TSTA is the largest science educator organization in Tennessee. We are five hundred + members strong! 


TSTA celebrated 40 years of Science Education on March 31st at a gala held in the Omni Hotel, during the NSTA National Conference. Former Presidents and organization Founders were invited to participate in the festivities with other members and the Board of Directors. From numerous accounts, “a good time was had by all”, especially our honored and special guests, many of whom had not seen each other for some time.“After SAT was formed and several annual meetings were held around the state, SAT leadership moved to affiliate with NSTA, which required the name be changed from SAT to TSTA. It was through this evolutionary process that our association was able to gain both support and recognition statewide, regionally, and nationally, thereby unifying all science educators through one organization.”

Two of the original thirteen founding members, Jerry Rice and Fred Johnson, were recognized, along with their peers (see Founders list below). Fred graciously thanked the planning committee and TSTA for providing the opportunity for everyone to celebrate this milestone and indicated he still advocates for his NSTA presidential goal/cause for improved urban and rural science education. The following excerpt is from Jerry’s remarks about the purpose and goals of the Founders’ Steering Committee that created the SAT/TSTA organization in 1976.

“I was the state science supervisor from 1971-1976 and a member of the steering committee of science educators who met in the early 1970's to form SAT (Science Association of Tennessee) a statewide association of science educators from elementary through college levels in an effort to improve communication, science leadership, and teaching skills for all science teachers. Our goal was to provide an annual statewide meeting each year with workshops and seminars presented by science teachers showcasing the successful programs and materials they were using in their classrooms so teachers could learn and implement those programs upon returning to their classrooms and have a network of peers to support each other with the goal of improving their ability to teach science in their classrooms.”                

Left to Right: Homer Delk, Ruth Woodall, Charles Baldwin, Diane Vaughn, Pat DeRoos, Becky Ashe, Jane Whitaker, Gloria Ramsey, Elaine Huffines, Linda Cain, Tony Beasley

TSTA Presidents in attendance were recognized and shared a highlight of their tenure as president. Their comments reminded and reinforced everyone present of what is still relevant and of greatest importance. It was interesting how the founders and early presidents discussed their preoccupation and herculean efforts to build the organization and provide mid-state conferences that appealed to a broad audience of science educators.

In contrast, later presidents were more focused on implementing technology to support the original mission. Middle era presidents described their struggles to transition from a group of dedicated SAT followers to an NSTA state affiliate that would bear a new name and develop a more well-defined leadership structure with increased tenure demands. All past presidents spoke of the importance of a strong Board of Directors whose individual strengths are integral to the success of the leadership as a whole. Several indicated that they originally became involved through the Board of Directors where they learned or honed their leadership skills. Jack Rhoton (82-83) affirmed the importance of the founders and their focus onunification and inclusion; Gloria Ramsey (2009-11) and Diane Vaughn (2006-09) mentioned they were former elementary teachers, the only elementary presidents, and that their administrations targeted elementary science; and Elaine Huffines (2013-15) and Becky Ashe (2011-13) talked about their many advances in technology.

The accomplishments cited by some of the presidents are presented below.

Jack Rhoton: My presidency was in the early history of the organization.  The overriding goal of my term as president of the Tennessee Science Teachers Association (at that time known as Science Association of Tennessee) was to put the organization on a stronger financial footing and build a networking infrastructure that would sustain and grow the membership overtime.

Linda Phelps: I was privileged to have had the opportunity to  serve as TSTA president on two separate occasions, the first time in 1985-86 (as SAT) and the second in 1992-94 (as TSTA).  In both instances, the growth in TSTA over the years can be attributed to a statewide network of people who worked so hard to make TSTA a successful organization. In 1985-86, we were hosting small regional conferences, and by 1992-94, we were hosting  state-wide conferences in Nashville, where the attendance had increased tremendously. 

Pat DeRoos: My greatest memories of my tenure as president was to help make the transition from SAT to TSTA seamless and to implement the legislation to change from a one year to a two year term of office. Also we assigned specific duties to the past president, president, and Vice President thus making each level of leadership stronger.

Jane WhitakerImplementing structural changes in the TSTA Board: (1) the expansion of the Board from representation of the three Grand Divisions, to representation by districts; (2) regular board meetings; and (3) locating the meeting permanently in the Nashville area. These changes enabled board participation to grow and be more effective in serving science education statewide.

Homer Delk: My presidency was blessed with an outstanding advisory board and slate of officers willing to accept and implement all duties and tasks delegated to them.

