As all their students are reveling in their summer vacations, three teachers from St. Mary School in Canandaigua will be heading back to school this summer.
Ryan Kincaid, who teaches middle-school science and sixth-grade math; Debra Marvin, the school’s technology coordinator; and Suzanne Pohorence, who teaches middle-school math and algebra and provides academic intervention services to K-8 students, recently were chosen as Trustey Family STEM Teaching Fellows. This means they will travel to South Bend, Ind. for at least a week during each of the next three summers to take courses at Notre Dame University’s Center for STEM Education. There they will take part in summer sessions devoted to helping teachers become more adept at integrating science, technology, engineering and math in their classrooms.
“They become experts in science and math and engineering and technology skills such that they can help students investigate those areas and experiment and explore those areas,” explained Ann Marie Deutsch, principal at St. Mary School.
This is just the third year the fellowship has been offered, and teachers from schools throughout the nation applied for the fellowship. Kincaid, Marvin and Pohorence were chosen to represent St. Mary, which is one of just ten schools chosen to participate in this year’s group. St. Mary is the only school in all of New York state to have its teachers chosen to participate in the fellowship.
“It’s very exciting. It’s quite an honor. It’s a wonderful kudos for these teachers,” Deutsch said.
Before being selected, Kincaid, Marvin and Pohorence had to complete an extensive application process.
“It was almost like applying for a job,” Deutsch added, explaining that the first step was for the school to submit the teachers’ credentials.
All three teachers also had to submit their own applications, and then participate in live, virtual interviews with program officials from Notre Dame. Several weeks later, those officials conducted a virtual interview with Deutsch.
“They wanted to see if, as the administrator of the school, I would support them in giving them the time away from the school to do this,” Deutsch said.
Kincaid, Marvin and Pohorence will start their fellowship in mid-July with a two-week session at Notre Dame. During that session they will begin working on a STEM impact plan, which they will continue to work on throughout the school year, according to the website for the fellowship. During the school year, the fellows also will collect video footage of their teaching performance in order to receive feedback from the program’s leaders. They will attend another two-week session the following summer and continue the work they began the year before. They will conclude their fellowship with a one-week session at Notre Dame during the summer of 2019.
“The goal is to enrich themselves professionally, but also to create another opportunity for the students,” Deutsch said, noting that every time teachers enrich themselves they also enrich their entire school communities. “The outcome for the students is really terrific.”
By committing to furthering their own education and bettering themselves, Kincaid, Marvin and Pohorence are providing wonderful role models for their students, Deutsch added.
“That helps children see the power of knowledge, the power of committing themselves to learning as much as they can. Hopefully (the students) take that out of this middle-school and elementary-school setting and apply that when they get to high school and college and beyond,” she said. “Hopefully this helps them see you’re never too old to learn more or explore more. The opportunities are boundless.”