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Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Ph.D., Educational Leadership, Renewal and Change, 2006 – 2011

Areas of interest: Leadership and learning, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) content, environmental science, inquiry and project based learning methods, classroom communities, and inclusive classroom approaches to content learning.

Special Study: Peace & Reconciliation Completed a concentration on issues involved in peace and reconciliation as they relate to education. Topics include leadership for educational success for all, barriers and resolutions to issues of equity and access, diversity, gender and sexuality, educational reform, democratic learning environments, peaceful classroom communities, education as an extension of culture, and pedagogy as a vehicle for systemic social change.

Advisors: William Timpson, Ph.D. & Meena Balgopal, Ph.D.

State University of New York Cortland, Cortland, New York

Masters of Arts in Teaching: Secondary Science, 2003

Advisor: Rena Janke, Ph.D.

State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York

Bachelor’s of Science: Environmental and Forest Biology, 1999

Concentration: Environmental Interpretation

Advisor: Andy Saunders

Magna cum laude


Point of Interest: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, math education, science education, Jewish Day School

Summary of Experience: Support STEM education and programming at all elementary grade levels in conjunction with administration and teachers. This includes mentorship and support of teachers, co-developing elementary school wide programs, events, designing STEM related spaces., development of educational models for STEM integration, developing scope and sequence for computer coding and robotics at the elementary level, designing and teaching "Lab" style courses to understand new methods of elementary teaching at the edge of technology (for example, with 3D printing), representing the school's STEM interests in the larger community in conferences and collaborative experiences with other organizations, translating educational research into actionable classroom practice, and advising on STEM, science, and math best practice. This position also includes occasional work at the pre-school and the middle school levels, teaching mathematics (4th grade) and science (1st and 2nd grade). 

Point of Interest: Mathematics curriculum grades k-3, Common Core, mathematics as games, manipulatives, social interaction in learning math

Summary of Experience: Extend and create new primary "hands on", playful mathematics experiences that assist in children developing underlying conceptual insight through multisensory, social experiences. These experiences needed to be developmentally appropriate and connected with Common Core skill sets. Emphasis was placed on engagement and deep learning. Materials needed to be able to be locally acquired (not from educational materials companies) which resulted in my need to explore non-traditional routes to leaning and making materials. I contributed over 40 hours of playful yet fully goal-articulated mathematics learning for the primary level. 

Shepardson Elementary School, STEM Specialist

Point of Interest: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education

Summary of Experience: Support STEM education and programming at all elementary grade levels in conjunction with administration and teachers. This involves designing educational models, advising and supporting curricular policy development in-line with research based STEM pedagogy and methods, co-teaching content to students, designing curriculum and supporting curriculum, providing supplementary materials and creative approaches to STEM learning in the classroom, conducting teacher professional development on the nature and methods of inquiry learning, boosting the quality of STEM learning by applying educational research in school projects, cultivating productive external relationships with the larger community, collaborating with local academics on research and student teaching in STEM, and collaborating on leadership to develop school-wide vision for STEM education and how to integrate this with standards and 21st century skills.

Level: Elementary, Professional

Timnath Elementary School, STEM Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA)

Point of Interest: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education

Summary of Experience: One day a week, provide direct instruction to children in grades kindergarten through 5th in STEM. This specials course is a curriculum of my own design and is firmly rooted in STEM pedagogy, research-based instructional methods, inquiry, and project-based learning. 

Ithaca High School, Ithaca, New York

Point of Interest: At-Risk Chemistry Classroom

Summary of Experience: Taught environmentally based chemistry in a diverse secondary classroom. There was exceptionally strong community support of education in Ithaca, NY. This high resource environment introduced me to the importance of teacher-to-teacher mentorship as well as the possibilities for creative approaches to learning methodologies, the potential for community involvement, and the ways in which professional development can directly impact classroom teachers. I worked with a variety of other educators as I supported multiple students who received additional services from the district such as special education and English language learners.

Level: High school

George Junior Republic Freeville, New York

Residential Treatment Facility for Emotionally Disturbed Teen Boys

Point of Interest: 6-1-1 Special education setting

Summary of Experience: Taught multi-subject science in the context of special education serving teens with emotional disturbance. This experience provided insight into the policy, systems, and methods which support special education for this population. Teaching in a special education classroom with teens that had experienced significant hardship, which had serious impacts on their education, highlighted for me issues concerning appropriateness of standardized tests, adherence to teacher-centered models, and the importance of emotional connections in learning. I became familiar with the services and methods of special education related to this population, and I worked with a team of other professionals to address the unique needs of each student in my class.

