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June 15, 2010 To Whom It May Concern, I am writing to offer my most enthusiastic support for Mazzy Thompson as a science education professional. As Director of the NSF-funded SEPAL: The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory at San Francisco State University (SFSU), I have had the privilege of working with Mazzy as a teacher partner in several of our partnership programs over the last three academic years (2007-2010). I have been consistently impressed with Mazzy’s passion for science, her thoughtfulness and patience as a mentor for both her middle school students and her SFSU student teaching partners, and her raw skills and abilities in effectively communicating complex scientific ideas to others. All of these attributes will no doubt serve Mazzy well in her professional aspirations and especially in her pursuit of opportunities that will allow her to grow professionally. I have no doubt that Mazzy will continue to grow in all her professional endeavors in the years to come, and I strongly believe that she will enrich any institution in which she works. I can attest to the fact that Mazzy has the intellectual acumen, genuine dedication, and necessary perseverance not only to succeed, but also to thrive as a science educator in a variety of settings. I offer my most ardent support for her interest in working with your organization. Since the spring of 2006, I have known Mazzy through her participation in the SFSU GK-12 Partnership Program. In addition to my position as an Assistant Professor of Biology, I am the Director of the SFSU GK-12 Program and also the instructor for the program’s affiliated graduate seminar courses in science education. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the overarching goals of the SFSU GK-12 Partnership Program are to: 1) develop a cadre of scientists with the experience, skills, and commitment to collaborate with K-12 teachers and students throughout their scientific career, 2) support teachers in developing innovative, inquiry-based approaches to science teaching, and 3) provide scientist role models and additional hands-on science learning experiences for K-12 students. Partnership teams of one SFSU graduate student and one San Francisco public middle or high school science teacher participate in an academic-year-long collaboration to support innovative, inquiry-based science teaching and learning in classrooms. Teachers are selected through a competitive application process, and each year we have more teacher applicants for our GK-12 Partnership Program than we have positions to fill. Mazzy Thompson was an outstanding teacher participant in the GK-12 Partnership Program. During her participation in the GK-12 Partnership Program, Mazzy was partnered with Lakisha Witzel, an SFSU Masters student who was conducting research in marine biology. Mazzy was not only a wonderful partner for Lakisha, but also a key mentor that was instrumental in forming her ideas about what constitutes effective science teaching. As the GK-12 Project Director, I visit lots of K-12 classrooms in San Francisco and have done so for over a decade. Mazzy Thompson’s classroom at James Lick Middle School was always a pleasure to visit. Mazzy earned the respect of her partner scientist, Lakisha, quickly by having consistently high expectations of her students, by developing a warm and encouraging interaction style with them, and by successfully teaching science day in and day out using an inquiry-based approach. While many middle school classrooms – including ones I’ve seen at James Lick Middle School – are filled with frustrated and inured students who see no relevance in what they are learning, Mazzy’s classroom was high-energy and engaging. Each lesson I have seen Mazzy teach has some real-world context that allows students to see why they should be interested in learning the material. In addition, Mazzy was a key member of our GK-12 partnership community and an active participant at our monthly community gatherings where all 20 GK-12 teachers and scientists gathered to The City’s University • A California State University Campus


share innovative lessons and to hone their knowledge of issues around assessment, equity, and inquiry in science teaching. Mazzy always emerged as a leader in those conversations and was consistently willing to challenge herself and her peers in deepening their understanding of science teaching. Mazzy approaches learning with a confident inquisitiveness, a supportive attitude towards her peers, and a creativity in approaching the complexities of teaching that I find to be generally rare among teachers of her experience. She is remarkably cross-disciplinary for such a young professional, equally comfortable exploring subjects with which she has little experience and subjects with which she is intimately familiar. It is my strong feeling that the intellectual creativity, collaborative stance, and teaching talent that Mazzy brought to her work in the GK-12 Program is pervasive in all of her professional efforts. As a result of her talent for inquiry-based teaching and her successful partnership with Lakisha, I invited Mazzy to participate in another one of our partnership programs, the National Institutes of Health-funded Spectrum Program. The Spectrum initiative places SFSU female biology students of color in partnerships with middle and high school teachers to develop after-school science clubs, with the goal of encouraging more young girls of color to consider careers in the biological sciences. Specifically, Spectrum science clubs aim to both teach young students about the biology behind women’s health issues and provide access to rare role models - women of color biologists - for middle and high school girls attending these clubs. In the first year of the program, we could only involve three schools. There was no question that James Lick, under Mazzy Thompson’s leadership, would be one of our first schools. During both the first and second years of the program, Mazzy has led her Spectrum partnership team and young students to have the most successful Spectrum Club that we have yet seen. Mazzy’s efforts with her team have become a model for others in the program. In summary, I believe Mazzy Thompson would be a welcome addition to any institution looking to hire a science teacher or science education specialist. I offer my most enthusiastic recommendation for Mazzy and encourage you to give her professional accomplishments and aspirations your most thoughtful consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions (415405-3438; kdtanner@sfsu.edu). Best regards,

