Why STEM Marin?

The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects.

STEM education is a sequence of courses or program of study that prepares students, including underrepresented groups for:

  • successful employment, post-secondary education, or both that might require different and more technically sophisticated knowledge, including the application of mathematics and science skills and concepts.

  • life as competent, capable citizens in today’s technology-dependent, democratic society.

Our Core Beliefs

At STEM Marin, we believe students should develop:

  • Learning and Innovation skills—including critical thinking and problem-solving; creativity and innovation; and communication and collaboration

  • Digital Literacy skills—including information literacy, media literacy, and information and communication technologies

  • Career and Life skills—including flexibility and adaptability; initiative and self-direction; social and cross-cultural interaction; productivity and accountability; and leadership and responsibility

STEM Marin develops these skills through:

  • Authentic learning—learning from real-world problems and questions

  • Model building—using physical and virtual models to refine understanding

  • Internal motivation—identifying and employing positive emotional connections in learning

  • Project-Based learning—applying multiple learning methods for diverse learning styles

  • Collaborative learning—using the power of social interaction to improve learning impact

  • International learning—using the global world around us to inform and enhance teaching and learning skills



Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams STEM Marin Teacher Leader, Physics and Engineering
Nick Williams has taught Physics, Engineering, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Biology, and Earth Science at San Marin High School since 2007. He’s been the Science Department Chair since 2011, and he serves as the Lead Teacher for STEM Marin’s STEM Program. During his time at San Marin, he’s coached ultimate Frisbee, freshmen girls volleyball, and JV and varsity boys soccer.

Mr. Williams earned his bachelor of science in evolution and ecology, his teaching credential in science, and his masters of education from University of California, Davis. He was selected as the 2014 Bay Area Educator of the Year by the California League of High Schools. In 2015, Mr. Williams was named a Milken Educator for California which is described as the “Oscars of Teaching.”

Mr. Williams currently lives with his family, including his wife, three kids, and dog, in Novato. In his spare time, Nick enjoys playing with his kids, running, hiking, reading The New Yorker, playing ultimate frisbee, going to the beach, building things, and working in the yard.

Jennifer Carlomagno
Jennifer CarlomagnoBiology Teacher
Jennifer Carlomagno has been teaching since 1996 at San Marin High School. She currently teaches Biology, AP Biology and Technology of Biology in the STEM Program.

Mrs. Carlomagno is a San Marin Alumni who received her bachelors degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her teaching credential in life sciences at Dominican University.

Mrs. Carlomagno currently lives in Petaluma with her husband and two girls. She enjoys being active; whether it is running, hiking, biking or skiing, she just loves being outdoors. Traveling and reading are also some of her passions.

Shealyn Mathews
Shealyn Mathews STEM Biology and Conceptual Physics Teacher
Shea Mathews has taught Biology, Biotechnology and Marine Biology at San Marin High School since 2016. She is also involved in the Athletics Department as a coach for cross country in the fall and women’s lacrosse in the spring.

Ms. Mathews earned her bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, and masters of education from Boston College. At Boston College, she was active in leadership, teaching English as a second language and service trips to Appalachia and Vietnam as well as serving as a member of the BC Division 1 rowing team.

Ms. Mathews is a native of Marin. She loves all the outdoor activities that she was able to enjoy growing up in Marin. She spends her time traveling, hiking, running, swimming, or boating out on the Bay when she is not teaching, lesson planning, grading, or coaching.

Virginia Vogl
Virginia Vogl STEM Chemistry Teacher
Virginia Vogl has taught Chemistry, AP Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science, and Leadership at San Marin High School since 2007. Mrs. Vogl has also served as the coach for both the boys and girls cross-country teams.

Mrs. Vogl earned her bachelor of science in biology from Sacramento State and her teaching credential in science from Sonoma State University. She was selected as the 2015 Bay Area Educator of the Year by the California League of High Schools, giving the San Marin science department and STEM Marin consecutive Bay Area Educators of the Year. She was selected as San Marin’s Golden Bell Teacher of the Year in 2017.

Mrs. Vogl is a Novato native who attended Novato High School. She lives in Novato with her family, including her husband and four children. In her spare time, Mrs. Vogl enjoys running and spending time with her kids.

Claudio Tronconi
Claudio Tronconi Senior Project Engineering Teacher
Claudio Tronconi has taught Senior Project Engineering, Environmental Engineering, CAD/GIS, Biology, and Physics at San Marin High School since 2015.

Mr. Tronconi is originally from Italy and earned his bachelor of science in environmental science from the University of Florence, Italy. He earned his masters of science in environmental management from the University of San Francisco and his masters of arts in teaching and his teaching credential from the University of San Francisco.

Mr. Tronconi lives in Napa with his wife. In his spare time, he enjoys running or hiking. He loves snorkeling, tinkering with technology, programming, reading/researching non-fiction (science, nature, tech, history) and anything sci-fi. He’s also fascinated with archaeology and, like any good teacher, he loves coffee.

Timothy Blok
Timothy BlokBiotech Teacher
Tim Blok taught at San Marin High School since 2007. He teaches the sophomore Biotech Program Science, which includes Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, he will also be teaching Conceptual Physics. Mr. Blok also serves as the Vice President of High School for the Novato Federation of Teachers.

