Board of Directors
Nina Saini has been a secondary teacher with the York Region District School board for the past 20 years. She is proud to have spent that time working with diverse young adults to foster their self-awareness, self-respect and confidence by fostering autonomy thereby improving their intrinsic motivation. She has enjoyed her many experiences outside of teaching as well that have included community partnership projects, integration of technology into teaching and learning, coordination and development of board-wide events, conducting seminars and workshops for educators and large and small scale technology integration projects.
Nina would like to apply her experience in leadership, mentoring and team dynamics to her new role on the STAO Board. She is excited about the direction that STAO is moving into the future of education in Ontario and feels privileged to be a part of that driving force.
Lise Gravelle has been a high school science teacher with the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario since 2005. During her career, she had the opportunity to work with her colleagues as an educational coach for two years and is currently teaching at ESP Barrhaven in the Ottawa area. She decided to join APSO in 2018 to support the organization in its efforts towards bilingualism and wishes to promote the involvement of francophone science teachers within their subject association.
Lise advocates the experimental approach by exploration in science, integrates eco-responsible options in laboratory activities and favors an interdisciplinary approach S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) within her classroom. Always eager to try a new creative approach to teaching, she thrives on professional development opportunities.
She treasures her little family which consists of her son Adrien, her husband André and her beloved pooch, Kiki. When she is actually taking some time to rest, she takes leisurely walks, paints watercolours and meets with friends at a local coffee shop.
Mahfuza Rahman is the acting Coordinator for Mathematics, Science, STEM and Robotics for the Toronto District School Board. In the past 20 years, she has been a teacher of math, various sciences, a guidance counsellor, a teacher-librarian, and hybrid-teacher digital lead learner; Mahfuza brings all these experiences to her current position to support educators in building global competence, a community of critical, innovative learners and scientifically literate citizenry. Mahfuza has been a member of STAO since 2000 and held various roles within the organization such as Regional Counsellor, Conference Program Co-Chair and Secretary. She has also supported various STAO committees and events during her time with the organization.
Lillian Dong is a Tax Senior Manager at KPMG LLP in Toronto where her work is centered on compliance, risks control, process improvement, and cash flow management from both tax and business perspectives. She has extensive experience in financial reporting, auditing, tax compliance and budgeting for both private and public companies incorporated in Canada, the USA and China.
Lillian has her Master of Science in Accounting from Suffolk University in Boston. She is registered as both a Chartered Accountant with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and a Certified Public Accountant with the State of Massachusetts. Lillian is a member of CPA Ontario and CPA (Massachusetts).
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.
Dr. Andrew Pasternak
Perry Tsergas is the founding President & CEO of spark*advocacy, a public affairs marketing and communications firm based in Ottawa, Ontario.
He has over a decade of experience in communications, public opinion research, public affairs, as well as another 7 years experience working in Canadian politics.
Perry has a strong interest in science and passion for science literacy, being an unabashed space geek and fan of modern science communicators like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Katie Mack and Chris Hadfield. Perry holds a B.A. in Legal Studies and Politics from Carleton University.
An elementary teacher with the York Region District School Board, Brian Tsui teaches mathematics, French, and music, and is presently a Lead Teacher (Technology) at his school.
He is chair of the Political Action Committee of ETFO at the provincial level and for the past two years has been a member of the STAO Elementary Curriculum Committee.
His students have won awards in robotics, paper glider and Lego mechanical engineering competitions with Skills Ontario. Brian obtained his BSc in Mathematics from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and his Master of Teaching degree from OISE. He is an OCT member, qualified to teach from Grades 4 to 12.
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.
STAO’s Management Team
Though new to STAO, Terry is not new to advancing scientific curriculum, member advocacy, or enhancing practice standards in Ontario. In addition to serving as a governance consultant, he has over 11 years’ experience as Executive Director and Registrar of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. Prior to this, for 14 years with the Region of Peel, he led and implemented municipal human services policy, and served on the Board of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Among Terry’s accomplishments was creating provincial legislative reform for the Ontario Agrology sector, implementing federal labour mobility statute, and helping to shape new provincial environmental stewardship regulations.
