Melrose Elementary teachers awarded outstanding K-12 STEM educators by OC STEM Initiative

Melrose teachers.

On Monday, May 24, OC STEM, a local partnership of stakeholders invested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning in Orange County, honored STEM educators and community partners. Three Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District teachers were nominated for the recognition. They looked for educators who demonstrate an exceptional ability to engage, motivate, and inspire learners and then recognized them for their unique contributions to STEM Education and the Orange County community.

Three teachers from Melrose Elementary, AnneMarie Plascencia, Cory Skibiski, and Lupe Toscano, were nominated and selected for being dedicated, passionate teachers who advocate for STEM education for their students while improving STEM education for students across Orange County. Over the past five years, this dynamic trio has worked closely with the Crystal Cove Conservancy, helping to refine lesson plans and providing invaluable insight while collaborating with the education team at Crystal Cove as they facilitated the lessons with their students at Melrose Elementary. Project Crystal, one program they worked on, is now impacting over 1,500 students across Orange County every year.

In addition to their work with the Crystal Cove Conservancy, AnneMarie, Cory, and Lupe have masterfully woven science and STEM throughout all content areas. Their hard work has deepened their students’ engagement to help further develop their language and communication skills, solidify math concepts, and strengthen reading comprehension and writing. Over the years, Cory and AnneMarie have facilitated professional development to support colleagues, and AnneMarie and Lupe served as part of the elementary science pilot team. Cory and AnneMarie are currently working with the Crystal Cove Conservancy to develop community science lessons for younger students. Cory is also representing San Diego, Imperial, and Orange Counties as an ambassador for Realizing the NGSS Shifts in K-12 Distance, Hybrid, and In-Person Classrooms, a virtual professional learning series facilitated by science educators at the Exploratorium.

These three exceptional teachers lead by example, doing this work independently because they value STEM education and understand its potential to empower their students and all students across Orange County. In a letter of support from Crystal Cove Conservancy’s Director of Education, Sara Ludovise wrote:

As challenging as this past year has been, the Melrose team has continued to stay dedicated to science and their students. AnneMarie and Cory are partnering with the Crystal Cove Conservancy team to pilot a new community science program focused on lower elementary students. The work they’re doing with us is one hundred percent voluntary: they get nothing out of it aside from the chance to express their love for science and share that with their students. But this pilot work will also be incredibly impactful in the long run, as it’s letting us develop and test new strategies to reach young learners that we can scale up tenfold during the upcoming school year. —Sara Ludovise, Director of Education, Crystal Cove Conservancy

Being selected as OC STEM’s Outstanding K-12 STEM Educators, they received a $1,500 grant to support STEM activities at Melrose. Congratulations to AnneMarie Plascencia, Cory Skibiski, and Lupe Toscano!

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