Learn more about the educators preparing and delivering your Customized Professional Learning Services programs.
Margaret Brumsted has 32 years of experience teaching science in a public high school, where her primary teaching load included Oceanography, Marine Biology and AP Environmental Science. She has been an Education Specialist at MITS for the past seven years, both as an instructor of K-12 teachers at the Cape Cod Region Summer Professional Development Institute and at Customized Professional Learning Services. Margaret’s science background includes an undergraduate degree in Biology and a master’s degree in marine environmental science. Professional development played a key role in Margaret’s teaching career and provided her with ample opportunities. She has sailed on tall ships as an educator, worked alongside scientists on ships in Hawaii and Antarctica, and conducted field research in Costa Rica, Belize, The Bahamas and Mexico. She has a passion for science education, and is excited to pass on what she has learned to today’s educators. Margaret lives in Rhode Island and enjoys many outdoor activities, especially backcountry skiing, sailing in Narragansett Bay and bike touring.
Jane Heinze-Fry, Ph.D. is the Special Programs Director at the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS). With four decades of experience in the science and environmental education fields, she has served as an educational collaborator, presenter, writer, teacher, and researcher. Her current work targets conceptual mapping and climate change education. With the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, she developed strand maps of the science standards, including editing of a Weather/Climate strand map. Her resource-linked concept map of climate change provides links to resources for both learners and teachers. She has worked with MITS staff and partner organizations across Massachusetts to offer professional development institutes to K-12 teachers in hands-on, minds-on inquiry-based science. Jane has presented extensively at state and national science education conferences. Her teaching experience ranges from courses in teaching methods at the graduate level to K-12 teachers of all subjects to life science courses at the middle school, high school, and college levels. She earned her M.S. in Environmental Education from the University of Michigan in 1978 and Ph.D. in Science and Environmental Education from Cornell University in 1987.
Anita Lavakumar worked as an Engineer for 10 years with companies such as Fidelity Investments, Monster.com, and Philips Lifeline. Her passion for inspiring students to enjoy math and engineering motivated her to make a career change and pursue her dream of becoming a high school educator. Anita worked as a high school Math Educator at K-12 public and private schools for 9 years. Most recently, she served as the STEM Coordinator at an independent all-girls high school, where she designed new courses and engaging curriculum to support engineering and computer science courses. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering from Tufts University, a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics from UMass Lowell, and is a doctoral candidate for Educational Leadership in Higher Education through Regis College. Along with her work for MITS, Anita volunteers and supports the teachers and administration of her children’s elementary school to help strengthen their STEAM initiatives.
Rosemary Rak joined MITS in October 2013 as an Education Specialist. Rosemary brings more than 32 years of science education experience both as a high school biology teacher and as a science curriculum supervisor to her work with MITS. Because of her interest in science education in Massachusetts, she served on the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Framework Review Panel for the development of the 2016 MA STE Framework. She has also served on an Assessment Development Committee for the Biology MCAS and participates in Competency Portfolio review for biology. Rosemary’s love of science, and biology in particular, led to her undergraduate education in biology at Stonehill College and graduate study of marine biology at the Southeastern MA University (now UMass Dartmouth). Additional graduate study at Bridgewater State College (now BSU) supported her passion for education. Her interest in educational leadership led her to pursue doctoral research at Lesley University, where she received her Ph.D. in 2013. Rosemary brings her experience with quantitative and qualitative data analysis to program evaluation for MITS. For recreation Rosemary enjoys spending time outdoors. Tide pool explorations are a favorite pastime!
Kathy Renfrew is an experienced elementary educator who has held many roles through her career. She began her career by spending two years teaching in Australia. When she returned to the states, she relocated to Vermont where she taught for over 30 years, some of that in a multi-age setting. Kathy then moved to the Vermont Agency of Education as the Elementary Science Assessment Coordinator. In that role she was intimately involved with the drafting, adopting and implementing The Next Generation Science Standards in Vermont. Kathy returned to MA where she has been an elementary science coach. She has been the recipient of many awards during her career including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and National Board Certification. Kathy has held many roles with NSTA including being an online advisor for the Learning Center, a NGSS Curator and field editor for the Next Gen Navigator Newsletter. She attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for her undergraduate degree in Human Developmen and then earned a M.Ed in Professional Teaching and a M.Ed in K-8 Science Education. Kathy’s voice as a blogger can be found on the Teaching Channel and as a bi-monthly blogger for MiddleWeb as “The Science Lady”. Kathy believes science education is a right for all children regardless of the age.
Sandra Ryack-Bell, MITS Executive Director has 30 years’ experience in science education developing K-12, outreach and public awareness programs for organizations and schools at the local, regional and national level. Sandi has traveled around the country delivering professional development workshops for teachers and assisting school systems with developing science as well as land use and community character curriculum that meet their state frameworks. She was co-coordinator of the Association for Science Technology Center’s Energy Education Project, working with them to develop a set of best practices for STEM professional learning programs for K-12 teachers. Sandi served on the MA State Advisory Committee for the Next Generation Science Standards and assisted with the development of the MA 2016 revised STE Standards. She participated in the NAEP Science Achievement Level Setting Meeting for current ACT national testing. served as chair of the MA Department of Education’s Math and Science Advisory Committee for 3 years, chaired the Massachusetts Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs ‘Advisory Committee (SAGEE) for Environmental Education and has served on the planning committee for the annual Massachusetts STEM Summit. She is member of the Education Trainer’s Bureau for the Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education, and is a facilitator for Project Learning Tree and Project WILD. Sandi holds a degree in Botany/Marine Ecology and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Rhode Island. She has written numerous curricula and publications and developed curriculum kits for state and national science and environmental organizations. She is an adjunct faculty member at Framingham State University, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Cambridge College.
“My teaching has been inspired by watching the spark of student interest grow into significant learning when engaged in science investigations. I believe that the study of science provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary growth in all academic areas.” – Diana Stinson
Over 25 years of Early Education and Elementary classroom teaching has confirmed to Diana the need for students to learn by doing. She holds a Master’s in Elementary Education from Bridgewater State University and a Post Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Policy and Practice from UMass Boston, specializing in Professional Development for Teaching in the Outdoors. She is currently a Preschool/Elementary and Professional Development Consultant for Mass Audubon, MITS partner for Summer Professional Development Institutes in the Cape Cod Region, and MITS staff for Customized Professional Learning Services programs. In her free time, Diana volunteers at Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies in their Cape Cod Bay Water Monitoring Initiative, or could be found sailing anywhere between Maine and the Caribbean.
Contact MITS’ Executive Director, Sandra Ryack-Bell, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-328-1515 to learn more about how MITS can help your school or district enrich the science learning experiences of your students through customized professional learning for your teachers.