Board of Directors Election
The Nominations Committee of the California
Science Teachers Association presents the following individuals
for election to the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2016-2018
The election is being conducted electronically.
CSTA members will be sent links to the online ballot on April
15. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses
or who requested a paper ballot will be mailed a ballot.
4-Year College Director Candidate: Jennie
Jennie has experience in K-12 science education and teaching experience in the college classroom. In the classroom, she has taught over 15 upper physics lecture and laboratory courses. She has participated extensively in many science education initiatives, including Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), physics course redesign at the college level, STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program, STEM West Institute, The Integrated Middle School Science (IMSS) Partnership, and Science Partnership for Instructional Innovation (SPFII). Each of these programs targets science education at different stages of the science education curriculum, ranging from recruitment and science literacy for middle-school students (EYH) to professional development for science educators (STAR, IMSS, SPFII, STEM West Institute).
As our society becomes more and more reliant on technology,
it is ever more important that educators instill scientific
literacy in their students. Unfortunately, many students tend
to avoid STEM classes as these have a reputation for being
"difficult." My own experience has led me to believe,
however, that with the right techniques, these students can
not only succeed in the science classroom, but also develop
an appreciation for scientific thinking more generally. I
believe a key component to being an effective educator is
to avoid complacency by constantly making adjustments based
on experience and awareness of science education research.
The traditional style of teaching physics (or any subject)
is predicated on the idea that knowledge can be transferred
orally. As educators, we need to ask ourselves "how does
learning take place?" and "what kind of teaching
can support that learning?" for all levels of learning.
I believe we need to shift from the paradigm that the instructor
is the transmitter of knowledge to one where the students
are the generator of their own understanding.
As an educator and a member of the scientific community,
my vision of science education closely resembles CSTAs mission
and goals. I think it is essential that we help our students
and the community to become fluent in scientific reasoning.
We need to inspire curiosity and excitement for learners at
all levels by transforming the science classroom and providing
opportunities for the community to learn about science in
their everyday life. CSTA serves a pivotal role in this process
and I would be excited to be a part of it. I envision CSTA
as providing many opportunities for professional development
opportunities for K-University science educators through workshops
and conferences. These opportunities are especially critical
with the implementation of the NGSS in the science classroom
as they provide a means for science educators to exchange
resources and ideas and build a sense of community. I also
see CSTA as an advocate for science educators at the state
level, ensuring that the interests of science educators are
well known to policy-makers and state-level legislators.
High School Director Candidate: Toby Spencer
Toby has taught secondary science for 17 years in most
curricular areas, including biology, medical science, physiology,
Earth science, chemistry, physical science, and math. He currently
chairs the NEA Science Caucus, which he founded and organized
nationally over the past 7 years. Through that work, he has
partnered with the NABT and NCSE to bring expert speakers
and professional exhibitions to their national convening.
Toby also serves as Vice Chair of the CTA Career Technical
Education Committee, where they create policy to direct their
legislative lobbyists. He facilitates NGSS workshops statewide
for CTA, locally for his district, and once at NSTA in Long
Beach last winter (in partnership with UC Davis). He represents
CTA on the CA Alliance for NGSS, a statewide partnership of
educators, industry, and government working to transform science
education statewide. Toby was awarded BP's A+ for Energy Grant
as well as a SEPA scholarship to their national conference.
He helped develop an online biostatistics curriculum at the
Center for Biophotonics at UC Davis. Recently, he helped draft
a brief on science argumentation for the CDE, to be posted
on their Common Core website. Currently, he is a semi-finalist
for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship.
Toby is a current member of CSTA, he has written a leadership
article for the CSTA newsletter, and has attended several
conferences which includes bringing his student-teacher to
the Sacramento Conference in October 2015.
All students bring to the classroom fierce curiosity, the
sustaining force of science. Science educators' primary mission
is to cultivate students' innate wonder, which builds scientific
skills and knowledge through iterations of discovery and failure.
Science by slideshow or text alone is stifling, if not dangerous,
for it saps curiosity and imaginative ingenuity. We must shift
to teaching students the full range of science practices through
authentic lab experiences. The NGSS will prepare our young
scientists of the 21st century if implemented and supported
in every California classroom. It would be my honor to help
CSTA lead the shift to student-centered science and 21st century
skills of NGSS.
As the premiere professional resource for and voice of California
science educators, CSTA must continue to provide world-class
workshops, field learning experiences, and conferences. As
an NGSS leader, CSTA will advocate for additional STEM and
Career Technical Education funding through grants and new
funding. Furthermore, CSTA should strengthen its resources
and guidance for modifying K-12 districts' LCAP language to
allocate funds specifically for teaching science.
