STEM Director Award

Wantagh STEM Director on Award: It’s a Department Honor

For her work supporting science educators both locally and throughout New York State, Wantagh School District Director of STEM Carol-Ann Winans is the recipient of the 2021 Champion of Teacher Development award, presented by the Science Teachers Association of New York State. 


Ms. Winans is in her third year in Wantagh and previously worked in Lynbrook for 13 years as a middle school and high school science teacher and department chairperson. She has been an active member of STANYS for most of her professional career and has presented numerous workshops.

In Wantagh, Ms. Winans spearheaded the transition to new science standards with a “hands-on, minds-on” approach. She noted that this focus engages students through physical, investigative activities that foster critical-thinking skills and promote a true understanding of scientific concepts. The transition to this approach has already been completed at Wantagh Middle School and is now being adopted at the high school, beginning with Earth Science. 

Ms. Winans said she is very proud of the fact that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wantagh has not been delayed in its shift to the hands-on, minds-on philosophy in science education. She is also assisting with the transition at the elementary level, to ensure K-12 alignment to the new standards. 

Her extensive and successful work in Wantagh led STANYS to select her to lead virtual professional development sessions for teachers last summer, as science lessons were quickly being adapted to meet pandemic restrictions. She hosted two online workshops for science educators across the state on how to teach the subject in ways that still kept students physically involved and mentally engaged, even though there were regulations on the use of equipment. During the school year, Ms. Winans provided an additional two training sessions.

Since 2008, Ms. Winans has been an annual presenter at the STANYS conference in Rochester on a variety of topics relating to the science standards. In her previous district, as a subject area representative, she was able to attend workshops with the writers of the Next Generation Science Standards and bring that knowledge back to her colleagues.   

In elementary school, Ms. Winans explained, students look at science like magic, but for some that interest wanes at the secondary level. That’s why it is important to have lessons that help maintain that same spark and curiosity. Wantagh’s teachers have gone above and beyond, she explained, to make modifications to the program that keep science fun and exciting at the secondary level, and hopefully generate strong interest in careers in the many STEM fields.  

Ms. Winans, who will be recognized at STANYS’ 2021 annual meeting and awards ceremony in November at the Rochester Convention Center, shares her award with Wantagh’s entire science department. 

“It’s an award that really highlights the work of Wantagh’s science teachers over the past two years,” she said. “I am completely humbled, but I have to give all of the credit to the teachers. This award is more honoring their work than it is honoring me.”