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Thursdays, April 28–May 19, 2022 [virtual]

Fusing Equity and Whole-School STEM Models

Session Leaders and Speakers

Dr. Melanie LaForce
Author of one of the keystone studies of ISSs where she worked with inclusive STEM high school leaders and stakeholders to articulate and understand their intended school models (LaForce, Noble, King, Century, Blackwell, Holt, Ibrahim, et al., 2016). Dr. LaForce has 20 years of experience in education research and policy, with a focus on STEM education and STEM schools. Dr. LaForce was a senior scientist at University of Chicago for 12 years, where she led several large-scale grants, including the NSF-funded STEM School Study. In 2017 she founded LaForce Research, LLC. Her work has influenced public policy at the district, state, national, and international levels.

Dr. Fatima Brunson
Fatima Brunson, PhD. is a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Brunson earned her doctorate degree in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research is used to connect literature on workplace conditions, teachers' collaborative practice and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies. Currently, she works with schools and districts to better understand how school leaders and teachers work together to enact responsive pedagogies in racially isolated schools and culturally mixed middle schools, high schools, and higher educational institutions. Her work with teaching teams specifically focuses on disseminating strategies for enhancing student engagement in science and math classrooms, through supporting teachers' adoption of culturally sustaining innovations. She also provides consultation services to various types of organizations and delivers in-person and online trainings surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

Kelli Easterly
Kelli has served as an educator, curriculum specialist, and clinical professional in various educational settings for over two decades. Currently, Kelli is the Executive Director of STEM for Chicago Public Schools. She has served CPS students as a high school science teacher and department chair, Instructional Effectiveness Specialist, STEM Program Manager, and most recently, as an Assistant Principal. Before her career transition into PK-12 education, Kelli was the Director of Basic Sciences at a school for allied health, and she maintained a practice as a chiropractic physician. Kelli earned her bachelor's degree from DePaul University, her M.A.T. in Secondary Education from National Louis University, and her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from National University of Health Sciences.

Dr. Decoteau Irby
An expert in the field of culturally relevant, whole-school reform. Dr. Decoteau is an assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Educational Policy Studies where he teaches and advises in the Urban Education Leadership Ed.D. program. His scholarship explores the intersection of race and school leadership; cultural politics of urban education; the educational lives of Black males; and improving school discipline, climate, and culture.

Fran Mast

Fran is the Evaluator & Conference Coordinator, Research & Evaluation at Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.

Dr. Aaron Price
Director of Research and Evaluation at MSI. He oversees a team of six who study the impact of the Museum on guests and the community. He was an advisor during the development of the Museum's whole school STEM reform program and has published/presented on formative evaluation results for the program and experimental research studies of the impact of the Museum's teacher PD programs.

Dr. Rachel Roegman
An assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests examine the interconnections of equity, contexts, and leadership, and her work focuses on the development and support of equity-focused leaders.

Dr. Robert Tai

Robert H. Tai is an associate professor of science education at the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development. His educational background includes degrees in physics, mathematics, and education. His most current research includes studies on longitudinal research on young engagement in STEM learning from grade 3-12; the graduate research and educational experiences of physical scientists and biomedical researchers; science interest and engagement among children ranging from grades 3-12; understanding and assessing the effectiveness of informal science education programs; and examining the effectiveness of specialized science, mathematics, and technology high schools, among other topics. He is Co-Editor of the Science Educator, official journal of NSELA. In 2020, he received the University of Virginia Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award for Teaching.

Dr. Gauri Vaishampayan

Gauri Vaishampayan, PhD. is a policy analyst in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). She received her degree in Policy Studies in Urban Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research interests center around the design, implementation, and evaluation of STEM-focused policies and related programming, specifically in service to youth minoritized in STEM fields. At SFUSD, she works with the research, planning, and assessment team to support the district's many partnerships and continuous improvement efforts. Gauri has also served as a middle-school science teacher, and she has worked with several STEM focused non-profits in roles responsible for curriculum development and programming. One of her favorite prior work experiences has been with MSI's Research and Evaluation team where she supported evaluating the museum's education programs. She holds a special place in her heart for the team, the Museum, and Chicago.

Organizing Committee

C. Aaron Price (PI, original Co-PI), Gauri Vaishampayan (original PI), Robert Tai, Melanie LaForce (Co-PI), Fatima Brunson, Rex Barbiera (ITW Professional Learning • Teaching and Learning), Fran Mast (project manager and meeting coordinator).

For more information, please email us at studyinfo@msichicago.org.