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Member-at-Large: Matthew Cushing

2018-2019 stat executive committee

Matthew cushing

Director of Programs and Operations

Rice University Office of STEM Engagement


Position Statement:

Growing up, I recall little from science classes, where we mostly learned from books and memorized terms. Experiments were rare, but I owe much of what I remember to them. I believe that students learn best when they are engaged through hands-on experiences. As a classroom teacher and now in my current role at Rice University, I emphasize hands-on, inquiry-based learning in the science classroom. Students need the opportunity to explore, discover and question for themselves. I completely believe in the best practice 5E model of science learning. Incorporating this model in teaching has been my passion for over 18 years in education. Learners have to experience science, not just read about it!

Students should see themselves as scientists. When they believe this, they behave accordingly, take science more seriously and change their way of thinking to be an inquirer. They develop process skills at a faster rate and are able to think at a higher depth-of-knowledge. I believe all students can think critically with guidance from outstanding science teachers. 

While in the classroom at Spring Branch ISD, I incorporated these experiences to better personalize learning for students. As a science specialist, I assisted teachers with developing best practices in their classrooms. While working at Rice, I have seen what can happen when an entire school fully implements an idea; it is amazing to watch. I have seen how teachers going through our Rice Model Lab collaborative have gained better knowledge of the TEKS and the 5E model and are now using a plethora of best practices in their classrooms. 

I have served on two CAST committees in chair capacities and at numerous CAST conferences as a volunteer. In 2010, I served as technology chair, and in 2018, as the special events chair. These experiences afforded me many opportunities to give back to STAT. During both conferences, I worked to ensure that all participants had the best experience possible. It is amazing to see the immense preparation and detail needed to produce a great conference. Attending sessions can truly transform teaching, and the opportunity for teacher networking is invaluable. I have gained many professional and personal friendships through my roles with CAST. As a board member, I would continue to improve CAST for all teachers.

My goal is to grow STAT in both membership and participation. We should encourage and support our K-12 science teachers and increase collegiate representation and support within the organization. Regarding participation, I feel that all teachers’ voices should be heard. While STAT provides these opportunities for our science teachers, I feel there is more we can do. I believe we can create new committees, bring back regional representation across the state and more. I am dedicated to making sure that voices are heard, and I am willing to work hard to see STAT grow and succeed into the future. We are a great organization, but I feel we have not hit our full potential. Let’s take STAT to a higher level.

Biographical Sketch:

Matthew received a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston in 1999. His specializations in education are Early Childhood and Earth Science. In 2008, he obtained a master’s degree in Instructional Technology with a Specialization in Human Resources Management and a certification in Professional Development from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.


Matthew spent seven years in the classroom teaching for Spring Branch ISD and developed a passion for science and technology. Acting on this passion, he moved from the classroom to become a District Educational Technology Specialist and Science Specialist. Throughout the course of his time with SBISD, Matthew served on various committees, including textbook adoption, district technology, and science and social studies curriculum writing. He was a district trainer for science content, technology and effective instruction. Post-Spring Branch ISD, he joined Region 10 ESC as a member of the Texas Virtual School Network project. This opportunity allowed him to work closely with the Texas Education Agency, districts across Texas and national education associations. He served as a mentor for teachHouston and has presented at local, state and national conferences in the areas of technology integration, STEM, computer science and online learning. Matthew joined the staff at the Rice University Office of STEM Engagement (R-STEM) in 2012 and served as an Assistant Director and Associate Director for Elementary Education and is currently the Director of Programs and Operations. In his current position he oversees all staff, programs and finances for R-STEM. 


Matthew served as a committee chair for two CAST conferences. His most recent volunteer service for STAT came as the Social chair for the 2017 CAST conference in Houston. His special interests include STEM education, technology integration and digital learning. He is a member of NSTA, STAT, ASCD, Texas ASCD, TCEA, ISTE, CSTA and iNACOL.


The Science Teachers Association of Texas



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