Teaching STEM #4Real

S2 E5: Preservice Teachers and the Future of STEM Education

January 24, 2023  |  1 hr 1 min

Teaching STEM #4Real podcast season 2 episode 5
Welcome back to season two of Teaching STEM #4Real! Today, we are excited to welcome Dr. Samara Suafo’a to the podcast!

Dr. Samara Suafo’a is the Assistant Director of Teacher Education and Clinical Assistant Professor at Claremont Graduate University. Her positionality as a biracial, student-athlete born to a Samoan father and White mother on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii uniquely informs both her practice and research. Specifically, she draws upon her own K-16 experiences as a member of a minoritized community who took advantage of athletics to mitigate the lack of access to resources and inequities she experienced along her educational trajectory. Suafo’a holds a PhD in Urban Leadership from Claremont Graduate University, a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis on students with moderate-severe dis/abilities from the California State University at Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Linfield College.

Prior to joining CGU’s Department of Teacher Education, Suafo’a’s professional experience comprised 20 years of teaching, leadership, and administrative roles in K-12 urban educational settings in both Hawaii and California. These roles included serving as a special day class teacher for students with moderate-severe dis/abilities, resource teacher, new teacher mentor, special education program coordinator, local district integration support provider, and high school women’s basketball coach. In 2019, Suafo’a was awarded Claremont Graduate University’s prestigious Pamela M. Mullin Dream and Believe Award for conducting outstanding graduate-student research on the Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander community. As a woman of Oceania, she is committed to combating notions of smallness faced by minoritized communities as a result of colonization, particularly the ways in which youth develop ideas of what they believe to be possible for themselves.

In this episode, we’ll chat about how Dr. Suafo’a became an educator, the state of the preservice teaching world, and how new teachers can sustain themselves in such a large ecosystem. Besides this, we’ll also discuss what it looks like to integrate social justice in a classroom, the way in which this is still not the norm, and the idea of cultural humility. Last but not least, Dr. Suafo’a and I will talk about the importance of engaging the needs of the people that you’re serving, whether age is a factor when talking about social justice in the classroom, and the Claremont preservice program! Keep listening to hear more from the amazing Dr. Suafo’a!

Selected Works:
“College Choice for Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander High School Student-Athletes.” LA Island Radio Podcast, 2021 Co-authored with D. Ganley.
“Including Samir. The challenges of creating an integrated school culture.” In Case Studies for Inclusive Educators and Leaders, edited by Darrin Griffiths and James Ryan. Word and Deed Publishers, 2018.

Teaching STEM #4Real is a podcast dedicated to 4 real conversations on educational equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education hosted by Dr. Leena Bakshi. If you’re interested in exploring what anti-racism and socially just instruction look like in our classrooms, schools, and beyond, you are in the right place. Dr. Bakshi is also the founder of the non-profit, STEM4Real. Please visit our website for information on how to partner with us. Thank you for helping us make STEM for real.

Learn more about how we promote student equity and social justice in STEM4Real