to there own classroom. They realize they can do this in their own rooms with their class. Meeting teachers from other districts from all over the state that are going through the same things brings us together as a community of support for each other. CSTA gives the classroom teacher the support needed to teach a differentiated lesson and know that all modes of learning are being covered in heir lessons.

Maralee Thorburn

Maralee Thorburn
Maralee Thorburn teaches 8th grade Science at Art Freiler School in the Tracy Unified School District. She currently serves as a moderator for CSTA’s Middle School Science Teachers Facebook group and has also presented at CSTA conferences. Her experiences as a core lead teacher for the Early Implementer Initiative and reviewer of curriculum materials for the state has given Maralee a unique perspective of the Next Generation Science Standards. She has also been a classroom Science teacher since 1990 and has served on her districts Science committee. She has been described to “live and breathe Science.”

Our student populations are diverse and as Science teachers, we need to make sure our instructional practices are just as diverse in order to meet the needs of our students. Science education needs to be phenomena based with a focus on inquiry so our students can figure out how our world works. Students will become more scientifically literate as they figure out Science concepts through practices of real scientists and engineers. Our society will be able to make better-informed decisions when we can show students HOW to think and not WHAT to think.

CSTA's mission is to support high-quality Science education and that has always been my goal. I reflect on how I present my lessons to my students to ensure that all students are sharing the same experiences they have in the classroom. Science teachers are similar in that each of them brings their own unique perspective to the classroom. As an organization to support teachers I think it is important to maintain a pulse on the ever-changing world of Science education. This can be achieved by continuing social media avenues but increase attendance at public Science events wherever possible.

Region 1 Director (Two Candidates)

Anna M. Meyerpeter-Newman

Anna is passionate about science education. Dedicating her life to share this passion, Anna has taken advantage of many learning opportunities that have enabled her to meet the needs of a diverse student population. She currently holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology, a Masters Degree in Science/Science Education, and most recently is working on a Doctoral Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. Anna’s experience as a science educator, science coach, science director and working on an NSF grant have given her the experience needed to be an effective director for Region One.

Everyone is interested in some aspect of science. This is evident when we back out of our disciplinary silos and approach science from a phenomena perspective. The California Science Standards have opened science and STEM, teaching and learning to a broad section of our society. All students can learn science, our job as science leaders is to provide teachers with the tools and understandings needed to provide access to science education to the diverse students enrolled in our educational institutions. Science knowledge will equip the citizens of tomorrow to be better innovators, educators and stewards of the planet.

My vision for CSTA is that this organization will continue to work at the state level to influence how science is taught in California. We need to increase our presence in the rural areas of the state by finding creative ways to reach districts who are isolated by distance. The excellent work that has occurred through the Regional Collaborative meetings, development of local CSTA chapters and the California Science Project has provided a strong foundation for future expansion. I would like to build on this foundation to increase the network of science educators working together to improve science education.

Kelli Quan-Martin

Kelli Quan-Martin
Kelli Quan-Martin is currently the K-12 Science Program Specialist in Elk Grove USD and a teacher leader with the Sacramento Area Science Project. In addition to teaching middle school science for ten years, she also has experience as a science TOSA and district administrator. Her passion for science, commitment to student learning, and dedication to equity are evident in the work she has done in her district and greater Sacramento area supporting educators with the implementation of NGSS and advocating for high-quality science instruction.

The role of science education is more than just preparing youth for a future workforce. Science education promotes inquiry and critical thinking. Giving students opportunities to ask “why” and “how” and encouraging students to seek out evidence and formulate explanations build on our natural curiosities and have the power to ignite a passion for lifelong learning. As science educators, we have the chance to cultivate a generation that is empowered to ask questions and solve problems. We have the ability to offer all of our students access to a future full of possibilities and opportunities to change the world.

CSTA puts students at the center of every discussion. Whether advocating at state or local levels, organizing professional learning, or cultivating science education leaders, CSTA’s actions all are rooted in a belief that all students should have access to high-quality science instruction. CSTA is a community of educators. We need to strengthen our community by more widely communicating the learnings of each other and providing resources so that no single teacher ever feels unsupported during this time of immense change in science education. As stated by Helen Keller, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

Region 3 Director (One Candidate)

Linda Tolladay

Linda Tolladay
Linda is a 35-year veteran secondary science teacher now working as a district academic coach helping elementary teachers implement NGSS. She is co-moderator of the CSTA Elementary Science Teachers Facebook page, active at CSTA conferences and a presenter for the NGSS Rollouts. She is passionate about the shifts of NGSS and the integration of science in other subject areas. She is committed to science for all with particular concern about underserved populations of students in California. She hopes to represent both the urban heart of region 3 and its more rural and isolated counties.

There has never been a more critical time for an informed citizenry able to use science as a lens through which to understand their world. We must provide students with the critical thinking and communication skills to allow them to process and analyze information. Fortunately, the CA NGSS provide us with the charge to do just that. There has never been a more exciting and challenging time to be a science educator. The intersection of rigorous standards, technology, and excellent pedagogy is just what our students need. However, this intersection requires us to be willing to shift our teaching to meet 21st century and NGSS needs.

There has never been a more necessary time to have a professional organization serving to ensure quality science education for every student in California. CSTA serves to connect teachers across grade levels, across content areas, across regions, across our state. It serves the critical need of ensuring science educators have a voice in legislation, in content development, in textbook approval and adoption, in the daily work of a classroom. Our support of our Professional Association is a critical way we ensure that voice. My particular concerns are in ensuring science opportunities are present for underserved student populations.

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