Board of Directors Election | 2020-2022 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 2020-2022 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. We encourage you to be proactive in exercising your voting rights and select the board that will lead CSTA.

Elections are now open (March 12, 2020). You must be a current member in order to vote as of the date election opens, not thereafter. Most members will receive 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. If you did not receive a ballot, please contact the office at 916-979-7004 or election(at)cascience.org.

Treasurer (One Candidate)

Shay Fairchild

Shay FairchildShay Fairchild is a TOSA: TK-12 Science, Health and Computer Science for the Norwalk La Mirada USD. She currently supports district and site level professional development and implementation for NGSS, Health, and Computer Science Standards Additionally, she serves on the Instructional Quality Commission for the CDE working with state standards, frameworks and curriculum adoptions for all content areas. She was an Elementary and Middle school teacher for 9 years prior to her current role at the district and state appointment. Her past work history, amongst others, includes a 7-year science industry experience working at a Level 1 trauma/ research hospital.

All students can learn and all students should be given the opportunity, every day, to engage in a rigorous, high-quality science curriculum that supports them for career and beyond. Students learn best in a supportive educational environment with experiences that encourage a thirst for knowledge and will make students better advocates for their learning. Teachers should be a strong advocate for racial, ethnic, and gender diversity to support the students’ entire educational experience. It is critical to develop an educational relationship with the students, building rapport and trust not only teacher to student but student to student.

CSTA Philosophy

My philosophy of CSTA is to be a consummate champion for educators and students to have access high quality scientific and environmental literacy and equity for science to be treated with the same priority as other parts of the core curriculum. Equally, CSTA empowers educators with the tools and professional learning needed to implement NGSS with fidelity. CSTA also collaborates with partners to ensure that all students have access to high-quality science instruction. At the state level, CSTA can advocate for science education and professional learning to increase awareness and opportunities for both students and educators.

Upper Elementary (One Candidate)

Alyssa Nemeckova-Fairfield

Alyssa Nemeckova-Fairfield
Alyssa is the current Upper Elementary Director for the California Science Teachers Association. Her day job is a K-5 instructional coach for Palm Springs Unified School District, with 8 years of classroom experience in upper elementary. 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, and author of the 4th grade Dangerous Earth Learning Sequence, part of the CSTA Climate Summit.

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.

CSTA Philosophy

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.

High School Director (Two Candidates)

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 Adviser, Activities Director, Accreditation (WASC) Chairman. Gail was a semi-finalist for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program and been trained to provide test items for the CAST. Gail is a life-long learner and advocate for education. 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.

CSTA Philosophy
CSTA is poised to be the vanguard for professional teachers' associations in the nation. The organization's strategic plan is ambitious and attainable, with the focus on fostering equitable education for all California students. CSTA is committed to providing meaningful resources and programming for its members and the broader community of science educators. My vision for the association is that its membership is as diverse as the student population we serve, and that every member has the opportunity to get the professional development and resources they need to implement NGSS with fidelity and confidence.

Melissa Marcucci

Melissa MarcucciMelissa has been teaching high school science courses, including Earth Science, Biology, Physics, Physics of the Universe, Anatomy and Physiology, and Astronomy for 13 years in Northern California. During this time she has been involved in developing, promoting, and initiating science events such as Dinner with a Scientist, the Sacramento Regional Science and Engineering Fair, the Folsom-Cordova STEM Exposition, and both the Sacramento and Central Valley Regional Science Bowls. Additionally, she has been involved with the Sacramento Area Science Project (an entity of the California Science Project) and presented her work to the California Department of Education and at various professional development series in several districts, Science in the River City, Sacramento Area Science Project Summer Institutes, California Science Teachers Association Conference, and the National Science Teachers Association Conference. Melissa was also involved in the West Ed/K-12 Alliance Early Implementers Initiative as a Cadre Member. Although most of her professional work has been completed in Northern California, she grew up and graduated from High School in Southern California, has an extensive knowledge of the area, and has worked with teachers across the state through her positions on the CSTA eCommunications and Conference committees and in presenting at many CSTA conferences, making her a well-rounded advocate for High School education across the state.

Many factors can influence the attitude of young children and adults towards science and engineering, including cultural, religious, and gender variables as well as teachers, curricula, and policy. Although this may be a multi-faceted problem, one can argue for a strong correlation between the quality of teaching and student attitudes. In order to better understand which factors most influence students, it is important to continue and support educational research that identifies the aspects of science teaching that make science engaging for all students, including motivations, classroom environments, activities, etc. The Next Generation Science Standards were written based on extensive research into, “How People Learn,” which included inquiry based learning opportunities where students experience what being a scientist and engineer is like first-hand 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, home, and in society. In addition, students may discover a strength in these fields and turn towards life-long science or engineering careers where as those who may not tend towards these careers will be able to use the problem-solving skills developed to better their homes, businesses, and communities, valuing their K-12 science education and enhancing further education. In addition, having a breadth of knowledge in how all domains of science work together, will help students view situations and problems more holistically, creating a society of better informed voters, humanitarians, equal rights advocates, and community builders.

