AMTA Spring 2013 Election of Officers

From now until June 1st AMTA will conduct its annual election of officers. Below are statements from each of the candidates and at the bottom of the page is a link to the ballot.

Candidates’ Statements

Vice President

(presidential cycle – this is the first year of a four year term. The candidate will serve one year each as vice president, president elect, president, and past president)

Kathy Malone

Kathy Malone has been practicing Modeling Instruction in Physics since 1995 when she attended her first Modeling Instruction workshop at Arizona State University.  She was hooked on the pedagogy especially after she discovered the improved performance of her students on the FCI.  She has promoted the pedagogy by doing summer workshops and conference presentations ever since.  Kathy’s desire to learn ‘why” her students demonstrated such improved performance on the FCI led her to enter and complete a PhD in Cognition and Instruction in Physics education from Carnegie Mellon in 2006.  During this time she also started a Modeling Teachers Institute at her school, Shady Side Academy, which offered one week introductory modeling instruction courses.  Kathy was also instrumental in helping her school switch to a physics first course sequence which stressed modeling instruction in all introductory science courses.  Kathy is currently serving on the AMTA board as secretary.  During her time as secretary she instituted the AMTA newsletter, The Whiteboard, and constructed the application packet for NSTA affiliate status (which will be considered by the NSTA board this summer).   Kathy would like to continue to help the AMTA grow as a grassroots organization and continue to work on the NSTA affiliate status project.   After we are awarded affiliate status with the NSTA the AMTA will be responsible for AMTA sessions at all NSTA conferences.  Since Kathy is currently serving as an Einstein Fellow at the National Science Foundation through July 2014 she is  well situated to help make this connection with the NSTA happen.  Kathy Malone is very excited to work with the executive board as a member of the president cycle to make the most of these opportunities and create additional ones as the country and AMTA meet the new challenges of the NGSS.

Jason Cervenec

After teaching two years with a biological and Earth sciences curriculum in the 9th and 10th grades, it was changed to physical science. I knew both my content knowledge and instructional methods were weak in this area; after reading about modeling instruction and consulting a local resource, I enrolled in the summer program at the University of North Carolina –Greensboro. During that first summer, in addition to my weaknesses in content knowledge, I learned that I did not have a deep understanding of ratios, graphs or the nature of science. When I returned to Ohio at the end of the summer, I committed to using Modeling Instruction in all of my physical science classes, but I hedged my bets by making copies of the more traditional labs for the first month of school. I never used any of those handouts.

I quickly realized that my colleagues were not prepared for the transition to physical science and worked with Kathy Harper and Andrew Heckler from Ohio State to offer the first modeling workshop in Central Ohio. That workshop will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year with offerings in physics, chemistry, and curriculum development. I taught using modeling instruction for 9 of my 11 years in the classroom during which I extensively adapted the Modeling Physics materials for 9th grade physical science and began to develop materials and techniques for 10th grade biology and AP Biology.

I am fortunate to have learned from Matt Greenwolfe, who provided a great deal of guidance in my first years and was one of the instructors for my curriculum development workshop at UNCG. Following the advice of Jess Mamais, who was a participant in the first workshop I led, I went to Arizona State to take Chemistry Modeling from Larry Dukerich and Brenda Royce. Spending time in Tempe in July, provided an excellent environment to learn from peers. Last summer, I attended a portion of the Biology Modeling workshop with Angela Gard in New Jersey.

This year, I began a new position as the Outreach & Education Coordinator at a research center that is part of Ohio State. In this capacity, I have been able to support teachers in the classroom, design Earth sciences materials consistent with a modeling instruction framework, and collaborate with colleagues at the university and state department of education to expand modeling workshop offerings and support development of additional modeling resources.

I hope to contribute to the modeling community by expanding materials available in the biological and Earth sciences, extending modeling opportunities to teachers in the middle and elementary school levels, continuing support for evaluation of programs, and helping to provide financial stability to modeling. I owe a great debt to the modeling community for making me a better teacher and fundamentally changing the way I think about education. I hope to give back by supporting the professionalization of teaching from the bottom up and advocating for science education as a hands-on pursuit greater than any series of examinations.

Lee Trampleasure

I am honored to be nominated for the Presidential Cycle for AMTA. I began Modeling six years ago after taking a Mechanics workshop, and haven’t looked back since. Two years ago I took the CASTLE workshop, and last summer I co-lead a well-attended Mechanics workshop at my high school in Concord, CA. In the past year I have helped AMTA launch a new website that provides increased membership resources, including access to all curricular materials (no more need for CDs or flash drives at workshops!) and a bulletin board where members can share documents they have revised.

