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Board of Directors

Nathalie Rudner

Nathalie Rudner

President

Nathalie Rudner, President, is currently teaching Grade 9 and 10 Applied and Academic science with the York Region District School Board. Her passion for science and her belief that every student should be scientifically literate have driven her to continuously explore ways to create engaging learning environments for students. Nathalie has been involved with STAO for many years, including acting as Program Co-Chair and STAOPlayground Chair for the annual STAO conference. Nathalie has extensive experience as a regional Curriculum Consultant for the YRDSB, delivering professional development in Science and Environmental Education to teachers from Grades K-12.

She is a skilled facilitator of teacher learning around modern learning, design thinking, inquiry based learning, differentiated instruction, STEAM, adolescent literacy, the use of technology in the classroom, and environmental education. Nathalie has experience as an instructor for York University, delivering STEM education workshops for the Chaoyang Bureau of Education in Beijing. Nathalie was a former chair of the Science Coordinators’ and Consultants’ Association of Ontario (SCCAO now SELO). She currently is the Youth Science Canada Regional Coordinator for York Region and runs the York Region Science and Technology Fair at York University every spring. In 2009, Nathalie was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for her use and promotion of technology in the classroom. When not marking, prepping, or volunteering for STAO, Nathalie can be found cheering on her son at the hockey rink, supporting her daughter at dance competitions, and travelling with her family.

Lise Gravelle

Lise Gravelle

President Elect

Lise Gravelle has been a member of the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario since 2005 as a teacher and has been teaching science and eco-responsibility since 2017. She decided to join APSO in 2018 to support the organization in its efforts towards bilingualism and wishes to promote the involvement of Francophones in the file. Lise advocates the experimental approach by exploration in science, integrates eco-responsible options in laboratory activities and favors the integration of disciplines S.T.I.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in the classroom.

Lise enjoys her moments of relaxation with her son Adrien, 9 years old, and her husband André.

Karen Dodds

Karen Dodds

Past President

Karen Dodds graduated as a Medical Technologist and worked in Neuropathology at Ottawa Civic Hospital, later completing a Science Degree from the University of Waterloo. Karen is retired from teaching Biology, Chemistry and grade 9 12 Science courses at Arnprior District High School and was Department Head of Science for 10 years. She also coached the Alpine Ski Team for 20 years, organizing county and regional meets. She was seconded by the Ministry of Education to write the Grade 12 e-learning Science Course. Karen would love to have more educators from rural areas in the province become involved with STAO.

STAO offers an opportunity for teachers all across the province of Ontario and beyond a rich source of resources, networking and an opportunity to enrich others in science education. She has been active on the STAO Virtual library, Secondary Curriculum Committee, former Chair of Finance Committee and currently serves as Past-President of STAO, member of the Finance, Strategic Planning, Governance and Nominating, Project Steering and Risk Management committees.

Jim Rahaman

Jim Rahaman

Treasurer

Jim is a CPA, CA with two decades of professional and corporate experience spanning audit, consulting and financial management. Jim has worked in a wide variety of sectors, including University finance, which, along with his outreach work with CPA Ontario in financial literacy, brought him to STAO.

He brings non-profit experience from a scientific research institute and is a current board director with a classical music charity focused on performance, scholarship and education. Jim’s current role oversees mass transit revenues, managing financial controls and loss prevention. He has Physics, Engineering and MBA degrees and is Lean Six Sigma and Prince2 Project Management Practitioner certified – all of which he finds useful daily!

Joseph Bishay

Joseph Bishay

Secretary

Joseph Bishay has been teaching science one way or another for over 16 years, across the elementary, secondary, and post- secondary panels, in both the public and private school systems. After conducting research at The Hospital for Sick Children in the programs of Cancer & Blood Research and Developmental Biology, he began his teaching career as an instructor in the Health Sciences department at George Brown College.

Concurrently, he was the head instructor for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) at Kaplan International. He currently serves as a professor in the department of Biological Sciences and Applied Chemistry at Seneca College where he teaches microbiology, and also as faculty at Tyndale University, where he teaches first and second year biology courses.

As well, Joseph has had the opportunity to lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum on the topics of natural science and natural history. Alongside science, Joseph has extensive experience in information technology, including running his own I.T. consulting company, working as director of I.T. at a private elementary school, and serving as Information Officer in an education technology firm supporting over 1500 students. Joseph has been on the STAO/APSO Board of Directors since 2016 where he serves as Secretary as well as sitting on a number of committees and taskforces. 

Kathryn Wheeldon

Kathryn Wheeldon

Communications Coordinator

Kathryn has been volunteering with STAO since 2012 when she joined the Secondary Curriculum Committee (SCC). She served on the SCC both as a member and as the Chair of the committee before moving into the Communications Coordinator role on the Executive Committee. Kathryn graduated from Trent University with a degree in Environment and Resource Studies, then went on to Queen’s University where she completed her teaching degree. In the past 14 years, Kathryn has taught high school courses in science, biology, geography, physical education, special education, with her favourite, by far, being environmental science.

She is a self-described “Professional Earth Geek” and loves to share her love of the natural world with her students, friends and family. Kathryn has taught for the last 14 years in the Halton District School Board. She currently works at Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School in Burlington, where she also lives with her husband and two young sons. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time outside, swimming, camping, hiking, catching frogs, coaching rugby, reading and working on various crafts. Kathryn’s favourite part about volunteering with STAO is working with other teachers to provide the best possible learning experience for young people both in and out of the classroom.   

