2017 Viola Award Nominee for Excellence in Science Education
Jillian Worssam, is an 8th grade science teacher at Sinagua Middle School, and founder of the “Scientists in the Classroom Program.” The SITC Program partners students one to one with practicing scientists in the field for an entire academic year. There is also a Flagstaff Community STEM portion of the program where a local Flagstaff organization, business, or federal/ state agency will work with one class for an entire academic year, culminating with a classroom visit by the students to the STEM location. Jillian also hosts the Sinagua after school STEM/Makerspace club and Oceanography club; annually taking students to Monterey, California for a true oceanographic experience.
Jillian has traveled to every state, and it was through this exploration that she fell in love with nature and became fascinated with the diversity of all living systems. After attending an alternative outdoor educational school in Vermont, she moved to Montana where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Forestry. This newfound knowledge prompted her to become a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, which in turn showed her the power of education. Upon returning to the United States, Jillian became a professional educator and earned her Master’s Degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education.
Jillian also had an opportunity to work in the Bering Sea for three field seasons as both a NOAA Teacher at Sea and National PolarTREC participant most recently traveling to The Southern Ocean and South Georgia. She has taken science field experience and incorporated it into her work with students. Jillian has also been an environmental interpreter for the U.S. Forest Service, wrote thematic curriculums for multiple middle school subject areas, and took a year off to teach writing and oral English in China. As a past instructor for “Project:” wild, aquatic, learning tree, learning tree secondary and project wet, Jillian looks at science and education as a partnership for global sustainability.
Here in Flagstaff, Jillian took the steps to develop a community-wide STEM Celebration that involved ALL the District, charter, and parochial schools. “One big event for all our students, that wouldn’t burden our many community STEM partners with multiple events each year.”
Jillian shared this idea with Dave Engelthaler, STEM City “Instigator”, Director of Operations for TGen North, and Chairman of Flagstaff Forty, and Karin Eberhard, FUSD Community Relations Director, and Voìla, the Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration was born!
Jillian is also an active board member for the Flagstaff Festival of Science, and hosts a variety of events with the festival every year, including the infamous Flagstaff Lava River Cave Walk and Dissecting 101.