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: July 19th at 5pm EDT
Moderator: K. Renae Pullen
Panelists: Richard Velasco, Suzanne Botta Sullivan, Jeanane Charara, and Jeanne Norris
Description: No teacher is an island. Unfortunately, sometimes it can feel that way especially for new STEM teachers. In this online panel, K. Renae Pullen (moderator) and panelists explore the importance of mentorship for teachers of STEM subjects. We'll also investigate what it takes to support mentor teachers.


K. Renae Pullen

K. Renae Pullen has been an educator for over 20 years. Ms. Pullen has been the elementary science specialist for Caddo Parish Public Schools in Shreveport, LA for six years. Prior to that, she was an elementary classroom teacher for 16 years. Besides being a dedicated science educator, Ms. Pullen has served on several local, state, and national committees as well as presented at numerous workshops and conferences. Ms. Pullen is a member of the National Science Foundation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Advisory Panel and a member of the Board on Science Education for the National Academies of Sciences. She has developed science assessment resources and conducted professional development opportunities for science as a Teacher Leader Advisor for the Louisiana Department for Education in 2018-2021. In 2008, she was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.


Richard Velasco

Richard Velasco Richard Velasco is a clinical assistant professor of mathematics and science education at the University of Iowa (UI) where he teaches secondary math methods courses and supervises secondary math and science pre-service teachers. His current line of research includes STEM teacher advocacy, conceptualizations of STEM education, and informal STEM learning spaces. He has research and practitioner articles published in the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Education Sciences, Pacific Journal of Education, Journal of Autoethnography, Technology and Engineering Teacher, and Mathematics Teacher. Prior to working at UI, Richard was a secondary math teacher for twelve years, a national board certified teacher in early adolescent mathematics, a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and an NSTA/NCTM STEM Teacher Ambassador funded by the National Science Foundation. Throughout his career, Richard has mentored in-service novice math teachers and continues in learning and mentorship through his work with pre-service STEM teachers.

Suzanne Botta Sullivan

Suzanne Botta Sullivan is the grade 5-8 Science and STEM Coach at Francis Walsh Intermediate School in Branford, Connecticut. She currently supports teachers’ transitions to NGSS, the storyline approach, and assists with achieving their personal goals for growth. She is a member of Branford Public Schools Engineering and Design Committee focused on creating a STEM program that prepares their students for the fourth industrial revolution. Prior to her current position, she taught 7th and 8th grade science for almost ten years. In addition to her general science certification Suzanne also has an MS in, and is certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and instructs on this topic at Southern Connecticut State University. She is particularly passionate about supporting teaching that creates an environment where all students feel engaged and empowered in science and STEM.

Jeanane Charara

Jeanane Charara is an elementary science instructional coach and professional development provider currently working for SOLIDStart. She also is an elementary NGSX pathway designer and a NextGenScience Peer Review Panelist. As a Peer Review Panelist, Jeanane evaluates science units to identify high quality instructional materials. Jeanane previously was the Elementary STEAM Coach for Dearborn Public Schools, was a science interventionist, and an emergent multilingual classroom teacher.

Jeanne Norris

Jeanne Norris is an Instructional Specialist at the Institute for School Partnership. She designs K-12 science curriculum and professional development for teachers. Jeanne was selected to serve on the Achieve Science Peer Review Panel, a national group of experts who screen curriculum to find high quality examples of NGSS design. Two mySci units she edited have been selected as exemplars, including a 5th grade life science unit that has earned the NGSS Design Badge, the highest honor the panel can award. Jeanne is a graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis and Washington University-St. Louis. She holds a degree in Secondary Education and a master’s in Biology. Before joining the ISP, Jeanne taught high school science in the St. Louis Public Schools for six years. Most of all, Jeanne’s vision is that every elementary student in the region gets a chance at daily science education that inspires curiosity and the joy of ‘figuring it out’.