HHS science teacher just one of 10 in country chosen for special honor

Dr. Cecelia Gillam, who teaches environmental science at Hahnville High School, was one of just 10 educators from across the country chosen to join the newly-formed Vernier Science Education’s Trendsetters Community.

The Vernier Trendsetters Community offers educators a forum to enhance their teaching skills, specifically through the use of Vernier data-collection technology, and to engage in meaningful collaboration with like-minded leading STEM educators. Vernier Science Education produces a full line of award-winning interfaces, sensors, software and lab books for students across the world.

Gillam was the only selection from Louisiana.

“Cecelia was selected due to her knowledge of science content, enthusiasm for hands-on learning, experience in the implementation of Vernier technology within her instruction, and passion for equity in STEM,” Christine Lynch, spokeswoman for Vernier Science Education, said.

Gillam was born and raised in New Orleans, earned her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Southern University A&M and her Masters of Art in Educational Leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University.

She recently received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Southeastern.

“What I enjoy most about teaching is being able to spark a love for science in my students,” she said. “I enjoy going in and helping them to realize their full potential. I enjoy being able to make real-world connections with them.”

Gillam first realized she wanted to be a teacher one semester in college when she lost her desire to be an engineer.

“I had a whole bunch of science credits and I went back to my childhood calling,” she said. “As a child I would always pretend I was a teacher. I used to teach my teddy bears and my little cousins. It was just a natural fit for me to become an educator.

“I love science because science is all around our natural world. I like the problem-solving aspect of science and how you have to think critically to solve complex problems.”

Gillam has been a science teacher in St. Charles Parish for eighteen years. She has helped write science district curriculum and assessments for environmental science, and recently she became an advocate for the National Equity Project by being selected as a board member for the Black Teacher Project.

She is a certified coach for Pear Deck, EdPuzzle, and Screencastify. She is also a Distinguished Modern Classroom Educator and Expert Mentor for the Modern Classroom Project. She has attended and presented at multiple national conferences, including International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and National Science Teacher Association to train teachers on how to incorporate EdTech tools in their classrooms.

And that’s not all.

Gillam published a motivational children’s book called Black Girl, was a national grand prize winner for the Shell Lab Grant, and was a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science in 2015 and 2019.

“My overall goal as an educator is to increase representation in STEM of marginalized groups,” she said. “I want more students in underrepresented groups to feel a sense of belonging. I want them to see a reflection of themselves through representation in the classroom. I want to increase the number of underrepresented students in STEM courses and careers.”

Gillam was thrilled when she learned she was named to the Vernier Trendsetters Community.

“I was like, ‘wow, Cecelia Gillam you really did this,’” she said. “In education often teachers like myself feel as if I am not making a difference. Sometimes I feel like all of my hard work and dedication goes unnoticed so when I was noticed by Vernier and selected for this prestigious honor I was elated and in awe. I also immediately thought about all of the educators that I will be able to impact.”

She added that she is most looking forward to helping other educators realize their full potential.

“I want more educators to step away from online simulations and move into more hands-on activities. I want to show them that they can use EdTech tools to engage students as they solve real-world relevant problems,” she said. “I am also looking forward to the networking opportunities and to grow as an educator from other like-minded educators.”