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Dover Post
  • Markell announces award that will honor STEM teachers

  • Gov. Jack Markell made an appearance at Dover High School on Thursday to announce the creation of a new award, with the hopes of honoring excellent teachers in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
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  • Gov. Jack Markell made an appearance at Dover High School on Thursday to announce the creation of a new award, with the hopes of honoring excellent teachers in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.
    “We know having talented teachers in the classroom is really important,” Markell said. “We have so many talented STEM teachers and we are thrilled to recognize teachers in the STEM field who are showing, in terms of student engagement or other innovations, how they’re doing things that can be replicated, so students from the entire state can benefit from these programs.”
    Two $7,500 cash awards will be given, one for a teacher or team of teachers at the elementary level and one at the secondary level. The awards will be given to STEM teachers who demonstrate excellence in teaching, academic collaboration and student engagement, Markell explained.
    The award is designed to reward teachers for their hard work, said Teri Quinn Gray, co-chair of the Delaware STEM Council, the group that helped create the award.
    “We all know teaching can be challenging,” Quinn Gray said. “So we don’t want that to go unnoticed. We want every teacher to know how important what they do is, but also to take on that extra challenge of making STEM accessible to all of our students.”
    Dover High School senior Ifunanya Nwogbaga spoke during the governor’s presentation about how a STEM teacher made a difference in his life.
    “Last year I took AP chemistry and my teacher, Mrs. Heslinga, talked to me and said, ‘hey maybe you should be an engineer’” Nwogbaga said. “That’s when she made it a serious thing for me. She looked at my schedule and saw I wasn’t taking AP science classes and said ‘Iffy, you have to take AP science classes, you’re going to be an engineer.’”
    Winners will also be highlited in a STEM symposium during the summer. The symposium is designed allow STEM teachers throughout the state to gather and learn from each other, Markell said.
    Quinn Gray noted that it’s important that an emphasis is placed on STEM education because the majority of open jobs over the next five to 10 years will require some kind of STEM skills. Those skills could range from mathematicians who need degrees in STEM studies, to workers in other fields who simply need the problem solving skills developed by STEM education.
    The award will be funded through Ashland Incorporated, a Kentucky-based chemical and technology company that has an office in Wilmington. Ashland chose to come on board because of a shared mission, said Daryl Love, manager of community relations for Ashland.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Our focus for the company going forward is in the STEM areas,” Love said. “We really saw this as a great opportunity to be able to meet the needs of the state in terms of helping raise awareness around STEM and also helping teachers have a better understanding of ways to connect with students in STEM.”
    Ashland has only signed on for a one-year commitment to provide the cash funding for the award and will assess potential future funding in a year.
    Members of the STEM council are working to secure future funding for the award, Quinn Gray said.
    Teachers interested in applying for the award or those interested in nominating teachers can visit delawarestem.org for more information and application materials. The application deadline is June 15.

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