Joanne Michael and Mena Parmar
Joanne has been working as a science specialist at Meadows
Elementary School (Manhattan Beach USD) since 2008. She initiated
and continues to chair a school-wide Science Night every spring.
Joanne also is the science chair of the elementary school
science specialists and leads monthly collaboration meetings
within her district. Joanne was selected as the Lead Science
Specialist for her district in 2013. She is a member of CSTA
and NSTA and has presented workshops at conferences for both
organizations. She was elected to this position on the CSTA
Board of Directors in 2014. She also serves as co-chair of
CSTA's e-Communications Committee.
Never before has there been such an opportunity for students
to truly learn how to love science. NASA is working on sending
teams to Mars, new elements are being officially named, and
breakthroughs are being made in the world of cancer treatment.
It is my mission to get elementary students inspired, motivated,
and geared towards being a pioneer in the branch of science
that they find most fascinating. Every time I meet with my
students, I am hopefully building a love of science and inspiring
them to push forward towards more discoveries and breakthroughs
in the world of science.
With California implementing NGSS, CSTA is vital for science
teachers to get information, lessons, and professional development.
I get inspired by CSTA's mission of promoting high-quality
science education- knowing the extremely varied populations
within the state of California, for an organization to successfully
take on that challenge is amazing. Neil DeGrasse Tyson said
recently that "Each generation benefits from what previous
generations have learned." CSTA takes full advantage
of that belief, by having and utilizing teachers from all
parts of their career, from college students thinking about
becoming a teacher, to teachers that have retired after 30+
years of educating students. CSTA is a phenomenal resource
for science educators, and I feel I can bring additional energy,
ideas, inspiration, and techniques to the Board of Directors,
and through them, to the educators of California.
Mena is an experienced Elementary Classroom Teacher and
Elementary Science Specialist in Fremont. Her work with the
Exploratorium in San Francisco, as a Master Teacher with Bay
Sci Champions, has given her the opportunity to collaborate
with master teachers from all around the SF Bay Area. Mena's
experience as an Instructional Case Field Tester and an NGSS
Instructional Innovator has given her insight into the shifts
required in Elementary Science. Her professional knowledge
as an Elementary Science Coordinator for Alameda County Office
of Education has provided her with experience in many different
3-5 classrooms across many different districts in our county.
She plays a role as a PD provider to develop her ability to
lead colleagues through instructional shifts successfully.
Mena was a presenter at the 2015 CSTA conference in Sacramento
and a CSTA Leadership Nominee in 2015.
Science education must prepare all students, to be 21st
century citizens who are scientifically literate, can make
informed decisions, discuss science and engineering issues
and are careful consumers of scientific and technological
information related to their everyday lives. Science teachers
need to create an environment where all students are excited
to learn and have appreciation for the beauty and wonder of
the scientific world. Teachers must provide opportunities
for all students to be engaged and motivated to dig deeper
into science concepts. In order for all students to have the
skills required to enter careers of their choice, science
concepts must be organized systematically from PK through
College in a way that keeps students natural wonder alive.
CA NGSS Framework Instructional Segments and vignettes provide
a window for teachers to look inside a NGSS classroom. CA
NGSS helps to assist teachers with the vision that will require
teachers to undergo appropriate PD and develop suitable implementation
strategies. NGSS will teach students how to be scientists,
not to just read/memorize what scientists have done.
CSTA must be the guiding force to ensure CA NGSS is successfully
implemented throughout CA, so all students in CA are provided
with the opportunities to become scientifically literate.
CSTA must reach out to all elementary multiple subject classroom
teachers to lead them in the successful implementation of
CA NGSS and increase their membership. This leadership should
include windows into CA NGSS aligned transition plans, pedagogy,
lessons, and instructional segments.
Region 2 Director Candidates:
Marie Bacher and Minda Berbeco
In Marie's 25 year career as an educator, she has taught
almost every grade level from preschool through 8th grade.
For the past 16 years, she has been a Science Teacher On Special
Assignment (TOSA) for the Santa Clara Unified School District
(SCUSD). In addition, she served as an administrator for the
Santa Clara County of Education as a co-director of environmental
education at Walden West Camp. Currently in SCUSD, Marie plans,
leads and facilitates the implementation of NGSS K-12 and
coordinates the district science fair. She is the point person
of the BaySci Leadership Team for her school district and
works with BaySci elementary science teacher leaders who help
lead science at their own sites. She is also part of South
Bay FOSS Collaborative. Marie has been a workshop presenter
at CSTA conferences. She holds a Master's in Education in
Administration and Supervision from San Jose State University.
Science education and the role of science education in society
is to create a scientifically literate community that can
make decisions based on the evidence that is known currently.