The next few years are crucial to AMTA’s success. Our membership dues will only go so far, and the Board and our Executive Director have been working hard to find grants and other resources to support us as we grow into a nationally recognized force for educational reform.

As we grow, my priority for AMTA would be three areas: supporting development of our non-physics content, improving our documents so they have professional images and are thoroughly proof-read, and developing standards and guidelines for “certifying” Modeling Instruction workshops and materials. Our peer-developed method has brought us far, and should not be discarded, but if we are to convince larger districts of our professionalism, we have some work to do in our presentation.

I appreciate your support, and your careful analysis of the candidates running for AMTA offices.

Kelli Gamez Warble

I am truly honored to be nominated for the AMTA board.

That opening statement is actually pretty significant for me.  As a high school teacher for almost 20 years, I admit part of my survival technique has been to avoid extra duties.  However, I am truly dedicated to Modeling Instruction, and especially to the group of STEM teachers represented by the AMTA membership.

My first exposure to modeling was in the 1990s, when I took the Methods of Teaching Physics course required for my certification program at Arizona State.  A few years later, I found myself in a room with over 25 amazing veteran physics teachers as a participant in Phase I of Modeling Instruction.  (I kept my mouth shut and absorbed the awesomeness.) I co-led my first Modeling Workshop with Larry Dukerich in 1998, and have continued to co-lead Modeling Mechanics each summer at Arizona State University.  Meanwhile, my “day” job has been as a high school math and physics teacher—16 years at Title I schools and 2 years at an exceptional public charter, Arizona School for the Arts.  At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, I became Teacher in Residence in the ASU physics department, where I strive to recruit and support the next generation of exceptional STEM teachers.

In my opinion, the best aspect of Modeling Instruction has been interaction with insightful and dedicated teachers, who work daily to make themselves obsolete by empowering students to build their own models of the world.

Seth Gunials Kupperman

Teaching is the only profession I’ve known. My parents were both teachers. If I didn’t work somehow in education I don’t know what I would do, but I know I wouldn’t be as fulfilled.

Modeling was the first experience since I began teaching that felt honest; it was clearly authored thoughtfully, by other teachers and with an eye toward the question, “but are they learning?” Since then I’ve never looked back.

The curriculum and pedagogy of Modeling Instruction can be a hard sell to traditional teachers. If you’re the only physics teacher in your school, it can be lonesome, isolating. If there are others, there can be equal chances of collaboration and friction. The Modeling community offers instructors a wealth of opportunity to find each other and connect: some to say, “I’ve walked that path before and I can offer advice,” and others to say, “Let’s walk that path together.”

It was seeking the latter connection that drove me to contact Fernand and Mark and Andrew and Paul and Frank. New York State has a rare condition: it offers a standardized examination in Physics. New York City public schools have their own unique conditions. I hoped that by sparking a group of NYC-area Modelers we could work to answer the question of how best to resolve Modeling Instruction with Regents Physics preparedness. If the two can co-exist, let’s show others how! If the two are mutually exclusive, let’s publicize that! Through outreach and PD we can touch so many teachers. And students.


Members at large serve a three year term.

May Lee

As a former high school STEM teacher (physics, PLTW, biology, algebra) and chemistry outreach administrator, I had opportunities to attend various professional development workshops and conferences to learn how to improve my teaching in the STEM fields.  However, I felt that my experiences with Modeling Instruction transformed my teaching the most because I could more readily see the positive impacts it had on my students’ interest and achievement in science (especially physics).  I also felt that the theories of teaching and learning embedded in Modeling Instruction strongly resonated with how I teach, in addition to how I think students learn how to make sense of the world around them.

Because I wanted to create opportunities for other teachers to implement Modeling Instruction in their classrooms, I applied to graduate school.  I completed a master’s degree in educational psychology at University of Colorado-Boulder (where I was a member of the Physics Education Research group) and am currently pursuing a PhD in science education at Michigan State University (where I am working with some of the leaders in science education).  My hope is that in the process of becoming a teacher educator, I will become more able to effect changes in school systems by helping administrators become aware of the ways in which they can support their teachers more effectively (which could then increase student engagement and achievement in STEM fields).  If elected, I would be interested in acting as another liaison between our community of modelers and other STEM education communities.

Carlos Montero

My career as a teacher began in 2004 and after two ineffective years, I was blessed to encounter modeling.  As a chemical engineer, I could recognize effective scientific thinking but did not know how to impart it to others. My first workshop at Florida International University in 2006 revealed to me how exquisite teaching could be.  I was amazed at the pedagogical genius of modeling and adopted it wholeheartedly. Modeling saved my career as a teacher and has yielded exceptional results for students in my honors and AP chemistry classes.

