Meet the team committed to teaching STEM and Social Justice #4Real
As educators, we take pride in guiding students to be ready for the future. How can we do that if STEM is currently not a priority? In our elementary schools, there is a hyperfocus on Math and English proficiency and while these subjects are extremely important, many of our students of color (especially in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods) are not getting science education until 5th or 6th grade.
Furthermore: the National Science Foundation reported in August, 2019 that STEM professionals represented 23% of the total U.S. workforce. Of that 23%, Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos and Native Americans, only represented 23%.
What can we as educators do to fix this broken pipeline?
What makes us different?
We combined standards-based instruction with equity and social justice for ALL students. STEM4Real is committed to providing socially just and culturally relevant STEM teaching and standards-based learning strategies through collaboration professional learning, culturally responsive instructional materials and diverse children’s literature. We focus on shifting teacher pedagogy by grounding our work with a social justice lens that makes equity paramount in our vision.
We believe that each and every single child, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion or creed should be able to see themselves in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics. It is through our diversity that we can embark on multiple perspectives in order to progress our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.
When I was an administrator, I had the opportunity to plan multiple NGSS professional learning events. I also attended many equity and social justice workshops. And then it hit me.
Why don’t these conversations happen in the same room?
I took a quick look around at the current science curriculum and I did not see any people of color represented. I decided to write a children’s book, “There’s Something in the Water". The students loved it and then I realized that our mission is much bigger than this children’s book.
We need to work with our educators to create a movement committed to anti-racism and social justice in STEM & the Next Generation Science Standards in order to make STEM #4Real!
Will you join our movement?
Meet the Team
Dr. Leena Bakshi
Founder & Executive Director
Personality type: Extrovert and Promoter
Favorite STEM people: Tyrone Hayes and Neil deGrasse Tyson
Favorite animal: Panda
Dr. Leena Bakshi studied Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley and went on to receive her teaching credential from Claremont Graduate University. The program was so influential that she returned as a professor of pre-service teacher candidates teaching STEM Methods and Universal Design for Learning. Leena was a former math and science teacher, instructional coach, and county office administrator. She currently lives in Honolulu, HI with her husband and feisty toddler girl.
Director of Operations
Personality type: Introvert and Analyst
Favorite STEM people: Rosalind Franklin and Janice Lao
Favorite animal: Dolphins
Marie studied Environmental Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She then pursued a short stint as a Naval Officer for 8 years, which led her to a tour at the Naval Academy where she discovered her passion for helping students with hands-on science. She received her teaching credentials from the University of Guam and taught in Guam and Hawaii. She currently lives with her husband and two energetic and curious boys in the DMV area.
Brenda Tisdale Johnson
Director of Partnerships
Personality type: Relator and Individualization
Favorite STEM person: Dr. Leena Bakshi McLean
Favorite animal: Giraffe
Brenda Johnson has over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit education sector. She designed and supported programs such as the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) and trained educators on cultural competency. Her ability to develop and manage systems is paramount in our work. She seeks to foster and maintain partnerships that establish roots and build community. Her coordination and dedication to STEM education makes her the ideal person in leading our lasting partnerships!
Community Relations Manager
Personality type: MBTI- INFJ, Human Design- Reflector
Favorite STEM people: Ms. Frizzle and Mae Jemison
Favorite animal: Adopted pit bull named Koda who thinks she is a lap dog
Emily Stanley studied Anthropology at Davidson College before obtaining a Masters in Teaching at Queens University. She was a certified teacher in North Carolina with specialties in Elementary Education and Middle School Science, and managed the Better Together Science program for pre-K through 8th grade. She has been working in corporate training and operations for the past ten years and also runs a girls' empowerment program called BOLD. She lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and newborn son.
Social Media Strategist
Personality type: Logistician
Favorite STEM person: Mark Zuckerberg
Favorite animal: Dog
Nina Ladra studied Mass Communications at Lourdes College Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. She has been an expert in social media graphic design and has worked with companies around the world to transform their systems and social media profiles for more than 8 years.
Charmaine Eunice Rabano
Personality type: Introvert and Analyst
Favorite STEM person: Ada Lovelace
Favorite animal: Butterflies
Charmaine Eunice is a web designer and virtual assistant helping online entrepreneurs and coaches. She is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science and is an aspiring Software Developer. She is multi-passionate. She loves tech and designing, as well as helping other entrepreneurs succeed in their ventures.
