Congratulations to our 2021 STEAM Teachers of the Year, RAFT Heroes, RAFT Partner of the Year and RAFT Volunteer Award winners! Thank you for all you do for our students, our education community, and RAFT!

STEAM Teachers of the Year

Melissa Nakamura
Lagunita Elementary School

STEAM Teacher of the Year presented by KPMG

Mrs. Nakamura is strategic. She works with students by focusing on a growth mindset to support them in being comfortable not knowing, then teaches and reinforced math vocabulary to give students the tools to talk through uncertainty. She works with technology and intentional groupings so that students can struggle with rigorous math content in a way that is supportive in multiple ways, then makes it fun with hands-on activities and rewards like “glow games” where black light and glow in the dark activities greet the students when they arrive; or the roller coaster design project, where students collaborate to build a roller coaster from found materials and then teach physics to the younger grades. In Mrs. Nakamura’s classroom, students who were already thriving are challenged to stretch and extend, and students who were struggling find their voices and their confidence in a supportive and challenging environment. – Daniel

Alondra Rios
Joseph George Middle School

STEAM Teacher of the Year presented by Deloitte

Alondra teaches students with mild to moderate disabilities. She takes a hands-on approach to her instruction and kids are excited to learn in her class. Some students by the time they are in middle school have lost a spark because of their learning modalities do not align with what they have traditionally received. However, students in Alondra’s class are embraced and supported in their learning needs. She is always doing hands-on science experiments and projects. However, one example that always gets kids really excited is when she has them make ice cream. They not only make the ice cream but they measure, learn vocabulary, learn about the reactions taking place, and observe and record through the scientific process. She takes items that are easy to find and uses them in her projects. While online learning she even delivered materials to students’ houses so learning could continue. – Tara

Keiko B Charif
Laneview Elementary School

STEAM Teacher of the Year presented by Adobe

Keiko was aware that students at Northwood do not have an opportunity to experience hands-on maker’s education, especially since COVID started. The district technology integration, STEAM education got behind. Students were studying online for more than a year, and they all burned out with distance learning. She planned the first, Family STEAM Workshop night and sent an invitation from Kinder to 5th Graders to participate. The family night was designed to support students to work on alternative energy source engineering projects; a battery-operated skateboard, a windmill to lift objects, a catapult to move objects, and a solar-powered jittery bug. Students have read and learned alternative energy sources through ELA Curriculum across the grade levels. – Kelly

Suba Marti
Kennedy Middle School

STEAM Teacher of the Year presented by Cisco

Suba has worked tirelessly to build programs at both schools that mainly serve Latino students who come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. She makes the material approachable and as hands-on as possible. For many of her projects, she has the students document what they are doing through the Book Creator app so the students can not only duplicate their work later but see their accomplishments. – Sabrina

Alejandra Pareigis
Parkview Elementary School

STEAM Teacher of the Year presented by Morgan Stanley

Ms. Pareigis is an advocate of teaching the whole child. She embraces opportunities to bring hands-on activities into her classroom and has taken a step towards building this method by participating in the Tech Academy Fellowship program to implement mechanical engineering and computer science in her Kindergarten class. – Susan

RAFT Heroes

Nigel Ball

RAFT Hero Award presented by Mary Simon, RAFT Founder and RAFT Hero 2020

Sponsored by Impact Fund

It is hard to imagine anyone other than RAFT’s founder, Mary Simon, who has contributed more to RAFT than Nigel.  He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and also by RAFT. We are very grateful for all of Nigel’s contributions to RAFT over the years. – Webb McKinney, RAFT Hero & Former Board Chair

Webb McKinney

RAFT Hero Award presented by Ann Danner, RAFT Hero 2020

Sponsored by Intuit

Since 2005, he has done so much for RAFT- from serving on the board for many terms, serving as board chair, sitting on various committees as well as playing a critical role in RAFT’s annual fall special events. Through his leadership, critical funds have been raised to help get affordable, hands-on learning resources to educators and their students. – Ann Danner, RAFT Hero 2020 & Event Committee Member

RAFT Volunteer Awards

MaryJane Johnson

RAFT Volunteer Award sponsored by the Troper Wojcicki Foundation

Lori Henderson

RAFT Volunteer Award presented by Lexus of Stevens Creek

MaryJane and Lori have done so much for RAFT through their many years of volunteering. From helping to manage the Educator Workroom, helping educators with their projects to processing donated materials and packaging our STEAM Project Kits, MaryJane and Lori’s impact is felt at RAFT. We are so lucky to have them as volunteers. – Caroline Evans, volunteer and event coordinator.

RAFT Partner of the Year Award

RAFT is proud to announce HP as our first Partner of the Year Award recipient. HP has been a partner of RAFT for 22 years and has supported RAFT by donating over $1.2 million to support the development of our hands-on learning resources, 6,266 cubic feet of donated materials, and through the service of over 1,000 HP volunteers. These volunteers include 14 HP executives that have served on the RAFT Board of Directors and offered their leadership to help RAFT better serve our education community.