STEM Hub_Laura Scott_smallLaura Scott is a sixth grade science teacher at Mount Juliet Middle School in Wilson County. She spent part of her summer participating in a one-week professional development course (June 17-21) at Cumberland University. The session, Introduction to Stream Survey Biology for Educators, was funded by the Middle Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub. The impact on Laura Scott was and continues to be invaluable.

“I was able to see things from new perspectives and it made me think in different ways,” commented Ms. Scott about her experience. She expected to get a lot of technical information from the week-long professional development workshop, Introduction to Stream Survey Biology for Educators. And Laura  wanted to learn new information that could be incorporated into her sixth grade science class at Mt. Juliet Middle School. She walked away with much more than that.

“I looked forward to every day, every experience. I did not even mind getting up early,” said Laura with excitement in her voice. She continued, “I enjoyed the class very much. We got some really good field experiences, and we got to meet several people to use as resources for information, lesson development, and even school improvement activities. It was also really nice to work with people across so many grade levels and counties. I was able to see things from new perspectives and it made me think in different ways. I always gauge in-services on what they inspire in me. This workshop did not have a requirement for us to develop a lesson or unit, BUT our teacher was so wonderful and the information was so applicable that everyone walked away having developed a lesson or [having] begun a unit on our own.” The instructor is Professor Kim Atwood, Biology Instructor and EPA compliance officer for the sciences at Cumberland University.

The session was so engaging that Laura and her fellow attendees often continued collaboration during breaks.  “We had down time in the day to look at how we might use resources and information, and daily (including through our lunch) by choice, we used that time for lesson development brainstorming across grade levels and counties. It really was time well spent. Our teacher always stayed with us, including lunch, and was an invaluable resource. I would recommend the class to anyone who teaches inquiry within their curriculum. The information is very malleable, so it can be modified across grade levels easily.”

When asked to recall a milestone moment, Laura mentioned: “I teach biomes. I got a huge “a-ha” when I was able to see that even down to a microscopic level, ecosystems only work when they have balanced interdependency. I think about large examples of this all the time, but to realize it rings true down to the microscopic level really brought me clarity.”

Laura Scott’s professional development experience was powerful, as evidenced in her closing thoughts:  “I would encourage anyone to take advantage of any opportunity to participate in professional development opportunities through the STEM Hub. My experience was one of the most interesting, and entirely applicable to instruction I’ve had. I cannot possibly express enough how refreshing this training session was for me. The professor was incredible. She allowed us to discover things, but she guided our learning so we did not get frustrated. It was wonderful working across county and grade level lines. The resulting perspective changes have affected my approach to instruction in such a positive way. I am much more open-minded to the PLC (Professional Learning Community) process and embrace the opportunity to collaborate.  This was a week of my summer that rejuvenated me as an educator.”

–Laura Scott, 6th Grade Science Teacher

Mt. Juliet Middle School, Wilson County TN