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2023 MSTA Award Recipients

Philip Marcoux Award Recipient

Congratulations to the 2023 MSTA Philip Marcoux Award Recipient: Christine Anderson-Morehouse

“In a career spanning forty years, Christine’s professional life has evolved in tandem with innovations across science education and professional development. Roles have included Forester, Middle Level Science Teacher, MMSA Beacon Schools Facilitator, MMSA Projects Manager, Science Consultant, Midcoast Professional Development Center Director, and Maine Project Learning Tree Coordinator.

Christine started teaching before Learning Results existed, inventing curriculum by pulling learning goals from sample teacher guides and designing community-based units based on those goals.

In 1992 when a savvy group of Maine leaders started Maine Math Science Alliance (MMSA), they created seven regions as laboratories for school reform. She became science facilitator for the northernmost “Beacon Center”. Facilitators studied with experts at AAAS, National Academies of Science, Lawrence Hall of Science and others to learn about the new Benchmarks for Science Literacy and related instructional practices. Professional development offerings became long-term, with new models like coaching and mentoring, sharing student work, and developing teachers to lead curriculum implementation. Working with college professors on campuses across Maine, facilitators designed summer teacher academies based on Maine Learning Results and provided follow-up throughout the school year.

Through a consulting business she started in 2003 (Maine Science Collaborative), Christine offered long-term support in districts across Maine to study “pedagogical content knowledge” (aka Curriculum Topic Studies) and to design or implement science programs and materials based on them. Learning Results transitioned to NGSS at this time.

A Maine superintendents’ region hired her to start the Midcoast Regional Professional Development Center focused on cross-curricular programs like literacy across content areas, Maine mentor training, PBIS schoolwide behavior systems, Assessment FOR Learning, high school reform, and a wealth of other offerings for teacher and administrator groups.

The capstone that brought this career full-circle was serving as state coordinator for Maine Project Learning Tree (PLT), a role that combined her two lifelong passions – forestry and professional development. Together with a great group of volunteers, she designed NGSS/PLT workshops and offered PLT for Professors and PLT for Tree Farmers seeking to get students out into their forests. With Covid shutting everything down, the annual Forestry Teachers’ Tour of the North Maine Woods became virtual, showcasing forestry in action using YouTube videos, Google Classroom materials and Zoom sessions with presentations by forestry experts and opportunities for grade span groups to share ideas. 

Christine states that her goal has always been to facilitate educators and teams in making informed decisions best suited to their own communities and students. Aside from the science and instructional expertise being developed, one of the most enduring benefits of this work has been a statewide network of educators that exists to this day, with many original participants now leading organizations and programs of their own and many of those educators remaining good friends.”

Louis P. Lambert Award Recipient

Congratulations to the 2023 MSTA Louis P. Lambert Award Recipients: Andrea and Patrick Conley, fourth-grade teachers for the Saco School Department.

Andrea and Patrick Conley are inspiring teacher-leaders for K-5 science education. As fourth-grade teachers for the Saco School Department, they create equitable and meaningful science learning experiences that prioritize student-led questioning, investigating, and problem-solving. Their classrooms foster active engagement in science and engineering practices to explore phenomena and problems that are relevant to students, their culture, place, and the world.

The Conleys are participants in a national project called Place-Based Learning for Elementary Science at Scale (PeBLES2), led by MMSA and BSCS Science Learning. The project aims to investigate how elementary teachers can incorporate locally or culturally relevant phenomena into NGSS-designed units. As project participants, Andrea and Patrick contribute to advancing the field’s knowledge of how NGSS-designed materials can be purposefully adapted to center place, students’ interests, and identities.

Andrea and Patrick leverage instructional strategies and tools that foster a class culture of student agency and belonging. Students are encouraged to post questions to the Driving Question Board, engage in productive academic talk to revise the Class Consensus Model, and brainstorm ideas for the Related Phenomena Chart. The message to students is clear: their experiences and ideas matter, and they are valued members of the learning community.

For example, after a lesson investigating how rocks and dirt could end up in new places, some students in Mr. Conley’s class still questioned whether water could be a powerful agent of erosion. This prompted Mr. Conley to research video footage from hydrologists and flash flood videographers. He shared this additional evidence with students the next day and engaged the class in a consensus-building discussion that supported students’ process of revising their thinking over time.

Mrs. Conley pays similar close attention to her students’ sensemaking by providing carefully crafted time for small group and whole class discussions. Her teaching style is unassuming yet highly effective. Despite her lessons appearing effortless, they result from her clear guidance, kind demeanor, and proactive support for students who may be struggling to comprehend the material. Whether the class is discussing the cause of a rockfall in Yosemite National Park or water problems on a schoolyard tennis court, students are always encouraged and celebrated to connect to their personal lives and build on each other’s ideas.

It is a privilege to collaborate with Andrea and Patrick, and we are grateful for their expertise and efforts to elevate elementary science education in Maine.”