Kimberly D. Tanner, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Biology Director, SEPAL: The Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory Principal Investigator, NSF CCB FEST: Community College Biology Faculty Enhancement through Scientific Teaching Program Principal Investigator, NSF GK-12 Partnership Program Principal Investigator, NIH SEPA Spectrum Program: Women of Color in Biomedical Research San Francisco State University 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 Tel: (415) 405-3438, Fax: (415) 405-0426 Email: kdtanner@sfsu.edu Internet: http://www.sfsu.edu/~sepal/ The City’s University • A California State University Campus


Carrie Melton, M.Ed. James Lick Middle School 1220 Noe Street San Francisco, CA 94114 Ph: 415-695-5675 Fax: 415-695-5360 meltonc@sfusd.edu

James Lick Middle School 7/25/2010 To Whom It May Concern:

It is my great pleasure to recommend Melissa Thompson for a teaching position within your school/program. As an instructional/literacy coach for James Lick Middle School in the San Francisco Unified School District, I have known and worked with Ms. Thompson in a variety of capacities for about seven years. In her role as an eighth grade science teacher, she has taught rigorous, standardsbased and creative curriculum. With an emphasis on cooperative learning and studentled inquiry, Ms. Thompson engaged her students in frequent science labs and experiments. Along with rebuilding the collection of eighth grade science supplies, Melissa has partnered with various local university programs to bring more resources and extensions to her students. One of these partnerships in particular supported Ms. Thompson’s after school science club for girls. Ms. Thompson also taught our school’s only video production class. Her students filmed and edited their own short films and news broadcasts with a culminating end of the year film “festival.” They were also creators of the eighth grade graduation ceremony slide show, recapturing events from throughout the year. Ms. Thompson puts a great amount of effort in building supportive relationships with students and families. Her classroom management is strong, allowing her to focus on curriculum and vivid learning experiences. She also maintains strong and collaborative relationships with her colleagues, participating in common curriculum mapping and assessments as well as school-wide professional development with peers. It is without hesitation that I recommend Melissa Thompson to your school/program, and please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Carrie Melton, M.Ed. Instructional Reform Facilitator James Lick Middle School Pg. 1 of 2


116 Oak Springs Drive San Anselmo, California 94960 August 24, 2010 To Whom It May Concern: It has been my privilege to work with Mazzy Thompson since she joined the New Teacher Program at the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute In 2007. As part of this program first and second year teachers are given access to recently retired science teachers, who visit their classrooms, answer phone and email queries, and make themselves available to the new teachers for general trouble shooting. Our relationship has developed into that of peer and colleague. From day one, Ms. Thompson knew the right questions to ask: “How can I do labs in a room where the sinks have been turned off?” “ What is the safety equipment required, and how can I get it?” “Does this stockroom meet safety specifications?” “The room is big enough, but the demonstration table is too far from the students in the back. Can I make a demonstration table that is visible?” By our second meeting all of these questions had not only been answered, but the sinks were on and the safety issues resolved, not only for her but a young colleague who did not participate in our program. This diplomacy, tenacity and willingness to share with colleagues are characteristics that I have consistently observed in her. She has set up her classroom with clear expectations -not too many- and work groups and areas that allow students to function successfully and autonomously while always under her watchful eye. She reads individual students and classroom dynamics quickly and accurately, a challenge when classes are made up of entitled neighborhood children and minority students bussed in from tougher neighborhoods. She is secure enough to ask an observer to help discover what is making her uneasy about a particular class, so that she can proactively make a better learning environment for all of her students. Ms. Thompson brought a good background in science to the classroom and has taken advantage of myriad curricular resource at the Exploratorium and elsewhere that could translate science to her students. She checked the standards, the materials available in her school, the ones she might make or borrow at the Exploratorium, and put together a program that would have stretched many a seasoned teacher. If she felt a particular lab would benefit from an extra adult, or that she would like to observe it before she led it, she would invite me for a visit. By the end of her first year, she looked for equals who were working with the same curriculum and arranged to collaborate with them in writing and pacing material. Stronger even than her knowledge of the content of science, is Ms. Thompson’s intellectual curiosity, and the way she transmits this to students. She helps them to become excited over scientific issues, and uses lacunae in her own knowledge to teach appropriate questions and research methods. She lets students know there are discoveries


left for their generation to make. “Ms. Mazzy’s” students have definitely placed her in the category of a cool adult. A” complete professional” describes Mazzy Thompson. She models appropriate relationships for her students by respecting them and maintaining appropriate boundaries. She works well with colleagues within her school and the science education community. She easily offers, seeks, and receives assistance when appropriate. She also maintains a personal life that allows her to bring a world of new ideas to the classroom. Mazzy Thompson is one of those teachers education cannot afford to loose. Sincerely yours,

Rill Chaney


Melissa “Mazzy” Thompson