Professional Development

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My Afterschool Story: Tania Tauer

To build the capacity of the afterschool field, it's important for afterschool professionals and leaders to understand the variety of career pathways and opportunities available to them. Heidi Ham, NAA VP of Programs and Strategy, sat down with Tania Tauer, Ph.D., and asked her to share the story of her afterschool career path to date.

Dr. Tania Tauer is Senior Program Manager for Professional Development at Techbridge Girls, a national organization based in Oakland, California. TBG's mission is to excite, educate and equip girls from low-income communities by delivering high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming that empowers them to achieve economic mobility and better life chances. To reach girls not traditionally able to access high-quality STEM education, TBG runs long-term afterschool STEM programs for girls in grades five through 12, providing a continuum of services designed to spark their interest in STEM and give them to tools to pursue careers in STEM fields. TBG also offers a variety of professional development programs, equipping a network of trainers, educators and role models with strategies for developing and supporting girls' interest in STEM. The TBG PD programs redefine traditional STEM pedagogy by emphasizing equity and inclusion, which is vital to shaping a more culturally and gender-responsive STEM field.

Dr. Tauer manages TBG's PD programs, developing the overall PD strategy and resources used to deliver training. The organization's PD Program Managers (PMs) use the resources Tauer creates to provide TBG PD training and workshops. With Tauer's oversight, TBG maintains quality and ensures the provision of consistent messaging and content within the organization's PD programs.

Tauer received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. While she was not fond of her research experience in graduate school, she loved volunteering at outreach and education programs; thus, after graduate school, she shifted her focus to engineering education.

Sparked by her own passion for engineering, Tauer was moved to ignite this interest in youth, particularly those without access to high-quality STEM programming. Tauer started her training career at Engineering s Elementary (EiE) at Boston's Museum of Science. While there, she developed engineering curricula for afterschool programs and helped develop and facilitate PD—training afterschool educators to effectively implement EiE curricula. After EiE, she moved to Seattle and joined TBG as a Program Coordinator, managing multiple elementary and middle school afterschool STEM programs for girls.

Now in her current role, Tauer believes each of these experiences prepared her well, giving her a unique perspective on many aspects of the STEM education field. From being a student to running programs to developing curriculum and teaching others, Tauer feels her range of experiences uniquely situate her to develop PD programs that teach others to operate high-quality STEM programs.

This is just one example of how the afterschool field supports the long-term careers of its professionals. Interested in sharing your afterschool story with others? Contact info@naaweb.org.


Written by Heidi Ham, NAA's Vice President of Programs and Strategy.

This article originally appeared in AfterSchool Today.

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