NORFOLK — Superintendent Paul Zinni and Principal Michelle Kreuzer are pleased to announce that a King Philip Regional Middle School seventh grade STEM teacher has been recognized as a 2022 National STEM Scholar.
King Philip Regional Middle School seventh grade STEM teacher Susan Hall has been selected by the National Stem Cell Foundation as a 2022 National STEM Scholar for her influential and innovative work in the STEM field. Those selected as STEM Scholars are invited to participate in a unique professional development program aimed at providing advanced STEM training, national network building, and project support for middle school science teachers nationwide.
“Susan has been a staple within our school community for over two decades and has helped shape our STEM curriculum to what it is today,” Superintendent Zinni said. “We’re extremely pleased to see her get the recognition she deserves on a national scale and are excited for her to attend this professional development program where she will be able to continue to grow her ideas and work alongside other prominent teachers in the field.”
Created in partnership between the National Stem Cell Foundation and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University (WKU), the National STEM Scholar Program selects ten teachers each year from a national pool of applicants based solely on the description of a “big idea” Challenge Project the applicant would implement if funds were available. Selected projects are chosen for maximum impact in middle school classrooms, where research shows lifelong STEM career decisions are being made.
As part of Hall’s application for the program, she proposed a Hydroponics unit as her ‘big idea’ challenge project. At a workshop at the Kennedy Space Center in the summer of 2018, Hall learned about a program, Growing Beyond Earth, where students collected real data from hydroponic systems for NASA. Hydroponic farming will be necessary to travel to Mars and beneficial to astronauts on the International Space Station.
“I’m extremely honored to have been chosen to be a part of this nationally acclaimed program,” said Hall. “Through receiving this honor, not only will I be able to create life-long connections in STEM fields for myself and my students, but I will also receive funding and resources that would have not normally been available for my students.”
Hall has been a science teacher in the district for 25 years and worked to create and implement the middle school’s STEM curriculum in 2013 at the request of then-Principal Susan Gilson. The middle school’s STEM curriculum focuses on science topics, engineering projects and computer coding.
This year’s STEM Scholars will convene on WKU’s campus in Bowling Green, Kentucky, during the week of May 29-June 4 for a week of advanced STEM training and to finalize their projects with input from their STEM Scholar class colleagues.
A thought leader in STEM education will also attend for a day of interaction with the Scholar class. This year’s speaker will be Michelle Lucas, CEO of Higher Orbits, who spent ten years working at NASA in International Space Station Flight Control Operations Planning and as an Astronaut Instructor in the Daily Operations Group before founding Higher Orbits to inspire student passion for STEM through spaceflight.
Alongside Hall, educators from Virginia, Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Rhode Island, Maine, and Florida were recognized this year as National Stem Scholars.
Now in its seventh year, there are 70 National STEM Scholars representing middle schools in 32 states. Of those, 90% teach in public schools, 40% teach in mid- to high-poverty schools and 36% teach in communities with a population under 15,000. A unique requirement of the program is the responsibility for STEM Scholars to
share lessons learned with colleagues in their home schools, districts or states, magnifying impact over multiple classrooms and years. By June 2023, National STEM Scholars will have directly and indirectly impacted more than 83,000 middle school students in the U.S.
About the National Stem Cell Foundation
The National Stem Cell Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that funds adult stem cell and regenerative medicine research, underwrites the National STEM Scholar Program for middle school science teachers inspiring the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pioneers nationwide, and covers copays and deductibles for children of limited means participating in clinical trials for rare diseases. For more information, visit www.nationalstemcellfoundation.org.
About The Gatton Academy
Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented juniors and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Gatton Academy has been named to Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students for eleven consecutive appearances and received the National Consortium for Secondary STEM School’s Innovation Partnership Award.
King Philip Middle School Seventh Grade STEM Teacher, Susan Hall, recognized as a 2022 National STEM Scholar (Photo Courtesy of King Philip Middle School)