Theme of the month

Theme of the Month

Join us each month as we focus on a topic of interest to STEM Teacher Leaders with a webinar panel, open discussion, resources and blog post. 


Recorded: August 5th at 7pm EDT
Moderator: Jason Crean
Panelists: Gretchen Brinza,Michael Fumagalli, Kristin Rademaker, and Janelle Scharon<
Description: Many teachers are heading back to the physical classroom this Fall with some lessons learned after a tumultuous year as a result of the pandemic. This interactive webinar will involve discussions around where we were, where we are, and where we could be as we reboot our classroom practice. Now is a great time to enhance our practice and lead with phenomena to contextualize learning for our students. Leading with phenomena allows students to engage in sense-making so they can focus more on "figuring out" over just learning about science facts.


Jason Crean

<Dr. Jason Crean has taught science at the high school level for 25 years and the college level for the past 11 years. Crean currently teaches in the Department of Biological Sciences at Saint Xavier University where he also trains preservice science teachers. Crean has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, the Leadership in Science Education Prize by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as awards from the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Illinois Science Teachers Association, among others. Most recently he was awarded the Golden Apple award and the 2020 NSTA Distinguished Teaching award. He currently serves as President for the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching.


Gretchen Brinza

Gretchen Brinza recently relocated to Colorado after a fourteen-year stint in Chicago Public Schools, teaching a variety of science positions in grades K-8th. This year she will be teaching middle school science at Louisville Middle School in the Boulder Valley School District. Gretchen is NGSX trained and an author and pilot teacher for NextGen Storylines, PAGES and OpenSciEd curricular projects. She is the 2016 PAEMST Awardee for K-6 Science in Illinois and was honored as the 2017 Illinois STEM Educator of the Year. She is always willing to learn more about three-dimensional learning and the positive impact that storylines and coherence from a student-perspective have on student learning in science.

Michael Fumagalli

Michael Fumagalli has been involved in education for over a decade, spending ten years as a biology teacher at Leyden High School District 212, serving as Dean at Glenbard East High School in Lombard, IL, and Principal at Glen Westlake Middle School, also in Lombard, IL. He currently serves at the Coordinator for Teaching and Learning for Glenbard School District #87. Michael is a 2015 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Michael’s passion for utilizing phenomena to elicit student questions that drive learning through the use of science and engineering practices transformed the experience of his students. Michael was a contributing author to the EQuIP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products) Rubric Facilitator’s Guide, has spoken at many local, state, and national conferences on instructional shifts toward the NGSS, is the former Vice President of the Illinois Science Teaching Association, is a peer-reviewed journal published author, and continues to guide K-12 science educators nationwide through various professional learning endeavors.

Kristin Rademaker

Kristin Rademaker has been involved in education for over twenty years, teaching both science and special education settings. She has worked with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) since their adoption in 2014 and has worked both locally and nationally in helping districts implement their new three-dimensional state standards. Rademaker serves as a Professional Learning Specialist for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). She previously served on Achieve's Peer-Review-Panel and currently serves as a State assessment system reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education. Rademaker is a contributing author to the materials found on the InquiryHub and NextGen Storylines websites and frequently speaks at local, state, and national conferences on instructional shifts toward three-dimensional teaching and learning. Rademaker currently serves as President for the Illinois Science Teaching Association. She received the Robert E Yager Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017 and was named the Yager Scholar for that award year. In 2018, Rademaker received the NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award for her contributions to science education. She is also the co-founder of the NGSS Biology Storylining Working Group that has collaboratively created a full biology course curricular replacement with six coherent storyline units that are now used across the country and internationally.

Janelle Scharon

Dr. Janelle Scharon coaches science teachers and leads science program initiatives to support student preparation and exposure to STEM fields. Janelle has a Ph.D. in Science Education from the Illinois Institute of Technology and has previously taught computer science and science in Chicago and Kankakee, Illinois. As a school leader, she represents educators across Illinois on the Advance Illinois Educator Council, IL Congressional District 2 Educator Council, and several Illinois School Board of Education Committees focused on teacher shortage, recruitment and licensure, and student diverse learner access and advancement in STEM. She is currently serving on the Illinois Science Teaching Association Board of Regional Directors representing Chicago.