2019 Summer Institute
June 24 - 28, 2019
2019 Teacher Leaders
Grades K-1 Teacher Leaders
Michelle Lourenco, M.Ed.
Michelle Lourenco is a First Grade teacher from Santa Paula Unified School District. She has been a grade level lead teacher for her school site, a mentor teacher, and has served on her district CCSS ELA leadership team. She also served as a member of her district’s first technology cohort. She has taught first grade for 17 years. She received her M.Ed. from Concordia University Irvine. Her passion is to infuse science into all parts of the school day. After attending the past three STEMposia and serving as a teacher leader at the 2017 summer institute, she is enthusiastic about sharing what she has learned about the NGSS with other primary teachers!
Kristen Nordstrom, M.Ed.
Kristen is a 2nd grade teacher with the newly created Ladera STARS Academy - an integrated NGSS (STEAM) public elementary school in the Conejo District. Kristen has 20 years of teaching experience, a Masters Degree in Education from Pepperdine, is certified and experienced in teaching Linda Mood-Bell math and language instruction, and is the school ESL coordinator. She's been awarded three Sage Grants and an Impact Grant for curriculum development. She's has also received two writing awards from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for outstanding STEM manuscripts. She has developed curriculum and taught all of the first and second grade NGSS in addition to researching and developing an 8-week science program on biomimicry for elementary students. As part of this program, she received a grant from the Japan Foundation for Eiji Nakatsu, Japanese bullet train engineer, to speak at her school, Cal State Channel Islands, and the Otis School of Design. Kristen was recently appointed to the Biomimicry Institute’s International Education Network, and is the author of the upcoming picture book entitled, MIMIC MAKERS: INVENTORS INSPIRED BY NATURE, scheduled for release in the spring of 2020 with Charlesbridge Publishing.
Grades 2-3 Teacher Leaders
Caroline Hardeman is a 6th grade teacher from Simi Valley Unified School District. She has taught 6th grade at the elementary level for 17 years, and currently teaches Science, History and a technology elective to 90 sixth graders at Hollow Hills Fundamental Elementary, a K-6 school with an emphasis on STEAM and citizenship. She has been grade level lead and technology chair for 10 years, as well as the teacher in charge of Family STEAM Nights and is the go to for NGSS at Hollow Hills. She complete a Masters of Science in Educational Technology from Cal State Fullerton last year.
Caroline has participated in the VC STEMposium for the past 3 years and is excited to be a teacher leader this year. She is also a member of the CLU/Amgen NGSS Life Science Circles and a member of the Exploratorium Teacher Leader Network. A lifelong Disney fan, she grew up near Orange County and her first job was in costuming at Disneyland. When not teaching, she can be found visiting Disneyland, Walt Disney World, or traveling with her family.
Jennifer Johnston is a third grade teacher at Hollow Hills Elementary school in the Simi Valley Unified School DIstrict. She has served at Hollow Hills Elementary for the past three years, where she has further-developed her love of science and understanding of the NGSS. Hollow Hills is one of two fundamental schools in the district/ It has built a school community that strives to model citizenship and academic achievement through core curriculum and embedded programs (e.g., Medal of Honor, Family STEAM Night, etc.). Prior to this assignment, Jennifer has worked at multiple other elementary schools supporting the learning of students in kindergarten through sixth grades as a special education teacher.
Jennifer was first encouraged to attend VCSTEMPosium in 2017 by her friend and colleague Caroline Hardeman. Together Jennifer and Caroline have attended many science workshops including the California STEAM Symposium, the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and Project WET. When not teaching or attending science workshops, Jennifer enjoys reading, playing with her dogs, traveling, and going to Disneyland or Disney World.
Grades 4-5 Teacher Leaders
Lauren Reynolds has a Masters in Educational Leadership from California Lutheran University. She is currently teaching 5th grade at University Preparation Charter School. She has been teaching for eight years and loves the profession because every day is different. She was an instructor for the 2018 Stemposium that focused on developing units with an environmental focus. Lauren is also the Intermediate Years team representative on the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) team. She is the 4th/5th grade representative on the UPCS Science Leadership Team.
In the classroom, Lauren enjoys having students explore the world through scientific investigations. “We are constantly growing and evolving as teachers, it wasn’t until I really delved into the NGSS standards and learned how to use them to design lessons that I actually had kids saying science was their favorite subject. They look forward to the hands-on experience of discovering the world around them.”
Prior to entering the teaching profession, Lauren was heavily involved in sports where she learned many of life’s most important lessons. As a lover of sports, Lauren stresses the importance of teamwork and collaboration in her classroom. In college, Lauren played for California Lutheran’s women’s basketball team and still holds the rank of their all-time high scorer. She now focuses her personal time on her husband Chad, and two wonderful children, Jackson and Hailey.