Mr. Blok received his associate degree from Butte College and Los Madanos College. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Chemistry from University of California, Santa Barbara and his teaching credential from University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Blok lives in Novato with his wife and two children. When he’s not teaching, he can be found outdoors swimming, surfing, and mountain biking.

Melissa Havel
Melissa HavelBiology Teacher
Melissa Havel has taught Marine Biology, Biology and Earth Science at San Marin High School since 2013 and has also taught at Novato High School and Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco.

Ms. Havel earned her Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolution at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She was employed in a variety of occupations, including studying steelhead salmon for Fish and Wildlife and working as a dive master in the Caribbean, before returning to school at Dominican University to obtain a teaching credential.

Melissa lives in Novato with her husband, Curtis and son Declan, who attends Sinaloa Middle School. In her free time she loves to be outside, whether sailing on San Francisco Bay or hiking the local trails.

Neesha Patel
Neesha PatelPhysics Teacher
Ms. Patel teaches Conceptual Physics and is the Activity Director at San Marin High School. She is a part of the teacher equity group and strives to make the campus a welcoming community for all individuals. This is her fourth year as a Mustang and can’t wait to continue teaching at this awesome School.

Ms. Patel grew up in Novato and attended Novato High School (I’ve converted to a Mustang – Boo Hornets!). After high school, she moved down to Los Angeles to study kinesiology at USC. She is a huge Trojan fan and got the opportunity to cheer them on at all sporting events as a Spirit Leader. After graduating, she took some time off school and then decided to pursue her Master’s Degree in teaching at USC.

On her free time, Ms. Patel loves biking (has a bike crew with other SMHS teachers), hiking, baking French macarons and reading. When possible, she travels as much as she can. Specifically, she enjoys visiting her family in Austria and India.

Adriana Lopez
Adriana LopezBiology & Bridging ELD Teacher
Adriana Lopez started at San Marin High School in 2018. She teaches Biology and Bridging ELD, this used to be called English as a Second Language. Mrs. Lopez is also the head of our ELD program.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree at UC Davis in Animal Science and Behavior. After UCD she decided to stick around and study primate behavior at the UC Davis primate center where there are currently 6000 Rhesus macaques housed!

After getting enough of the non-human primate species, she went to Sonoma State to get her Masters in Biology and Animal behavior. She did her research project at Safari West in Santa Rosa studying the effects of novel rearing strategies on captive African Ungulates.

A fun fact about Mrs. Lopez is that her husband who graduated from SMHS in 2006 had Mrs. Carlomagno and Mrs. Lowrie as teachers!

Gilly Boyd
Gilly BoydBiology & Biotechnology Teacher
Gilly Boyd is excited to be joining the San Marin High School Staff, where her husband, Cory Boyd, also teaches. Mrs. Boyd earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she also played 3 years of Division III Women’s Volleyball. After graduation, she worked for 7 years at Santa Cruz Biotechnology.

In 2011, Mrs. Boyd moved to Marin and followed her passion for fitness by working as a Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Massage Therapist at CrossFit Novato for 10 years. Mrs. Boyd is passionate about Anatomy and Physiology and Human Health and is excited to bring this expertise into the science classroom. After the birth of her two children, Mrs. Boyd decided to make her way into the classroom and, in 2022, she earned her Teaching Credential in Science from Sonoma State University.

Mrs. Boyd lives in Novato with her husband, two kids (Hopper and Dottie), and two dogs. When she is not in the Classroom, Mrs. Boyd enjoys spending her time outside hiking, biking, paddle boarding, and playing Volleyball. She is passionate about weightlifting and hopes to qualify as a master’s athlete in Olympic Weightlifting in the next couple of years. She also enjoys quiet time reading, doing puzzles, or just relaxing with her family.

Sarah Femmel
Sarah FemmelComprehensive Chemistry, Biology & STEAM Biology Teacher
Ms. Femmel is new to San Marin this year. She graduated from Humboldt State in 2017 with a degree in Marine Biology with a focus on Marine Ecology. After graduation, she partnered with the Institute for Wildlife Studies to work on a marine mammal extinction database as a research assistant, surveying elephant seals in Ano Nuevo. She began her career in education as a paraprofessional in a K-8 Montessori School. Sarah is new to Novato so say hello around town if you see her. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, creating art, hiking, scuba diving, playing softball, and travelling.



Katie Stafford
Katie StaffordSTEM Marin Coordinator
Katie was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin and earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. She also holds a certification from Notre Dame in Nonprofit Leadership Principles, Fundraising Strategies and Effective Grant Proposal Writing. She has extensive marketing and customer service experience. She oversaw national operations for the NIKE Volleyball camps for several years before taking time off to raise her young children. She returned to the workforce in 2019 as the Director of Fundraising and Community Outreach for a Novato-based nonprofit called Equip Sports. In 2020, Katie was promoted to Executive Director of that same organization.
As the STEM Coordinator, Katie is responsible for many aspects of STEM Marin including marketing, community outreach and internal operations. She oversees many of the day to day operations that keep the program running at a top-notch pace.

Katie currently lives in Novato with her husband, 3 children and 1 very busy puppy. She loves watching sports, especially Notre Dame athletics (Go Irish) and spends as much of her free time as possible at her family’s lake house in Minnesota.

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