Alex Kajitani, “The Rappin’ Mathematician”

Alex Kajitani is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year.  The author of two books, including Owning It: Proven Strategies for Success in ALL of Your Roles As a Teacher Today, Alex is a top authority in teacher-leadership and a highly-sought after keynote speaker who supports and motivates teachers nationwide. Known around the country as “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” his CDs and Activity Book are being used in classrooms and homes around the world to engage students and make math cool! Alex has been honored at The White House and featured in numerous books and media outlets, including The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.  For more of his innovative ideas, visit www.AlexKajitani.com.

Opening Session: 9:15-10 a.m.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox

Cheryl Cox became Chula Vista’s 39th mayor on December 6, 2006. In her first year, she initiated an independent financial review that identified the reasons behind the city’s fiscal problems and offered recommendations to ensure a sustainable approach to future budgeting practices. Today, the city is positively positioned for economic growth with a AA- credit rating and a focus on establishing a mandated 15 percent in fiscal reserves.  Re-elected in June 2010, Mayor Cox has worked to advance the city’s proposed University Innovation District. Chula Vista is close to acquiring the final acreages needed for the project. Prior to her election, Cox was a local teacher, principal and board member of the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Cox received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego, a Master’s of Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California.

Christopher Roe, Chief Executive Officer, California STEM Learning Network

Christopher Roe is the chief executive officer of the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to ensure that California is a national leader in preparing STEM-capable students. Roe is in charge of overseeing the creation of strategic relationships and collaborating with regional, state and national partners to rapidly scale innovative STEM teaching and learning in order that all students have access to high-quality learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the critical fields that fuel California’s dynamic economy. Prior to joining CSLNet, Roe served as the Deputy Director for the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), in Washington, DC, a membership organization comprised of corporate CEOs and senior executives, college and university presidents, and foundation leaders. While at BHEF Roe provided leadership for its STEM initiative, which has as its goal the doubling of STEM graduates nationally. Roe previously was managing director of the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research and the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement, based at Stanford University and co-founded the Foundation for a College Education (FCE) located in East Palo Alto, CA. Roe received a master’s in public policy from the University of California-Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, and a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Craig Watson, Director, California Arts Council

Craig Watson is the Director of the California Arts Council, a position he has held since August 2011 when he was chosen by the Council after a nationwide search. Previously he was the executive director of the Arts Council for Long Beach, where he oversaw the expansion of the agency into the community, including the largest local celebration for Arts and Humanities Month in the nation. Watson started his career in the arts field at local arts agencies and arts-services organizations, and later built a career in the telecommunications industry before returning to the arts as Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach. He held senior executive positions in the telecommunications field in Rhode Island, New York and California. His earlier career in the arts included positions with the Sonoma County Arts Council and Rural Arts Services in Northern California, as well as a fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts, participation in the Coro Foundation’s Arts Management program, and a co-directing position at Santa Barbara Arts Services. The California Arts Council is the official state arts agency for California, the state with the largest number of artists and creative-industry workers in the U.S.

Session 1: Research Updates: 10:15-11:15 a.m.


Moderator: Dr. M.A. Greenstein, Founder, George Greenstein Institute

Dr. Greenstein is the founder of The George Greenstein Institute, a Science+Arts Center dedicated to creating equal access to brain knowledge for brain health.  She is also a leading advocate for the field of neuro-education with published writing and innovation in curriculum development for STEAM programs.  A Fulbright Scholar and pioneer Asia Pacific researcher of mind/body integration practices, Dr. Greenstein has paved the way for bringing whole-brain/ whole mind pedagogy into STEAM learning.  An internationally recognized arts and science researcher, expert in applied neuroscience and prolific journalist, Dr. Greenstein is on faculty at Art Center College of Design & MICA’s Social Design graduate programs and serves as a STEAM advisor for STEM organizations in Singapore and South Africa.


Dennis M. Doyle, (Ph.D.), Executive Director, Collaborations: Teachers and Artists (CoTA)

Dennis is Executive Director of Collaborations: Teachers and Artists. CoTA is a professional development program that tackles the possibilities of making the arts a lively, essential, and ongoing aspect of elementary school education. CoTA is based on the belief that integrating the visual and performing arts into other content areas promotes engagement, accessibility, and relevance for students. A former superintendent, Doyle draws upon extensive administrative experience in California school districts with high concentrations of low-income students and English Learners to inform his current work. He is recognized nationally for his expertise in the area of systemic reform and culture shift in educational organizations.  Doyle has spoken before audiences at the Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon, National School Boards Association Conference, PBS radio, and on panels organized by the Education Commission of the States. He received his doctorate from Claremont Graduate University focusing on the political economy of education.