I have no doubt that modeling should be at the forefront of science education reform in this country.  That is why the role of AMTA is so precious.  The change can only happen through those teachers who have not only embraced modeling but have reached a high level of proficiency in it. I wish to be part of the AMTA board for two main reasons. First, I have incredible gratitude to what modeling has done for my career and the lives of my students; therefore, I wish to share the gift of modeling with everyone in the community. Second, I am optimistic about the future of science education and wish to be a part of its development. As a member of the AMTA board I will contribute my time and zeal for modeling to help support and expand our community. I am sure that our efforts will ultimately lead to the overall improvement of science literacy of our nation.

Tammy Gwara

I have been teaching science for twelve years. My first five years were spent in a rural town in northern New Mexico, and I have been in a suburb of Phoenix Arizona for the last seven years. I have experience teaching Earth Science and Biology, but the vast majority of my experience and expertise lie in Chemistry. In 2008, I took my first Modeling workshop and it revolutionized my teaching career. I took a second Chemistry Modeling workshop in 2009,and I have spent the last three summers instructing Chemistry Modeling courses.I have led the workshop in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, where I have met teachers from a variety of locations and introduced them to Modeling Instruction. I have also worked peripherally with some of the authors of the Chemistry curriculum to tweak, rewrite, or create the materials that Chemistry Modelers use. I am passionate about Modeling Instruction and the benefits it offers to students when it comes to learning science, and I will vocalize those passions to anyone who will listen. I firmly believe that this methodology of instruction is what is best for students, and that is based in my own content knowledge, pedagogy knowledge, and experience in the classroom with my students. I believe that my depth of understanding of Modeling Instruction, my experience using the materials as well as leading workshops, and my passion for quality science education would make me an asset to the AMTA.


The office of Secretary is a two-year term.

Eric Brewe

I joined the Arizona State University Physics Education Research Group in 1998. Since that time I have been active using Modeling Instruction in my physics classes, developing curriculum for University Modeling Instruction, and carrying out research on Modeling Instruction. My career has included time at Hawaii Pacific University and Florida International University.  At FIU I have been able to advocate for Modeling Instruction, both as an approach to university physics and for Modeling Workshops as a professional development program for high school teachers. Among my accomplishments have been to get Modeling Instruction and Modeling Workshops integrated into the pre-service physics teacher education program at FIU. The Science and Math Teacher Imperative recognized Modeling Instruction as a promising practice for science teacher education.

My reason for seeking to join the AMTA board is to strengthen the organization through research and pursuit of external funding. Modeling Instruction has been a central professional development activity for such a large number of teachers, yet it remains under described in the education research literature. Developing published evidence of the successes of Modeling Instruction will help support the mission of the AMTA and the Modeling project broadly.

Finally, I believe I will benefit personally and professionally from participating in the AMTA more fully.

Dan Garrison

I came to the science classroom over 20 years after earning my undergraduate degree in physics, and an MBA.  During that time, I invested 18 years in marketing financial services, including a 10-year period with a firm that revolutionized the industry for low- and middle-income families.  There, I personally educated 1,000s of primarily middle-income adults to implement reliable models for savings, debt elimination, accumulating adequate retirement assets, and protecting their family along the way.   I also recruited, licensed, and trained 100s of others to do the same.  Perhaps most importantly, I learned highly effective models for what it takes to help lead an organization that dramatically reforms its own industry for the good of those it serves.

For many reasons, I decided to redirect my passion for teaching more directly into education.  I spent a year teaching English in China with a small non-profit also dedicated to reforming the teacher-centered model of Chinese education to more student-centered pedagogies by training teachers with a 3-week immersion experience on the campus of Peking University in Beijing.

The next year, Teach for America recruited me to teach physics in a low-SES, Title I Dallas, TX high school, where I have been the last 3 years.  The traditional approach to science instruction almost led me quickly out of the classroom altogether, but thanks to finding modeling instruction through the edublogosphere, and my daughter’s experience in a physics course with an expert modeler (thanks Nicholas Park!), I attended the mechanics modeling workshop in NYC last summer and left wondering, “Why doesn’t everybody know about this,  and why isn’t it used in every science classroom?”

I returned to the classroom to jump into modeling instruction wholeheartedly.  And I am passionately committed to helping raise the awareness and adoption of modeling instruction in science classrooms in our country and around the world.  Perhaps the most important thing I can currently contribute to the modeling community is my perspective and experience outside the space of education, and experience with proven leadership models for advancing reform through relationship marketing efforts.

Balloting procedure:

This year AMTA has opted to use “approval voting”–that is, we are asking that you vote for every candidate whom you feel is qualified to serve. This will insure that whoever is elected (i.e., whoever ends up with the most votes) will have been approved for this  position by a majority of those who cast ballots rather than just a plurality.

Link to ballot:

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