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Texas Instruments Foundation inducts 10 teachers into its STEM Academy


Awards recognize outstanding local educators’ innovative teaching of science, technology, engineering and math

The Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation presented awards today to 10 outstanding teachers from the Dallas, Plano and Richardson independent school districts (ISD) and inducted them into its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy as fellows.

The TI Foundation established the Innovations in STEM Awards in 2006 to recognize instructors who consistently demonstrate quality instruction, enhance student achievement and increase interest in junior high and high school classrooms. As STEM fellows, the teachers participate in a unique professional development program at TI that provides an up-close look at the future of technology, exposure to senior technology leaders, and the opportunity to share their ideas about quality STEM education with peers. The award recipients each receive $10,000, of which $5,000 is directly awarded to the teacher. The other $5,000 is to be used at the teacher’s discretion for professional development or instructional technology.

The TI Foundation committed $310,000 over three years to the program, now in its second year. The grants are awarded through the Richardson ISD Tomorrow Foundation, the Plano ISD Education Foundation and the Dallas Education Foundation. These organizations will begin reviewing teachers’ applications for next year’s awards this fall.

“The future competitiveness of our region’s workforce depends on the development of critical science, technology, engineering and math skills,” said TI Foundation Chair Sam Self. “Quality, innovative teaching is needed to increase the number of students who are math and science capable. The TI Foundation is committed to supporting educational excellence, and we are proud to recognize these educators’ achievements.”

Principals nominated teachers for the STEM awards based on criteria, such as demonstrating and documenting teaching effectiveness, establishing classroom innovation, participating in education activities outside of the classroom, encouraging curiosity and generating excitement in STEM subjects among students.

The 10 award recipients are:

* Kimberly Clark Ferguson, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, Dallas ISD. Ferguson teaches seventh-grade pre-Advanced Placement (AP®) and considers it a privilege to be able to break down negative stereotypes that assume girls “can’t do science.” She plays an active role on her campus by serving as a member of the Campus Instructional Leadership Team, science department chair, new-teacher mentor and science fair coordinator.
* Sarah Rebecca “Becky” Jackson, Bowman Middle School, Plano ISD. Jackson teaches regular and honors eighth-grade math. She trains new math teachers on the Connected Math Project - a structured teaching strategy where students take ownership of their learning and understand the “why” behind math concepts, not just “how” to use math.
* Rebecca McGowan Jensen, Ph.D., Yvonne A. Ewell School for the Talented and Gifted, Dallas ISD. Jensen teaches AP statistics, AP physics C: mechanics and AP physics C: electricity and magnetism for 11th and 12th grades. She helped initiate the Statistics AP program in Dallas ISD and wrote the original proposal to the TI Foundation to direct the Physics Fellowship for Women, a two-week summer camp designed to prepare female Dallas ISD students to enter their first physics class.
* Deborah Johnston, Schimelpfenig Middle School, Plano ISD. Johnston teaches regular and honors science. She serves as the Science Department Chair, contributes in curriculum writing for the district, conducts staff development for science and sponsors students in science fairs. Each year, Johnston has students that qualify for the State Science and Engineering Fair.
* Karrie Kellerman, Apollo Junior High, Richardson ISD. Kellerman teaches seventh-grade pre-AP and block mathematics. An example of Kellerman’s classroom effectiveness was her block mathematics course (students who have not yet passed the state exam) where student performance at the last benchmark test, exceeded the performance of the entire district.
* Loucia Mavrokordatos, Hillcrest High School, Dallas ISD. Mavrokordatos teaches AP calculus. She incorporates creativity in her classroom in unique ways, such as assigning a story problem in which a murder has been committed to teach Newton’s Law of Cooling. Students integrate the formula to find the exact time of the murder and to identify the killer. In her four years of teaching AP calculus BC, her students have received a 100 percent passing rate on the AP exam.
* Cris Munoz, Moises E. Molina High School, Dallas ISD. Munoz teaches engineering graphics, architectural graphics, construction systems, research, design and development and animation for ninth through 12th grades. He incorporated his love of architecture, design and engineering into the classroom by creating the Molina Design Academy, a coherent sequence of courses for students to become successful in the field. Many of Munoz’s students will be first-generation high school graduates. When a student completes his program, they could have earned five hours of college credit and two different certifications.
* Mary Rivers, W.T. White High School, Dallas ISD. Rivers teaches ninth-grade integrated physics and chemistry and biology. She has served as the Science Bowl team sponsor, a member of the Science Fair committee and consistently demonstrates a high level of engagement with students through a variety of tactics that help her students understand the subject matter.
* Comfort Ugwuh, Yvonne A. Ewell, School and Business and Management, Dallas ISD. Ugwuh teaches CISCO internetworking I and II, webmaster and IT essentials for 10th, 11th and 12th grades. She sponsors the Technology Outreach Program (TOPs) where students refurbish computers for the district. Her students are often hired by TOPs during the summer to work, reinforcing and extending their classroom learning.
* Carol Wingard, George Bannerman Dealey Montessori Vanguard and International Academy, Dallas ISD. Wingard teaches eighth-grade mathematics and algebra I. She makes math fun and physical by dressing up to illustrate a concept and by having students wear badges that display the formula they are learning. She also employs interesting methods to highlight mathematics in the students’ environment by having them measure steps around the school to understand slope.

These honorees will join the 10 inductees from 2007 who have used their professional development and educational technology funds for statewide, national and international conferences for themselves and faculty colleagues. They also used the grants to procure a variety of classroom tools to enhance student learning such as document cameras, projectors and electronic whiteboards.


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