Emily Gray Science Teacher Jennifer Maxwell Recipient of 2018 Science and Engineering Excellence Award

Over 200 people filled the University of Arizona grand ballroom on April 25 to attend the 2018 Women and Science and Engineering (WISE) Excellence banquet. Keynote address by Tara Astigarraga, a master inventor at IBM and member of the Choctaw Nation, inspired the audience by stressing "innovation is the key" in this field.  Five excellence awards were then given out in community outreach, university excellence, excellence in K-12 education and general excellence. Jennifer Maxwell, Emily Gray Junior High pre-AP science teacher, was presented with an "Excellence in K-12 Education" award. This award honors a K-12 educator who has actively worked to increase student interest and diversity in STEM fields in either formal or informal educational settings.

Jennifer Maxwell"Through its Science and Engineering Excellence Awards, WISE recognizes and celebrates the important work being done to foster more inclusive and diverse science and engineering communities at the University of Arizona and in southern Arizona."  Mrs. Maxwell was nominated for this prestigious award by a colleague because of her exceptional support to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. 

Mrs. Maxwell is a participant in the Teacher Leader Program (TLP) cohort  for the Pima County STEMAZing Project. In year one, Mrs. Maxwell designed and co-facilitated a STEM workshop. In year two, not only did she continue her own professional development and growth, but  mentored new participants in the program to design and facilitate their own workshops.  These hands-on and engaging workshops put educators "into the seats and minds of their students."

Jennifer's strong passion and commitment helped foster her students to excel in their science and engineering projects this year. Six students were recognized at the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Education Foundation (SARSEF) with one or more awards. This year, two of her students, Madeline Cheu and Karah Mayer, have been invited to observe at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) later this month in Pittsburgh, PA and Mrs. Maxwell will join them as their science teacher.  Mrs. Maxwell was left speechless by her students incredible honor, considering only two students each year are selected from the entire region.  During her first year at Emily Gray, Mrs. Maxwell was immensely proud of TVUSD’s first ISEF participant, Emily Ignatoff, who is currently attending Tanque Verde High School where, as a freshman, she has initiated a STEM Club for students to continue in their passion to solve and investigate science and engineering problems.  

Mrs. Maxwell noted, “Tanque Verde Unified School District is a fertile ground for growth in STEM Education and could soon be a model district with the large amount of parent and community ingenuity and support available to our schools.”  She has “witnessed a change in student attitude towards STEM and attributes it to a shift towards Science and Engineering Practices rather than the former, less practical methods of science teaching.  Kids are natural born investigators and builders. This shift in teaching will take time to learn for our teachers and students, but the outcome will be students who are more ready for colleges and careers with an aptitude for problem solving and critical thinking as well increased leadership and communication skills.”

As Emily Gray’s Professional Development (PD) Coordinator, Mrs. Maxwell is continually looking for PD that encourages best practices in STEM with her own colleagues. Mrs. Maxwell attends many PD opportunities and then brings the knowledge back to her colleagues in the Tanque Verde Unified School District.

“Mrs. Maxwell is an incredible asset to TVUSD. Her enthusiasm and love of teaching are apparent as soon as you enter her classroom. She is truly a gem of an educator. We are so fortunate to have her here in Tanque Verde.”   Svea Anderson, TVUSD STEM Coordinator.

 

Article contributed by Ms. Paula Nasiatka

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