I believe that science education is about stewardship and
sustainability of our global community. We all need to take
a part in understanding that everything is connected and that
decisions that we make as consumers impacts our environment.
Based on this overarching philosophy, the practice of Science
teaching becomes the challenge of fostering the curiosity
in children about the natural world the around them. As a
teacher, I work to elicit questions from the children about
personally engaging experiences so that together we can negotiate
how to gather data and design an experiment that makes sense
to their level of cognitive sophistication. As a science teacher
I facilitate students' development of models so that they
can explore, experiment and explain their understanding. Then
with solid conceptual understanding students can then be guided
back to applying that knowledge to problems facing the global
CSTA is an entity that provides resources for science teachers,
administrators and pre-service teachers. I believe CSTA provides,
inspires and educates all teachers about the cutting edge
and best practices that science teaching has to offer.
As a program director at the National Center for Science
Education, Minda worked with teachers nationally and in California
to teach socially contentious, but scientifically sound topics
like evolution and climate change. This involves regular outreach
and support, as well as professional development and training.
As Region 2 Director, Minda has worked with teachers in her
region to connect them to professional development opportunities
and other science events. She has also presented at local
teacher conferences and represented CSTA there. As a member
of the Membership committee and Publications committee, she
has taken on the task of working to increase and retain membership,
as well as work on the monthly CSTA publication, California
Teachers are at the front lines of science education and
in my mind, the most important group in the scientific enterprise.
Without teachers we would have no scientists, doctors or even
science-savvy citizens. I believe very strongly in the power
of science and evidence to both understand and improve our
world. It is teachers who bring this incredibly important
material to students, help them translate it into their worlds
and bring it value in their daily lives. Without their hard
work, California and the nation would be at a loss.
CSTA is one of the greatest science teacher associations
in the country. I've been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm
the board brings to their work, but also the value they place
on science education and teachers. I believe that CSTA does
a remarkable job at engaging and listening to science teachers
in the state, and I feel honored to have been able to work
with teachers and CSTA over the past 2 years as the Region
2 Director. My hope for CSTA is that it will continue to work
to present the vision of science teachers in the state and
advocate strongly for their needs.
Tresurer Candidate: Virginia (Gini) Vandergon
Virginia (Gini) began her teaching career as a high school
biology teacher in 1984. During the last year of her high
school teaching career, she was the science department chair.
During this time she also taught at the community college
level. While working on her graduate degree at UC Davis, she
was a teaching assistant and eventually became the head teaching
assistant in the Animal Science Department. She earned her
doctoral degree in Genetics at University of California, Riverside
(UCR) where again she was a TA. She received numerous small
grants during her graduate career and was very active in the
Graduate Student Association both at UCD and UCR. She is currently
a Full Professor of Biology at California State University,
Northridge (CSUN). At CSUN, she was hired into a dual position
in which she was expected to teach and do research in genetics
and serve as the K-12 science education liaison. In her current
role as a genetics professor, she has a research lab with
graduate students. In her role as a K-12 science education
liaison, she teaches pre-service teachers in science and co-teaches
in education. In this position, she works closely with faculty
in their college as well as faculty in the College of Education
on issues and curriculum related to science education. Outside
of the University, she has been a PI (currently) and Co-PI
on the San Fernando Valley Science Project for 14 years. She
has been a PI or Co-PI on numerous other grants for the past
15 years totaling over 4 million dollars. She has been a member
of the Society for the Study of Evolution, Botanic Society
of America, Sigma Xi, Association for Science Teacher Education,
National Science Teachers Association, and California Science
Teachers Association to name a few. In 2004, she was awarded
the University award for Visionary Service Learning. Virginia
feels she is qualified for the Treasurer position as she handles
most of the grant finances and have controlled finances for
many clubs and scout programs. She has a minor in mathematics
and a background in teaching secondary school math.
Teaching today's students in the STEM career pipeline is
exciting and challenging. My priority for these students is
to show them that science is a process of discovery where
one finds beauty in the interconnectedness of math, engineering,
and science. I strive to show them the critical importance
of public science literacy. With the adoption of NGSS we are
entering a new era where science can be taught the way it
I am an ardent supporter of STEM education and enjoy exploring
best practices to reach ALL learners. CSTA's mission is to
create a community that supports passionate life-long learning
in science, and this aligns with my philosophy. The primary
challenge for CSTA will be to integrate NGSS into K-16 curriculum.
As a member of the writing team of the NGSS frameworks for
the state, I am deeply involved in this work. It is an exciting
time for CSTA to be involved in framework, curriculum, and
assessment development, especially as the nation looks to
California as a leader in NGSS education.