To accomplish the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards, “All students, all sciences,” where students are provided opportunities to master many skills across multiple domains of science as well as engineering and environmental literacy applications, will require a great transformation in how science is viewed and learned at the county, district, school, and individual teacher level. 21st Century advances in technology require massive updating of technology in classrooms in order to provide students with access to similar, if not the same, technologies that scientists and engineers use everyday to solve problems. This also requires teacher education for using the new technologies effectively. In addition, teaching students to think like scientists and engineers and solve real-world problems requires professional development opportunities for teachers, district coaches/TOSA’s, and administrators as well as a collaborative community where teachers who have been implementing these practices in their classrooms can share ideas which teachers who might have taught in a direct-instruction like setting or who have never experienced inquiry-based learning themselves. This is where CSTA’s work becomes the most important. Working with Counties' Offices of Education, advocating for science education initiatives and funding at the Capital, sponsoring state-wide Professional Development such as CSEA and the State Rollout Workshops, applying for grants to involve classroom teachers in the development of curricula, and the mass distribution of information regarding all aspects of science education to all science educators is a large job that requires dynamic and creative personnel who not only work for but advocate for science education and make themselves visible persons that others can turn to for support, advice, know-how, advocacy, etc. This is why it is important to have a board of members that includes personnel that work in classrooms, as well as district and county levels in addition to those working in the CSTA office. Together, the collaborative effort of all parties with all different experiences and views can make a cohesive, effective, equitable, and progressive science education experience for all of California’s students, K-12.

CSTA Philosophy
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 orkshops/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.

Four Year College Director (One Candidate)

Rich Hedman

Rich Hedman
Rich Hedman has worked as the Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and the Sacramento Area Science Project at Sacramento State since 2005. Rich provides professional development for K-12 science teachers related to teaching NGSS effectively to all students. Rich is currently involved in developing and piloting a model-based curriculum aligned to the high school The Living Earth course, fostering a cadre of science and math teacher leaders at Sacramento State, and helping a local district implement elementary-level NGSS. Rich is a frequent CSTA conference presenter and former high school earth science and physics teacher.

Science is a body of knowledge and a set of practices used to make sense of the world. Science education must teach students both aspects of science and must not neglect engaging students in opportunities to construct their own understanding of phenomena. Science education should be available to all students equitably. Enhanced support must be provided to assist students most at risk of not receiving a high-quality science education. Science education allows us to understand and mitigate our impact on the environment, helps people make informed decisions, provides a gateway to STEM careers, and is critical to California’s economy.

CSTA Philosophy

I strongly support the mission and goals of CSTA. Teachers of science throughout California need a strong organization to help us learn from each other and improve what we do, to promote equitable science education for all students, to represent our interests related to new state laws and education policies, to keep us informed, and to foster a collaborative community of science teachers in all grade levels and subject areas. As a 4-Year College Director, I will help CSTA maintain and develop strong personal connections to colleges and universities throughout the state.

Region 2 Director (Two Candidates)

Art Sussman

Art SussmanBiochemist Dr. Art Sussman performed scientific research at Princeton, Oxford, Harvard, and UCSF. His career over 40+ years has focused on supporting K-12 science and environmental education. Sussman has made significant contributions at local, regional, state and national levels in the areas of educator professional development, standards development and implementation, teaching of global environmental issues, and curriculum development. Working at WestEd, Sussman helped create and support in the greater Bay Area and in California statewide productive collaborations among K-12 education agencies, science-rich institutions, teachers and scientists. He assisted the development of California’s NGSS Science Framework and in its implementation.

Education should empower all students to acquire meaningful science conceptual understanding that enables them to make wise personal health and technology decisions, and prepare them to create satisfying, meaningful careers. Students who learn to integrate science/engineering practices with content can reason critically about how humans locally and globally affect the Earth systems on which we all rely. Based on evidence, they evaluate and decide what can be done individually and collectively to promote a healthy and sustainable future for their families and all of today’s young people. These challenges require education collaborations that are both effective and hopeful.

CSTA Philosophy

I will help CSTA deepen and expand its excellent work in promoting statewide, high-quality, equitable science education through advocacy, collaboration, and communication. As Region 2 Board Director, I will support regional collaborations and cross-fertilization that enhance NGSS-aligned scientific and environmental literacy. I can contribute expertise with scientific content, environmental literacy, forming and creating partnerships, and scaffolding science education from kindergarten through high school. I can help CSTA better support educators and students in using the biggest ideas in science (CCCs) to explore phenomena and make meaningful connections that lead to practical understanding of science topics and environmental challenges.

