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Inaugural Superintendent's Awards for Excellence in Museum Education

Six California museums have been selected to receive an award for excellence in museum education, chosen by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. The inaugural Superintendent’s Awards for Excellence in Museum Education Competition recognizes the outstanding achievements in California museum programs that serve K-12 students and/or educators. The competition is the joint project of the California Association of Museums and the Office of the State Superintendent of Public InstructionThe 2012 winners are:

Autry National Center
Casa de Adobe Junior Docent Program

The Casa de Adobe Junior Docent program is an interactive, living history reenactment designed to supplement 4th grade curriculum while promoting a deeper understanding of history for the 8th grade Junior Docents who cross-teach the curriculum.

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Art & Language Arts

Art & Language Arts introduces K–5 teachers to engaging strategies for developing students' visual arts skills and offers a variety of approaches for integrating visual arts into teachers’ existing language arts curricula.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Watsonville Area Teens Conserving 
Habitats (WATCH)

Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH) is a year-long program for high school students to facilitate learning about the Pajaro River Watershed. The students undertake meaningful research, conduct community outreach projects, and become leaders for ocean conservation.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Contemporary Art Start

Contemporary Art Start is a multi-faceted, year-long initiative for Los Angeles County elementary, middle, and high school students that teaches communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills through professional d
evelopment, multiple museum visits, classroom curriculum, and family involvement.

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Neary Lagoon Wetland Walk

The Neary Lagoon Wetland Walk is a three-part learning experience for third graders that explores the unique characteristics and vital functions of a wetland habitat, the local historical influences on the lagoon ecosystem, and the importance of wetland preservation.

Santa Monica Museum of Art
Wall Works

Wall Works facilitates a public art project that connects contemporary artists with the imaginations of local K-12 students. The museum provides classrooms with supplies and instruction and invites students to an opening celebrating their collaborative installation at the Museum.


CAM received 28 entries in this inaugural year representing a diverse range of museum disciplines, size, and geographic regional. They collectively demonstrate the vibrant contributions museums make to California’s K-12 educational system. After a formal evaluation and scoring by three peer reviewers (see list below), the Superintendent of Schools chose six recipients. The winning organizations will be presented with their awards at an awards luncheon in Berkeley, February 16, 2012, as part of CAM's annual conference

2012 Superintendent's Awards Reviewers

Craig Cheslog
Craig is the Principal Advisor to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Prior to joining the California Department of Education in January 2011, he served as the District Director for then-Assemblymember Tom Torlakson, after previously serving in the same capacity for then-State Senator Torlakson. He is the national president of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, a coeducational literary and social society around the United States, and serves on the boards of the Lamorinda Democratic Club and Planned Parenthood Shasta-Pacific Action Fund Board of Directors. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, with a bachelor's degree in government and legal studies with a minor in education.

Leah Melber, Ph.D.
Leah has more than 20 years experience within informal and formal science education and, in addition to her academic degrees, has a multiple subject teaching credential for the state of California. She has presented widely on inquiry-based instruction and effective methods of connecting schools with cultural institutions, as well as measuring the impact of these partnerships through quality evaluation and research initiatives. In addition to numerous journal articles, she published a book titled Informal Learning and Field Trips and co-authored Integrating Language Arts and Social Studies: 25 Strategies for K-8 Inquiry-Based Learning. She was awarded the 2001 Informal Educator Award through the California Science Teachers Association and the 2010 Promising Leadership Award through the Association of Midwest Museums. She joined the staff of Lincoln Park Zoo in December of 2008 as the Director of Student and Teacher Partnerships.

Susan Spero, Ph.D.
Susan is Professor of Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley CA. She has 25 years experience developing educational programs including projects for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Copia: The American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts; The Bay Area Discovery Museum; and The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. She is as an editorial advisor for The Journal of Museum Education, and was guest editor for the Fall 2011 issue Museum Educators and Technology: Expanding Our Reach. She has served on the advisory committee of the New Media Consortium which publishes the Horizon report. For the past two years she has taught museum studies internationally through the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy.  


For questions or additional information, please contact Celeste DeWald, Executive Director, at 831-471-9970 x102 or cam@calmuseums.org