2021 California Science Education Conference

Jessica Sawko Teacher Leadership Award: Philip Hudec

Philip Hudec

What motivated you to pursue a career in science education?
As a kid, I was always fascinated by how things work and asked a ton of questions to anyone that would listen. Pursuing a career as a science educator allows me to stay curious and instill a passion for learning and growth with my students. As educators, we have an opportunity to give something back to the world that is greater than any product or service, we help to liberate people. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” Malcolm X.

How do you think the implementation of NGSS has impacted your district?
In many ways, NGSS has opened doors that previously did not exist for many students. By focusing on understanding local and global phenomena, students are able to see themselves as a part of the world and can work on answering questions and/or designingsolutions that are relevant to their lives. This creates meaningful connections between teaching and learning that were often lacking before NGSS. We have a long way to go to meet the full scope of the NGSS but I am proud of the work educators and administrators have done in Palm Springs USD to help achieve the goal of full implementation.

What lessons have you learned while working as a TOSA and how has it affected you personally and professionally?
Every TOSA out there knows that this job is all about relationships. Relationships with students, teachers, community members, and administrators. Learning science is secondary to the personal connections that we make with other humans. Yes, we have fabulously beautiful hopes and dreams for what we can accomplish in science education but first, we need to focus on building empathy and understanding. This work is tough and incredibly rewarding.

In what ways have your views of science education changed after you developed professional development opportunities for teachers?
Learning is not linear. Everyone brings prior knowledge to the table when wrestling with new ideas. Teachers are no different. It is important to honor experiences and expertise while at the same time building a common path to move forward. It’s easy to get lost in the details, we just need to remember where we are going and how we plan to get there.


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