Thursday, February 4, 2016
For Immediate Release
MITS Executive Director Honored
It is with great pleasure that the Board of Directors of the Museum Institute for Teaching Science announces the induction of MITS’ Executive Director, Sandi Ryack-Bell, to the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators, a program of the Massachusetts Science Education Leadership Association.
For more than 20 years, the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators has been recognizing the lasting contributions of individuals to science education.
Inductees have included elementary, middle school, and high school classroom teachers, college and university professors, administrators, and practicioners [sic] of informal science education.
Inductees must have
been involved in science education in Massachusetts for a minimum of twenty years…made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of education in the sciences and/or science teaching in Massachusetts…had an effect in school(s) and/or system(s)…had an effect statewide/regionally…[and] nationally… introduced/modified new teaching/learning programs… done workshops and lectures for student groups… publications related to science/education of value to science educators… provided service to professional organizations.. [demonstrated] enthusiastic and continual search for knowledge [and] leadership in science education…[had]long-term impact on students [and finally, have received]recognition of contributions such as awards/citations from recognized groups.
Sandi meets all of these criteria.
Sandi has devoted her entire career to improving inquiry-based, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. She has an extensive background in science, ecology and science education, which includes teaching at every level from kindergarten through graduate school and in Professional Development programs for both classroom teachers and informal educators. She also has a lengthy portfolio of curriculum materials she has developed and publications in science education. In addition to her teaching and publishing, Sandi has held leadership positions with several organizations engaged in science education. She has served on a large number of government committees and commissions, developing the Next Generation Science Standards and improving science education, and she has a long list of professional affiliations.
Since becoming the Executive Director of MITS, Sandi has expanded and improved MITS programs. MITS’ signature work began as summer institutes for elementary teachers through collaborations among museums, aquaria, nature centers, and other non-profit science education organizations in Massachusetts. This is now a program that touches both elementary and secondary teachers and enhances the efforts of over 100 informal organizations (such as zoos, nature centers, cultural institutions, museums) to educate children, teachers, schools and the public. Through all of her work, Sandi demonstrates a long term and continued focus on improving STEM education and has a deep commitment to educating young people to become informed citizens and potential scientists
Sandi’s close connections with teachers and schools have led to more recent efforts to work directly with school districts and individual schools delivering customized Professional Development programs for teachers, preparation for meeting the new standards and research-based instructional strategies. In all of MITS’ programs, Sandi is an active leader in the various professional development activities.
Since her arrival at MITS in 2008, Sandi has worked to position the organization, as well as herself, as a leader in STEM education reform. In particular, Sandi is a member of the MA Next Generation Science Standards State Oversight Committee helping to revise the MA STE Standards, served as chair of the Mathematics and Science Advisory Committee to the Commissioner of Education and currently serves as President of Massachusetts Marine Educators (2015-2017). Sandi’s résumé includes a lengthy list of her many affiliations and leadership roles on state government science education commissions. The list itself is testimony to the high respect in which she is held in the STEM education community.
Due to Sandi’s efforts, MITS is now considered a preferred provider of Professional Development programs by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Recently Sandi’s work has moved to the national level as well. She has been a presenter at national conferences of organizations including the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Association of Science/ Technology Centers (ASTC). She was also invited to present at the US Department of Education’s Mathematics and Science Partnership Program Conference. ASTC has entrusted Sandi with leading a nation-wide Professional Development initiative. Also in the past year, Sandi was contacted by a teachers’ organization in the Philippines, seeking to engage MITS in a customized Professional Development program for a large group of their science teachers; this will make MITS an international model. These invitations recognize the high quality, innovative programs of MITS as well as Sandi’s personal and professional stature in the field of Professional Development in STEM.
Sandi is an extraordinary science educator and has had a varied and expansive experience working with students, classroom teachers and informal educators as well as with government officials and institutional organizations, all in the name of improving science education at every level. The MITS Board of Directors is extremely grateful to Sandi for all her hard work and congratulates her on her induction into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators.
MITS is a not-for-profit corporation that collaborates with formal and informal education institutions to provide STEM professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and non-profit organizations across Massachusetts. Program offerings include week-long graduate level Summer Professional Development Institutes, day-long Professional Development Seminars and Customized School Services. For more information, visit www.mits.org.