Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-84
December 12, 2019
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and CDE Staff Participate in Inspiring STEAM Symposium

SACRAMENTO—On December 9 and 10, 2019, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and staff from the California Department of Education (CDE) participated in the 2019 California STEAM Symposium. The conference, held in Anaheim, is a collaborative effort with the CDE, the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

With more than 3,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) educators and students participating, the conference provided professional learning, networking opportunities, and inspiring keynotes—including State Superintendent Thurmond in conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former NBA superstar, STEAM education advocate, and political activist. Other keynotes included Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and director of the Johnson Space Center, and Chris Emdin, the founder of #HipHopEd.

“STEAM is an incredibly important priority of mine, because I truly believe it’s the great equalizer for our students,” said Thurmond in his introductory address at the symposium. “Access to STEAM programs ensures that all students, especially those that are historically underserved, have the same opportunities to have a high-wage job upon graduation from high school and/or college.”

After delivering the opening remarks, Thurmond spoke about STEAM and equity with Abdul-Jabbar and then visited the impressive student showcase to see a glimpse of the great work that California students are producing with a STEAM focus.

Chief Deputy Superintendent Lupita Cortez Alcalá introduced Hispanic American engineer, former astronaut, and former director of the Johnson Space Center Ochoa, who spoke about inspiring young girls who want to pursue careers in science and math. And Emdin’s keynote reminded educators to empower students by making learning authentic and fun and fostering conditions for learning that support students in sharing their own voices.

Many CDE staff also presented throughout the day to the thousands of educators and students in attendance:

  • Bridging the Gaps: Teaching California's Standards through an Integrated Curriculum (Jennifer Bentley)
  • Access to STEAM for English Learners (Elena Fajardo)
  • California Department of Education: In Pursuit of True STEAM Experiences (Jacquelyn Ollison and Khi Jackson)
  • Observation Protocol for Teachers of English Learners (Nicole Hamlin)
  • Universal Design for Learning: A Framework for Inclusion (Lindsay Weiss-Tornatore)
  • Deconstructing the Design and Expectations of the California Science Test (CAST) (Vigdis Asmundson)
  • Make-Our-Space (George Garcia)
  • Integrating Science, Civics, History–Social Science, and Environmental Literacy for Middle School Classrooms (Shannon Gordon)
  • CA NGSS and the CA Science Framework for Elementary Administrators (Jennifer Bentley)
  • Curious Skeptics: Supporting Media Literacy in California (Jennifer Howerter)
  • The Why, What, & How: Increasing Inclusion in STEAM Classes (Jennifer Bentley)
  • Tap into the Power of the “A” in STEAM with the New California Arts Standards (Letty Kraus)
  • #CSforALL It's more than a hashtag! (Omar Shepherd)
  • STEAM and Middle Grade Pathways (Teri Alves)
  • Design and Expectations of the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science (Vigdis Asmundson)
  • COPs and STEAM (Chris Breazeale)
  • Policy Recommendations for Improving STEAM Teacher Retention by Addressing Teachers’ Compassion Fatigue (Jacquelyn Ollison)
  • Linking STEAM and Career Opportunities (John Merris-Coots)

Bright students from innovative California STEAM programs also presented in the student showcase: Rio School District Summer Science Academy, Redlands Unified School District, Clark Magnet High School, Garner Holt AniMaker Lab, Redlands Senior High School, Palm Middle School, Edgemont Elementary School, North Ridge Elementary School, Valley View High School, Rialto High School, Oak Park Unified School District, CSTEM/Redlands Unified School District, Arlington High School, Rancho Verde High School, and Advanced Learning Academy Early College.

STEAM is one of Superintendent Thurmond’s priority initiatives. Thurmond and the CDE are currently working on creating a STEAM unit and preparing a teacher recruitment and retention plan for 2020 to support teachers and increase the number of STEAM offerings across the state. The CDE is also working to hire a statewide Computer Science Coordinator for the first time to support pathway programs that lead to high paying jobs in a growing, sustainable industry.

# # # #

Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, May 26, 2023
Recently Posted in News Releases