CCST’s Cal TAC Initiates STEM Teaching Excellence Program

December 16, 2014 | ,   | Contact: M. Daniel DeCillis

Heidi Haugen and Andy Kotko
Cal TAC Chair Emeritus Heidi Haugen and Chair Andy Kotko presenting Cal TAC’s work on digitally enhanced education at a summit hosted by the National Research Council earlier this year. The newly announced STEP program will help Cal TAC work to improve STEM education in California.

The S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation has awarded a grant to the California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC) at the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), to help Cal TAC build a new STEM Teaching Excellence Program (STEP) designed to strengthen STEM teaching quality and leadership in California.

“Thanks to this support, Cal TAC will build on its efforts to date in the area of digitally enhanced education,” said Andy Kotko, Chair of Cal TAC and a first grade teacher at Folsom Cordova Academy in Sacramento, California. “It will allow us to engage Cal TAC teachers through specific regional outreach and contribute to teacher leadership efforts throughout the state, as well as help inform decision makers through new fellowship placements.”

Cal TAC is a group of highly accomplished mathematics and science teachers working to improve STEM education in California. Formed by CCST in 2005, Cal TAC is comprised of a competitively selected group of award-winning, highly accomplished K-14 teachers representing a cross-section of grade levels, subject matter, and communities throughout the state.

STEP will work to engage K-14 students in their learning and help them thrive in their academic lives and beyond. Through teamwork and collaboration, the new Cal TAC program will facilitate Cal TAC’s efforts to focus on three pillars:

  • Practice: Establish and sustain a respected network of recognized, highly accomplished sought-after teachers who will serve as ambassadors and leaders of high-quality STEM education throughout California;
  • Policy: Promote informed decision making at the state level by providing the policy community with a cadre of knowledgeable, respected and reliable advisors on K-12 STEM education;
  • Partnerships: Broaden the reach of STEM organizations, such as CSL Net, by supporting a network of thought partners drawn from policy, education leadership, research, philanthropic, and non-profit communities to improve teaching and learning through public-private partnerships.

Cal TAC also has plans to expand its membership and increase regional approaches through the Cal TAC teacher alumni as a conduit to identify, promote and share best practices in the STEM disciplines throughout the state and to encourage the placement of fully prepared and effective STEM teachers in high-need schools.

“We are honored that the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation has chosen to award us this grant,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood. “The Foundation’s support will enable Cal TAC to continue its legacy of valuable work on improving STEM education, reaching even more teachers and policy makers throughout the state.”

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