The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) named California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) science education teaching credential alumnus Josiah Jones as the 2012 Future Science Teacher Award winner and CSULB adjunct science faculty member Dean Gilbert as the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award recipient.
Both Jones and Gilbert were recognized at CSTA’s annual Science Education Conference, Oct. 19-21, in San Jose, Calif.
Jones is CSULB’s seventh Future Science Teacher recipient since 2005, said Laura Henriques, chair of CSULB’s Department of Science Education, who nominated him. The award comes with a $1,000 prize from SeaWorld San Diego in recognition of exceptional college students who demonstrate a commitment to science education along with volunteerism and professional activities.
He received dual bachelor of science degrees in environmental science and geography at UC Santa Barbara before earning his credential in earth science at CSULB, where he received a National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Scholarship for science teaching preparation—CSULB’s fourth Noyce scholar to be a CSTA honoree. He also taught for two summers in the university’s Science Education Experience to Help Underserved Students Succeed program, a two-week daytime science camp for homeless children in Long Beach.
He did his student teaching at Long Beach’s Wilson Classical High School, which hired him to teach earth science and Advance Placement environmental science beginning this fall.
“I was blown away. I received a letter in the mail and couldn’t believe the words on the page,” Jones said of the award. “I knew CSULB had a great track record for winning the award and Laura mentioned that my extra work and experience while completing my credential would help my chances, but I never thought I’d actually be selected. I had pretty low expectations and was very surprised to win. I was simply doing all I could to be a better teacher, but I never thought I’d win an award for it. It’s an absolute honor and I’m humbled to be selected.
“The Science Education program at CSULB has really helped me learn the teaching profession and begin my career,” he continued. “They have given me fantastic support and guidance all throughout my program and even beyond it. Through countless development workshops, extensive community contacts and various hands-on teaching experiences, they have provided me with ample opportunities to hone my craft. The Science Education program at CSULB is much more than just a credential program—they are passionate and will do anything they can to help you succeed in your career.”
Having so many CSTA honorees “speaks to the depth of our program and the richness of experience that we offer to students,” Henriques said. “When CSTA is looking at the award, they’re looking for more than just somebody who has a credential and wants to be a teacher. They want to know that they’ve done volunteer opportunities and had experiences with kids beyond just what the credential program would require of them. So, Josiah and the others before him have been involved in multiple activities beyond what they need to do to get their teaching credential and I think that makes them stand out.”
Gilbert is science coordinator with the Orange County Department of Education and previously held similar positions with the Los Angeles County Department of Education and Long Beach Unified School District. He has taught an Integrated Science Education class at CSULB.
“Dean has been a partner with us for years,” said Henriques, adding that in addition to teaching, Gilbert assisted her department in placing or supervising CSULB student science teachers as part of his duties with various educational agencies. “He is the most committed, passionate science educator that I know and I’m really excited that he got this award. He’s such a huge advocate for science teaching and learning.”
“I am honored to be selected as the 2012 recipient of the Margaret Nicholson Award,” Gilbert said. “It is amazing to be recognized by colleagues at the state level for my contributions to improve science education in our state and nation. My motivation is and has always been to improve the educational experiences for students.