Malisa Mezenberg

Malisa Mezenberg

Professional Development Coordinator

Malisa Mezenberg enjoyed teaching high school sciences, math and cooperative education with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board for over 20 years. She took an active role in the Ministry of Education’s Science curriculum review and developed resources to support science teachers.

Developing a keen interest in the professional learning of teachers, Malisa created and coordinated a variety of professional learning programs for teachers in her position in the Professional Development Department at the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and as Project Manager of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Professional Learning Project. She has had the opportunity to work with international teacher education programs in the Caribbean and Africa. Malisa is currently working at the OECTA Provincial Office in the Counselling and Member Services Department. In addition to general counselling and advice to members on employment-related matters, she is coordinates OECTA’s Leadership Training Program.

Malisa cannot remember when she was not a member of STAO. She has served in a number of roles within the organization, including President in 19941995 and Chair of the joint STAO-NSTA Conference in 1996. In her current role of Professional Development Coordinator she coordinates the professional learning activities of the association and supports the work of the annual conference planning committee. Malisa was the proud recipient of the STAO/APSO Life Member Award in 2014.

Sheila Rhodes

Sheila Rhodes

Partnership Coordinator

Sheila is the Partnership Coordinator for STAO and presently serves on the conference planning committee. She was Co-Chair of STAO 2015, which celebrated 125 years since the founding of STAO. Sheila has a passion in the delivery of quality professional learning to meet the needs of Science and Technology Instructors.

Another interest of Sheila’s is Environmental issues, and she organizes the Enviro Ed Conference at UOIT Faculty of Ed. Sheila was instrumental in acquiring the NSERC grant to support Promo Science for 3 years for Science Encounters for STAO. Sheila is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Faculty of Education, Ontario Tech University. She teaches STEM, Environmental Education, Coding and Communication.

Amy Gorecki

Amy Gorecki

Executive Director

Amy brings a passion for creating high-quality resources and professional development opportunities for Ontario educators to STAO. She has over seven years’ experience in the non-profit sector and her most recent role was as Vice President of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario. In this role, she led a bilingual project financed by the Ontario Ministry of Education, LD@school/TA@l’école, which provides resources to Ontario K-12 educators working with students with learning disabilities.

Amy holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a Chemistry major and a minor in French Language Studies from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Education degree at the intermediate/senior level from the University of Ottawa, Teacher/Trainer of Adults certification from Humber College and is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Project Management Professional. Amy believes that a solid STEM education is vital for the future success of all of Ontario’s students and looks forward to expanding STAO’s reach in Ontario’s school boards in her role as STAO’s Executive Director.

Dr. Ralph Chou

Dr. Ralph Chou

Board Member

Dr. Ralph Chou received his BSc in Astronomy from the University of Toronto before attending the University of Waterloo where he received the degrees of Doctor of Optometry and Master of Science. He is a Professor Emeritus of Optometry at the University of Waterloo and an acknowledged world expert on solar eclipse eye safety and eye safety standards. He is Chair of the Canadian Standards Association’s Technical Committee on Eye and Face Protection, and is Canada’s head of delegation to ISO technical committees on eye protection and ophthalmic optics. He was lead writer of the 2015 ISO standard for solar eclipse filters. An active amateur astronomer for over 50 years, Dr. Chou is currently President of the Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Optometry since 2012. A member of STAO since 1983, he was a member and Chair of the Safety Committee before becoming President in 20152016 and currently serves as a member of the Board, Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee and Chair of the Project Steering Committee.

Cindy Adams

Cindy Adams

Board Member

Cindy Adams is Executive Director at Scientists in School, a non-profit with a focus on igniting scientific curiosity in children during their formative K to Grade 8 years, through investigative STEM workshops in their classrooms. Through her 26 year leadership role at Scientists in School, Cindy has led the conceptualization and teamwork for scaling the program from a local Ajax-Pickering initiative to a multi-branch charity, reaching over 700,000 student scientists. In the early years of the organization her greatest reward was as a workshop presenter for several botanical and ecology topics. She knows first-hand the ‘ah-ha’ moments that happen when science and discovery come to life, and students see the relevance to the world around them. Cindy has been honoured with a YMCA Women of Distinction Award, and has engaged herself in volunteer activities throughout her life, many of those supporting community building in some way. Prior to joining Scientists in School, Cindy worked for 12 years in a research role in the Botany Department at the University of Toronto, focused on the effects of air and soil pollution on vegetation.

She holds a M.Sc. in Applied Ecology and has several publications in scientific journals.Cindy is keen to help STAO achieve its mission and vision in building teacher capacity, while ensuring STAO’s governance and financial management are strong and sustainable. She knows the impact teachers can make in a child’s confidence and excitement for STEM learning. Cindy is a proud parent, and recently grandparent, with a love for bird watching, botanizing, travelling, and the outdoors. 

Robert Weese

Robert Weese

Board Member

Bob Weese joined the STAO Board in 2017 as a Member at Large. He retired from GE Canada in 2011 where he had been VP of Government Relations for 22 years. Previous careers had included senior management positions in the Federal and Saskatchewan governments following 3 years in Ottawa as a parliamentary intern and caucus researcher.

Bob has an Hon. BA in Political Science from Western University and an MSc.Econ from the University of Wales, supplemented by additional postgraduate work at the University of London. Widowed, he has two grown sons and 8-year old twin grandsons. He brings to STAO his long experience in senior management, his knowledge of government, and his appreciation of the vital importance of quality science education in Ontario schools.

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