John Iversen, Director of SIMPHONY study, UCSD

John Iversen is a cognitive neuroscientist studying music and the brain. After undergraduate studies in Physics at Harvard, John received graduate degrees in Philosophy of Science and in Speech at Cambridge, and received a PhD in Speech and Hearing Science from MIT. He is currently an Associate Project Scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation and the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at UCSD. His work focuses on perception and production in music and language including studies of the role of culture in rhythm perception, whether rhythm perception is specially human, and exploring brain mechanisms involved in beat perception. He directs the SIMPHONY project, a longitudinal study of the impact of music training on children’s brain and cognitive development. John draws from a life-long interest in percussion, which currently finds expression through Japanese taiko drum performance with San Diego Taiko, a group that he co-founded in 2004.


Carol LaFayette, Principal Investigator, SEAD

Carol LaFayette is an artist who collaborates with scientists and engineers to invent unique ways to experience interconnections of flora, fauna, and phenomena in rural areas. She led an NSF supported project to form SEAD, a national network to support transdisciplinary engagement among the sciences, engineering, arts, and design. She is Director of the Texas A&M Institute for Applied Creativity, a forum for collaborators across domains and disciplines intent on creating a radiant future. Her artwork is in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has exhibited her work worldwide, including LAB ’11, Sweden; SIGGRAPH ’02, ’08 and ’09; Zebra Poetry on Film, Berlin; Filmstock, UK; and Solomon Projects, Atlanta. Reviews of her artwork have been published in BBC Technology News, Chronicle of Higher Education and Wired.


Lauren Widney, Education and Community Program Manager, San Diego Youth Symphony

Lauren Widney is the Education and Community Program Manager for the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory.  Lauren manages and runs the Community Opus Project, which provides music education to over 2,000 students in Chula Vista Elementary School District.  She is helping to restore full time music in conjunction with the district and VH1 Save The Music Foundation.  Lauren is a former 4th grade teacher and choral music director.  Ms. Widney is completing her Masters in Ethnomusicology at San Diego State specializing in implementing the El Sistema model used and adapted by the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory.Ms. Widney serves as Advisory Team Chairman for the Epsilon Sigma chapter of Delta Gamma at San Diego State University, is a member of the South Bay Arts Alliance in Education, and served on State Superintendant Tom Torlakson’s task force for the Creative Schools Blueprint.

Session 2: Quality STEM/STEAM Criteria: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Moderator: Pat Wayne, Deputy Director, Arts Orange County

Pat Wayne is the Deputy Director of Arts Orange County, the county-wide arts council where she has served since 2005. Pat has held the positions of Manager of Community Programs for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Deputy Director of the Columbus Arts Council (Ohio), Managing Director of MoMing Dance Center (Chicago) and Managing Director of Merrimack Regional Theatre (Boston). Pat guides the programs of Arts OC including Imagination Celebration and the Creative Edge – a partnership with the California Alliance for Arts Education to build local alliances to support school districts as they implement their arts plans. Pat has a multiple subject teaching credential as well as a Master’s degree in Performing Arts Administration. Her newest project is to serve as coordinator for the Arts and STEM Collaborative for 21st Century Learning, a partnership between Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties and funded by the Boeing Company.

Denise Grande, Director of Arts Education, Los Angeles County Arts Commission

Denise Grande is the Director of Arts Education at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission where she leads Arts for All, a collaborative initiative dedicated to making the arts core in public education across Los Angeles County’s 81 school districts. Before joining Arts for All she was Director of Programs and Strategic Partnerships for the Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York, overseeing partnerships with more than 250 schools across 8 states and spearheading research to document the impact of opera-based learning on student development. She spent 20 years in Education at The Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, playing a leadership role in program design, implementation, research, and evaluation. Ms. Grande received her BA from UCLA in Dance, was a Coro Fellow through the California Art Council’s Arts Leadership Fellow Program, and currently sits on the California Alliance for Arts Education’s Policy Council.


Heather Lattimer, Professor, University of San Diego

Heather Lattimer, EdD is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Learning and Teaching at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego.  A former middle and high school teacher, Dr. Lattimer’s areas of expertise include secondary literacy, curriculum design, international education, and teacher education.  Under her leadership, the University of San Diego launched a fully online master’s of education degree in fall 2013 with specializations in Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics (STEAM) education, curriculum and instruction, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and inclusive education, and 21stcentury literacies – http://medonline.sandiego.edu


Ellen Peneski, Executive Director, San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA)/San Diego STEM Collaboratory 

Ms. Peneski has been a Senior Consultant in Organizational Development, Operational Excellence & Change Management, serving nonprofit organizations and corporations for 15+ years. She has worked with companies such as SAIC, Mitchell International, Optimer Pharmaceuticals and LPL Financial. For the past 5 years, Ms. Peneski has served SDSA as Programs Coordinator, Health Science Program Director, After-School Enrichment Program Director, and “Processes” Coordinator –reporting on grants for the California Wellness Foundation, spearheading launch of eTapestry fund development software product and producing three SDSA annual reports, from implementation of statistical tracking to completed product. Ms. Peneski has a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.


