A third-grade Jamestown Public Schools teacher is planning to do some learning of her own during the academic offseason.
This is because Kimberlee Austin, who teaches at Ring Elementary School, was selected to attend the 2013 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy to receive professional development training.
Austin was selected by the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics and the National Science Teachers Association as one of 200 third- through fifth-grade teachers throughout the nation to attend the academy. After receiving more than 1,500 applications for the training, the academy notified Austin of her selection via email, saying her commitment to teaching stood out among the rest.
According to Austin, she had to submit a series of essays regarding her philosophy of education and how she teaches math and science in the classroom.
"You submit those responses, and they're reviewed by a committee," she said. "And then they choose people that are looking for innovative new ideas and things to do with their students, and (people) who have the philosophy that education is inquiry-based and hands-on."
Due to the positive reception of her essay responses, Austin will be visiting the academy at Jersey City, N.J., from July 21-26 for the one-week intensive, all-expense-paid development opportunity. While attending the academy, she will receive training based on the academy's tenets, including: enhancing teachers' mathematics and science content knowledge; demonstrating the interrelationships between scientific inquiry and mathematical problem solving; helping teachers use the tools of mathematics to build understanding and connections to science concepts; and modeling "best practices" in teaching and learning for teachers to use in their classrooms.
"We'll be working on strengthening that relationship between math and science, and bringing those two together. And just increasing our background knowledge for some of the topics that they're going to cover," Austin said.
In addition to receiving this training, Austin said she is also looking forward to the social aspect of this opportunity.
"What I thought was nice about it is that it's a chance to meet with teachers from all over the country," she said. "I've had that opportunity to meet teachers across the country before, and to maintain those types of relationships, so that you can bounce ideas off of each other and collaborate, is nice. There are always means of improving your methods of teaching. So opportunities like this are nice because it's a professional thing, but also you have the collaboration of all those other teachers; and getting their ideas, as well."