Level: High school

Student Teaching: Lafayette Middle School, Lafayette, New York

Student teacher: Life Sciences

Point of Interest: Approximately half of the student population were members of the Onondaga tribe of the Iroquois Nation (Native American children)

Summary of Experience: Teaching in this environment was an introduction to issues concerning the importance of cultural influences on learning and education, the role of the community, and challenges facing diverse populations (Native Americans in particular) in the public school system.

Level: Middle School

Student Teaching: Spencer-Van Etten High School, Spencer, New York

Student teacher: Biology

Point of Interest: Classification as a rural school with greater than ½ of students living in poverty.

Summary of Experience: This placement exposed me to rural poverty and its effects on learning and schools. Poverty is often considered in an urban context and understanding the challenges that rural poverty presents to education was an important lesson for me in the dynamics of teaching and learning in public systems. I not only gained perspective on teacher recruitment and the challenges educators face in specialty fields in particular, but in the importance of understanding the children’s personal aspirations and how this shapes classroom learning.

Level: High school

SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, New York

Lab Assistant/Instructor: Dendrology

Point of Interest: Instructed university students in field-based learning

Summary of Experience: I instructed a small lab group of undergraduate university students in lab- and field-based tree identification. This experience provided a foundation for information on college-level instruction and expectations.

Level: Undergraduate 


The Astor Home for Children, Rhinebeck, New York

Residential Treatment Facility for Emotionally Disturbed Children Ages 5 to 13

Position: Care Worker

Summary of Experience: I provided care in a cottage/home-like setting for emotionally disturbed children ages 5 to 13 during my high school and college years. This experience was a foundation for my beliefs in children’s learning communities, the role of emotion in learning settings, benchmarks and expectations of cognitive and emotional capacities at various ages, the need for peaceful and constructive relationships with children, and techniques for use in classroom management. Through my work, I also was exposed to the foster care system, the impact of abuse on development, crisis intervention, therapeutic options for children with emotional disturbance, non-traditional educational settings, the importance of family, and the need for a holistic and comprehensive approach to supporting children through their development and learning.

Level: Early Childhood and Elementary 


What is the Nature of Children’s Leadership in Early Childhood? A Grounded Theory

Exploration of preschool and kindergarten children’s social interactions which provide the vehicle for learning goals and outcomes.

There is increased recognition and understanding that relationships in classroom settings impact learning. Early childhood best practices focus on child-led inquiry learning as well as nurturing emotionally supportive relationships. However, little is understood about how children of this age organize themselves to accomplish these learning objectives and what may be expected of children in terms of their social and developmental abilities to organize when participating in goal oriented learning groups. This study aimed to create a theory that is a reflection of the children’s leadership interactions in learning. A theory of young children’s leadership may give teachers, administrators, and researchers a framework in which to discuss children’s learning groups and ways that teachers may introduce content, guide social learning, and support the skills necessary to achieve content learning in an inquiry context.


Soffler, A. (March, 2011). Science Inquiry in the Early Childhood Classroom. Presentation. Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC). Spring conference. Denver, Colorado.

Soffler, A. (November, 2012). Playing with Math: Fun as Learning, Learning as Fun. Presentation. Afterschool Zone Conference, Early Childhood Council of Larimer County. Fort Collins, Colorado.

Sample Curriculum Workshop, STEM Elementary. (November, 2012) Development of sample interdisciplinary STEM units for State level curricular development. Colorado Department of Education. Boulder, Colorado.

Review Committee (January, 2013). Next Generation Science Standards as compared to Colorado State Science Standards. Colorado Department of Education. Denver, Colorado.

Soffler, A., Chadwick-Conway, J. (May 2013) "STEM Coordinator: An Emerging Position in STEM Schools". Conference Presentation, Elementary STEM school administration. National Science Teachers Association, National Elementary and Middle School STEM Expo.

Soffler, A., Chadwick-Conway, J. (May 2013) "An Administrator's Journey to Creating a STEM Focused School". Conference Presentation, Elementary STEM school administration. National Science Teachers Association, National Elementary and Middle School STEM Expo. 