Jennifer Mutch

Jennifer Mutch
Jennifer is a Science Coordinator for the Santa Clara County Office of Education. She taught math and science in elementary and middle school for 16 years. She is part of the Leadership Council for the California Environmental Literacy Initiative and is a Member at Large on the Board of Directors for the Gold Coast Science Network. Jennifer helped organize local conferences and events for GCSN and was on the CSTA Conference Committee for 2019. Her other leadership experiences include being the Co-Director and Teacher Leader for the Ventura County STEMposium and supporting teacher leaders in the Instructional Leadership Corps.

Through high quality, equitable science instruction, not only will our students become better problem solvers, they will become better critical thinkers as well as better stewards of our planet. I am a firm believer that ALL students in California should receive the best science and environmental literacy instruction possible Every Day and in EVERY grade. It is in our best interest as science educators to create cultures in our classrooms and schools that empower all students to engage in the 3 dimensions of NGSS using the best pedagogical practices, engaging phenomena, and high quality curriculum and materials.

CSTA Philosophy

I believe that CSTA is the strongest advocate and supporter for science educators in California. Not only do they provide resources, training, and connections for classroom science teachers and informal science educators, they continue to strive for the highest quality and most equitable science education practices and policies that our students deserve. My vision for CSTA is to continue to advocate for and develop policies that will be a catalyst for teaching science every day in every classroom. I also envision that CSTA will continue their efforts to promote high quality environmental literacy and climate change education through established community partnerships.

Region 4 Director (Two Candidates)

Dana Baron

Dana Baron
Dana Baron is a K-12 Teacher on Special Assignment for STEM in the Corona Norco Unified School District. Dana has been involved in science education for 14 years. This is her fourth year as a TOSA. Previous to being a TOSA, she taught high school science and agriculture science for 11 years. Dana holds multiple single subject teaching credentials in science, and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Concordia University, Irvine . A prime focus for her current position is helping teachers implement NGSS and engage students in the curiosity of science.

My vision for 21st century learning in Science education is to provide all students with a dynamic education that not only enhances their strengths, but exposes and challenges them with multiple opportunities in which they can engage in authentic learning. A 21st century learning environment looks different than the traditional classroom has in the past and this requires education to use innovative instructional practice, new technologies and multiple avenues for students to demonstrate mastery. 21st century learning provides a space where students can develop capacity around the 4 C’s: collaborate, think critically, communicate and be creative. Students improve their skill set in the 4 C’s with authentic learning. This occurs with hands on experiences, inquiry cycles of learning, and solving real world, local community issues. Science & Engineering Fair is the perfect example of the 4 C’s in action. Instruction around the 4 C’s encourages all students to thrive. Students are valued for their unique gifts and talents so they can flourish. A 21st Century science education cultivates the whole child.

CSTA Philosophy

California Science Teacher's Association is a leader for all teachers and students in science education not only in the state, but also in the nation. CSTA supports teachers in implementation of NGSS through many avenues including advocacy, professional development opportunities, communication mediums and more. CSTA does what is necessary to support all teachers and students with a equitable and robust science education.

Debbie Gordon

Debbie Gordon
Debbie Gordon grew up in Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County and has lived in Palm Springs for the last 26 years where she has raised two children. She has served Region 4 as director for the last 2 years and has built strong relationships with the science community here. She feels like good work is definitely happening and wants to continue to provide support and vision for change and growth around the shifts of the NGSS. Debbie believes strongly in excellence and equity in science education and knows that the best science teachers are in California (and especially in Region 4!).

It is unfathomable to me that we would not, as a society, value science education for all of our students. How awesome that children are believing that they are scientists from a young age, that they are asking the tough questions, that they are demanding truthful answers. I believe that science education and teaching that take into account the varied backgrounds, cultures, and points of view of our students can lead to people making thoughtful choices. Whether or not a person is environmentally literate and scientifically knowledgeable can affect how we all live and thrive together. I believe it is of utmost importance to continue to promote and insist on science teaching and learning with equal access, equity, and excellence from the littlest kids to the adults.

CSTA Philosophy
As part of the CSTA board and the CSTA community, I think I am in the best place to lead, learn, inspire, and support science education for all students in California because I am surrounded by bright, thoughtful, and visionary science educators. The importance of the work of CSTA is evident everytime you turn on the tv or look at your phone. I believe in the vision of the association regarding equal access to science courses that allow students to make choices for their careers and lives in or out of an actual science field. I believe CSTA is making a difference.

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