Ruth WoodallI was honored to work with a dedicated Board of Directors who took charge of any task they were given and made this association and the TSTA conference successful. Serving as President allowed me to represent the State at the first NSTA Congress that was held in Williamsburg, VA.  At that meeting, Tennessee submitted a resolution to change the name NSTA convention to NSTA Professional Development Conference. The resolution was passed to study the financial impact and the next year was voted to pass this resolution.

Charles Baldwin: Memphis City Schools typically sent about 50 science teachers to the TSTA conference. In 2002, financial and political challenges in Memphis ended this practice, creating a fiscal crisis for TSTA from room guarantees to registration. Due largely to the creative, hard work of members like Barry Farris and Pat Carpenter, the board did a magnificent job of meeting these fiscal challenges to stabilize our financial position for the future. Changing from an “annual meeting” to a “professional development conference” resulted in the inclusion of a presentation from the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and plenary session by nationally recognized Lee Marek, chemistry teacher, Napierville High School (Illinois) whose students scored highest in the nation and equivalent to students in Singapore and other high-scoring nations on the TIMMS. Finally, in 2004 TSTA was able to organize the first joint meeting with the Tennessee Academy of Science.

Gloria Ramsey: It was a time of transitions, moving forward toward connecting more with teachers across the state via the Internet and the beginning plans for a regional NSTA in Nashville.  Those with whom I worked made me a better person.  I am so thankful to have had that opportunity.

Becky AsheA focus of my tenure was moving the board and organization further into the digital age with the introduction of virtual board meetings, which cut down on organizational expenses and allowed board members to contribute without missing school and family activities; and upgrading our website to an organizational management system (WildApricot) which also allowed for digital management of many conference functions, as well as creation of a Facebook and Twitter presence (find us at Facebook.com/TN Science Teachers Association and Twitter @TnSTA).                       

As president-elect, I am amazed by the hard work and dedication of my predecessors who gave birth to and developed TSTA into one of the largest teacher organizations in the state. In taking on the role of president, I truly stand among giants and have gained even deeper respect for colleagues I have admired.

Over the years, TSTA has supported me both as a board member and as the ex-officio State Science Consultant. During my state tenure and despite occasional differences, I always felt supported and enjoyed many opportunities to engage with the board and its membership.

I look forward to working closely with the TSTA Board of Directors 2017-18 to make this organization even stronger and more relevant for K-12 science teachers. Our most important goal as an organization should be to offer sustained and meaningful support for the successful implementation of the new science standards. TSTA is filled with professional talent. We must tap into all available resources to provide professional learning opportunities for all Tennessee science teachers.

TSTA celebrated 40 years of Science Education on March 31st at a gala held in the Omni Hotel, during the NSTA National Conference. Former Presidents and organization Founders were invited to participate in the festivities with other members and the Board of Directors. From numerous accounts, “a good time was had by all”, especially our honored and special guests, many of whom had not seen each other for some time.

Submitted by Linda Jordan, President-Elect, TSTA




Founders of Steering Committee
McGavock High School, Nashville, 1976

Jerry Rice

State Science Supervisor (lead)

*Bill Pafford

Science Education ETSU

Jack Rhoton

Science Supervisor Kingsport City Schools

*Paul Wishart

Science Education UTK

RK Fletcher

Science Education TN Tech University

*Bob Bryson

Science Supervisor Metro Nashville Public Schools

*Bernie Benson

Science Education UTC

*Maurice Field

Science Education UTM

* Staley McPeak      

Science Coordinator Hamilton Co. Schools

Fred Johnson

Science Supervisor Shelby County Schools

Tommy Cohn

Science Supervisor Memphis City Schools

Bob Chambers

Science Supervisor Knox Co. Schools

Carl Stedman

Science Education APSU

* Deceased

TSTA Past Presidents




R.K Fletcher (SAT)


Ronald Robertson (SAT)




Jack Rhoton    (SAT)


*Bernie Benson (SAT)


Jill Wright (SAT)


Linda Phelps (SAT)


Tony Beasley (SAT)


Pat DeRoos (SAT)


Linda Cain SAT/TSTA


 Jane Whitaker (TSTA)


Linda Phelps (TSTA)


Homer Delk (TSTA)


Geraldine Farmer (TSTA)


 *Monty Howell (TSTA)


Ruth Woodall (TSTA)


Charles Baldwin (TSTA)


Glyn Burton (TSTA)


Diane Vaughn (TSTA)


Gloria Ramsey (TSTA)


Becky Ashe (TSTA)


Elaine Huffines (TSTA)


Linda Gale Stanley (TSTA)

2017-19Linda Jordan (TSTA)


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