Soffler, A., Zanetich, J. (2014) "Using Projects for Experiential Learning: Knowledge Management in an Elementary School STEM Program and a College Level International Project". International Conference Presentation. The Learner, New York City.


Teacher, Secondary Science, grades 7-12

Teacher, Elementary Education

Teacher, Early Childhood Education

Specialist Teacher, Gifted and Talented Education

Specialist Teacher, Special Education

Specialist Teacher, Educational Technology

(Copies of licensures presented on request)


Teacher, Secondary Biology

Teacher, Elementary Education

(Copies of licensures presented upon request)


STEM School Educational Theory and Modeling

Co-Created an elementary school model for integrating STEM in elementary schools using concepts as modes of learning transfer. This model is consistent with educational research as well as STEM initiatives and derived from NextGen science standards. 

School-Wide Citizen Science

Summary of Experience: Initiated and supported a school wide initiative in Citizen Science, working at each grade level to develop and support student participation in citizen science (an initiative by science institutions and scientists to solicit assistance from the public to collect information from the local environment and share this with them to include in their data sets). This enabled all students to contribute meaningfully to the wider world of science discovery by learning about aspects of their local environments and collecting information to share with professionals. This initiative also provided teachers the opportunity to learn about the nature of science and utilize the project structure to better design and support authentic science in their classrooms. An example of a project would be 2nd grade’s participation in Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug Project where students find ladybugs and document their spots and location and report this to the University. In the process, students learn about insects, the local environment from an entomological point of view, and how scientists study insect populations. Embedded in a project based learning model, this topic also serves to include mathematics in maping and graphing the ladybug findings, reading and writing for different audiences, and exploring how their contribution to science and findings inform their decisions and actions at a local level.

Level: Elementary

Cornell University Theory Center, Virtual Worlds

Summary of Experience: I collaborated with the Cornell University Theory Center to develop a program in which at-risk high school students used Cornell’s virtual reality technology and the assistance of undergraduate mentors to create a computer centered virtual world as a companion study component of my high school chemistry course. Students used the course material to create a “3-D world” that would represent the concepts we studied. The project concluded with a trip to Cornell to meet the program designers and stand “inside” their world using the virtual reality chamber.

Level: High school chemistry

The Bright Red Bookshelf

Summary of Experience: I founded a branch of the organization “The Bright Red Bookshelf” in Fort Collins, Colorado. We cycle gently used donated children’s books to vulnerable children and their families. The bookshelves are located where the children and families receive services. Children select, take home, and keep books donated by other families, schools, and the local community through book drives. Ownership of books impacts early literacy and this project provides the opportunity for the city’s most vulnerable and transient children to access books and experience book ownership. This is an innovative program because instead of children “going to the books” we “bring the books to them” by joining forces with the organizations in which they seek services. It additionally has an operating budget of less than $200 a year. The main need of the program is books, which are acquired through donations from local families and directly cycled to other local families who would like them, making it a highly sustainable project that is not dependent on cash. We additionally have no prerequisites (library cards, proof of residency, identification, etc.) for people to take the books. They are available in waiting rooms and people take them freely, effectively eliminating any barriers to the books. After one year since starting the project, we have six locations and have cycled approximately 3,000 books. We project that next year we will cycle a total of about 8,000 books and set up at least two additional sites.

Level: Early Childhood, Elementary

Ithaca ScienCenter, Inquiry “Show”

Summary of Experience: I created a project where high school students worked with the local science museum to produce something of the students own design. I worked with academics and science museum staff to support high school science lab inquiry, which resulted in students creating a “show” for the museum about chemistry “magic” which was based on our class laboratory experiences.

Level: High school chemistry

One Laptop Per Child

Summary of Experience: I worked with Walter Bender, the past president of One Laptop Per Child, and the CSU chemistry department to design a chemistry lab curriculum which could be used in the US as well as the developing world without the need for special facilities, extensive safety precautions, or hazardous waste disposal, for under $200.

Level: High school chemistry

Peace Initiatives in Early Childhood

Summary of Experience: I spent a semester researching, writing, and testing case studies and peace-oriented learning activities to contribute to Prof. William Timpson’s book regarding issues concerning peace, diversity, gender, perspectives on media in the early childhood classroom, the use of cooperative games in learning, and tattling as an invitation for mentorship of social learning for use in the early childhood classroom.

Level: Early Childhood

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