Napa Valley educators recognized for work in C-STEM for students

Nemko, Lovie are administrator, teacher of the year

Elizabeth Emmett, NVUSD, Director of Communications and Community Engagement
Published on November 6, 2018

UC Davis honors Napa Valley educators

(NAPA, Calif.)Napa Valley’s commitment to education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) was recognized at the statewide level when Napa County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Nemko and Napa Valley Unified School District  (NVUSD) teacher Julie Lovie of Valley Oak High School were named Administrator of the Year and Teacher of the Year, respectively, at the 8th Annual Conference on Integrated Computing and STEM (C- STEM) Education at UC Davis. Nemko and Lovie received their awards on Saturday, Nov. 3.

C-STEM is a nationally known math program from UC Davis that combines algebra and geometry with coding and robotics. The annual conference provides a forum for K-14 educators, administrators and researchers from all around California to share their experiences with preparing students for college and careers in STEM-related fields. This year, the conference theme was “Achieving Equity in the Digital Age” and more than 150 educators attended from across Northern California.

 In addition to the awards, NVUSD was prominently featured in three conference sessions. American Canyon High School teacher Scott Marsden presented on “RoboBlockly,” a web-based robot simulation environment for learning coding and math. Tammy Lee,  a teacher at American Canyon Middle School, participated on the “Diversity and Inclusion: Girls In Robotic Leadership” panel. Dr. Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns, moderated a panel on “Secondary School Math with Computing and Robotics: Opening the Gate for STEM Careers.” Lovie participated on the panel.

Napa County Superintendent Barbara Nemko; Director of Innovation David Damico; Valley Oak teacher, Julie Lovie; Valley Oak principal, Maria Cisneros; and Peg Maddocks, ED, NapaLearns

Leadership in C-STEM education

In the most recently published math achievement reports, 34% of Napa County students met or exceeded State standards. Five Napa Valley secondary schools have implemented the C-STEM program as one tool to increase the achievement rate.

Since 2012, Dr. Nemko has promoted the adoption of the C-STEM curriculum, which started in American Canyon High and Middle schools with two teachers. Since then she has partnered with education non-profit NapaLearns to fund and expand the program, making it available to a total of nine teachers and impacting more than 600 NVUSD students in the 2018-2019 school year. To date, NapaLearns has invested more than $150,000 in teacher training plus the robots and computers needed to support the C-STEM curriculum.

“With her demonstrated commitment in helping the program expand, Dr. Nemko has supported NVUSD tremendously in ensuring our students have access to C-STEM,” said Superintendent Dr. Rosanna Mucetti. “She is committed to helping Napa County become the leader in C-STEM in California and, through this program, improving math outcomes for our middle and high school students.”

Julie Lovie teaches at Valley Oak High, an alternative high school for students who are struggling. Often, Valley Oak students have large gaps in their understanding of math, and traditional teaching methods aren’t effective. Lovie was determined to find a new way to connect students to numbers and formulas, which she did by introducing the C-STEM program.

Ms. Lovie teaches two sections of math with robotics. In the spring of 2018, she also recruited a robotics team of six students to attend the C-STEM competition at UC Davis for the first time. Valley Oak was the only continuation school at the competition.

“At Valley Oak, we are fortunate to be able to be creative and bring in instructional strategies that excite students about learning. C-STEM is such a program,” said Maria Cisneros, principal of Valley Oak High. “Julie took on the challenge of mastering how to code with her students. She modeled what it means to be a learner, and most importantly, an innovator who was willing to implement a program that helped students connect with a subject that they have failed over and over.”

Peg Maddocks, executive director of NapaLearns, summarized, “I cannot think of two more appropriate or qualified people to be honored with these awards. Barbara Nemko and Julie Lovie are leading positive change in Napa County schools. NapaLearns recently received a $50,000 challenge grant to continue to make these kinds of investments in improving math achievement and we are a third of the way to our goal. Anyone interested in learning more can go to”

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