John Spiegel, Science Coordinator, San Diego County Office of Education

John Spiegel has worked in science education for over 14 years and now serves as Science Coordinator for the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) which provides services for the 42 school districts and five community college districts in the county. He holds a B.A. degree in physics as well as a M.A degree in educational leadership. His background includes several years of teaching science, leadership as a science administrator at the secondary level and as curriculum leader in science for San Diego Unified School District. In addition, Mr. Spiegel has worked as a high school principal and K-8 school principal. In all capacities, he has worked to build STEM programs in schools through program development and collaboration with business and local community partnerships in science. Currently, John Spiegel is deeply involved in preparing teachers and districts to implement the Next Generation Science Standards that were recently adopted by California.

Lunch Speaker: 12:30-1:30 p.m.


Navrina Singh, Director, Product Management, Qualcomm, Inc.

Navrina Singh is Director, Product Management and is the head of Qualcomm ImpaQt – Qualcomm’sglobal innovation program. In this role, Singh is responsible for creating, managing and operationalizing the corporate-wide innovation program with a mission to serve as a catalyst for creating global connections for innovative ideas to flourish and a channel for all employees to bring new ideas forward.

Singh joined Qualcomm in 2004 as a hardware engineer in the Corporate Research and Development and is the founder of QWISE (Qualcomm Women in Science and Engineering), an organization focused on professional and personal development of women in technology at Qualcomm and in the community.

Singh holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Masters in Business Administration from Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California.

Session 3: Creative Collaborations: 1:30-2:30 p.m.


Moderator: Anne Bown-Crawford, CREATE CA

Anne teaches secondary level visual/media art and is passionate about crafting relevant learning experiences for high school students.  She grew up in the Chicago area, attended Northern Illinois University, California College of the Arts, and UC Berkeley.  She began teaching in East Oakland, CA and is presently the Director of the Arcata Arts Institute, a school within a rural public high school in Northern California. Presently she is planning the Innovation Design Institute, a STEAM model of education for Arcata High School. In partnership with her teaching she is a steering committee member of CREATE CA: Core Reforms Engaging Arts to Educate. She is also a Task Force leader within State Superintendent Torlakson’s Joint Arts Education Task Force, which has been charged with writing California’s Blueprint for Creative Schools. For more info regarding CREATE CA visit: http://www.cac.ca.gov/artsinfo/create.php


Ed Hidalgo, Senior Director, Qualcomm, Inc. 

Ed Hidalgo joined Qualcomm in 2005 and is the Sr. Director of global contingent workforce, immigration and relocation.  He is a co-founder of Career Explorations which provides career counseling and coaching to Qualcomm employees and is launching a STEM Lab for middle school youth in San Diego.  The STEM Lab mission is to provide exposure to technology careers and the world of engineering while also providing on-site volunteer opportunties for Qualcomm engineers. His background includes 15 years of Staffing and Staffing Agency experience.  Prior to Qualcomm he worked at Manpower and was responsible for technical recruiting and site-management operations employing thousands of workers throughout San Diego County. A graduate of the University of Miami, Ed is also dedicated to education and workforce development initiatives in the community.  He co-founded the Manpower High Tech High Academic Internship Program which created more than 650 internships in over 200 community businesses and agencies. He is the Executive sponsor for Workforce Development Labs at Qualcomm a program to promote youth and veteran engagement in workforce development and lifelong learning through hands on experiential internships.  He serves on the boards of San Diego Workforce Partnership and San Diego Second Chance Program.


Molly Kelton, Co-Principal Investigator, InforMath Collaborative

Molly Kelton has a B.A. and M.S. in Mathematics and is a PhD candidate in Mathematics Education at San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego.  Her educational research focuses on mathematical thinking and learning in and out of school, the role of embodied experience in mathematical cognition, and the educational potential of integrating mathematics with the arts and sciences.  Over the past 5 years, she has helped to design and research mathematics exhibitions in science museums across the US.  As a Co-Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded InforMath Collaborative, Ms. Kelton is currently working with university researchers and art-and science-museum professionals in San Diego’s Balboa Park to develop and research experimental exhibits and programs that blend mathematics, art, and science.


