Supporting Excellent Science Teaching for Georgia

Georgia Science Teachers Association

Join Us July 14th for the "Voices from the Field" Panel on Elementary Science and Literacy

Early literacy performance has remained flat in Georgia and across the country even as more instructional time has been dedicated to reading at the expense of science. How can we help students learn to read without sacrificing their opportunity to learn about the world around them? How can we view science as part of the literacy solution rather than as a competing demand? Join this important session Thursday, July 14th, 9:00-10:00 am, to hear from voices in the field about their challenges and successes in leveraging science learning to support and enhance early literacy. Gain insights for your own classroom and learn to speak up for science as our state engages in a renewed policy discussion about the best way to help Georgia’s children learn to read. This panel is part of our ongoing series of discussions and professional learning to support Science for Georgia’s work to improve literacy in Georgia. See below for an updated list of panelists and click here to RSVP for the event. This virtual panel discussion will be hosted on Zoom and will provide an opportunity for you to engage with our panelists through Q&A. Zoom information will be provided to individuals who RSVP for the event.

Confirmed panelists:

  • Dr. Anne Valauri, Assistant Professor of Elementary and Special Education at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong Campus. Dr. Valauri’s work includes a focus on STEM learning from birth to age 5.
  • Tiffanie Barner-Davis currently serves as the Early Literacy Lead in Clayton County Public Schools and founder of G.I.F.T. Educational Consulting. In Clayton County, Mrs. Barner-Davis was instrumental in bringing content area leads together to collaborate on revising the integrated curriculum for grades K-2.
  • Karen Garland, K-5 Discovery Science Lab Teacher at Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy. Ms. Garland is an award-winning teacher, a past GSTA board member, and is the GaDOE virtual specialist for K-2 science.
  • Karen Gorzynski, 5th Grade Science Teacher at Bill Arp Elementary. Mrs. Gorzynski is passionate about integrating literacy into everyday science lesson planning and will share strategies that have improved her students’ success in the classroom and on Milestones assessments.
  • Chanel Johnson, Implementation Manager at Explore Learning. Ms. Johnson is an award-winning STEMinist whose work includes K-12 STEM Integration.
  • Natasha Smith, Curriculum Specialist and STEM Coordinator at Evoline C West, the first State STEM Certified School in South Fulton County. Ms. Smith was a key contributor in obtaining the elementary state STEM certification and continues to ensure that the teachers, students & staff sustain it. She is the current GSTA District 4 Director and a STEM/STEAM Virtual Specialist for GaDOE.
  • Dr. Stephanie Westhafer, 1st Grade Teacher at West Jackson Elementary School. Dr. Westhafer is a champion for science and literacy integration at her GaDOE STEAM-certified school and has been tapped to contribute to the development of integrated science-reading lessons for GaDOE.

GSTA is Partnering with Science for Georgia to Advocate for Literacy and Science Education

We had a terrific virtual Q&A June 2nd with Science for Georgia Executive Director, Dr. Amy Sharma, and several of our members. In case you missed the session or would like to review the information, here are several key resources.

Literacy is critical to the success of every citizen in Georgia, yet we know that a narrow focus on literacy in the early grades can marginalize science learning and leave students with little of substance to read and write about. Science for Georgia (Sci4GA) is a nonprofit organization that works to build a bridge between scientists and the public to advocate for the responsible use of science in public policy. GSTA has partnered with Sci4GA to support their work to improve literacy in Georgia. This is an important opportunity to position science learning as a resource that supports literacy in the early grades rather than science being further marginalized. 

Our next step will be to hold a virtual panel discussion panel with teachers and other experts who have experience with integrating science and early literacy. We will share details as soon as they are available.

2022 District Mini-Grants

GSTA has changed the timeline for our District Mini-Grants. You can now apply in the spring to receive your funds in the fall!  We will be awarding two mini grants per GSTA district.  The mini-grant applications are due by June 3, 2022. We will notify grant winners in July. If you missed the deadline, then check back in the fall to apply for other grant and award opportunities.

2022-23 GSTA Board of Directors

Executive Director: Justin Harvey

President: Dr. Nicole Page

President Elect: Melissa Niemi

Vice President: Chanel Johnson

Secretary: Dr. Jessica VanValkenburgh

Executive Treasurer/Secretary: Nancy Brim

Elementary School Representative: Marquita Jackson

Middle School Representative: Kristina Istre

High School Representative: Jordan Tidrick

College Representative: Dr. Kania Greer

Science Supervisor Representative: Dr. Jeremy Peacock

District 1: Robert Bice

District 2: Jane Reed

District 3: Kelly Bodner

District 4: Natasha Smith

District 5: Dr. Sheila Barnes

District 6: Mandy Fulton

District 7: Heather Cowart

District 8: Dr. Michelle Thompson

District 9: Donita Legoas

District 10: Teresa Massey

District 11: Patti Howell

District 12: Kathryn Mullen

    GSTA Professional Resources

    Besides our world famous GSTA Phenomena Bank, GSTA supports science teachers across the state by curating professional resources.

    Phenomena Bank - Get a free GSTA t-shirt!

    Want a free GSTA t-shirt? The first 25 people to submit an approved phenomena to the GSTA phenomena bank will receive a t-shirt. Here are the steps:

    1. Submit the phenomena (you will include the GSE element, link to phenomena (image, data set, graph, video, etc.), more details about the phenomena, and a lesson resource. See the phenomena bank for more details and examples. Be sure the phenomena is aligned to the 3-D nature of the GSE. 

    2. Once completed, submit this form that includes your t-shirt size, color preference, and mailing address.

    GSTA is committed to supporting excellence in science teaching for the students of Georgia. GSTA works to CONNECT, INFORM, SUPPORT, and ADVOCATE for science teachers in Georgia. We also seek to PARTNER with like-minded formal and informal science education organizations to further GSTA’s mission and goals.


    CONNECT Georgia science teachers to vibrant local and statewide professional networks that enhance their classroom practice and the value of their membership. 

    Professional Learning

    INFORM GSTA members through a variety of professional learning opportunities that enhance access to current, research-based practices for teachers at all levels, for all disciplines, and in all settings across Georgia. 


    SUPPORT GSTA members through professional resources that help teachers improve their practice, the academic lives of their students, and their school communities.


    ADVOCATE for excellent science education in Georgia on behalf of teachers and students and encourage our members to raise their own voices in support of excellent science education for all students in our state. 


    PARTNER with informal science education stakeholders to facilitate science literacy opportunities for learners of all ages in real-world communities.

    Upcoming Events

    Support the Georgia Science Teachers Education Foundation (GSTEF) through Amazon Smile.  All monies go towards awards, scholarships, and mini-grants for teachers and students!

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