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UC Davis Center for Integrated Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) --- Research and Outreach
Home > Teachers & Administrators > C-STEM Symposium > 2020 > Keynote and Plenary Speakers’ Biographies

Keynote and Plenary Speakers’ Biographies

Keynote Speaker

Equity in Math and CS Education by Closing the Math Achievement Gap

Tim Taylor, Executive Director, Small School District Association

Tim Taylor previously served Butte County as Superintendent of Schools from 2012 to 2019. He also has served as Assistant Superintendent at Sacramento County Office of Education and as a Director for the Elk Grove Unified School District. From 2014-2018, Tim was an Executive Board Member for the Small School District Association (SSDA), which serves the diverse students and communities for a large number of small school districts throughout California. Since July 2019, he serves as the SSDA Executive Director. He is a huge advocate for C-STEM. Throughout his career, he has worked on various initiatives to ensure all students have access to technology and educational technology resources to provide equity in education, especially in small and rural schools.

Superintendents Plenary Panel Session

Experienced C-STEM Superintendents will discuss how the C-STEM program has a lasting impact on student engagement and performance district-wide. They will also share insights on how new districts can start integrating C-STEM coding and robotics to close the math achievement gap.

Moderator: Dr. Jose Lalas, Professor and Director, Center for Educational Justice, University of Redlands


  • Superintendent Mauricio Arellano, Redlands Unified School DistrictMr. Arellano was selected as the Superintendent of the Redlands Unified School District on August 22, 2017, with a unanimous vote of the members of the Board of Education and started at the helm on September 18, 2017. Redlands Unified School District is made up of approximately 21,000 students and 1,800 employees.Prior to his arrival to the Redlands Unified School District, he served as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Palm Springs Unified School District for fourteen years. Previous to his assignment in Palm Springs, he served for twelve years as the Certificated Director of Personnel, Elementary Principal, Elementary Vice-Principal and Elementary Teacher for the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

    Mr. Arellano is very involved in his professional organization ACSA (Association of California School Administrators). He has served three years as the Vice President of Membership and three years as President Elect, President and Past President for Region XIX (Riverside County). In June, he completed his three year term as one of nineteen State Board of Directors. He currently serves as an expert presenter for the Ontario, Azusa, Los Alamitos and San Diego Personnel Academies, Aspiring Administrator’s Colloquium, Aspiring Principal’s Institute, CEL Institute and for ACSA’s Staff Development Department. He also has served the past few years as an adjunct professor for Cal State San Bernardino (Palm Desert Campus) teaching the School Personnel, School Law and Evaluation of Instruction courses. Mr. Arellano is also a member of the California Association of Latino Superintendents (CALSA), California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE), American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) and the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA). Recognitions include being named ACSA’s Region XIX Personnel/Human Resources Administrator of the Year in 2008, ACSA’s Ray Curry Award winner for excellence in school personnel and Riverside County Administrator of the Year in 2016.

    Mr. Arellano was raised in San Bernardino and is a product of public education. Upon his graduation from San Bernardino High School in 1984, he went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Spanish from the University of California at Riverside in 1990 and then earn his Masters of Arts in Educational Administration from California State University at San Bernardino in 1996. It is very rewarding to Mr. Arellano to return to the Inland Empire where so many people poured their heart and soul into assisting him in becoming successful and now in turn, he is committed to pouring his heart and soul into academic excellence for all students of the Redlands Unified School District.
  • Superintendent Randal S. Bassett, Fontana Unified School District

Randal Bassett has a unique background that combines experience in the corporate sector, software development multiple Fortune 500 companies, and over 25 years of management experience in the education sector. Bassett currently serves as the Superintendent for the Fontana Unified School District, where the district has been at the forefront in the implementation of computer-science immersion and other innovative programs.

  • Superintendent Cynthia Parulan-Colfer, Hacienda La Puente Unified School DistrictCynthia Parulan-Colfer is the Superintendent of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, the largest school district in the San Gabriel Valley. The District serves more than 49,000 students; including 19,000 Pre-K-12 and 30,000 adult education students. Prior to the 2014 school year, she served as the Deputy Superintendent and Associate Superintendent of Adult & Continuing Education. Mrs. Parulan-Colfer brings over 25 years of educational leadership experiences, including that of ESL classroom teacher, program specialist and site administrator in adult education, and central office leadership positions as Interim Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Associate Superintendent of Adult & Continuing Education, and Superintendent of the La Puente Valley Regional Occupational Program.

    Mrs. Parulan-Colfer has served on numerous state and regional boards, including President of the California Adult Education Administrators Association; Chair of the Region XV Adult Education, Association of California School Administrators; and Member of the California Department of Education Adult Education Unit – Policy and Issues State Legislative Chair. Additionally, Mrs. Parulan-Colfer has received numerous awards for educational leadership from institutions, such as the California Adult Education Administrators Association, Association of California School Administrators, and California Council for Adult Education, and others such as the Robert Rupert Award for Outstanding services at the national, state and local level for Adult Education, the State Legislative Chairperson Award from California Council for Adult Education and most recently, the Adult Education Award – Region 15 from Association of California School Administrators in 2012.

    Mrs. Parulan-Colfer received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; a master’s degree from California State University, Fullerton; and her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley – Boalt Hall. She is the mother of twin boys and lives with her husband, James, in Rowland Heights.

Teachers Plenary Panel SessionTeaching Math and CTE with Coding and Robotics

C-STEM Teachers will share their experience getting started with the C-STEM program, how they integrate coding and robotics into their classroom curriculum, and the direct effect that hands-on learning has on student behavior and success.

Moderator: Deepika Srivastava, STEAM and Innovation Coordinator, Redlands Unified School District


  • Allen Thoe, High School Math and CS Teacher, Redlands Unified School District. Allen’s C-STEM work is highlighted here.
    Allen Thoe graduated from UC Davis in 2001 with a B.S. in Physics.  He taught math for 11 years at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA before moving to Redlands where he has taught for 6 years (computer science and math).  Aside from teaching, he is also the girls soccer coach and AVID aviation pilot (Paragliding, hang gliding and Single Engine land airplanes).  He has two daughters (ages 19 and 14) with his oldest being a Computer Science Major at UC Santa Cruz.  One of the reasons he switched to teaching computer science was because his daughter wanted to take the class but it was not offered at his school.
  • Pamela Matea, Middle School Math Teacher, Fontana Unified School DistrictPamela Matea has been teaching middle school Math and Science for 13 years. She got involved with robots through a STEAM elective class she taught for two years. Fontana Unified School district adopted the C-STEM curriculum in 2018 and she was brought in to inspire students with hands-on activities with computing and robotics. She was honored as the C-STEM Teacher of the Year in 2019 and is looking forward to bringing a team to the Irvine RoboPlay competition in May.
  • Samantha Higbee, Middle School Math Teacher, Hacienda La Puente USDSamantha Higbee graduated with honors from Humboldt State University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology and Biology. She recently received a Master Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. Samantha has been teaching middle school math and science in Hacienda La Puente Unified School District for 18 years. When offered the opportunity to teach C-STEM to eighth-graders, she jumped at the chance to help students improve their math abilities by integrating robotics. With the help of her husband, who works in the field of robotics professionally, she is able to demonstrate the real-world use of STEM.