What lessons in leadership have you learned from your involvement in Contra Costa’s Court and Community School Program?
I would say one of my profound lessons that I have learned in leadership is the importance of equity work in alternative education. Building bridges to help staff better understand students is imperative to learning in our setting. For example, culturally responsive teaching strategies lessons behavioral issues in classrooms and creates an environment where students want to learn.
Another important lesson I learned is giving staff members who may have undermined me or obstructed progress in the past a second, third, sometimes fourth chance to buy into my vision or goals. Work to play the “long game” strategy and continuously work to build a stronger relationship with them over time, without compromising your values or expectations.
What made you decide to pursue a career in science education at an alternative school?
I have always been fond of science and science fiction. All of my educational career has been in alternative education mostly in court and community schools, and science was never a priority area of focus. When I was a classroom teacher, my students never had access to science labs or experiments. In my setting, we never had access to credentialed science teachers. It was always an outdated textbook-based lesson or a video-based lesson as our options. I became disenchanted with these options and led some research into other resources. I participated in a year of professional development with NASA’s Astrobiology Institute and piloted Astrobiology curriculum in court and community schools for several years.
Why are you passionate about science education?
I am passionate about science because there are many careers related to science. If students are not exposed to quality science education, essentially their career choices are being limited for them by the education system. Plus, I love science fiction!
What has your career in alternative schools taught you about equity in science education?
Quality science education should happen for all students, especially in alternative schools.
What does this award mean to you?
This award means so much to me because it acknowledges my efforts by others that know my work. Education is mostly a thankless job, and even more when you are an administrator.
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