Roann is a southern California native who was born and raised in Torrance, California; she spent 17 years of her adult life living in New England, in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. Roann loved living in New England; but in 2013, decided to relocate back to California and now enjoys calling Ventura County home!
Roann earned both her Bachelor of Arts degree as well as her Master of Science degree in Special Education at Bay Path University located in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Roann has been a classroom teacher for the past 15 years and currently teaches 6th grade math and science at University Preparation Charter School. Her classroom experience ranges from kindergarten through middle school however; a vast majority of her time in the classroom has been in 4th and 5th grade. Roann began her teaching career in Springfield, Massachusetts where she taught for 8 years; in addition to teaching elementary school in Massachusetts Roann served as an adjunct professor at Bay Path University, her alma mater, where she taught methods courses in math as well as science and social studies integration. Roann continues to enjoy working with future teachers at UPCS where she has worked with and supported numerous student observers and student teachers from CSUCI.
Roann loves working with her students in class but also thoroughly enjoys preparing and presenting PD for teachers. She enjoyed being a teacher leader at the first STEMposium 2015 and taught a short course at STEMposium 2017. She found STEMposium so meaningful and rewarding that she had to join in on the fun again this year!
Roann is a teacher who enjoys creating fun, interactive, engaging, and meaningful lessons where her students can develop their academic and social skills through inquiry and collaboration.
Middle School Teacher Leaders
Ray Clayton is a Southern California native and avid outdoor enthusiast, enjoying camping, hiking, rock climbing, and fly fishing. When he is not found wandering the outdoors you can also find him on the basketball court. He has played most of his life and coached youth teams at various levels. He is currently the head coach of the basketball team at UPCS with a 20-8 record over the last three years.
Prior to teaching Ray has worked successfully in three other professions; Corporate Health and Safety, Home Sales, and Construction. He credits his previous experiences with the knowledge he can instill in students as to the importance of education in the STEM fields. He constantly incorporates these experiences into lessons to help create more meaningful lessons.
Ray graduated from CSUCI in 2015 with a degree in Biology and minor in History. He began his teaching career under the guidance and direction of his mentor, Mrs. Annie Ransom. He went on to complete his credential with CSUCI’s School of Education in 2016 and has enjoyed teaching 8th Grade math and science ever since. His fondest teaching memory was a mystery fossil lab where students had to use geological evidence to unlock the age, location, and species of an unknown fossils.
Jon Finch has been teaching math & science at University Preparation Charter School for the past four years. During his time at UPCS, he has experience teaching in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classrooms. Jon has a B.S in Environmental Science, single-subject credentials in both Math and Science, and is currently finishing a Master’s Program in Curriculum & Instruction. He prides himself in the relationships he builds with his students and enjoys watching them grow both academically and in character. In his free time, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and taking trips over summer with his wife who is also a teacher. He has attended several STEMposiums in the past as a participant and is looking forward to his first year as a teacher leader.
High School Teacher Leaders
Bret Klopfenstein is a TK-12 Science TOSA for Ventura Unified working to support teachers in NGSS implementation, curriculum evaluation, science pedagogy and classroom instruction. He is also an adjunct professor at California Lutheran University where he teaches secondary science methods to teacher candidates in the Graduate School of Education, and he coordinates the CLU NGSS Learning Circle for Ventura County 6-8th grade science teachers.
He has a BS in Biology from Westmont College and a Master’s of Education from UCSB. His first job in education was at the Sarah Anthony Juvenile Hall School in San Diego California where he was a classroom aid in math and social studies. Since then he has taught outdoor education in the Santa Cruz Mountains, High School Biology, Honors Biology, and AP Biology at Ventura High School.
Kurt’s teaching experience includes formal classrooms, notably project based science at SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House), professional learning experiences for teachers, and leadership training for the United States Coast Guard and Navy. However, his deepest interests and greatest skill set is weaving outdoor environmental learning into formal 3D NGSS instructional sequences. Whether on the deck of a schooner reaching for the trades, hiking through the coastal rain forests of Alaska, or in formal classrooms, Kurt finds his greatest joy in helping learners make sense of the world using science and engineering practices. He is a certified wilderness first aid responder, glacier guide, licensed maritime officer, and US SAILING Instructor Trainer.
Before becoming a full time educator, Kurt worked as a geospatial scientist applying GIS systems to vessel routing, modeling of near shore ocean circulation patterns, and responding to oil spills through out the western United States. The highlight of this time was four consecutive years in Alaska on the Exxon Valdez spill where he used remote sensing to analyze near shore environments. It was this experience that turned him towards becoming a science and environmental communicator. He began his sea-going career with the US Navy where he performed search and rescue, meteorological observations, interpretation of high seas weather, and forecasting. Currently, he spends most of his time connecting scientists to teachers, leading teacher education events, or writing on environmental literacy topics.
The most important parts of Kurt’s life are his relationship with his wife, Erin, advancing his students' success as young adults, and collaborating with his colleagues in the science education community.