Terry has an Honours BA from Trent University in Environmental and Political Studies, and a Masters in Public Administration and Political Studies from the University of Guelph. In his spare time you can find Terry focusing on his photography or in his gardens.
You can reach Terry at: 1-855-476-STAO (7826)
Director of School Board Relations
Director of Communications
Leila Knetsch is a Biology/Chemistry teacher and an ACL of Science at Albert Campbell CI in Scarborough (TDSB). Leila’s educational passions include: hands-on and inquiry learning, co-operative learning and more recently, the use of technology in education. She has been involved in STAO for 20 years, writing articles and conducting workshops (and more recently, webinars). She started out with the Crucible committee and more recently has joined the Secondary Curriculum Committee and ScienceWorks. She is excited to become more involved in STAO as the Membership Director and work with other like minded teachers to support the Science Teachers of Ontario. Look out for articles and webinars by Leila Knetsch in the future.
Director of Professional Learning
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 1994–1995 and Chair of the joint STAO-NSTA Conference in 1996. In her current role of Director of Professional Learning she coordinates the professional learning activities of the association. Malisa was the proud recipient of the STAO/APSO Life Member Award in 2014.
Director of Elementary Resource Development
Sheila is the Director of Elementary Resource Development for STAO. She was Co-Chair of STAO 2015, which celebrated 125 years since the founding of STAO and was the Partnership Coordinator on STAO’s Executive Committee. 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.
Director of Volunteer Engagement
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.
Director of Secondary Resource Development
Laura Wodlinger has been a STAO member since 2008 and has previously been the Secondary Curriculum Committee Chair (2016-2019) and the Professional Learning Team Chair for STAO2020 (2019-2020). Laura is passionate about helping teachers deliver curriculum through relevant and innovative resources. She has presented multiple times at STAO, OTF, BIT, and YRDSB conferences and is a strong believer in Professional Development. Laura has created multiple resources for STAO/APSO (including the Tech Tools Collection) and written several articles for OSCA Magazine. Laura is currently Assistant Head of Science in the YRDSB and describes herself as a citizen scientist, amateur tap dancer, karaoke enthusiast, and full time nerd.
The Management Team is the managing body of STAO and has seven members: Director of School Board Relations, Director of Events, Director of Professional Learning, Director of Volunteer Engagement, Director of Elementary Resource Development, Director of Secondary Resource Development, and the Executive Director.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors serves as the governance arm of STAO. The Board consists of five Members-at-large and six Officers (Past President, President, President Elect, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer). The Board provides leadership, planning, and mentoring to STAO’s committees.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Co-Chairs: Stella Kim & Leila Knetsch
Elementary Curriculum Committee
Co-Chairs: Michael Frankfort & Samantha Hendricks
The purpose of the Elementary Curriculum Committee is to promote excellence in the teaching of Science and Technology in the elementary panel, to advise the organization on matters relating to Science and Technology in the elementary panel, and to be the operational arm of the association relating to education in the elementary panel.
Finance & Audit Committee
Chair: Mahfuza Rahman
The Finance Committee is a standing committee of the organization. It is responsible for planning for the financial health of the association, for overseeing all of STAO’s financial matters, and for the development and maintenance of strong financial management practices and structures in collaboration with the Treasurer.
The Francophone Committee seeks to understand the particular needs of Francophone teachers in order that STAO might establish processes that support them in their work. It also strives to promote membership in the elementary and secondary panels and increase the Francophone presence within STAO committees.
The purpose of the Promotions Committee is to raise awareness of the organization to teachers in the elementary, secondary and post-secondary panels, to school boards, and to other educational institutions; to promote STAO as a one-stop-shop for science education; to become the vehicle to link science teachers across Ontario; and to use social media as a connection tool for members.
Chair: Dave Gervais
The purpose of the Safety Committee is to promote safety in the teaching of Science and Science & Technology; and to advise the organization on matters relating to safety in the elementary and secondary panels.
The committee responds to safety related questions from both the elementary and secondary panel. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the question is likely to be of broad interest, these will appear on the STAO blog.
Secondary Curriculum Committee
Chair: Ana Pereira Neves
The purpose of the Secondary Curriculum Committee is to promote excellence in the teaching of Science in the secondary panel and to advise the organization on matters relating to Science in the secondary panel.