Thanks, Texas Instruments, for Supporting #STEM in Public Schools

Press Release - September 4th, 2015

Dallas, TX/Lancaster ISD - 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. 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.

Lancaster ISD STEM Educator and Blended Learning Specialist Nicholas Keith was one of the innovative educators honored during the ceremony.“This was obviously an incredible honor in a district that believes in ‘STEM for All’ and I’m humbled to have been recognized as a contributor to that vision,” Keith said. “It’s great to see Lancaster ISD mentioned alongside some of the “premiere” districts in DFW. It validates the work that we are doing.”

Keith has long been recognized as an innovative educator within the district. A two-time winner of the district’s “Teacher of the Year” honor—both at the elementary and secondary level—he has now moved from the classroom to work with other educators within the district to enhance blended learning through technology integration.

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. The Lancaster Education Foundation (LEF) facilitated the TI Foundation grant application process for Lancaster ISD. Educators were required to submit a multi-page essay application. Additionally, the principal of the educator was required to complete an equally extensive application on behalf of the teacher. Submissions came from every school in Lancaster ISD for review by a committee of LEF members, and Keith was selected to represent the 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.“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 were announced.

The 2015 TI Foundation STEM Award recipients are:  Dallas ISD - Robert Allison, Maya Brown, Dee Coyle, Felicia Cummings, Joseph Ibarra, Travis Smithand Brandi Stennis,  Garland ISD - Creighton Bryan, Erik Bushland and Gye Kraemer  Lancaster ISD - Nicholas Keith  Mesquite ISD - Patricia Oliver and Kristi Hernandez  Plano ISD - David Carroll, Nona Gill and Eric McDaniels  Richardson ISD - Carrie Galvin and Mark Mester

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 changes have led to demand for STEM competencies beyond traditional STEM occupations – 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.

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