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Susan Pienta

2014 Fellow
Queensbury High School
Queensbury, New York

Originally from upstate New York, Susan enjoys spending time outdoors. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in environmental science from Boston University, she relocated to California to work as a support coordinator and environmental educator at an outdoor environmental education program. Susan also spent two years as an AmeriCorps member, doing watershed management and salmon restoration work in California and Maine, respectively. Highlights from her work include diving the Salmon River to count chinook and lighting prescribed fires to restore health to fire-adapted environments.

While Susan enjoyed her various environmental science jobs, and the opportunities for informal teaching that they afforded, she realized that she could build on those limited field experiences and create additional opportunities for learning about the earth and the environment by studying it directly, if she had her own classroom. This realization led her to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching from Cornell University.

Susan’s educational philosophy encourages learning outside of the classroom. As a KSTF Teaching Fellow, she is “excited to be surrounded by passionate people who will continually push me to take risks and use my creativity in all aspects of teaching.” Through participation in the Fellows Program, she hopes to gain the tools and confidence needed to help change education, from the ground up, in the community where works.

In her spare time, Susan likes hiking, camping, backpacking, cycling and baking. She is an accomplished athlete who has successfully completed an Olympic distance triathlon and has biked across Maine to raise money for lung health.


Teachers have a different view than many in the community. They know their students’ unique strengths, needs, and interests. They understand the community and the challenges it faces, and are knowledgeable about opportunities beyond the local community. I think teachers have a perspective that allows them to be leaders within their schools, community, and state and national discussions on education.

Susan Pienta
2014 Fellow