WWU’s 6th Annual Irwin Slesnick STEM Education Symposium will be held on Friday, April 26 on the WWU campus, and is free and open to the public. This year’s theme is “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in STEM.” Attendees may opt to attend any combination of events throughout the day as their schedules permit, and can register online here. All workshops will take place in SL 220, while the keynotes will be downstairs.
Schedule of Activities
12:00-1:00 “Lunch & Learn” *Will include a welcome/about Irwin Slesnick and ‘table talk’ activities
1:00-2:45 Concurrent Workshops
Session A: Targeting K12 Preservice/Inservice Teachers – Jonte Taylor
Session B: Targeting Higher Education/STEM Faculty – Beronda Montgomery
3:00-4:00 Interactive Session: Identity, Culture, Assumptions, & Norms (all attendees)
4:00-5:00 Plenary Session #1 (K12 focus) – Jonte Taylor
5:00-5:30 Reception/Light Refreshments
5:30-6:30 Plenary Session #2 (Higher Ed focus) Beronda Montgomery
Dr. Jonte’ Taylor, professor of special education from Pennsylvania State University, is this year’s K12 focused speaker. Taylor’s work focuses on issues of inclusion in STEM.
Taylor is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education at Penn State. His research focuses on the intersections of school/classroom climates and how they affect students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) education-related outcomes. Specifically, he has focused on the broad question of: “What are the theories, supports, and practices needed to optimize learning opportunities and maximize STEAM-related outcomes for SWD”? As a former classroom teacher, Taylor has worked with a variety of individuals and students including adults with severe cognitive disabilities and students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and emotional/behavioral disorders. He has also had the opportunity to teach in multiple settings from group homes to lockdown facilities and inclusive and self-contained classrooms.
Taylor is currently on the Special Needs Advisory Committee for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and is the current president of the Science Education for Students with Disabilities, an associated group of NSTA. In his time at Penn State, Taylor has co-taught or consulted in STEM education courses, co-written to book chapters related to science instruction for students with disabilities, and published numerous research and practitioner articles to support students and teachers in STEAM instruction.
Beronda Montgomery of Michigan State University is this year’s higher-education focused speaker. Her work focuses on mentoring and retaining students from underrepresented groups in STEM. Montgomery is MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics in the Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University. Montgomery conducts research on the means by which plants and cyanobacteria are able to monitor and adjust to changes in their external environments. The ability of these largely immobile organisms to adapt to dynamic environments increases their survival and maximizes productivity.
Montgomery also conducts scholarship and training initiatives on effective research mentoring, research management and academic leadership, including issues related to mentoring diverse students and junior scientists, as well as faculty development. Dr. Montgomery received an NSF CAREER Award, is an 2017-2019 American Society of Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer, and was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2018.
The late Irwin Slesnick retired in 1996 after a 33-year career in WWU’s Biology Department, where he profoundly impacted thousands of students and future science teachers. His vision and tireless advocacy for improving science education played a critical role in gaining approval for constructing the Science Education Building and influenced its unique design. Slesnick was instrumental in the establishment of the current SMATE program housed in the building that continues the work he started. The annual Irwin L. Slesnick STEM Education Symposium is a tribute to his memory.