STEM Newsletter

1st Quarter 2016-2017

Welcome to 2016-2017 STEM!

STEM Family,

We are proud to be sending you our first STEM Newsletter of the year! We hope to make this a frequent publication. This school year is off to a great start. Although we said goodbye to some familiar faces, we've met a whole new crop of STEM freshmen, several new STEM teachers, new STEM programs and equipment, and our own Austin Gunter has taken a new position as Assistant Principal and head of STEM.

In this newsletter, you will find:

  • Class News
  • Information about Google Classroom
  • Upcoming STEM Events
  • New Teacher Biographies
  • Robotics Trip to Nationals (video)

What would you like to see in a STEM newsletter? Drop us a line with comments and suggestions about how we can make our newsletter better for YOU!

Hey Parents, want to know more about Google Classroom?

Send us your GMail address!

This year, parents can keep up with what is going on in their children's classes by providing their teachers with a Google email address. Once we have your Google email address, you can be invited to get daily or weekly updates tailored to your children. These updates will let you know what has been assigned and what has been turned in in Google Classroom. The parents who are currently enrolled have said they are thrilled to have more up to date information about what their kids are doing at school. Update your contact info using the following form.

Seniors -- Class of 2017

Juniors -- Class of 2018

Sophomores -- Class of 2019

Freshmen -- Class of 2020

STEM Events

STEM Family Night

Wednesday, Oct. 12th, 5:30-7:30pm

1600 East Spring Valley Road

Richardson, TX

Join us for a night of games and grub! All STEM students, faculty, family, and friends are invited. We will have hot dogs, a mummy race, hungry robots, pies-in-the-face, and more!

To RSVP, go to

STEM Bowling Fundraiser

Saturday, Oct. 15th, 12-2pm

2521 K Avenue

Plano, TX

STEM Senate is hosting our first ever STEM Family Bowling event, and we can't wait to see you there. We've reserved 15 lanes at Plano Super Bowl for a price that can't be beaten! For just $12, you get two hours of bowling AND shoe rental.

Bring your friends! Bring your parents, siblings, cousins! This fundraiser will help us raise money for some really great things later in the year!

Our new STEM teachers!!!

Maria Azhar

Ms. Azhar teaches Pre-AP Biology in STEM and ESL IPC in Big Berkner. Her Bachelor of Science in Biology is from the University of Texas at Dallas. She tells us, "I'm from Jersey City, NJ -- spent my childhood there and moved to east Texas in time for high school (I went to Lindale High School), I moved to Dallas for school, fell in love with the area and have been here since." As a recent graduate of UT Dallas, she "did their UTeach program" and her "hobbies include writing, reading, and watching basketball." She is "super excited to have the opportunity to teach in this wonderful district!"

Paul Landman

Mr. Landman says, "I teach Algebra 2 and Engineering Math. I have BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley. I’m a second career teacher and previously designed chips for TVs, computers, cellular base stations, and internet routers at Texas Instruments for over 20 years. I love outdoor activities like hiking, biking, camping, and geocaching."

Scott Payne

Mr. Payne (No relation to Ms. Foster Payne) teaches Principles of Aviation. He has a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University. Previously, Mr. Payne taught at Bryan Collegiate High School (Bryan ISD), Seguin High School (Arlington ISD), and MacArthur High School (Irving ISD). He also has previous aerospace experience with Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, and Genpact Solutions. He tells us, "I have spent most of my aerospace career in modeling & simulation of defense systems involving 6 degree of freedom (6 DOF) flight simulations, missile aerodynamics, performance analysis, and gas turbine engine control software." And, "I am happily married to my lovely wife Shelby, who is an 8th grade U.S. History teacher in Wylie ISD, and we have two amazing children. Roderick is 13 years old and is an 8th grader in Wylie and loves basketball! Our daughter Reese is 5 years old and just started kindergarten this year! She loves Shopkins, My Little Pony and bossing her brother around or at least tries to!!"

Omar Pastrana

Mr. Pastrana teaches STEM Robotics/Automation & Concepts of Engineering. He attended Texas A&M University where he earned a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies ( Math & Science). He spent the last 10 years teaching at West Jr High (7 years Math, 3 years Robotics & 6 years coaching JV Soccer at Pearce HS). He is the 2013 EiE MetroPCS Technology Grant Winner & the 2015 STARS Secondary Teacher of the Year for RISD. This year, he is the Berkner Robotics Club Sponsor, and he tells us, "I love to build, explore and play on the floor with my 2 energetic kids."

Tyler Tokar

HOWDY! I teach the STEM Freshman Concepts of Engineering and Technology class. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelors in Agricultural Science and a Masters in Education. I graduated from Berkner High School in 2010. After graduation from college, I student taught at Reedy High School in Frisco. I am a Rambler sponsor, football and wrestling coach. I’m very excited for this school year and feel truly blessed to be a part of the STEM family!

Robotics trip to Nationals!

2016 TSA Nationals trip

Richardson ISD: One Vision