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Teacher Voices

National Conference in Atlanta • March 22-25, 2023

teacher voices

New teacher? Seasoned veteran? Informal educator? Leader in a school or district? No matter your role, working in education is tough with constant pressure to produce great results, adapt to sudden changes, and support nuanced student needs. At NSTA, we believe that educators have unique expertise and perspective, with an educational journey and experience worth sharing. Through our new NSTA Teacher Voices keynote series, we seek to spotlight authentic voices that are often missing from the dominant narratives in education.

Teacher Voices Keynote Panel

Humanizing Science Education: Places, People, and Community

Encouraging Students to Feel Their Place and Identity In and Out of the Classroom


Thursday, March 23 • 8:00 - 9:15 AM

Speakers: Whitney Aragaki, Autumn Rivera, and Bill Stockton
Moderator: Dr. Stephen Pruitt


About the Session

Join us for our inaugural Teacher Voices Keynote Panel, moderated by Dr. Stephen Pruitt, President of the Southeast Regional Education Board (SREB). Panel members—three inspiring, passionate educators from various parts of the country—will share engaging and inclusive strategies for humanizing science education, drawing on their own teaching experiences to fuel the discussion.



Whitney Aragaki

Centering Place in our Learning Space

Speaks out about: Place (Where are you, Who are you, and Who are we together)

Speaker: Whitney Aragaki

A place-based education is informed by our multiple ways of knowing. Inviting our interactions with places into the classroom amplifies our students’ connections with family, community, and the environment. Preparing our students and ourselves to learn from and with places is a continual process of learning and leading.

Speaker Bio

Whitney Aragaki (she/they) is an educator, parent, and learner from Hilo, Hawaii. She supports students to learn through a lens of abundance that honors place, people, and cultures. Her teaching focuses on conversations, practices, and systems that sustain the intimate inter-relationship of public education, community, and environment. She currently serves as a high school science teacher. Aragaki is the 2022 Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year and a Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescence and Young Adulthood Mathematics, and a two-time state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.


All Experience—All Learn

Speaks out about: People (Building Background Knowledge to increase equity in the science classroom)

Speaker: Autumn Rivera

As teachers, we are trained to draw on students' background knowledge. However, when we do that, we are not providing our students with an equal playing field. By providing common background knowledge experiences, such as anchoring phenomena and/or fieldwork experiences, we can increase student engagement and learning.

Speaker Bio

Autumn Rivera is currently a sixth-grade science teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School in the Roaring Fork School District in Colorado. She is also an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College in the Education Department. During her more than seventeen years as an educator, she has worked with students from elementary to postgraduate. Rivera focuses on empowering her students to make a change now and strives to provide her students with common background experiences. She was named the 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year and a Finalist for National Teacher of the Year and is also a Golden Apple and Excellence in Teaching awardee.

Bill Stockton

Opening Doors and Curriculum

Speaks out about: Community (Establishing Community through co-teaching and cultural connections)

Speaker: Bill Stockton

Education is a social endeavor, but often teachers and students feel isolated in our school systems. To foster a true sense of belonging, teachers need to open their doors and curriculum. Using effective co-teaching strategies and making our content culturally relevant not only strengthens our school community, but can eliminate the isolation many feel.

Speaker Bio

Bill Stockton teaches high school science at Arlee High School in Arlee, Montana and for the Montana Digital Academy. In 2018, he created Stock Science Educational Consulting in order to provide leadership, training, and implementation of best practices in integrating the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Indian Education for All (IEFA) into classroom and educational materials. He serves as a teacher leader for the Montana Partnerships with Regions for Excellence in STEM (MPRES) and the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline (NESSP) grants. Through his work with these grants he has helped teachers from across the state by teaching professional development courses, connecting scientists to teachers, and by bringing awareness to the importance of making science current, local, intertwined, and student-driven. More recently, he has used his online teaching experience to provide educational support for districts outside of Montana and co-created a professional development course for best practices in online instruction. Stockton is a 2020 Teresa Veltkamp Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education recipient and the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year.


Stephen Pruitt
Dr. Stephen Pruitt

Stephen Pruitt is the sixth president of the Southern Regional Education Board in July 2018. Under his leadership, SREB has continued its work on college and career readiness, postsecondary attainment, workforce preparation, learning environment, and support of the SREB states’ policy and education leaders to improve the education systems for each student.

During his career, Dr. Pruitt has amassed education policy, assessment, and instructional background at the local, state, and national levels.

Before coming to SREB, Dr. Pruitt was Kentucky’s state commissioner of education. At the national level, he had worked closely with state agencies and educators around the country to improve policy and practice in science education. In Georgia, Dr. Pruitt began his career as a high school science teacher and subsequently served in several roles for the Georgia Department of Education. Dr. Pruitt can be reached via email,, or followed on Twitter, @DrSPruitt.


National Conference On Science Education • Atlanta23


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