The Instructional Support Team
Personality type: INFP- Mediator * Supporter
Favorite STEM people: Dr. Albert Einstein & Dr. George Washington Carver
Favorite animal: Giant tortoise
A dedicated educator with close to 20 years of experience in a large urban school district, Sonnie is knowledgeable in research-based best practices for fostering equitable, culturally responsive classroom environments that support all students’ academic and social-emotional learning. She is passionate about building building teacher and leadership capacity in content and pedagogy through coaching support and professional development. A native of Louisiana, Sonnie embeds culture and history to foster a sense of belonging and relationships with students, educators and community leaders.
Dr. Jennifer Munoz
Personality type: Supporter
Favorite STEM person: Jane Goodall
Favorite animal: Whale Shark
Jennifer is a persistent, visionary and dedicated science education professional who shines with brilliance and practices humility as she works alongside teachers to provide access to science learning experiences. Jennifer navigated teaching in public schools for 15 years, bringing her joy and compassion to students through the productive struggle of achievement in Science classrooms grades K-12. Ultimately, she realized that her impact on science education required leaving the classroom to support educators in the difficult (and oftentimes overwhelming) development of science lessons rooted in an awareness of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. This journey led her to STEM4Real where she is excited to support teachers in this endeavor to build capacity in culturally relevant education pedagogies and dismantle bias in schools.
Personality type: Enneagram 2 wing 3, MBTI- ENFJ
Favorite STEM people: My brother Jeff Schinske and Dakotah Tyler
Favorite animal: Unicorn
Jill studied psychology and liberal studies at California Lutheran University. She also received her Masters from Saint Mary's College of California in Teacher Leadership with a focus on Restorative Justice. Jill has been in the public education space for 17 years as a classroom teacher and instructional coach. Jill comes from a family of scientists. Her brother is a marine biologist, her dad is a chemist, and her sister is a biochemist. Science has been in her life forever. Her dad says that the gravy needs more viscosity at Thanksgiving if it needs to be thickened. Jill lives in the Bay Area in California with her husband and two kids (18 and 13 years old).
Personality type: Analyst and Introvert
Favorite STEM person: Billy Almon
Favorite animal: Felines
Rosanna is drawn to the power and promise of science education and believes that if we can center equity within the work, we'll realize science education's full potential. On her journey to providing equitable science experiences, Rosanna has served as the Director of Youth Education at the Biomimicry Institute as well as a county science coordinator. As a science coordinator, Rosanna supported the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards in 20 school districts and served as a regional lead for science education in six counties. She has 20 years of experience as a classroom educator, a college instructor, a director of educational programs and a county office administrator for science. Rosanna holds a teaching credential along with a supplemental authorization for Business in secondary education. Rosanna has a bachelor’s in International Business, a Masters in Educational Leadership and School Development, a Biomimicry Practitioner Certificate and an Administrative Credential for K-12 education.
Personality type: Controller
Favorite STEM people: Dr. Leena Bakshi and Marie Gorman
Favorite animal: Cats and Fairies
Alexandra have taught high school life science for 13 years in Los Angeles, in the Koreatown and Boyle Heights communities. Her schooling comes from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she earned her Bachelor's (Chicanx Studies and Sociology with an Education Minor) and Master's (Science Education and Leadership Education) degrees. Additionally, she recently earned her National Board Certification. Back then, Alexandra wanted to be an astronaut or a scientist, but she quickly realized in college that her passion was working with the youth of my community that looked and went through similar experiences. Her path toward teaching STEM came from a need in her community to experience and reclaim science in a way that validates and empowers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
Personality type: Supporter
Favorite STEM person: Jane Goodall
Favorite animal: Horses and dogs
Anna have been an educator her whole life and continues to work in the field. She works to bring the love of science and the wonders of the world to all.
The Advisory Board
Dr. Lucia Perales Soto
Dr. Tyrone Hayes
Tech Innovation Leader
Dr. Crystal Bray
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader in Tech
Jennifer Boicic, MBA
STEM4Real is a professional learning nonprofit organization committed to equity, anti-racism and social justice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. We help schools and districts create culturally responsive STEM and NGSS professional learning using Lesson Study, Observation, Collaboration, and Leadership.
Watch the video to find out how STEM4Real went from a children's book, to a movement.