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Let the Quarter of Transitions Begin

Every year, July is the beginning of a transition period within CSTA. This year, the transition is a bit more personal for me. Not only has our organization started searching for a new Executive Director, but on July 1st, I dropped the “elect” from the title I have held for two years and became President of CSTA. When I decided to run for President, I honestly did not think I would win. I still can’t believe I actually did. I am honored and humbled at the trust you have placed in me to lead this organization. Thank you. I will work diligently to ensure your trust has not been misplaced. I have had incredible mentors throughout my time with CSTA and am well prepared to take on the challenge. While the title of President seems to carry an enormous amount of responsibility and pressure, I have learned over the last two years that what makes the job less daunting is the amazing people with whom I am fortunate enough to work. The Board of Directors volunteers countless hours to make the CSTA vision and mission a reality. July also sees transition within the Board. At the last Board meeting, we welcomed eight new Board Members to the team and I am excited to begin this journey with them.

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  • Pete A’Hearn is our new President-Elect. While I enjoy pointing to a bottle of Ballast Point beer and telling people I know the guy who helped create it, Pete is much more than the beer guy. He has been a high school science teacher, district curriculum coach, education consultant, and has already served three terms on the CSTA Board. His experience and expertise will be invaluable in helping guide the transition we are facing with our search for a new Executive Director.
  • Kelli Quan-Martin is our new Region 1 Director. She is currently a K-12 Science Program Specialist in Elk Grove USD and a teacher leader with the Sacramento Area Science Project. Having served many roles in education, she brings a broad perspective to the landscape as well as a passion for science education.
  •  Linda Tolladay is our new Region 3 Director. She has spent over three decades as a science educator, including time overseas where she developed and implemented outdoor school programs along the banks of the Danube River in Romania, the Himalaya and Salt Range of Pakistan, on camel treks through the Negev Desert in Israel, and the jungles of Zaire. Really, how many other people are that cool?
  •  Sasha Stallard is our new Informal Science Director. The informal science education arena is an often untapped, yet amazing resource in California. With 20 years working for San Diego Zoo Global, she has worked with field trip programs, summer camps, grant writing, and bridging the gap between informal and formal education settings through NGSS aligned interdisciplinary curricula.
  • Maralee Thorburn is our new Middle/Jr High School Director. She is an 8th-grade science teacher and was a core lead teacher for the Early Implementer Initiative. As an Early Implementer, she has incredible experience making science education phenomena based with a focus on inquiry, an important skill in the world of middle school goofiness.
  • Michelle Baker is our new Primary (K-2) Director. She has taught pre-K through 4th grade and spent 3 years as an Early Implementer field testing Physical Science learning sequences. Her experiences as an Early Implementer turned her into an avid supporter of science beginning with TK and she is using that experience to show others the importance of helping primary students build a strong foundation.
  • Leena Bakshi is our new Secretary. She is passionate about science education for all students and founded the educational nonprofit, STEM 4 Real, that provides professional learning and socially just instructional materials that promote diversity and access in the STEM classrooms. Her passion for equity and social justice in science provides a unique and necessary perspective for our team.
  • Amal Amanda Issa is our new 2-Year College Director. She is an Adjunct Health Sciences Professor at Merritt College in Oakland who believes that science does not live in a classroom or textbook, but in the world around us. Her experiences within the 2-year college realm have inspired her to work to address how we ensure student learning and seamless transitions between institutions. Her perspective fills a gap within our team and strengthens our potential.
  • So, while we are dealing with both expected and unexpected transitions during the first quarter or two of my presidency, with this new crop of Board Members, veteran Board Members, CSTA Staff, Committee Members, and Volunteers, I know we will continue to make a positive impact on science education and the lives of all students in California.

I hope you all enjoy what is left of your summer and start the new school year refreshed.



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Shawna Metcalf

Written by Shawna Kolmel

Shawna is a science specialist at Glendale Unified School District and is President of CASE (2019-2021).