In 1996, Vanessa Westbrook created Westbrook Consulting as a way to provide professional development services to educators in the classroom or in the informal setting. With synergetic activities for several years in the public school classrooms and museum exhibit floors, it became very clear that teaching and learning science was a continuing process for students to understand the natural and designed world. Westbrook has more than twenty-five years of experience in a variety of educational settings.
Prior to 1996 Westbrook taught public school in north Texas. Her main focus was elementary science education. She was also involved in delivering professional development to elementary and middle school educators in formal and informal settings in Texas, developing components of science curriculum for school districts, and coordinating district wide elementary science fairs. She spent several years bridging programs and activities at informal science institutions to formal education environments. Both venues were used to expose and engage students and their families to science experiences to promote awareness and understanding.
In her role as the lead science content specialist in a mathematics and science center on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin (1996–2011), she developed, edited, and reviewed elementary science assessment items; created standards-based lessons for kindergarten to grade 8 science instruction; and collaborated on the development and implementation of the K–8 science activities and professional development protocols used with the district services division. During her fifteen years at the mathematics and science center, Westbrook published numerous journal articles, book chapters, and resources for teaching and learning science.
Vanessa Westbrook was 2008–2011 National Science Teachers Association Division Director for Multicultural/Equity in Science Education; 2010–2011 President of the Texas Science Education Leadership Association; 2004–2005 President of the Science Teachers Association of Texas; and the 1998–2000 President of the Texas Council of Elementary Science. Currently, Westbrook serves as the Texas State Coordinator for the NSTA Science Matters initiative; Treasurer for Texas Council of Elementary Science, and Past President of Texas Science Education Leadership Association. Vanessa Westbrook is the co-founder of the Texas Informal Science Education Association and serves as the organization's Senior Advisor. She serves on numerous state and national advisory boards that focus on elementary science education, informal science education, teacher certification in science, and increasing minority representation in science careers and science teaching.
As a lecturer and speaker, Westbrook has participated in science education seminars, conferences, and workshops in many cities throughout North America and Europe. Currently, Westbrook provides consulting services to public and private institutions in the areas of teacher preparation programs for science instruction, professional development for science teaching and learning in K–12 public and private school settings, science education in urban school settings, informal science education alignment, and other initiatives to promote and support science education.