PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

Each month, we highlight a PAESTA member (K-16 instructor, informal educator, or pre-service teacher) that has made a notable contribution to the Earth and space science community and/or has served as a leader for the discipline.  Please nominate a teacher for us to recognize (or self-nominate) by completing our online Contact form.

March 2014 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize KeriAnn Rubin for her work with Penn State University's Earth and Space Science Partnership (ESSP) and congratulate her as she finishes her Master’s degree in the College of Education at Penn State. Prior to entering graduate school, KeriAnn taught 7th and 8th grade at Saint Patrick School in Newry, where she received a FirstEnergy grant to purchase equipment necessary for students to measure energy consumption of common technological devices. While a member of the astronomy learning progression research group of ESSP, KeriAnn presented at the 2013 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Regional Conference in Charlotte, NC, and has taken the lead on writing up and submitting an article to the peer-reviewed NSTA journal Science Scope. In the words of her nominator, “KeriAnn has really embraced and taken opportunities to learn astronomy content and is making really significant contributions to our research group. She’s been fantastic staying on top of all of the different aspects of the project we have asked her to take on.

Congratulations, KeriAnn - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

February 2014 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Beverly Weinstein at Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School in Bristol Township.

This year marks Beverly’s 21st year teaching Earth science.  Beverly taught Earth science and geology for 14 years at Truman High School, where she also served as the high school science department chair.  During her time at Truman High, Beverly took over the coordination and revitalized the Bucks County Science Teachers Association, organizing mini-conference style meetings twice a year with keynote speakers.  When she transitioned to teaching at FDR Middle School, she won a PECO Energy Grant and coordinated a school-wide energy fair.  Beverly is also known and respected by her peers for being active in every district effort to develop K-12 standards, curricular frameworks, and enhanced science scope and sequence guides.

Congratulations, Beverly - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

January 2014 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Dale Kraynak of Steelton-Highspire High School for his service in the roll of Secretary/Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA) and for serving as the first K-12 teacher in this leadership position. As a 9th grade Earth and space science teacher with over ten years of teaching experience, Dale has contributed "behind the scenes" as a member of the Executive Committee of PAESTA in promoting and advancing the the profession of Earth and space science teaching in Pennsylvania. PAESTA has grown to the successful organization it is today with Dale's notable contributions.

Congratulations, Dale - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

December 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize PAESTA President Kelly Hunter for going above-and-beyond in her duties as the leader of our organization.  In the past month alone, Kelly has participated in a conference call with the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) to report on PAESTA's activities and upcoming events, co-presented to the Penn State Earth and Space Science Partnership Advisory Board about PAESTA and its strategic plan, and coordinated and worked at a PAESTA information table at the Franklin Institute's Educators' Night Out.

Congratulations, Kelly - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

November 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Susan Lauver for her daily attention and dedication she gives to our PAESTA organization.  Sue is the Project Manager for Penn State University's Earth and Space Science Partnership and has provided essential staff support for all of PAESTA's activities.  From ordering PAESTA conference bags and Earth Science Week kits, to creating name tags and checking in attendees at our annual conferences, Sue has played a critical role in helping the organization serve the needs of the Earth and Space Science teaching community.

Congratulations, Sue - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

October 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Adam Durant, 7th and 8th grade science teacher that started at The Meredith School in Philadelphia last year.  In the words of his nominator: "He has been a breath of fresh air. Overall, I would say that his biggest impact is the continued improvement of the Meredith students' work for the end of the year science fair. The projects are more clearly organized, objectives are more often measurable, and the presentations were more attractive and easier to follow. In the classroom, Mr. Durant is efficient, organized, and enthusiastic about science. He is thought of as fun, creative, and fair.  His lessons are organized and include a regular review session and well developed PowerPoint presentations on the topic of the day.  Students are rewarded for hard work and for improvement. Mr. Durant's homework is also seen as reasonable and well organized. He gives students choices on each assignment and encourages students to delve deeply into the topics at hand.

"My one hope for Mr. Durant is that he continue the trend he started early last year to make his lessons as hands on and experiential as possible." We at PAESTA hope Mr. Durant continues this excellence in the classroom as well.

Congratulations, Adam - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

September 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Al Dorsch, newly-appointed Assistant Principal of Shenango High School. Al is known for creative and engaging projects for students in his science classroom, such as his five activities for differentiated classroom instruction on human-induced climate change. He published this innovative set of curricular materials in The Earth Scientist (2009) and was a lead author on a poster presentation at the Northeastern Section and Southeastern Section Joint Meeting of the Geological Society of America (Baltimore, 2010). In addition to teaching students in the classroom, Al has taken students on canoeing and ski trips, and he can be found in his school's courtyard with students planting the summer vegetable garden and making pizza in the outdoor earthen oven (where, one of Al's colleagues shares that Al tells the students, "everything in a pizza comes from the Earth!").

Congratulations, Al - for your consistent, innovative instruction and growing leadership in the profession, you are clearly a PAESTAR

August 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Walter Wilkinson from Northwest Middle School in the Reading School District in Leesport, PA. Wally has led the efforts at his school to create a school garden as an outdoor learning laboratory. With support from parents and community members, the garden serves as a site for education and environmental awareness. The food is harvested, prepared and served in their school cafeteria, and extra food is donated to a local food pantry. Students are not only engaged in growing food, they collect water in rain barrels and compost food from their school cafeteria to sustain the garden. Members of the school’s Science Club even volunteer on Saturdays to maintain the garden.

Congratulations, Wally - for your dedication to getting students involved with your school garden, you are clearly a PAESTAR!

July 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Greg Collins from Southern Lehigh High School in Center Valley. In the short time of PAESTA's existence, Greg has stepped up as one of PAESTA's most dedicated leaders and innovators. Greg has been serving as the PAESTA News and Notes Assistant Editor, adding recommended curricula to each issue and taking on the task of creating a database of all recommended resources. In addition to tracking our eNewsletter accesses, Greg proposed to the PAESTA Executive Committee the addition of an elementary grades-focused edition of News and Notes, which will begin in August 2013. PAESTA is also exploring several suggestions from Greg to increase PAESTA's membership and visibility across the state.

Congratulations, Greg - for all of your contributions to PAESTA, you are clearly a PAESTAR!

June 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize PAESTA's webmaster, Eric Aitala. Eric joined the staff of Penn State's Earth and Space Science Partnership in 2012 and immediately took on the task of creating a new online presence for the PAESTA organization. Eric has not only established a website with valuable information for Earth and space science teachers; he has also worked tirelessly on developing online opportunities for PAESTA member collaborations and contributions. In addition to designing the member-only discussion forums, Eric dedicated significant time to creating the PAESTA Classroom, where members can contribute their curricular innovations to share with fellow teachers.

Congratulations, Eric - you are clearly a PAESTAR!