School of Education Faculty Member Serves as President of School Science and Mathematics Association
WACO, Texas (March 7, 2019) – Suzanne Nesmith, Ph.D., is passionate about the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across the disciplines, and now she has taken that commitment to new heights. A science educator, associate professor and associate dean in the Baylor University School of Education, Nesmith is serving as president of the School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA), a multi-disciplinary organization founded in 1901. Her two-year term as president runs until the fall of 2020.
SSMA brings together researchers and teachers to promote research, scholarship and practice to improve school science and mathematics and to advance the integration of school science and mathematics.
“The organization was multi-disciplinary very early in its history and is the oldest STEM organization in its addressing of more than one content area,” Nesmith said. “And that’s why it’s one of my favorite organizations and I get so much out of it, because we have individuals with expertise in different fields coming together and recognizing the value of looking at things from these different perspectives.”
A specialist in science and mathematics education, Nesmith has published extensively on the ways in which content, instructional strategies and instructional contexts work together in the construction of meaning and understanding. Her research has been published in leading refereed journals, including International Journal of Science Education, Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Action in Teacher Education, Research in the Schools and Journal of Latinos and Education. Her recent studies include explorations of elementary preservice teachers’ perceptions toward the utilization of literature in mathematics, educators’ design and implementation of environmental education curricula and the impacts of a professional development experience on educators’ application of green chemistry concepts.
She also is part of a multi-university cohort that has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to explore educational materials and infrastructure for teaching concepts in rational molecular design.
Nesmith began her affiliation with SSMA while a doctoral student at Texas Tech University, where Sandi Cooper, Ph.D., a mathematics education professor now teaching at Baylor, was her faculty mentor.
Nesmith’s leadership roles in SSMA began with giving regular research presentations at the yearly convention, and then she was asked to co-chair the convention with Cooper. She said that taking on such a significant project really helped her get to know the organization and deepened her appreciation for it. Soon after, she was elected as an executive board member and then as president, both through online balloted elections of the full membership.
“I served as president-elect for one year, the presidency is for two years, and then I will serve as past-president for one year. So it’s a four-year commitment,” Nesmith said.
Nesmith said that, during her term as SSMA president, she intends to build on the organization’s strong traditions and services to members. In addition to its professional services for STEM educators, SSMA benefits from a unique collegiality, Nesmith said.
“It is like a family, and the convention is like a family reunion. Much work is accomplished, but it’s also a friendly, giving group where nationally recognized experts are willing to visit with graduate students and help them along their careers,” Nesmith said.
In addition to yearly conventions, SSMA publishes the research journal School Science and Mathematics, which provides a venue for STEM research, submitted by both SSMA members and non-member researchers.
In addition to Nesmith, the late Baylor SOE faculty member John C. Park was president of SSMA, serving from 2012-14.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the School’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit www.baylor.edu/soe to learn more.