Board of Directors

Nina Saini

Nina Saini

President

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

Lise Gravelle

Past-President

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.

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. 

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.

Dr. Andrew Pasternak

Dr. Andrew Pasternak

Board Member

Dr. Andrew Pasternak has spent the last 20+ years working to bring early stage scientific innovations to market.  He is currently the commercial director at GreenCentre Canada, a not-for-profit chemistry organization dedicated to advancing early stage CleanTech innovations being developed by early stage companies across Canada.  He has worked in technology development and commercialization roles in a wide number of industries including pharmaceutical services, analytical instruments, drug discovery, medical devices, and “green” chemistry.  
 
Andrew has a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Toronto.  He sees the value of a strong science education which is so needed to solve the many challenges we face as a society.
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.

Entisar Yusuf

Entisar Yusuf

Board Member

Entisar Yusuf is a former IB teacher with 8yrs of experience in the elementary school system. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Educational Leadership & Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto (UofT). Her thesis focused on institutional racism and Black graduate students navigating higher education in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The purpose of her qualitative study was to gain deeper insights into the experiences of Black students in predominantly White higher education institutions across the GTA. It is hoped that Entisar’s research will assist post-secondary institutions in implementing programs not only to attract Black students, but to offer supports that retain them and serve their needs for academic success.

 
Entisar contributed to improving the UofT graduate student experience by founding a group called the Black Graduate Students Association (BGSA). During her two years of presidency, she connected the Black community with initiatives that support and strengthen the members at UofT and beyond. Upon Enitsar’s graduation, the BGSA had a total of 192 members.

STAO’s Management Team

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.

Chuck Cohen

Chuck Cohen

Director of Events

Chuck has been a volunteer for close to 40 years with STAO/APSO. In that time, he has been blessed to be President of the Association, a Life Member, Recipient of the Provincial Service Award, Chair to conferences and a member of many committees. In his new role as Director of Events he will be helping committees to plan and execute STAO events. This will include expanding STAO event offerings to membership with diverse needs in all corners of the province.

Cindy Cosentino

Cindy Cosentino

Director of School Board Relations

Cindy recently retired after 32 years as an educator. She has taught in both the elementary panel (in HWDSB) and the secondary panel (in HDSB). She has had the role of science department head, centrally assigned program leader, and an education officer at the Ministry of Education leading the Science and Innovation portfolio. As a new teacher she  was on the conference committee for STAO (about a million years ago), and also worked with the safety committee at that time. She served as branch president for OSSTF D20 and chair of Science Coordinator and Consultants of Ontario. She will be teaching preservice teachers at Brock University in September. She has recently moved into a home that is being renovated and has not had a stove for 2 months. She knows all the good take-out spots in Burlington though!
Her picture shows her at Queens Park last fall with her father, who has joined her on every picket line since 1988.
Leila Knetsch

Leila Knetsch

Director of Membership

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.

Malisa Mezenberg

Malisa Mezenberg

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 19941995 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.

Sheila Rhodes

Sheila Rhodes

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.

Kathryn Wheeldon

Kathryn Wheeldon

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.   

Laura Wodlinger

Laura Wodlinger

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.  

STAO Committees

Management
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.

Click here for profiles of the members of STAO’s Management Team.

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.

Click here for profiles of the members of the Board of Directors.

Finance & Audit Committee
Chair: Nina Saini

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.

Elementary Curriculum Committee
Chair: Michael Frankfort

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.

Promotions Committee
Chair: TBD

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.

Safety Committee
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 info@stao.ca. If the question is likely to be of broad interest, these will appear on the STAO blog.

ScienceWorks Committee
Chair: Malisa Mezenberg

The purpose of the ScienceWorks Committee is to advise the organization on matters relating to all STAO workshops, and to oversee the development of workshops.

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.

STAO Science Store Committee
Chair: Chuck Cohen

The purpose of the STAO Science Store Committee is to advise the organization on matters relating to the operation of the STAO Science Store; to oversee the operation of the STAO Science Store, and to assist the Manager of the STAO Science Store in the selection and pricing of inventory.

Volunteers Committee
Chair: Kathryn Wheeldon

The purpose of the Volunteers Committee is to advise the organization on matters relating to recruitment, retention, and recognition of volunteers, to oversee succession planning of volunteers, and to manage the awards program.

Francophone Committee
Chair: Pierre Vinette

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.

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