Nan Renner, Ph.D., Director of San Diego Incubator for Innovation, Art of Science Learning

Nan Renner believes that learning empowers people. In her work, Nan seeks to promote curiosity, a key driver in learning. She is exploring the nature of curiosity and creativity when we integrate the arts with STEM. Nan directs San Diego’s Art of Science Learning Incubator for Innovation, in which she supports a multidisciplinary multigenerational binational learning community focused on creating new solutions to address the mismatch between regional water supply and demand. Nan draws on her professional experience (with the San Diego Natural History Museum and San Diego Museum of Art), her academic experience (Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and B.A. in Art Theory and Practice), and her personal experience (raising children, enjoying nature, playing music, doing yoga) to encourage joyful exploration and creative collaboration.

Shari E. Asplund, Education and Public Outreach Manager, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Shari Asplund is the Education and Public Outreach Manager for NASA’s Discovery and New Frontiers Programs of solar system exploration missions.  With a B.A. in journalism, she first came to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a technical writer and editor, and later became a project and program administrator.  Shari joined the Discovery Program when it was created in 1999, finding ways to connect students, teachers, and the public with these exciting space investigations in a variety of ways. Shari works with educators to develop products and activities that bring the science of the missions to students, to convey the great sense of adventure, excitement, and optimism that is space exploration. She is passionate about finding fun, creative ways to teach science and has played a key role in developing two very innovative, successful STEAM programs, “Space School Musical” and “Art & the Cosmic Connection.”

Brent Bushnell, CEO, Two Bit Circus

Brent Bushnell is the CEO of Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based engineering entertainment company.  Most recently the team launched STEAM Carnival, a modern re-imagining of the midway to inspire kids about science, technology, engineering, art and math. Previously he was the on-camera inventor for the ABC TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. He was a founding member of Syyn Labs, a creative collective combining art and engineering to create high engagement for large brands and bands including Google, Disney and responsible for the viral hit Rube Goldberg music video for OK Go that garnered 40 million views on YouTube. In his spare time, Brent mentors teens in game development and entrepreneurship via programs such as Spark and NFTE. He publishes at brentbushnell.com and @brentbushnell

Spotlight on Teachers: 2:30-3:00 p.m.

April McBride, Lincoln Acres Elementary

April is an actress and singer who has performed extensively in San Diego and North County for close to twenty years. Additionally she has directed several productions for the stage and brings her passion for performance to all aspects of theatre, including vocal coaching for musicals and teaching character development. April has received three Aubrey awards for Best Actress. In addition to pursuing her personal expression within theatre, she applies her theatrical expertise to educational settings. As a Teaching Artist, April inspires elementary teachers and students by using performance, music and the arts as an instructional vehicle for interdisciplinary learning while encouraging them to explore their own creative capacity.

Van Tran, Lincoln Acres Elementary

Van (rhymes with “fun”) C. Tran facilitates arts-based lessons to youth in San Diego County. She is a three-time UC ArtsBridge scholar award recipient and has taught art classes at various community programs and K-12 public schools. In her creative practice, Van uses overhead projectors to display “shadow poems” based off her everyday experiences. She received her MFA at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Art with a specialization in public and social practice. She is the recipient of various awards from Isla Vista Arts, Friday Academy, and smART families from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Her work has been exhibited along the Central Coast and Southern California, including: Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (formerly the Contemporary Arts Forum), alternative spaces in Los Angeles, the San Diego Space 4 Art artists’ warehouse, and the University Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego.

Sherry Risch, Principal, The Child’s Primary School 

Sherry Risch has developed a distinct philosophy of education that combines the best teaching practices and principles of learning with her personal beliefs of the importance of community, family, and the needs of the whole child.  In 1983, she co-founded The Child’s Primary School, a private kindergarten through eighth grade school, based on those principles.  Ms. Risch is continually re-inventing herself and has created an environment that fosters the joy of lifelong learning- a place where teachers join together to design innovative curriculum. Ms. Risch is a founding board member of Women’s Empowerment International serving women living in poverty, and in her spare time, enjoys traveling and singing gospel music in San Diego’s MLK Community Choir. She holds a B.S. in Special and Elementary Education from Miami University, Oxford Ohio, and served on the Committee for Primary Assessment and Curriculum Development in Ohio.  Sherry continues to find joy and inspiration teaching at The Child’s Primary School.


 Angela Jackson, ENVISION Department Co-Chair at Canyon Crest Academy and Contemporary Artist

Angela Jackson is a mixed media artist and art educator who has exhibited in many group and solo shows in the United States.  She has taught visual art at the award-winning Canyon Crest Academy High School since 2007 and is currently the Co-Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, called ENVISION.  Jackson will also be speaking at this year’s National Art Education Association’s conference in San Diego on  “Meaningful Collaborations Across Disciplines”.  Currently, she has work on exhibit at the new San Diego Public Library, Balboa Park, and in Palo Alto, CA.  She received her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.