Today, the Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN) unveiled the four winners of the "STEM Excellence Awards." These awards recognize outstanding teachers, school leaders, or education advocates who advance quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in Ohio. Nominations for the 2020 awards opened in March.
Battelle manages the Ohio STEM Learning Network as part of the company’s commitment to preparing the next generation of innovators. The network was founded in 2008 and today represents 79 STEM schools across the state.
This year, OSLN awarded the following:
Excellence in STEM Teaching Award
The Excellence in STEM Teaching Award recognizes a teacher who exemplifies integrated, STEM-infused teaching strategies and classroom innovation, and whose work has led to positive student learning outcomes. This awardee engages students in inquiry-based learning to develop creativity, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Rebecca (Becci) Hartline is a Library Media Specialist and Makerspace Director at Belpre Elementary School in Belpre, Ohio.
Hartline transformed her school’s library into a 21st century makerspace. Each student’s daily experience in makerspace is guided by a "map." Students complete stations along the map to learn a series of competencies: Create, Construct, Collaborate, Communicate, and Plan. Every map connects directly to Belpre Elementary’s academic content standards. Her colleagues shared that the new space helps students learn. They shared several examples of students who re-engaged with the library thanks to new hands-on experiences Hartline created. She also works directly with students, as an educator.
Finally, Hartline’s makerspace serves as the foundation for Belpre Elementary’s implementation of problem-based learning throughout the school.
Excellence in STEM Leadership Award
The Excellence in STEM Leadership Award recognizes a school-level, district, or regional leader with a proven track-record of developing effective STEM programs. This awardee supports and encourages teachers and schools to continually infuse STEM teaching strategies and embrace classroom innovation.
Dana Letts is the STEM Instructional Specialist K-6 for Chillicothe City Schools.
Letts works across multiple schools in Chillicothe to plan and execute a wide range of quality STEM experiences for students and professional development for educators.
She has built community partnerships allowing more than 1,000 elementary students to participate in "place-based" learning, where they about local heritage and organizations. She also led the development of "Adventures in Innovation" at Chillicothe Primary School. This system provides every student with a three-year early engineering program, teaching them essential lessons about teamwork and problem-solving. According to one colleague: "Mrs. Letts has been known to arrive at school in a suit jacket to lead an early morning meeting and close out the day in boots ‘creeking’ with first graders in search of critters."
As Chillicothe City Schools serves a student body primarily composed of economically disadvantage families, this success helps close academic gaps.
STEM Advocate Award
The Ohio STEM Advocate Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated a passion for STEM education through public advocacy and participation in leadership organizations that advance STEM for all.
Chris Anderson is the host and executive producer of Science Around Cincy.
Science Around Cincy is a video series that features local scientists, engineers, and researchers. Through the STEM professionals depicted, students see scientists, engineers, and researchers as role models from their community. Additionally, Anderson published standards-aligned educational resources with each video to assist educators in bringing the videos into the classroom. The program is presented with support from Northern Kentucky University.
STEM Innovator Award
The Ohio STEM Innovator Award recognizes an Ohioan who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the support of STEM education and outreach within his or her region. This awardee is a leader that identifies, supports, and promotes innovative practices that address important challenges in expanding access to quality STEM education.
Carla Chapman is the Director for Community Relations, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Akron Public Schools.
Chapman led a team of staff during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus. This team created and managed the "Connectors" program. The team consisted of Yvonne Culver and Desiree Bolden of Akron Public Schools, Andrew Ziccardi of Akron’s I Promise School and April Porter of the United Way of Summit and Medina Counties.
The Connectors program ran throughout 52 days of remote learning, after Akron schools closed under the outbreak of coronavirus. Through the program, 254 non-instructional staff were recruited to call Akron students. After a training, these staff conducted check-ins on students. Connectors helped students and families navigate use of Chromebooks, Google Classroom, or community resources for food, healthcare, and childcare.
In total, Connectors logged more than 10,000 interactions with Akron students, helping families persist through the pandemic.
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