2015 Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards honor teachers in Dallas, Garland, Lancaster, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson school districts
The Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation presented its Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards to 18 teachers from six local school districts during a ceremony at TI’s Dallas headquarters yesterday evening. This year, the program was expanded to include teachers from the Garland and Lancaster independent school districts (ISDs) along with those from the Dallas, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson ISDs.
The awards program, now in its ninth year, honors local secondary math and science teachers who consistently demonstrate quality instruction and build student achievement in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. Each honoree receives $10,000, of which $5,000 is directly awarded to the teacher. The other $5,000 is to be used at his or her discretion for professional development or instructional technology. The grants are awarded through the independent foundations that support each district.
To date, the TI Foundation has invested more than $1 million in the STEM Awards to recognize and help retain 122 excellent teachers in North Texas school districts.
2015 TI Foundation STEM Award winners (left to right, front row): Maya Brown, Carrie Galvan, Dee Coyle, Nona Gill, Kristie Hernandez, Eric McDaniels, Felicia Cummings, Creighton Bryan, (back row) Robert Allison, Joseph Ibarra, Travis Smith, Nicolas Keith, Brandi Stennis, Patricia Oliver, Gye Kraemer, Ronald Mark Meister, Erik Bushland, David Carroll
“These teachers are true STEM champions, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to honor them” said Ann Pomykal, TI Foundation director of major education gifts. “The work they do is essential to preparing future innovators, discoverers and explorers.
“A key strategy to improving student achievement in math and science is teacher effectiveness. That is why we focus our support on this area, with a special emphasis on reaching girls and minorities who are underrepresented in STEM careers” she said. “As STEM-related jobs become a larger pillar of the U.S. economy, we rely on teachers like those we are honoring today to make STEM subjects interesting and accessible to all students.”
Principals nominate teachers for the STEM Awards based on criteria, such as demonstrating and documenting teaching effectiveness, establishing classroom innovation, participating in education activities outside the classroom, and encouraging curiosity and increasing interest in STEM subjects among students. Teams within each district review the applications and make classroom observations. After a detailed selection process, the winners are announced.
The 2015 TI Foundation STEM Award recipients are:
Robert Allison, Bryan Adams High School, teaches pre-calculus and calculus for 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Allison offers a rigorous curriculum that encourages students to push themselves to a level they may not realize they can reach.
Maya Brown, Samuell High School, teaches aquatic science to 12th graders. Ms. Brown draws real world correlations between what they are learning and how it connects to their world.
Dee Coyle, Lang Middle School, teaches touch system data entry for 7th and 8th grades. Ms. Coyle integrates math and science into her computer keyboarding classes.
Felicia Cummings, Zan Holmes Middle School, teaches 6th grade science. Ms. Cummings encourages students to be curious and inquire about the world around them. She uses her students’ data to plan lessons that challenge their thinking and problem-solving skills.
Joseph Ibarra, Irma Rangel All Girls High School, teaches statistics, calculus and algebra II for 9th through 12th grades. Ibarra hopes that all his students will use math to invent something that will transform humanity in a positive way forever. He is focused on preparing his students for success in rigorous college coursework.
Travis Smith, Trinidad Garza Early College, teaches pre-calculus and calculus for grades 11 and 12. Smith believes that even the most dejected “I HATE MATH” student can be successful if the math is made accessible and if the teacher is enthusiastic.
Brandi Stennis, J.F. Kimball High School, teaches biotechnical engineering to 10th and 11th graders. Ms. Stennis works to tie what they are learning to something in their lives.
Creighton Bryan taught engineering and robotics at South Garland High School. His competition teams have qualified for the national level eight consecutive years and have also placed in the top 10 nationally in several categories.
Erik Bushland, Sachse High School, teaches Career Technology Education. His passion for helping students become technology leaders inspires Bushland to consistently implement innovative programs in his classroom to engage his students.
Gye Kraemer, Hudson Middle School, teaches science and robotics. Kraemer started a program to make obscure STEM concepts a hands-on reality. His afterschool robotics club quickly blossomed, leading to the creation of a highly sought after robotics class.
Nicholas Keith, George Washington Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center, taught integrated STEM classes. In the coming year, he will be a blended learning STEM specialist for K-12, working with teachers and students. Keith was named “teacher of the year” at the campus and district levels for both elementary and secondary schools.
Patricia Oliver, West Mesquite High School, teaches chemistry and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) for 10th and 11th grades. Ms. Oliver meets the varying needs of her students by differentiating her lessons, infusing technology and relating difficult concepts to everyday situations that students can understand. She encourages students to be free thinkers.
Kristi Hernandez, Agnew Middle School, teaches 8th-grade science and Gifted & Talented. Ms. Hernandez builds relationships with her students by incorporating technology and hands-on activities into her daily lessons.
David Carroll, Plano West Senior High School, teaches AP physics for 11th grade. A former Plano ISD student, he returned to the district in 1990 as a teacher and seems to work magic in his classroom. He administers two physics websites, authored instructional materials and developed a Physics Olympics competition.
Nona Gill, Shepton High School, teaches geometry, “Introduction to Engineering Design” and “Principles of Engineering” to the ninth and 10th grades. When you walk into Gill’s classroom you might encounter students racing robots or creating surgical arms. Ms. Gill is passionate about encouraging students to pursue STEM related careers, making an effort to reach students who are underrepresented in these fields.
Eric McDaniels, Frankford Middle School, teaches 6th grade math. McDaniels’ students learn to be fearless in their attempts to understand mathematical concepts. He encourages constant reflection and celebrates not only among students who get the right answer but also with students who discover where they missed a step in problem solving.
Carrie Galvin, L.V. Berkner High School, teaches honors anatomy & physiology and biology. The “Ah Ha moment’ is Galvin’s favorite moment in teaching – that’s when she knows her job has been done. Ms. Galvin was an early adopter of using technology for student learning.
Mark Mester, Richardson High School, teaches automotive technology to grades nine through 12. Whether a student advances to state in an automotive contest or lands a job in the automotive industry, student success is what motivates Mester. He implements the latest technology and incorporates problem solving skills to teach his students how to use their skills in the workforce.
The Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards are one of many initiatives of the TI Foundation, which has led and supported innovative education programs for decades. Education is the Foundation's primary philanthropic focus, with grants specifically enhancing STEM education and supporting effective teaching.
Innovation and technology change have led to demand for STEM competencies beyond traditional STEM occupations, and skills necessary for innovation are scattered across a wider swath of the economy.
"These teachers are undoubtedly equipping students with the skills they need to take advantage of these opportunities," Pomykal said.