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.

May 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Abbey Dufoe, a May 2013 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, earning her undergraduate major in Media Studies and minors in Environmental Inquiry and Civic & Community Engagement.  In her time as an undergraduate student, Abbey completed several research projects where she developed curricular materials and supporting resources now available on the PAESTA website, such as five iBooks on topics relating to the hydrosphere.  Abbey presented her PAESTA contributions at the 2012 Fall American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco and has written an article for the summer 2013 issue of The Earth Scientist.  Her work has earned her an Award of Honorable Mention from the Council on Undergraduate Research for being high-quality research among the top 10% of the undergraduate submissions from across the country and across all disciplines to CUR’s Poster on the Hill.  Abbey is beginning a Master's degree this fall in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism at the University of Montana - after spending one last summer developing materials for the PAESTA Classroom.

Congratulations, Abbey - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

April 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Cathy Bateman, Chairperson for The Fine Arts and School Technology Leader with the School District of Philadelphia.  In the words of her nominator: "Cathy has been teaching for many years, in both art and technology education, most recently at Frankford High School where she teaches art, ceramics and serves as the school technology leader and fine arts coordinator. Her student's work using reclaimed materials have been transformed into permanent exhibits at The School District of Philadelphia headquarters, and she continues to complete projects like this with her students. This summer she was a participant in ESSP's energy workshop at Penn State as well as awarded a fellowship by the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art to attend a workshop where she worked on turning STEM into STEAM through Impressionism."

Congratulations, Cathy - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

March 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Theresa Lewis-King, middle school science teacher at AMY Northwest in Philadelphia. Theresa's accomplishments are significant and wide-ranging, especially with regards to PAESTA. Theresa is the founder and chair of the PAESTA Teacher Advisory Committee, and she continues to work to improve PAESTA online resources and to mentor teachers as leaders in the organization. We recognize Theresa this month for being featured in an article in the Philadelphia Tribune, along with math teacher and fellow PAESTA member Rebecca Haldeman-Newschaffer, titled "Teaching Team More Than Sum of its Parts." The article highlights how Theresa and Rebecca work together in their school as "The Package Deal" for science and math instruction. 

Congratulations, Theresa - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

February 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Katie Bateman, a 6th-grade science teacher and science curriculum coordinator at the Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School in Philadelphia.  In the words of her nominator: "Katie is a leader, cheerleader, model, and all-around team player at every ESSP/PAESTA workshop or meeting I have attended over the last 18 months.  She listens to other teachers' concerns and always offers valuable feedback, resources, or ideas. I have heard her mention 'becoming' a university level science methods teacher/investigator, and I sometimes feel she is close to doing the job without having the title.  She has taken new ideas, such as Claims/Evidence/Reasoning, back to her home school and successfully shared it with colleagues.  She has been recognized by her school leadership, being made science coordinator.  I keep wondering when I will get to attend a workshop led by Katie."

Congratulations, Katie - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

January 2013 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Kathy Tait, a science teacher at the Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia.  For the past several years, Kathy has engaged with several Earth Science teacher workshops and has moved into leading workshops and projects for other teachers.  In 2010, Kathy presented her pedagogical innovations at a regional Geological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  Her talk, titled "Dispelling middle school student misconceptions of Grand Canyon formation through hands-on activities", led to her publishing this work in the The Earth Scientist in 2011.  Kathy has continued in teaching curricular innovations to others as the lead organizer of a teacher workshop at the Franklin Institute in Summer 2012.

Congratulations, Kathy - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

December 2012 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Megan Pickard, a graduate student in the Department of Geosciences at The Pennsylvania State University in State College.  Megan began working with middle and high school teachers as a graduate student fellow with the NSF-funded Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE) program for two years. Through TESSE, Megan played an important role in assisting teachers to be first-time published authors, acting as a mentor and co-author on three articles in The Earth Scientist (Summer 2011 issue) with teachers as the lead authors.  She also made many visits to Philadelphia classrooms to work with middle school teachers and their students with inquiry-based activities.  With Penn State's ESSP project, she continues to work with teachers during the ESSP summer workshops on Plate Tectonics and offers valuable assistance with content understanding and curricular approaches.

Congratulations, Megan - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

November 2012 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Lauren Beal, a sixth grade general science teacher at AMY Northwest Middle School in Philadelphia.  Lauren recently presented her curricular innovations at the first annual PAESTA conference, one of only five K-12 teachers that submitted a conference proposal.  Lauren’s talk was titled “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning: Helping Students to Construct Scientific Explanations.”  Lauren presented student examples and shared strategies of how she has incorporated CER into her classroom.  Then, Lauren led a discussion on strategies for incorporating this pedagogical strategy.  One hundred percent of the session attendees reported that Lauren’s session met their needs and expectations.

Congratulations, Lauren - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

October 2012 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Meredith Hill Bembenic, a postdoctoral researcher with the Earth and Space Science Partnership project at The Pennsylvania State University in State College.  Meredith began working with middle and high school teachers in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina as a graduate student fellow with the NSF-funded Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE) program for two years. With the ESSP project, Meredith has continued to develop and implement new curricular materials in several areas including energy and Earth sciences.  One example where Meredith has made a valuable contribution to classroom curricular materials is by serving as a collaborator on a six-day unit on coal and energy, which can be viewed on the PAESTA website (  Meredith is the lead author on a peer-reviewed publication about this unit, titled “Adaptable inquiry-based activities about national patterns of coal and energy use,” appearing in Science Scope.

Congratulations, Meredith - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

September 2012 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Eilisha "Joy" Bryson, a sixth grade science teacher at Meredith School in Philadelphia.  In the past year alone, Joy has engaged with several projects at the leadership level, from serving as a co-instructor of a teacher workshop at the Franklin Institute to serving as a Teacher Leader at Penn State's Earth Space Science Partnership summer workshop in plate tectonics.  One example where Joy has make a valuable contribution to Earth science instruction is by taking a classic classroom exercise, "Discovering Plate Boundaries," then sharing her modified approach to implementing this exercise (the original exercise and Joy's modifications can be viewed on the PAESTA website).  Joy is even starting the school year teaching Earth science in her classroom!

Congratulations, Joy - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

August 2012 PAESTAR

This month, we recognize Sara Neville, for all of her contributions to Earth and space science education while an undergraduate student at Penn State Brandywine in Media, PA.  Sara graduates this summer with a custom-designed bachelor's degree that explored the connections between middle school Earth science education and educational technology, while minoring in environmental inquiry and civic and community engagement.

Sara authored the Academy of Natural Sciences' Bicentennial curricular unit and several Google Earth tours for common reads (Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Dirt, The Control of Nature) featured on the PAESTA website.  She has published four journal articles (three as first author) and given three presentations at national and international conferences on her pedagogical innovations.  Sara has visited middle school classrooms in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Kentucky to share with students and teachers how to use Google Earth for inquiry-based exercises.  Sara will tell you that the highlight of her undergraduate career was being selected as one of 60 students from across the nation to present her work, "Integrating Google Earth with the QUEST for Science Literacy," at a Council on Undergraduate Research event at Capitol Hill in Washington DC in 2010 - in her sophomore year! 

Congratulations, Sara - you are clearly a PAESTAR!