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.

April 2017 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Kelly Lannutti from The High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and Heather Olson from Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School. Both of these Philadelphia teachers took the time to share with their students the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its mission to protect human health and the environment. Their students then wrote cards and letters to the EPA Region 3 office to show support for EPA's work and its employees.

Congratulations, Kelly and Heather - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

December 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize the Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library for their support of national Earth science celebrations. This fall, the library staff created a display with books and an iPad with TED videos during Earth Science Week in October. In November, the library had a similar display table for Geography Awareness Week and even issued a formal proclamation to celebrate GAW. We are pleased to see the Vairo Library call attention to their Earth science resources and encouragement for their visitors to learn more.

Congratulations, Penn State Brandywine Vairo Library - you clearly are a PAESTAR!

October 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Dan Leppold from Spring Ford School District in Montgomery County, PA. His nominator writes that Dan is a "popular, energetic Earth Science teacher" active in supporting PAESTA through social media and through several excellent pictures he has submitted for PAESTA's Earth Science Image Database. Last spring, Dan was selected to join the NASA Social team for the March 22nd Orbital ATK OA-6 Cargo Resupply Flight to the International Space Station. Dan's excitement and interest in bringing Earth Science alive to his students is clearly evident from his in-class and outside activities.

Congratulations, Dan - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


September 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Nicole Fuhrman of Strong Vincent High School in Erie, Pennsylvania, for being the District IV winner of the 2016 NSTA/Shell Science Lab Challenge. Because most of Nicole's students did not learn science concepts in primary school years, they lack the knowledge to understand more abstract, complex concepts in high school. Hands-on activities make these abstract concepts concrete and give students confidence to delve deeper into the content. Because Erie City School District has budget challenges, the school's lab facilities are incomplete and have very few technology resources. However, Nicole has improved student learning by using simple materials in creative ways to have students understand concepts such as the formation of igneous rocks. The opportunity to work with real scientific tools adds authenticity to classroom experiences and legitimacy to students' work, which is why NSTA/Shell has recognized Nicole for her creativity and innovation.

Congratulations, Nicole - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


June 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize our friends of the Healthy People, Healthy Planet Summer Camp & Community Project Incubator program at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Their one-week summer camp (June 21-25) will provide high school student/teacher teams high impact, immersive environmental education experiences, while acting as a community environmental project incubator by providing seed money for projects of the students’ choosing. This program will fill the void in post-elementary school environmental education opportunities for young people, solidifying their interest in environmental stewardship and positively impacting their communities. Financial support for the camp is from EconomicPennsylvania and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Education grant program.

Congratulations, Slippery Rock University for your innovative program - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


May 2016 PAESTAR

This month we are giving a "shout out" to an outstanding student! Here, we recognize Rohan Chalasani, a junior at Fox Chapel Area High School in Pittsburgh, PA, for being selected as an EPA Region 3 National Winner for grades 6-12 of the 2015 President's Environmental Youth Award. Rohan is recognized for his project, "Impact of Energy Consumption Reduction on Household Carbon Footprints."

Congratulations, Rohan - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


April 2016 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Ms. Kim Gredzinski, a 6th grade science teacher at South Brandywine Middle School. Her nominator writes, "She loves her job and the kids that she teaches. She puts 100% into everything that she does including the after school program, summer program, science fair, etc. She has an excellent relationship with the students whether she knows them or not. She is one of if not the finest teacher in the building."

Congratulations, Kim - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


March 2016 PAESTAR

This month we posthumously recognize Dr. Mercedes Richards, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State University. Dr. Richards was fascinated by Algol binary star systems, and her research accomplishments included being a pioneer in the use of doppler tomography to study mass transfer between stars in these systems. Colleague Dr. Chris Palma shares, "I think if you were to ask her, she would say that some of her most important work was to support everyone in their interest in astronomy. We heard over and over again what an outstanding mentor she was, and in particular, she always looked out for people she considered to be “underdogs”. She had a profound impact on the careers of many scientists (including my own), and worked hard to create and support programs for underrepresented students in astronomy and other STEM fields." Dr. Richards passed away on February 3, 2016.

November 2015 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Ms. Bernadette Kearney, librarian at J.R. Masterman Middle/High School in Philadelphia. Her nominator wrote, "Bernadette has been our librarian at Masterman for the past 10 years. She exemplifies what a wonderful resource a librarian is for a school. Bernadette has been a librarian for 24 years, so you can image the amount of knowledge she has acquired over the years! She is a member of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, the American Association of School Librarians and the Association of Young Adult Library Services. When we needed a list of books that contained earth science themes, Bernadette sent an email blast across the state and within a matter of hours, we had a list of over 60 books! She loves to help teachers to develop units and gather the necessary resources to teach the students. As she told me, “I love research: doing guided inquiry is one of my favorite things to do.” Her other love is matching students to books. She helps them to obtain the necessary information for projects and research, as well as for recreational reading. She is one of the most valuable assets we have here at Masterman and we are all so grateful to have her!"

Congratulations, Bernadette - you clearly are a PAESTAR!


August 2015 PAESTAR

This month we recognize Christopher Palma, Senior Lecturer of Astronomy, at Penn State University. Chris has been a member of PAESTA since its beginnings and has been the strongest voice for representing the space science mission of our organization. He has been instrumental in helping teachers learn everything about Pluto, from its planetary status to the results of the recent New Horizons mission.

Congratulations, Chris - you clearly are a PAESTAR!