6/29/16 Local teacher to participate in NASA-funded program

Local teacher to participate in NASA-funded program
By Charlie Pogacar Enterprise Editor, The Mebane Enterprise 6/29/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

It’s been a big year for E.M. Yoder second grade teacher Jennifer Keefe. First, she was selected E.M. Yoder’s Teacher of the Year, and became a Teacher of the Year semifinalist in the Alamance-Burlington School System. Now, she’s been selected by the education team at the Boston public media producer WGBH to participate as a teacher advisor in a NASA-sponsored program called “Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms.”

The initiative is designed to create new instructional models and digital media tools for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning.

Keefe – who will begin her fourth year at E.M. Yoder this fall, and her seventh year of teaching overall – was one of 50 teachers selected of the 650 who applied. The idea of the program is that Keefe and the 49 other teachers will demo different technologies and resources with their students as something of a pilot program, helping develop such things as modules for the future of education.

“The candidates were evaluated by reviewers who took into consideration geography, grade, number of years teaching, and type of school, as well as the candidates’ willingness to innovate in the classroom, resulting in a diverse group of teacher advisors,” a press release from WGBH said.

“I’m always looking for ways to give my kids more than they have,” Keefe said. “We have limited funding so we need to find ways to bring resources in.”

Keefe mentioned that science funding is often particularly hard to come by and thus made her interested in applying to be a part of the program. That, and the fact that Keefe is always looking for new ways to communicate with the students in her classroom.

“To me, everything goes back to what is best for the kids,” Keefe said.

“I used to be a yes person to everything, and I wanted to do everything, and now at this point I’ve re-evaluated and decided, what am I going to do that will build my kids up and be the best for them?”

Keefe says there are many reasons for shift towards perfecting what works instead of trying anything she could possibly try to see what might work. For one, she welcomed three kids into the world over the past several years.

“I have three children of my own, so I was kind of finding myself overwhelmed with too much to do, so I wanted to figure out how to do less, but be really good at those things and make sure I’m balancing work and home and doing what I can to be the best in both places.”

Keefe is a National Board Certified Teacher, a member of the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Network, Teacher Leadership Academy, Technology Leadership 2.0, and a Technology Badge Apprentice