Stacia Neal

While serving as a tutor for young people at her church, Stacia Neal far too often heard students of color say they were not good at math or science. This experience coupled with her understanding that African-Americans have traditionally been in a place where they are either subtly or directly told that they lacked skills in these areas inspired Stacia to leave a 12 year career in the fashion industry to pursue her teaching credential at the University Washington as a middle level math and science specialist.

Stacia began her career as an educator in 2009 teaching math at Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle. She wanted to show all students that women and people of color are, in fact, successful in STEM fields. While at Aki, Stacia began her partnership with MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) where she worked collaboratively with educators from around the state to provide opportunities to extend STEM learning outside the classroom. In 2011 she led a team of 7th graders participating in MESA’s Wind Energy Challenge to ultimately take 2 nd place in the State Competition. During her time at Aki, Stacia also supported students transitioning from 8 th to 9 th grade as teacher in MESA’s Summer Math Scholars program.

In 2013, Stacia accepted a position teaching life and physical sciences at Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington. It did not take long for district administrators and curriculum developers to notice how positively students responded to her safe and collaborative learning environment centered on high expectations. With a relentless commitment to equity and access in science education for all students, Stacia welcomed an invitation to bring her equity lens to her district’s Science Leadership Team; a group tasked with developing a vertically aligned plan to implement Washington State’s Next Generation Science Standards within the Bellevue School District.

In spring of 2014, Stacia joined the Partnerships for Ambitious Science Teacher Leadership. This cadre of science teachers from around the state works together to design highly contextualized science instruction that honors varied ways of knowing of diverse student populations and provides authentic opportunities for all students to engage in science and engineering practices as they develop complex scientific arguments and explanations over time.

In the fall of 2015 Stacia joined Odle Middle School’s Rocketry Club as a co-facilitator in its second year of existence; her goal, to increase participation of diverse students in extra-curricular STEM activities. Having no prior experience with building or flying rockets, Stacia modeled stepping out of her comfort zone to try new things as she learned alongside her students. In July of 2016, after a 1st place finish in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, Stacia traveled to London with her students where they presented their original design to industry leaders and flew their rocket at the Farnborough Air Show. Once again, Odle students finished 1st place over teams representing Japan, Great Britain, and France. Odle notably had the only co-ed team in the international competition.

Stacia is committed to serving students both in and out of the classroom. As a trained AVID teacher, she is leading the charge in teaching the hidden curriculum so critical to preparing all students for college. She has continued to co-facilitate Odle’s Rocketry Club and also serves as an advisor for SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism). Stacia Neal is dedicated to being a life-long teacher and learner and consistently seeks out opportunities to improve her craft.